Blue Heeler Lab Mix | Discover The Labraheeler

One of the more interesting designer dog breeds to surface in the last decade is the Labrador Retriever and Blue Heeler hybrid. This crossbreed has some unique characteristics that makes it a good choice for active families, farms and ranches.

This guide takes an in depth look at the Lab and Blue Heeler mix, followed by some information on both parent breeds.

If you are looking to add a Labraheeler to your pack, be sure to stay tuned for our decision guide, tucked in at the end of this page.


Blue Heeler Lab Mix | The Labraheeler

Temperament

The Labraheeler has been blessed with two parent breeds known for being intelligent and easy to train.

Likewise, both are known to become unruly and destructive if not given proper leadership as well as mental and physical stimulation.

This is a dog that will have high exercise needs. Since both dogs are athletic, dog sports such as agility, dock diving or dog parkour will keep this powerhouse fit and balanced. Outdoor rural living is another setting where this hybrid dog is sure to shine.

Families with small children might be best advised to pick a less high-strung breed. ACDs are not known for being particularly careful with kids, and in some cases, they have been known to try to aggressively herd children and pets alike.

This mix usually brings a good attitude to any adventure.

The Lab brings a little playfulness to the ACDs serious side, making for a designer dog more suited for family life that a pure bred Blue Heeler.


Size

There is a wide variation in size because of the difference between the Lab and ACD. An athletic build between 17-24” with a weight between 35-80 pounds is to be expected.


Coat and Appearance

The parent dogs of this designer dog look very different, down to coat, ears, eyes and tails. Many Blue Heeler Lab mixes are strikingly beautiful, however.

The blue speckled color of the ACD is often found in alternating patches with the solid colors typical of Labs: Black, Chocolate and Yellow. Striking eye patches are also common, and can really make for an expressive face.


Health and Life Expectancy

The average lifespan of this mix breed dog is around 14 years. However as low as 12 and as high as 16 can be expected. There are not many shared congenital issues, making hereditary problems less likely than in many purebred dogs.


Pros/Cons

PROS
  • Athletic and energetic, this is a breed that can work or play all day long.
  • Expect an intelligent dog that needs to be mentally challenged in order to stay balanced.
  • This is a breed that will learn fast with consistent training.
  • More relaxed than the Blue Heeler, the Labraheeler is likely to get along with people and dogs if properly socialized.
CONS
  • This mix can be headstrong, particularly if there is not strong and consistent leadership in the pack.
  • The Lab side of the mix means that everything will need the mouth test. If not kept busy, this can be an extremely destructive dog.
  • The strong drive to please is tied to a dog’s need for the validation and company of their pack. They are not well suited to be left alone during a long work day.

Blue Heeler | Australian Cattle Dog

The Blue Heeler is also known by several other names depending on the region. You may hear them called Australian Cattle Dogs (ACD), or Queensland Heelers.

In fact, when people say “Cattle Dog” most are referring to this breed. Some folks call the red color variations a Red Heeler, although technically this is still a Blue Heeler by breed type.


History

The roots of this breed are found in Australia during the early 1800’s.

Cattle farmers needed a dog that could help keep their herds in line over vast distances in the extreme climate of the Australian Outback.

The herding stock that settlers brought with them from the British Isles had good herding skills, but lacked the perfect combination of endurance and tenacity that these cattle farmers needed.

With the help of crossing with several breeds, the Blue Heeler was recognized as a breed with a fixed breed standard in 1903.

Such crossings over the course of nearly a century included wild Australian Dingos, Smithfields, Blue Smooth Highland Collies, Dalmatians, Bull Terriers and Black and Tan Kelpies.


Temperament

ACDs are well known for being extremely intelligent and trainable… as long as you have a strong and patient personality to match their sometimes stubborn dispositions.

After all, a dog bred to face down a steer weighing over a ton is going to need plenty of tenacity.

This can be a great family dog, although they are better placed in homes without small children since they can decide that “herding” children is their job, and for the Blue Heeler, herding means ankle biting. In addition, they can sometimes develop possessive tendencies and may not have a good attitude about sharing toys.

Hyper vigilant and energetic, ACDs are great companions for those that enjoy hiking, biking or other strenuous outdoor activities.

Another popular hobby with lovers of this breed are dog sports such as agility, and of course, herding trials.


Size

Adult males tend to be between 18-21” with females averaging between 17-19”. Typical weight is between 33-49 pounds, with males slightly heavier than females.


Coat and Appearance

The coat of the Australian Cattle Dog is water resistant.

A thick undercoat is topped with short, smooth and thick top coat. They come in several color variations including mottled blue, speckled blue, and speckled red. Tan “points” are common with the blue variations as well.

They are stockier and shorter than many other herding breeds, yet still quite athletic. Their distinctive coat and intense gaze make them striking to look at, another reason for the popularity of this breed.


Health and Life Expectancy

  • 12-14 years.
  • About 14.5% of ACDs are deaf in one ear, 2.4% are deaf in both.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy is a hereditary problem that affects some Cattle Dogs.

Labrador Retriever

In 2017, to the surprise of no one, the Labrador Retriever ranked number one for the most popular dog breed in America by the AKC.

Oh…and this was the 26th consecutive year in a row the Lab has taken the honor! To say this is a popular dog is a serious understatement!


History

The history of the Labrador Retriever is relatively well documented, and we don’t want to get into too much detail here.

Instead, a few fun facts:

  • The breed was first officially recognized by the Kennel Club in England in 1903, although it was known commonly for at least three decades prior.
  • A chocolate Lab named Buddy joined the Clinton family at the White House in 1997.
  • 1899 marked the year that the very first Yellow Lab appeared, named Ben of Hyde.
  • It was not until the 1930’s that Chocolate Labs appeared on the scene.

Temperament

It is likely that their temperament, both as loyal and trainable sporting dogs and as family pets, is what keeps this breed at the top of popularity year after year.

Labs are friendly and outgoing. They are usually quite good with children and other dogs. They can be quite energetic, particularly until age 3, when many will at least find their “off switch” and learn to enjoy more couch cuddle time.

Intelligent, easy to train, and athletic makes the Lab one of the preferred breeds for dog sports such as agility, flyball and dock diving.

Most Labs adore the water, and of course, a vigorous game of catch. They are also great sniffers and many compete in scent trials or have been trained to detect drugs or bombs.

Some Labs can be quite talkative, and prone to bark at the slightest provocation.

Others, less so. Unless traumatized through neglect or abuse, most of these lighthearted dogs greet strangers with an open heart and wagging tails, making them poor guard dogs.


Size

The breed standard calls for dogs between 22 ½ - 24 ½” and bitches between 21 ½ - 22 ½“. Weight for confirming dogs should be between 65-80 lbs. with bitches coming in 55-70 lbs.

However, it is important to understand that due to the popularity of this breed, there is a much larger variation in size among Labs bred by those not necessarily concerned with confirmation.

In fact, some breeders go out of their way to breed labs that are heavier or shorter, according to regional tastes or to attract customers.


Coat and Appearance

There are only three official colors accepted by the AKC: Black, Chocolate and Yellow.

That being said, there are many breeders selectively breeding for designer colors such as brindle and champagne colored labs which are still technically possible from purebred lines!

Stocky build with a short and dense shiny coat are a few of the characteristic looks of Labrador Retrievers. Floppy ears, soft eyes and a medium muzzle help frame the face of the most popular dog face in America.


Health and Life Expectancy

One of the biggest downsides of Labs are their relatively short lifespans of 10-12 years.

The breed is rather plagued with hip and elbow dysplasia, although good breeding and medical screening can help mitigate the risks. Cataracts, Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Epilepsy are other conditions that can be hereditary for this breed.

A condition called Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia (TVD) is still rare but may be on the rise with Labrador Retrievers.

It is identifiable at birth, so consider having your puppy screened with an ultrasound before purchase or adoption.

Less acute health issues include dermatitis and ear infections, both of which are usually treatable.  


Labraheeler: Is a Blue Heeler and Labrador Mix Right for You?

If you are thinking about finding a Labraheeler to add to your life, consider the following tips before making your decision:

This is a
great dog for

  • Experienced dog trainers looking for a hard-working dog that is eager to please and a joy to play with 
  • Folks that have access to open land or secured outdoor areas for daily exercise. A daily walk around the block isn’t going to cut it! 
  • Ranchers and farmers looking for some help with livestock, but with a companion that is also affectionate and playful 
  • •Folks looking for a high drive dog to compete in dog sports
  • Exercise junkies that want a running or cycling mate that can keep up 
  • Outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy fishing, camping, hunting and hiking

This is a poor choice
as a dog for

  • First time dog owners 
  • Apartment dwellers
  • Folks with a sedentary lifestyle looking for a fellow couch potato
  • People that are too soft spoken to correct a dog when necessary
  • Families with small children 
  • People that work long hours and need to leave their dog alone all day

Not quite the right fit? Check out these informative articles on other hybrid dogs with Blue Heeler blood:

We would love to hear from our readers who have a Blue Heeler Lab mix in the comments section below!

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