The Border Heeler | The The Border Collie Blue Heeler Mix Blueprint
The Border Heeler hybrid combines two of the hardest working dog breeds in the world: the Border Collie and the Blue Heeler (also known as the Australian Cattle Dog).
Did you know?
This combination has become somewhat popular in various dog sports lately, sparking some interest among dog enthusiasts.
Here at Wiley Pup, we want you to have reliable information so you can know what you are in store for with this cross breed.
We will start with a review of some details on what you might expect from the Border Heeler, followed by some information on the parent breeds so that you have the full picture to understand this hybrid.
Finally, we will look at the kinds of lifestyle most suited for this particular mix.
Stay tuned to find out if this is a good choice for your next dog!
Blue Heeler Border Collie Mix | The Border Heeler
The Australian Cattle Dog and Border Collie are both considered extremely intelligent canines.
It is not surprising since both have a history of working in close concert with humans to perform complex tasks in a fast paced and dangerous environment. To put it a little more bluntly, stupid herding dogs just don’t last very long.
As a result, Border Heelers are also extremely intelligent.
They don’t just want to please, they NEED to be mentally and physically challenged regularly or they can become destructive, depressed or anxious. Since both of the parent breeds are prone to becoming neurotic if under stimulated, you can expect the same from this cross breed.
Both of the parent breeds are good with kids and other dogs, as long as they are socialized early and often.
Your best bet with this mix is to get them as puppies and take them with you everywhere so they can develop confidence with new experiences. Otherwise, these can be nervous dogs with strangers and other dogs.
Border Heelers are extremely trainable. They are very well suited for just about any athletic dog sport. They need consistent, positive training with firm boundaries that are enforced.
They can be a bit stubborn, especially if they are not regularly challenged by learning new things.
What a cutie! source
Expect a stocky, medium sized dog between 17-21” when fully grown, with females being slightly smaller at adulthood than males.
It is likely that the musculature of the mix will fall between the two parent breeds with the Blue Heeler being stocky and dense, while the Border Collie tends towards long, lean and wiry muscles.
Coat and Appearance
Whenever you mix two dog breeds, the result can vary widely in terms of appearance.
In this case, since both parent breeds are so similar in terms of temperament, it is the appearance that is the least predictable trait.
Both parents have a double coat, however, the top coat of the ACD is short and dense, while most BCs have a smooth, fine, and medium length top coat.
The colors black and red are endemic to both breeds, although it is the short coat of the ACD that makes the white undercoat visible, giving that characteristic red or blue look.
Mottle red or black is likely the most common color of this combination of dogs, but puppies may come in any of the colors for the parent breeds including merle, red speckled, blue speckled, tri color, black and white.
Ridiculously cute! source
Health and Life Expectancy
Both of the parent breeds have a similar life expectancy, with the Blue Heeler slightly outperforming the Border Collie. 12-15 years is a good predictor here.
As far as health problems, deafness and congenital eye diseases are the most common ailments in both of the parent breeds.
Make sure you talk to the breeder of your dog about the health of the bloodline, particularly how well they aged beyond prime studding years.
This can help decrease the odds of a hereditary disease popping up in your Border Heeler.
Blue Heeler | Parent Breed Profile
One half of the Heeler/Collie mix is the Blue Heeler, a member of the Herding Group.
It is also known as the Australian Cattle Dog, ACD, Queensland Heeler, Red Heeler, or in some cases just Cattle Dog.
Let’s take a look at the history and characteristics of this breed.
Like many dog breeds, there is some mystery as to the origins of the Australian Cattle Dog.
We do know that the original cattle herding dogs were brought to Australia from the British Isles, and were known as “Smithfields.” Although these canines were well suited for herding in milder weather and over shorter distances, the rugged and expansive Australian Outback proved to be a challenge for them.
The native Dingo breed was introduced to this herding stock to try to improve their resilience to the harsh climate. Early efforts turned out dogs that tended to be far too rough with the cattle, in some cases killing calves.
In 1940, Thomas Hall began crossing the Blue Smooth Highland Collie with Dingos to a better result, and his dogs are widely recognized as the ancestors of the breed we know today.
Over the years, and before the standard was fixed, there were some other additions to the line including Bull Terriers (which added some tenacity), Black and Tan Kelpie (for their strong work ethic) and Dalmatians (to increase love of horses and faithfulness to handlers).
The breed standard was drawn up by Robert Kaleski, a life-long lover of the breed, in 1902.
The standard was championed in the United states by Esther Ekman and Christina Smith-Risk in the 1960’s. The AKC finally acknowledged the breed in 1980.
Because of the purpose of this breed, you can expect a dog that is extremely intelligent, tenacious, alert, courageous and trustworthy.
They are very trainable, and in fact, often do not do well unless both mentally and physically stimulated regularly.
They have a strong desire to please, but can also be stubborn…What else would you expect from a 35 lb. dog who was bred to face down a 2,400 lb. steer?
As long as this dog knows what they should be doing, they will. However, if you are not clear about boundaries and rules, then expect the lines to be crossed.
Because this breed’s herding style includes nipping at the heels of cattle, it is not unusual for them to sometimes nip at the heels of children when playing. Keep an eye out for this behavior and train it out early on if you plan on keeping this breed as a family pet.
An additional word of caution here is that this breed can also become very possessive over its people and sometimes over other resources such as toys.
Making sure this little guy gets socialization with other people, dogs, and a variety of environments early and often is critical to warding off potentially problematic defensive guarding behaviors.
The breed standard for the Australian Cattle Dog is 18-21” for males and 17-19” for females.
This may sound like a small dog, but keep in mind that this breed tends to be very densely built, particularly in contrast to other herding dogs like the Border Collie.
Weight tends to hover between 33-49 lbs.
Coat and Appearance
There are two color variations accepted for the breed standard – “blue” which is a combination of black hairs over a white coat, and “red” which is created by brown hairs over a white coat.
Both color variations also include black, blue or tan markings on the head, forelegs, chest and chin. A preference is given to those with even markings.
This is a double coated breed, which means that there should be a course outer coat made of stiff, short hairs. The undercoat will be thicker in fall and winter, with a major molt in the springtime. The undercoat is white, and has a softer and fluffier texture than the over coat.
The grooming requirements for the Queensland Heeler are minimal with the exception of a heavy molt in the spring.
Brushing once a week outside will help keep fur and dander down in the house the rest of the year.
Health and Life Expectancy
This is a very robust and healthy breed overall. The life expectancy is 12-14 years.
The most common health problems are deafness and progressive blindness. Both of these conditions are hereditary.
Be sure your breeder has health histories of their bloodlines to try to minimize the chance of these congenital problems.
Border Collie | Parent Breed Profile
The other half of the Collie Heeler hybrid is the Border Collie. A very popular breed of dog in almost all dog sports, particularly sheep herding and agility.
They are extrememly intelligent, strikingly beautiful, and they can make great family pets for the active family.
Let’s take a closer look at this breed:
Like the original dogs bred to hunt alongside humans, the origins of herding dogs go so far back in history that most of the specifics have been lost to time.
What we do know about this breed is that they were developed to thrive herding sheep in the highlands on the border of Scotland, England and Wales. It is their geographic origins that likely gained them their name.
Over the course of centuries, these dogs were not bred for appearance, but rather their ability to handle sheep and work well with their human handlers over extraordinary distances.
It is widely believed that modern Border Collies can all be traced to a single such ancestor considered to have perfected the breed standard: Old Hemp.
There are two general standards used to judge this breed, and both have semi-divergent bloodlines. Fans of the breed are well aware of the differences in the dogs.
The International Sheepdog Society (ISDS) named the Border Collie around 1915, when they began a registry to preserve the working qualities of the breed. The ISDS continues to make sure the best working dogs are selected for breeding through a series of sheep herding trials.
In more recent times, Border Collies have been bred for the show ring, some say to the detriment of their herding instincts. Although technically the same breed, these so called "Barbie Collies" differ significantly in temperament and appearance to the trained eye.
If you are looking for a family pet (for the active family) then go for the show strain that tends to be a little more gentle, less high strung, and a touch more adaptable to active modern lifestyles.
If you want a never-quit athlete for participation in dog sports, go for the herding strain for a performance ready collie.
Another herding dog, the Border Collie has a fairly intense personality.
They are alert, responsive and incredibly intelligent. They have a strong desire to please and need to be exercised regularly or they can become quite destructive out of boredom and/or anxiety.
These are not great apartment dogs unless you have plenty of time to get them outdoors for some serious off-leash running and playing on a regular basis.
No matter how long you walk them daily, it will never be enough for this working breed.
The breed standard specifies that males should be between 19-22” for males and 18-21” for females when measured at the withers.
They tend to be quite lightweight for their height, with a lean and graceful build best suited for endurance over long distances.
Coat and Appearance
Both smooth and rough double coat varieties are permissible. The smooth coat variety is more popular, particularly in the United States. This coat is longer and silky with a shorter and softer undercoat that undergoes a significant shed in the summer time.
The color of the breed is variable, and the standard is not picky about color. However, most of these dogs tend to be black and white, red and white, tricolor, or merle.
Sometimes the eyes are different colors, although it is not as common in this breed as other types such as the Husky.
The longer hair of this breed does require some weekly brushing if you want to make sure they are not shedding too much in the house.
Health and Life Expectancy
Border Collies have a life expectancy of 10-14 years.
Unfortunately, hip dysplasia, epilepsy, hearing loss, and Collie eye anomaly (CEA) are not uncommon enough with the breed.
It is imperative that if you choose this breed that you make sure to use a reliable and trusted breeder with full access to the health records of the parents and grandparents.
Border Heeler: Is this the right dog for you?
Now that we have looked at the Border Heeler as well as both parent breeds in some depth, we wanted to close with a helpful guide to help you decide if this is a good hybrid breed for you.
This is a great dog for:
This is poor choice as a dog for:
The Blue Heeler Border Collie Mix is not for everyone, but they may be the perfect hybrid for you. We hope this guide has given you the information you need to decide.
If you happen to have a Border Heeler, we would love to hear from you in the comments below!