Red Heeler | Red Australian Cattle Dog: Facts, Traits & History

A Red Heeler puppy.
A Red Heeler puppy. Photography © asiafoto | iStock / Getty Images Plus.
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Dogster Team

What is a Red Heeler? Some quick facts

  • Weight: 35 – 45 pounds
  • Height: 17 – 20 inches

What does a Red Heeler dog look like?

Red Heelers are solid, sturdy, and compact dogs with an alert, ready-to-work stance. Slightly longer than tall with curved, hanging tails, Red Heelers have muscular legs and strong necks. They have broad, somewhat rounded heads with pointy ears. Their dense, weather-resistant coats are usually red-speckled with possible dark or tan markings.


  • Protective
  • Alert
  • Clever
  • Easily bored
  • Hardworking

Ideal Human Companion

  • Singles
  • Active, sporty types
  • Families
  • Hunters
  • Ranchers

What is a Red Heeler like to live with?

Not content with sitting around the house for hours, Red Heelers will encourage you to take them outside for exercise, play, and work. They are high-energy, intelligent, and active dogs with a steady attitude.

Red Heelers have a sense of independence, not requiring much in the way of cuddling or affection. Though tough and steady, they definitely appreciate praise and good treatment. Sometimes their herding instincts come into play at home. They may “herd” family members or nip lightly at heels if they want something. Red Heelers can be cautious and wary, making them excellent watchdogs.

Things you should know

Red Heelers need activities, tasks, and lots of room to run; therefore, they are probably not suited for apartment living. Without open spaces and jobs to do, they can get into mischief and destructiveness.

According to, a healthy Red Heeler can live as long as 15 years. Common health issues may include eye problems, hip dysplasia, and deafness. Unless you live on a ranch, plan on keeping your Red Heeler on a leash. They are very curious and love to run and roam.

Red Heeler history

By crossing native Dingoes with Collies and other herding dogs, Australian George Elliott developed the Red Heeler, a.k.a. Australian Cattle Dog, in 1840. Ranchers were impressed with the breed’s toughness and work ethic, and they quickly became popular as cattle herders. Red Heelers continue to be popular with ranchers and cattlemen, not to mention regular pet owners.

Read next: Are Blue Heelers Really Blue?

Featured Image Credit: adogslifephoto | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

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