Taking Care of a Blue Heeler Puppy

A well-trained blue heeler can be an excellent companion for a family with a large yard.

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The blue heeler is a high-energy, medium-sized herding breed. Also known as the “Queensland Heeler” and the “Australian Cattle Dog,” this breed is powerful, agile, and brave. However, it is also wary, independent, and prone to nip, making it inappropriate for families with very small children or first-time dog owners. With the appropriate care and training, blue heelers make fine companions and excellent working and performance event dogs.

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As with any puppy, your blue heeler requires regular checkups and vaccinations. Your puppy also needs to be checked for other diseases and conditions that will affect it later in life, such as progressive retinal apathy, elbow dysplasia, and von Willebrands disease.

Basic Obedience and Herding Behavior

All puppies should have basic obedience training. At the very least, your puppy should be taught to come when called, walk quietly on a leash, sit on command, and stay in place. Your blue heeler puppy, being a herding dog, also needs to learn not to nip people -- which is one of the tools it uses when working cattle. You can teach it to behave by gently grasping its muzzle when it nips and holding its head to the floor for a few seconds or buy yelping the way a litter mate would yelp when nipped. Teaching it not to nip takes a lot of patience and persistence, since it is a deeply ingrained behavior.


Socialization is an important part of caring for your blue heeler puppy, due to the breed’s wary nature. Make certain to give it contact with as many other dogs and people as possible, in as many situations as possible. Make certain to bring as many treats as possible, so that socialization training is a pleasant experience.

Good Grooming

A blue heeler’s coat needs very little care. Its double coat needs only an occasional good brushing and combing to keep it healthy. If your dog is prone to getting very dirty, its coat can withstand frequent baths with a gentle shampoo. If you do bathe your dog frequently, though, make certain to use a gentle shampoo and condition the coat when it feels dry.

Keep Your Blue Heeler Occupied

Your blue heeler will seem tireless. Because it is an energetic and intelligent dog, your blue heeler will need things to do; it cannot be left in the backyard to entertain itself. Your puppy will need interactive toys, as well as frequent play times and training for a job to do. Even when it is young, you can start the most basic agility or herding training. It must have both physical and mental stimulation to be happy and healthy. However, do not put a lot of stress on your puppy during early training: restrict it to moderately long walks and avoid straining its growing bones, joints and muscles by keeping it from long runs and twisting and jumping during play.

ReferencesAmerican Kennel Club; AKC Meet the Breeds: Australian Cattle Dog; 1999PetMD: Australian Cattle; ACD FAQ; Ann; Living with Australian Cattle Dogs: Exercise and Your ACD; Ann McQuillenPhoto Credit Duncan Smith/Photodisc/Getty ImagesRead Next:

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