The Cattle Dog Cheat Sheet is a list of questions answered from my own experience and interactions with other heelers and owners I've met along the way.
There are excellent organizations and resources on the web, but I had a hard time finding real feedback from other heeler people, so, I hope this helps!
Are there any questions you find yourself asking or answering regularly, and you think others might find helpful? Email me!
What's the difference between a heeler and a cattle dog?
There is no difference between a blue (or red!) heeler and an Australian cattle dog. The list of names also includes "Queensland Heeler" and "Australian Heeler". The official American Kennel Club title is "Australian Cattle Dog". You will see them used interchangeably on this site. You will also see them inconsistently and randomly capitalized because, well, that's just who I am.
Are heelers good family dogs?
Yes! Heelers are loyal, energetic, smart, and protective. They are very intuitive and able to adapt their play-style to be gentle when appropriate (with small children, for example.)
Are heelers intelligent?
Heelers are extremely intelligent, and with dedication and attention, very trainable. Fair warning, if you don't train them, they will train you.
Do heelers Bark a lot?
In my experience, this comes down to an individual dog, and even down to an individual dog in a given situation. I have seen barking induced by 1. Play with another dog and 2. Protection of territory (someone walking near the fenceline.) Here's how we manage barking with our heeler.
are heelers aggressive?
Heelers. like any other dog, can become aggressive due to intentional training or lack of socialization. In my experience, it is the natural herding behavior that is perceived as aggressive.
can a heeler live in an apartment?
With sufficient attention and exercise, absolutely. In fact, we are so passionate about this circumstance not discouraging people from considering this breed that we wrote our first post about it! For our extremely biased opinion, check out this article.
do heelers shed?
I wish I could say "but, it's not that bad!"
But, yes. They do. But not more than any other shedder. We use SleekEZ deshedding brush (medium size, personally), which works great AFTER a day at doggy day care when they're good and tired (lest it become a fun [not] game of let's-try-and-eat-that-thing-in-mom's-hand.) Also, I'm one of those people that considers myself a "dog mom". I know, BLECH, but what can I say.
can heelers be left home alone?
This is another "depends on the individual dog" one. We experimented with it and soon discovered ours was chewing on the walls, presumably out of boredom. We moved to crating him during the day and taking him out for several hours at night, but that wasn't fair to him or sustainable for us, so now we take him to a "day care" during the day. Check out this post for some more details.
are heelers good with other dogs?
In my experience, yes!! There's nothing like another pup pal to tire out a heeler. Dog parks and "doggy day cares" are great ways to socialize them, and will give you options if you can't get them out for several hours each day.