Blue Heeler vs Australian Shepherd

blue heeler vs australian shepherd dogs

The Blue Heeler, also known as the Australian Cattle Dog, and the Australian Shepherd share similar characteristics and significant differences worth considering if you’re looking to adopt one of these dog breeds.

Both dog breeds are energetic and loyal and make excellent family pets. They offer unique characteristics worth researching before you bring a puppy home, including size, history, longevity, and other factors.

Table of Contents

Similarities Between the Blue Heeler and the Australian Shepherd

There are several attributes that both dog breeds share in common, which make them a popular choice for adoption:

  • The Australian Shepherd and Blue Heeler are herding dogs and work well on farms, ranches, and other animals
  • They are loyal to their human companions, with pleasant personalities, and are generally easy to train
  • Both breeds are medium in size, ranging between seventeen and twenty-three inches in height and thirty to sixty-five pounds as an adult dog. On average, the Australian Shepherd is slightly larger in stature

Key Differences Between the Australian Shepherd and Blue Heeler

While the Blue Heeler and Australian Shepherd share many characteristics, they differ significantly in appearance, origin, and behavior. Australian Shepherds were initially bred in North America and, despite their name, did not originate from Australia.

They are popular in rodeos, on ranches, and farms as herding dogs. The Blue Heeler is sometimes called an Australian Cattle Dog and has roots in Australia. This dog is related to the DIngo and was introduced as a new breed in the 1800s when it was bred with Blue Merle Collies.

Coat Color, Texture, and Appearance

The Australian Shepherd and Blue Heeler have distinctly different coat types and textures. While the Australian Blue Heeler has a thick, dense coat of fur that’s typically blue or red merle in color, the Australian Shepherd has a shaggy, double coat of fur that’s fluffy in red, black, merle, and blue.

Aussie Shepherds often require regular grooming due to their thick, long, and wavy coat layers to prevent matting and tangles, whereas the Blue Heeler’s coat is easier to maintain due to its short length.

Both dog breeds are considered medium in size, with the Blue Heeler being a slightly smaller breed, though both dogs are very active and thrive on outdoor exercise, which keeps them robust and healthy.

australian shephard running in ground
Photo Source: Pexels

Behavior and Personality

Since both dog breeds fall into the herding group, they tend to display a lively nature with a calm temperament. Australian Shepherds and Blue Heelers don’t typically display aggressive behavior, though in some cases, they may nip at an animal during the herding process if they work on a farm or ranch.

Either breed makes an ideal family pet, though Blue Heelers may be prone to biting if they feel threatened, or they are not appropriately trained due to their habit of herding cattle in the same way. For this reason, it’s essential to begin training from a young age, so they can learn to socialize.

The Australian Shepherd is known for their loyalty, just like the Blue Heeler, though they are less likely to wander. Blue Heelers have a sense of adventure that can lead them to stray more than Aussie Shepherds, who are more comfortable at home and in familiar surroundings.

Health and Longevity

Like most dog breeds, both the Australian Shepherd and Blue Heeler enjoy a healthy life of between ten and fifteen years.

On average, Aussie Shepherds enjoy a slightly longer lifespan, between twelve to fifteen years, while Blue Heelers can expect to live between ten and thirteen years. Many factors impact your dog’s longevity, including health, hereditary, and environment.

Several health conditions are expected in specific breeds, and blue Heelers may risk developing retinal atrophy, deafness, hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia. On the other hand, Australian Shepherds are at risk of developing epilepsy, hip dysplasia, and nasal dermatitis.

While there is always the possibility of developing a serious medical condition, regular checkups at the veterinarian can help prevent these conditions. An early diagnosis can improve the effectiveness of treatment and quality of life for your pup.

It’s not uncommon for many dogs of either breed to outlive their average lifespan and enjoy an entire life into the later stages with proper care, nutrition, and medical attention.

Selecting the Perfect Dog Breed for Your Family

Australian Shepherds are one of the top breeds adopted by families due to their friendly, pleasant nature and intelligence. They tend to stick close to home, enjoy socializing, play, and train well.

A breed comparison between the Aussie Shepherd and the Blue Heeler indicates excellent reasons to buy either breed, depending on your household and location.

For example, a Blue Heeler makes an excellent guard dog with a strong herding instinct, which makes them perfect for rural locations. You’ll find Australian Cattle Dog rescue easily, as they aren’t afraid to wander and search for someone or help in the event of danger.

If you adopt a Blue Heeler mix or an Australian Shepherd mix, you’ll likely notice some of the same characteristics in these dogs, similar to purebred pups.

You’ll find these breeds are among the top popular choices for pet adoption, along with the Yorkshire Terrier, Border Collie, Dutch Shepherd, and the German Shepherd.


Since the Aussie Shepherd and Blue Heeler have many outstanding characteristics for a family dog, they are worth considering for your new pet.

Before you finalize a decision, it’s vital to review your home’s household, location, and environment to determine which puppy would adapt best and thrive with you and your family.

With regular veterinarian visits, a well-balanced dog food diet, proper nutrition, and regular exercise, you’ll enjoy the companionship of these great dog breeds.

Posted in

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.