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Australian Cattle Dog vs Blue Heeler: The Key Differences (With Pictures)

Written by: Ed Malaker

Last Updated on April 30, 2024 by Dogster Team


Australian Cattle Dog vs Blue Heeler: The Key Differences (With Pictures)

The Australian Cattle Dog and the Blue Heeler are two similar-looking dogs, and many people wonder what the differences are between them. You may be shocked to find out they are the same breed! The Blue Heeler is simply a color variation of the Australian Cattle Dog. So, if you are thinking about getting one of these pups for your home but would like to see if there are any other differences between them, keep reading as we discuss their respective training, grooming, and health.divider-dog

Visual Differences

Image Credit: Left: Australian Cattle Dog, artbycharlotte, Pixabay, Right: Blue Heeler, Madelein Wolfaardt, Shutterstock

At a Glance

Australian Cattle Dog
  • Average length (adult): 43–50 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 28–36 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–14 years
  • Exercise: 45 minutes a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Sometimes
  • Trainability: Intelligent, able to learn complex tasks
Blue Heeler
  • Average length (adult): 43–51 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 28–49 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–14 years
  • Exercise: 45 minutes a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Sometimes
  • Trainability: Able to learn complex tasks


Australian Cattle Dog Overview

fun Australian Cattle Dog shepherd puppy
Image Credit: Best dog photo, Shutterstock


The Australian Cattle Dog is a muscular dog with a strong work drive that was popular with the cowboys in the western U.S. due to their expert ability to herd sheep. They’re highly intelligent and can help hunt games and participate in sporting activities. These dogs love being around family members and are more tolerant of children getting rough with them than many other breeds. When not playing with the kids, you will usually find the Australian Cattle Dog sitting at your feet, waiting patiently for attention.


The best way to train your Australian Cattle Dog is to hold short sessions at the same time each day to help get them into a routine where they expect to learn. Make it fun so your dog looks forward to it, and always have a few treats on hand to reward your pet. Holding your sessions immediately after exercise each day can help keep your dog focused on learning instead of chasing after a small animal.

Suitable For:

The Australian Cattle Dog is well suited to large families that can help them get the exercise they need to stay healthy. Children especially have nearly limitless supplies of energy, which can help your pet stay active longer and less likely to get into mischief. Its territorial characteristics help them excel at protecting your home from strangers and intruders.


Blue Heeler Overview

training Australian Cattle dog
Image Credit: lara-sh, Shutterstock


A dominant, recessive gene is responsible for the coat color that causes the Australian Cattle dog to acquire the name Blue Heeler, and they aren’t the only variation of the Australian Cattle Dog. Another variation is the Red Heeler, which has a gene that causes them to have a red appearance instead of blue. All three dogs are extremely similar, with no noticeable difference between them outside of their different colors.


The Blue Heeler is a versatile herd dog that will require plenty of exercise each day if you don’t live on a farm that can keep them occupied. We recommend setting aside at least 45 minutes each day, no matter how you’re feeling, to help your dog burn off extra energy and calories so they can maintain an ideal weight. We recommend high-energy activities like swimming and fetch that can help tire your pet out quickly. Other family members can help your pet get even more exercise.

Suitable For:

Like the Australian Cattle Dog, the Blue Heeler is well suited to larger families that can help them stay active and give them a sense of purpose. They like to follow around each family member to learn their behaviors and habits but will also spend plenty of time underfoot as you go about your daily chores.

Australian Cattle Dog Blue Heeler walking with owner
Image Credit: Tanya Consaul Photography, Shutterstock


Which Breed Is Right for You?

When choosing between the Australian Cattle Dog and the Blue Heeler, you will be glad to learn that they are both the same breed, so the choice becomes much simpler and is only about deciding which color you want. Since the Blue Heeler requires a special gene to get the blue fur, they can be slightly more difficult to breed and therefore, more expensive. In many cases, you might even find that you need to sign up for a long waiting list to get a Blue Heeler if there are not many breeders in your area. Choose the standard Australian Cattle Dog when you want a less expensive breed quicker.

Featured Image Credit: (Top) cynoclub, Shutterstock, (Bottom) Madelein Wolfaardt, Shutterstock

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