Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix | Meet The ACD x GSD

What happens when you breed a German Shepherd Dog (GSD) to a Blue Heeler, also known as the Australian Cattle Dog (ACD)?

You end up with a powerful working dog that is intelligent, determined, and dedicated to whatever role they are assigned.

The lowdown...

This guide gives an in depth look at this crossbreed, followed by detailed information on both parent breeds.

Stay tuned to the end of the article where we will give you some valuable tips to help you decide for yourself if this is a good mix for the next member of your pack.


Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix


Temperament

It is important to remember that like all hybrid dogs, the genetic makeup of puppies will be a random combination of characteristics from both of the parents.

You should expect relatively stable characteristics when both parent breeds share common tendencies, and variation where they don’t.

In the case of this hybrid combination, both parent breeds share intelligence, high work ethic, endurance, strength, herding abilities and a tendency to be a bit headstrong.

When you cross the GSD with the ACD, you almost always get a smart canine that is best suited to intense work or play under the direction of a strong leader with training experience.

These athletic dogs have very high exercise requirements to really shine. If allowed to become bored, they are likely to become destructive.

Although the ACD is not known for being terribly vocal, GSDs do have a bad reputation for incessant barking if left alone for too long.


Size

The Blue Heeler tends to be short and stocky with well developed muscles, ready to take on steer. The German Shepherd is also a powerful canine, although longer, taller and leaner over all.

This is a designer dog that can be tough to predict the adult size of any puppy in the litter as a result.

Anywhere from 18-26” and 35-90 lbs. is within the range you can expect.


Coat and Appearance

The coat of the parent breeds could hardly be more different.

The GSD has a thick, medium length, double coat with a massive annual shed to be expected each Spring. The ACD has a shorter coat, but still retains a weather resistant double coat.

A wide variety of color variations are available in this cross breed.

The blue speckled look of the Blue Heeler combined with the black and tan coloration of the German Shepherd can take many forms.


Health and Life Expectancy

Overall this tends to be a hearty hybrid. There is not much overlap in the parent breed’s congenital problems, which helps avoid them when crossbred. A reasonable life expectancy is 11-14 years.


Pros/Cons

PROS
  • Expect a tireless worker that looks forward to having a job to do.
  • This is a hybrid dog that will learn fast with positive reinforcement training and strong leadership.
  • Strength and fearlessness are both qualities that the parent breeds share. This is no wilting lily!
  • Both parent breeds have a reputation for loyalty and protectiveness, making them good as potential guard dogs.
  • Alert and adventurous, a German Shepherd and Australian Cattle Dog mix is going to be ready for anything!
CONS
  • This cross has a tendency to be headstrong and stubborn, especially if they sense a lack of leadership.
  • Because of the ACD’s poor reputation with small children and other canines, they should be supervised with kids and other dogs.
  • Grooming needs for GSDs are high, including an annual Spring molt of their substantial undercoat. This could translate into high grooming needs in this hybrid.
  • Expect a dog that is somewhat wary with strangers at first. Socialize early and often.
  • A German Shepherd and Blue Heeler mix is very likely to become destructive or neurotic if they are not regularly mentally and physically stimulated.

Blue Heeler (ACD)

This member of the herding group is also known as Australian Cattle Dog (ACD), Red Heeler (actually, this is just a color variation of the breed), or Queensland Heeler. Rest assured all of these breeds refer to the same dog, a tenacious and tireless cattle herding dog, the Blue Heeler.


History

The main challenge in the development of this breed has been to cultivate the body and tenacity to handle the strength and willfulness of cattle, while being lightweight enough to have endurance in the rugged Australian Outback, and being trainable enough to follow instruction.

Stock from many different breeds went into this masterful cattle handler.

Smithfield’s (old English herding dogs), Blue Smooth Highland Collies, Bull Terriers, Dalmatians and Black and Tan Kelpies are among the breeds that contributed to the Australian Cattle Dog.  

In addition, the wild Australian dog, the Dingo, was crossbred in at a few different times during the development of this breed.

Since arguably no dog is better adapted to the harsh environment of the Outback, this infused the breed with the tough endurance it is known for today.


Temperament

ACDs are tenacious and intelligent dogs that have a bit of a stubborn streak.

They are often extremely alert and can become neurotic and pushy if not adequately stimulated and trained.

They are known to be loyal to their family, but can “herd” small children with nips. They are not advised for families with toddlers unless they have an experienced trainer in the household.

The exercise and training requirements for this dog are high.

Bred to do a job that requires extreme focus for long days, the Blue Heeler does best with owners interested in dog sports such as agility or who spend time enjoying the outdoors on a regular basis.


Size

  • Height: 18-21” for males and 17-19” for females at the withers.
  • Weight: 33-49 lbs.

Coat and Appearance

Look for a dense double coat that is both smooth and rain resistant. Accepted colors include variations of blue mottled or speckled with tan accents, and red speckled.


Health and Life Expectancy

  • Average 12-14 years.
  • Congenital problems that sometimes pop up in this breed include deafness and blindness.

German Shepherd (GSD)

Ranking #2 in the 2016 AKC list of most popular dogs in America, the German Shepherd (GSD) looks like a wolf, but has a reputation for fierce loyalty for their human companions.

Despite a long history of work as a military or police dog, this breed is actually a member of the Herding Group.


History

Captain Max von Stephanitz is the man credited with the foundation of this breed. He originally began his breeding program with an eye to standardizing a capable and trainable sheep herding dog breed.

In fact, all German Shepherds today can trace roots back to his dog, Horand Von Grafrath.

Stephanitz was also instrumental in defining the early breed standards for the GSD at the turn of the 19th century. High on his list of priorities were both intelligence and working ability.

As the economy of the German people turned towards rapid industrialization, the GSD found a home excelling as both a military and police dog where they can still be found today.


Temperament

The German Shepherd is known for having a strong work ethic, fierce loyalty to their family, alert but steady disposition, and sharp intelligence.

They have a deep desire to work, although they do require consistent leadership because they can become headstrong.

They have a reputation for being great with children, although teaching the kids not to let the dog boss them around is important. They need to be supervised with other dogs, and early and regular socialization with other canines is critical for this breed.

GSDs have been known to become problem barkers, especially if they are left too long without company and physical and mental stimulation.

Their loud voice can become a problem with neighbors if allowed to become incessant.


Size

In order to confirm to  the AKC breed standard for confirmation, GSDs need to be 24-26” (65-90 lbs.) for males, and 22-24” (50-70 lbs.) for females.

However, the popularity and versatility of the breed means that many breeders are able to breed these noble dogs to be larger than the standard, in some cases much larger.


Coat and Appearance

One of the more controversial aspects of this breed has been a relatively recent shift in the appearance of show dog lines that privileges sloped backs, in some cases, quite severely.

While the sloped back look is winning many confirmation awards (the winner of Crufts 2016 was a severely sloped GSD), most German Shepherds bred as family pets and working dogs lack the significant sloped back.

GSDs are known for being heavy shedders, year-round. In addition, like all double coated breeds, they will have a large molt in the Spring when the thick undercoat will come out by the handfuls for about a week.

They have fur ranging from short to the longer side of medium, in black and tan, all black, sable and even blue and white.


Health and Life Expectancy

Like many large dogs, German Shepherds have a relatively short lifespan, 7-10 years on average.

Elbow and hip dysplasia are common to the breed, particularly for larger specimens. Higher than usual incidents of Hemophilia are also found in this breed.

They can be prone to skin problems such as allergies and hot spots. Certain cancers such as hemangiosarcoma and bone cancer have a higher frequency in GSDs than many other breeds.

Like all large chested dogs, GSDs are at a higher risk for the deadly condition called Bloat, a situation where the stomach turns and gas builds up to dangerous levels. This is a fatal condition if not immediately treated by a skilled veterinarian.


Is the German Shepherd And Blue Heeler Mix a Good Choice for You?

Think you have found the designer dog for you? Check below to be sure.

This is a
great dog for

  • Experienced dog handlers and trainers
  • Those looking for an athletic working dog for help with livestock or ranch duties
  • People that enjoy the outdoors and frequently hike, camp or explore
  • Those with active lifestyles seeking a loyal and capable companion
  • Families with older children who are able to provide strong leadership
  • Folks that don’t mind an intense dog staring at them with a “What’s next?” expression on their face

This is a poor choice
as a dog for

  • First time dog owners
  • Those that tend to be too sensitive to provide correction when necessary
  • Families with small children
  • People that live in apartments or lack access to secure outdoor spaces for regular exercise
  • Folks looking for a super affectionate bond with an emotionally needy pup

For other informative articles on designer dogs with Blue Heeler in them, be sure to check out:

If you happen to have a Blue Heeler German Shepherd mix, we would love to hear from you! Please share your story in the comments section below!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Tom Wolf - January 30, 2018

I have for the first time a 8 mth old gs/bh cross and everything said in this article is spot on . watch it around strangers an young kids , it tends to be skittish and nippy even my girl friend says shes leery around it because of its sneeking up behind her but very loyal and loving to me. Ive been aroung dogs since day one ( im 54) and know dogs very well if properly trained i think she will be a good long time familly member . ( all my animals are life tem animals i believe if you bring a young animal home you better plan on it being family for life. Thats just me ).

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    wileypup - January 31, 2018

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for the comment! Working dogs have a tendency to be a bit more skittish than normal which is why it’s really important to give dogs like these a purpose or job with most of there day to day lives. Could be simple things such as a routine of exercise morning and night, place training for impulse control, learning loose lead walking, and especially lots of exposure to everyday life situations when they’re in there puppy ages all the way through to their adolescent age and beyond. Amazing dogs though, you can really see there mind working and how smart they are just by watching them!

    Reply
    Marcelo Loston - August 21, 2018

    Loving the info on this website , you have done great job on the content.

    Reply
      wileypup - August 21, 2018

      Thank you very much 🙂

      Reply
    R Davis - September 13, 2018

    Did you purchase this dog from a breeder and if so can you give me that breeders contact information so I can contact them. Thank you for your help.

    Reply
D Rohan - March 1, 2018

Im in Northern CA. Looking for a blue heeler/German Shepherd cross. Know of any breeders in the area?

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    wileypup - March 1, 2018

    Hi There,

    Sorry I don’t. Some advice I can give you though is to look for breeders that have a long history of working with either of the parent breeds. They should show medical records and demonstrate that they are concerned not just with a profit, but an overall healthy and happy puppy. Try and get references too!

    Reply
Kimberly Curley - March 7, 2018

I have Bruin. A loveable rescue. I found him 4 years ago and love him so much. He loves our walks and our playtime…the what’s next stare is so him.

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    wileypup - March 7, 2018

    I’m glad you and Bruin found each other and it’s great that you went down the rescue path. That ‘what’s next stare’ has got to be an intelligence thing don’t you think!

    Reply
Allie - April 2, 2018

I disagree with the small children comment, our German Shepherd blue heeler puppy loves our 2 year old. He is so playful with her and never snipped. He definitely looks more like a German Shepherd and doesn’t really have any blue heeler looks to him. He has the cutest white dipped tail though.

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    wileypup - April 2, 2018

    Absolutely! Especially if they’ve been raised with kids from a young age, it’s the herding instinct that can cause some to get a bit over excited at times which can sometimes leading to nipping, this can definitely be trained out of them too though!

    Reply
    Jessica - July 12, 2018

    For a second i thought you were my sister. lol. her name is allie also and she is keeping my blue heeler-german shepherd mix, for the time being, and also has a two year old. she however is not snippy with kids at all! she loves kids but he is nervous around adults at first until she sniffs them and than she is usually okay with them. and she also looks more german shepherd than blue heeler.

    Reply
    Cathy Lynne LaCasse - July 13, 2018

    Agreed. Ours is size of heeler but looks like Sheperd. She is 8 mths old. Loves kids and especially babies. She’s a picky eater!! I’ve tried everything. Any advice?

    Reply
      Austyn - July 24, 2018

      My pup is 3/4 shepherd 1/4 heeler but his favorite food is blue Buffalo wilderness the chicken flavor it took me forever to find one he likes but he loves this one

      Reply
Mia - April 22, 2018

Hi I have a 5 month old red heeler mix. she’s very active and also loves to chew on things I’m trying to tell her to stop in a firm voice.we got her from the pound and she’s still teething but when we redirect her with her toy she will take it for a second then try to get my arm. I’m not exactly sure what to do. Will she stop when she’s older?

Reply
    wileypup - April 22, 2018

    Hi Mia,

    Take my advice with a grain of salt as I haven’t met your dog but I’m confident it’s a teething issue which will improve over time. It’s definitely great that you’re redirecting her chewing, of possible try and remove the things that you don’t want her to chew from her environment (I know easier said than done). You could also try spaying some apple cider vinegar on the areas that she’s chewing, harmless and the taste might deter her, then redirect to a high value chew toy.

    Check out this article: https://www.wileypup.com/best-toys-for-teething-puppies/

    FYI my Heeler x kelpie mix chewed when he was a pup, went through 3 TV remotes (my fault, easy to remove from his environment). He stopped at around 9-10 months from memory!

    Reply
Linda Hansen - April 27, 2018

Another thing you can do is when your puppy comes to nip you (doesn’t matter where), get a firm hold on him, put your hand on his mouth and hold it shut. He’s going to squirm, and fight. Hold until he relaxes, then let go. He’ll run off, shake and probably come back to try again. Keep repeating this until he stops. (But ONLY when he’s nipping at you). A firm NO should be all that’s necessary, repeated each time you catch him in the act. (My Labraheeler only needed to be told NO 3 times. Except the garbage can- that I put in the bathroom and shut the door so he couldn’t get it. Now he knows that it’s not for him).

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Linda Hansen - April 27, 2018

Allie, not all “herding” breeds have the herding instinct, or it may not be strong enough to get the dog to act on it. Best way to find out is take your puppy to an “Instinct Assessment” class. This is what I learned when I took my Labraheeler Rocky to one last December.

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Bei Bei - May 5, 2018

I am working with a acd/gsd now. I love her quirky self so much! She is frustrating and naughty but rewarding. She cocks her head and listens intently. Best communication I taught her— look at me (me). That requires eye contact and a sit from her. Helps her focus and be ready for next command.

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Jessica - July 12, 2018

okay guys! i need some help! i have a 1 year old mix who has never been trained! my parents had gotten a GSD/ACD pup 1 year ago and they never trained her, just kept her in a cage when they were gone and let her out when they got home. and about 3 months ago they had given her to me because they dint want her anymore because she was “destructive”. at the time i was living with them and i was working with her and she started getting a little better. well one day i was at work and i get a lot of texts from my sister telling me i need to go grab her because my dad was going to shoot her because she had eaten a burger off the table. so now i am not currently living there and have moved out with her. does anybody have any tips for me on how to train a 1 year old mix? i am in desperate need of help! any advice will work! i love her to death but idk how to have her get along with my bf’s male beagle and how to make her listen! shes easily distracted!

Reply
    wileypup - July 13, 2018

    Hi Jess,

    First of all thank you for caring so much!
    Absolutely she can be trained. Get a one on one consult with a trainer and then consider taking her to classes. Work with her everyday for 30 mins and she’ll be a different dog in 6 months!

    Reply
Brandi Luttman - August 1, 2018

We have an ACD/GSD mix and she is exactly as you have described. Haha. Her name is Marley and she has such enthusiasm as well as being very focused. She is young and has been destructive when unsupervised.

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Amy Anderson - September 11, 2018

We recently adopted a ACD/GSD mix from a rescue society. He’s a very chill dog in the house, a maniac out on the trails or beach, in a fun way. Very calm, very watchful, not super vocal, affectionate. Mostly super obedient. Our only issue is that he absolutely HATES his hind end being brushed. And he really needs it. Once he sees the brush, or even the soft grooming gloves, he stiffens and tries to get away. I’ve tried giving him really good treats while we’re brushing him, talking, etc..He’ll allow it for maybe 10 seconds then struggles and nips. He’s ok with it any where else on his body. Could his haunches be that sensitive? Or is this just a quirk? I’m considering getting a soft muzzle, but don’t want to lose his trust and totally freak him out. Or, is this an issue where he needs to learn he’s not in charge? Other than this issue, he’s an amazing dog and we’re so happy to have him in our family. He’s great with other dogs, even our old super grumpy Chihuahua who growls at him constantly. However, he sheds like a monster and could definitely needs the grooming…..

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    wileypup - September 12, 2018

    Yeah some dogs are super particular about certain things. My cattle x kelpie is a bit funny with his hind end too.

    As long as you can rule out any medical issue that could be causing the pain, my advice is to slowly desensitize and counter condition. IE feed him high value treats as your softly rubbing his hind end, do this everyday for 5 mins and slowly introduce more pressure and then a brush etc. Takes weeks and dedication 🙂

    Reply
R Davis - September 13, 2018

Looking for a reputable breeder of german shepherd/blue heelers. If anyone can give me any information of one I would greatly appreciate it.

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Kim Johnson - September 16, 2018

I have a ?, I have chickens and they keep getting taken and killed by a racoon. Some one has White German Shepard and Blue Heeler puppies. Would this be a good dog to help protect our chickens from the raccoon that is pulling their heads off through the fence and killing them.

Reply
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