Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix: 26 Things Every Owner Should Know

Both parents are exceptional dogs: the iconic German Shepherd, crossed with the specialized canine that opened up the Australian beef industry, the Blue Heeler. You will have a highly intelligent, enthusiastic, versatile athlete. There is only one thing you will not be able to do with it – stay at home!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Misha Bear ( on


It will be well-muscled and strong, medium to large, but pleasingly balanced. The body length could be long or fairly short. The face, forelegs, and paws will probably have shorter hair than towards the thighs. It will have a curved, long tail and a confident, perhaps quizzical expression.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Maine Dog Trainers (@offleashk9training__maine) on

Weight & Height
Given that the female is often more finely built than the male German Shepherd, the weight will vary widely. You can expect something between 35 to 85 pounds (16-39 kg). The mature height of your Cattle Shepherd should be anything from 18 to 26 inches (46-66 cm).

Its gait is easy and tireless, with a strong forward thrust. Both parent breeds are herders and capable of enormous bursts of speed, if needed, to head off sheep or a roaring bull. The German Shepherd parent has a strong unit between its hock and foot to facilitate this.

Coat Color
The Cattle Shepherd can have a variety of coat colors. The Shepherd parent will bring black and tan. The Heeler parent will bring a blue base color, mottled or speckled. Gray, sable, white, and red can also appear. This mix will probably have a face mask and body markings.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Nova, Aus. Cattle/Shepherd Mix (@super_nova____) on

Coat Length & Thickness
This mix has a double, water-resistant coat. Its outer coat is dense, with straight hair lying close to the body and a softer undercoat. Its head, foreface, legs, and paws have a shorter coat than its neck and body. There might be a slight waviness over its legs.


Both parents have so many excellent shared tendencies, so you can expect temperamental stability. Confidence, courage, curiosity, loyalty, and protectivity are all shared positive traits. Its dominance, stubbornness, and independence will be challenging. Your dog will require an experienced and strong pack leader, and it will look to you.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Oliver Christopher Bean (@the.oli.bean) on

Does Not Like Being Alone
Your Cattle Shepherd will have an independent streak and may be cautious around strangers. It will form a particularly strong bond with one person, even in a family setting. It will not be happy if it is separated from that person for long periods.

Will Bark, Dig & Chew if Bored 
The Cattle Shepherd is immensely energetic. You need an active lifestyle or a job where your dog can work with you. If it is not occupied, it will likely become destructive and bark a lot. The Shepherd parent’s bark holds second place for the loudest bark ever recorded.

Not Aggressive but Unruly if Untrained
This mix must be socialized and trained from the first day. Its Shepherd parent is described as aggressive, and has a bite stronger than a pitbull at 238 PSI. The Heeler parent will control the path of a steer by nipping at its weight-bearing ankles, and will herd running children.

Will Be Happy in Any Climate 
Your Cattle Shepherd will have an intense work ethic and be tough, determined, and endure in any endeavor. In other words, it won’t know when to stop. You must learn the signs of overheating or becoming incapacitated from the cold and intervene when necessary, especially in competitive sports.

Companion or Suitability Factor

Consider the time factor. Will you and your family make time to exercise it a minimum of two hours a day, groom it a minimum of three times a week, and, most of all, enjoy it? The Cattle Shepherd is an extraordinary dog, but does take time to care for.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Misha Bear ( on

Kid-Friendly with Caution
Your Cattle Shepherd is going to be very active as a puppy and will probably enjoy playing with energetic children, but this is not necessarily safe. Never leave children unattended with a dog. Also, this mix is likely to be sensitive to noise and unruly children could irritate it.

Is Not Apartment Friendly
The Cattle Shepherd needs a lot of exercise and is an active mix. It would ideally live where it has plenty of space to roam. It could live in an apartment if it were exercised sufficiently, but there are other dogs that are better for apartment living.

Is an Excellent Watchdog and Guard Dog 
The Blue Heeler German Shepherd mix is likely to be an excellent watchdog, protective of family, distrustful of strangers, and with a high prey drive. The Shepherds make excellent guard dogs, and the Heeler is alert and watchful and could also be trained to guard.

Not Good for Senior Citizens 
This mix needs lots of personal attention and regular intensive exercise most of its life. If you are experienced with dogs, a particularly active and fit senior, and your time is your own, you could take an older dog from a shelter or rescue with a reasonable chance of success.

A Great Service, Working and Therapy Dog
The Cattle Shepherd can be trained to do anything, like service for people with disabilities, emotional support, search and rescue, explosives and drug detection, herding, therapy volunteering, providing comfort in nursing homes, etc. The famous movie canine, Rin Tin Tin, was a German Shepherd!

Tends to Get Along with Other Pets if Trained Properly
If the Cattle Shepherd will be joining a family with pets, introduce it on neutral ground. It will probably emerge as the alpha, but be patient for it to find its place in the home pack. Take it to socialization classes, preferably before 14 weeks. Be watchful around unknown dogs.

Comfortable on a Boat 
This mix should be comfortable in the water. Its coat is water repellent, and it will shake most of it off. Still, there will be enough left to destroy your car interior, so make sure to dry it off after it swims. Have life jackets handy for unusual situations.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jules Wilson (@affili8ed_julesvw) on

Intelligence & Training

You have one smart pup. You need to understand that “intelligent” is not the same as “easy to train.” In fact, it’s the opposite. Your dog will have its own ideas, is confident, can be stubborn, and will want to be in charge. You must be a strong leader.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Nova, Aus. Cattle/Shepherd Mix (@super_nova____) on

Extremely Intelligent
Stanley Coren, intelligence guru, puts the German Shepherd at 3rd and the Australian Cattle Dog at 10th most intelligent dog in 138 breeds, among the 10 best “Working and Intelligence” dogs. It will learn a new command in under five repetitions and obey that first command 95% of the time.

Training Could Be Challenging
Start training immediately, and train it frequently in short sessions. Use positive reinforcement and combine physical activity with mental stimulation. The parent dogs usually work alone and not in teams like sled dogs. It has an in-built independent streak and will respond well to having to make its own decisions.

Physical Needs

This mix is not hypoallergenic, and you need a powerful vacuum cleaner. This is a shedding dog and will be a way of life you will have to manage. Spend 10 to 15 minutes every day with a bristle brush, as this tactile contact will benefit you and your dog.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Misha Bear ( on

Adults Eat 4 to 6 Cups Dry Food a Day 
Puppies need five meals a day, dropping eventually to three meals to avoid “bloat.” There will be a growth spurt from four to seven months. Discuss steadying its growth with its veterinarian to avoid issues with its joints. Its adult diet should include meat protein, yogurt, eggs, and vegetables.

Needs At Least 60 Minutes Exercise Twice a Day 
This mix needs 60 minutes of exercise, twice a day, plus three additional high-intensity exercise sessions per week. Consider replacing its need for a job and mental stimulation with canine sports. You might have to hire a dog walker so it gets sufficient exercise. Its lifespan is 9-14 years.

Shedding & Bathing
The Cattle Shepherd will shed all year round and then very heavily twice a year when it “blows” its undercoat. When that is happening, you should remove dead hair every day. Bathe when necessary, not more than once a month. It has sensitive skin, so use a natural shampoo.

Clean the ears of your Cattle Shepherd with damp cotton ball and check carefully for any signs of irritation. If it swims regularly, keep its inside ear hair clipped medium short. Brush its teeth three times a week, paying special attention to the back molars. Clip its nails regularly.

Background & Pricing for a Puppy

The Australian Cattle Dog comes from Australia. In the 1800s in Australia, Thomas Hall cross-bred his English Sheepdogs with Dingoes, creating “Hall’s heelers,” training them to drive cattle across thousands of miles. This dog was bred with Dalmatians, Smithfield Terriers, Highland Collies and Kelpies to produce the Australian Cattle Dog.

All German Shepherds come from a dog called Horand von Grafrath. It was originally bred by Captain Max von Stephanitz as the “perfect herder,” starting in 1899. Once the need for herding declined in Europe, Von Stephanitz promoted the German Shepherd as the ideal K-9 worker.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by mocha banh (@mochathepuppo) on

The Blue Heeler is registered as the Australian Cattle Dog. The “Red Heeler” is simply a color variation. It is also called the Queensland, Australian or Hall’s Heelers. In Britain and Europe, the German Shepherd is called an Alsatian. The mix is the Cattle or German Heeler Shepherd.

Price for a Puppy
It is difficult to give a price, as there are very few breeders. This dog is a major commitment and can live to 16 years. The mix has been around for 30 years, and perhaps visiting shelters and rescues will reveal your perfect dog. Local parent breeders could supply leads.

Health Issues

If you are lucky enough to find a designer breeder who has a litter, make absolutely sure that you see at least one of the parents and that you receive copies of the breeding clearance certificates for both parents. Be aware that the merle gene is probably present genetically.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by mocha banh (@mochathepuppo) on

Bloat (Gastric Torsion)
A frightening problem with larger, deep-chested, active dogs is “bloat.” This happens when the stomach is suddenly filled with gas, causing it to twist and cut off the return of blood to the heart. If not immediately relieved, this causes blood pressure to plummet, resulting in a life-threatening situation.

Bloat often happens after eating too fast, and the signs are a swollen abdomen, dry retching, lethargy, weak or rapid heart rate, and restless pacing. This is the main reason your German Heeler Shepherd should receive three small meals, rather than the conventional two per day.

Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
Dysplasia often occurs in larger dogs that tend to experience growth spurts. The leg femur is not snuggly fit into the pelvic socket, or the three bones forming the elbow grow at differing rates. Then, as the dog matures, these abnormalities can cause pain, and are often really disabling.

Avoid this problem by requesting copies of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) joint scoring results, where only “fair” or higher is acceptable. The University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement program is also an option. In Britain, this service is offered by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and Kennel Club (KC).

Congenital Hereditary Sensorineural Deafness (CHSD)
CHSD is inherited and usually can be tested for at six weeks. It is associated with certain coat characteristics and abnormal neuroepithelial pigment production. It used to be linked directly to the coat colors, but this has been disproved. More risk has been associated with animals with mask-free faces.

CHSD results in deafness in one or both ears and it does not appear to be correctable with surgery. More importantly, CHSD may also cause blindness, a far more difficult problem. Consider getting the Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) test for both of your Cattle Shepherd’s parents.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.