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Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix Breed Information: Facts, Traits, Pictures & More

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Last Updated: December 8, 2023 | 11 min read | Leave a Comment

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The Blue Heeler and German Shepherd are very popular in the U.S., and their mixed puppy is becoming a massive hit with dog lovers. They are sometimes called German Blue Heelers, German Cattle Dogs, or Cattle Shepherds, but whatever you label them, they are super cute. Like their parents, they have a strong drive for work and activity, so they need an active family. They crave attention and human company, too, so if you’re considering adopting one of these pups, you must be around for most of their day.

The German Blue Heeler is a large-sized dog that combines his parent’s wonderful traits. As a relatively new mixed breed, you cannot be sure which traits they might inherit. So you need to know that you like both of their parents and can meet their needs, whatever traits they inherit. This is why we look at both parent breeds’ history and character, which can tell us a lot about what to expect from this dog.

The German Blue Heeler is a top choice if you can’t pick between the two or if you’re looking for a quirky version of either parent. These pups are extremely fun, protective, and loving to their family. Let’s look at everything you need to know about this handsome hybrid pooch.

German Shepherd Blue Heeler
    • weight iconWeight45-80 pounds
    • height iconHeight19-24 inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan9-14 years
    • color iconColorsBlack, blue, tan, and white
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Exercise Needs
  • Puppy Costs

History

Many people researching dog breeds often skip their history, but it’s one of the most important and informative aspects. Not only does it tell you what they were created for, but it also can tell you a lot about what to expect from them as family pets. There isn’t much history to go on for the German Blue Heeler, but they were most likely created in the late 20th century when crossbreeding became popular in the U.S.

Blue Heeler

A Blue Heeler outside in a meadow.
Their history began in the mid-19th century when Anglo-Australians ventured inland to raise beef cattle.

The Blue Heeler isn’t technically a dog breed, just like the Red Heeler isn’t. Instead, it’s the nickname given to blue-colored Australian Cattle Dogs. English dog breeds were unsuited to the hot climate and harsh terrain of Australia. So, a man named George Elliot bred Dingoes with Collies and sold these herding hounds to local farmers. These pups were later bred with Dalmatians and Black and Tan Kelpies, creating the Australian Cattle Dog.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), Heelers are becoming increasingly popular and have broken into America’s top 50 dog breeds. They have a strong work ethic and herd everything in sight, which is why they are so good at working on ranches. They can be aloof with strangers and protective of their family, but they are super fun with their favorite humans. Blue Heelers weigh between 35 and 50 pounds and measure between 17 and 20 inches tall, from paw to shoulder.

German Shepherd

A gray-haired German Shepherd Dog looking over his sholder at the camera on a grey background.
According to the AKC, GSDs have long been in America’s top five most popular breeds.

The German Shepherd is one of the most recognized dog breeds in the world, thanks to their common employment in police and military forces worldwide. But they didn’t start as protection dogs. Like the Blue Heeler, they were initially herding dogs, hence the “Shepherd.” In the late 19th century, a German cavalry office developed the ideal herding pooch from various herding dogs within Germany.

They weigh between 50 and 90 pounds and measure 22 and 26 inches tall, making them much larger than Blue Heelers. GSDs are courageous, confident, and intelligent, and they make ideal family guard dogs and pets. They are similar to Heelers in bonding more closely with their primary caregiver. However, they are affectionate with their entire family.

Temperament

German Blue Heelers are loyal to their family and usually aloof with strangers. They eventually accept regular visitors into their homes but don’t expect them to be overly excited or affectionate with anyone outside their central family unit. They are also protective of their family and courageous in the face of danger. Thankfully, with good training, they are level-headed and obedient.

Cattle Shepherds thrive in the company of humans and don’t like being left alone for too long. So, if you’re looking for a second shadow, you might have found the perfect pooch. If left alone for an extended period of time, they can develop destructive behavior problems. Like their parents, they usually bond closely with their primary caregiver and always favor that person over others in the family.

This hybrid dog breed is incredibly fun. They are tireless and always ready for their next adventure. This is an excellent trait for an active owner who seeks an enthusiastic partner. German Blue Heelers can be hyper, although their German Shepherd influence makes them less intense than their purebred Australian Cattle Dog parent. One thing is sure: there is never a dull moment with one of these pups around. Please provide them with plenty of dog toys to keep their minds stimulated.

Size & Appearance

German Shepherd Blue Heeler mixes are medium to large dogs, usually weighing between 45 and 80 pounds. They typically measure between 19 and 24 inches tall, from paw to shoulder. As a relatively new hybrid breed that a traditional kennel club doesn’t recognize, there is no breed standard for what a German Blue Heeler should look like. They might take on a mixture of both of their parents, or they might look like more than one than the other.

They often have large, triangular, erect ears and large oval eyes, giving them an alert appearance. Their eyes are usually brown, although they can adopt the blue color seen in the Cattle Dog. Some puppies might sport one of each color, which is a mesmerizingly beautiful trait, as the heterochromia gene often pops up occasionally. They usually have a long tail, too.

Coat & Colors

The German Blue Heeler’s coat has two layers. Their undercoat is relatively soft, and the outer coat is usually medium-length, straight, and coarse to the touch. Their coat might be shorter or longer depending on their German parent’s coat length. They shed moderately throughout the year and heavier during shedding seasons.

The coat color often comes in various black, blue, tan, and white colors and markings. They might inherit the traditional pattern of the German Shepherd with different shades of blue-colored flecks or the varying patterns of the Cattle Dog with the classic German tan markings. There are also many solid German Shepherd coat colors, such as white or solid black. Their vast coat color collection is beautiful and one of their appeals.

Exercise & Living Conditions

Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix rescue looking up at the camera with a big smile.
German Blue Heelers have tons of energy, and they need a family who can commit to their high-energy needs.

If you’re looking for a lapdog, this is not the breed for you. But if you’re seeking a fun and active companion, this could be a top canine choice. They are always on the go and can be quite challenging to satisfy. Blue Heeler German Shepherd mixes need at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily exercise to meet their needs. A long stroll around the neighborhood isn’t going to cut it. They need challenging and intensive activities.

Their larger size and high exercise needs mean Cattle Shepherds aren’t suited to apartment living. They do much better in larger homes with access to a yard, giving them space to play and run between exercise sessions. Their yard must be secure, and your fences must be high because they can be excellent jumpers. Otherwise, they will likely escape, herding anything they can, such as passersby or vehicles.

As long as they are socialized well as a puppy, they can live with children and other pets. However, you must be aware that they’re likely to start herding kiddos and other animals if their exercise needs are not met. Children must be dog savvy, too, because their Heeler traits might not make them as patient as other dog breeds. But with the right family, they make great family pets.

Training

Training a German Blue Heeler can be tricky because of their independent and headstrong character. But with proper training from an experienced owner, they can make very obedient and loyal dogs. They are intelligent and quick to learn, so training must be short and fun to captivate their attention. They might become stubborn and behaviorally challenging without a firm but fair leader. This is not the right breed for a first-time dog owner.

Socialization is crucial for this breed. Not only does it teach them to be polite and confident with other dogs and humans, but it also prevents any anxiety in unfamiliar situations or overprotectiveness. The critical window for socializing them with other people, dogs, and experiences is in the first few months of their lives. But to ensure they remain a well-rounded and pleasant family member, you should continue to expose them to other dogs and people throughout their lifetime.

This hybrid pooch has an instinct to herd, and you must stop this in the home. It can lead to an uncomfortable or testing atmosphere if they herd younger family members or other pets. Exhibiting this behavior is a clear sign that their high exercise needs aren’t being met. If the herding behaviors continue despite extensive activity, you may want to consider getting help from an online dog trainer like Doggy Dan.

Health

Blue Heeler German Shepherd mixes are relatively healthy dogs with an average life expectancy of 9 to 14 years. Like many German Shepherd mixes, this pooch tends to be healthier than their purebred GSD parent. The best way to keep your pup healthy is to keep them fit with daily exercise, high-quality nutrition, and keeping up to date with regular health visits and vaccinations.

Like other mixed breeds, they are at risk of the health conditions seen in their parents’ bloodline. Although they might not experience any of these problems, it’s a good idea to make yourself aware of these concerns and the symptoms to look out for. It’s also important to consider a pet insurance plan to help offset the costs associated with unexpected health needs. Let’s look at the most common health concerns seen in their parents.

Eye Conditions

There are several eye conditions to be aware of, especially from the Australian Cattle Dog side. These include progressive retinal atrophy, primary lens luxation, collie eye anomaly, and cataracts. Each of these conditions can cause vision loss. So, any visible changes to your dog’s eyes, bumping into objects, or nervousness in poor visibility conditions require a trip to the vet for examination.

Deafness

Congenital deafness also runs in the Aussie Cattle Dog breed. All responsible breeders should test their litters with a brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) test. If you’re concerned about your dog’s hearing, you can ask your vet for an evaluation at any age. Deafness can be in one or both ears. Raising a deaf dog requires patience and specialist training, and you must take extra caution, too.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative myelopathy is a spinal disease that causes slow-onset paralysis of the dog’s hindquarters. Although the disease can be managed and slowed with drugs, it is incurable. Over time, the affected dog loses mobility and other bodily controls, making their quality of life impossible. If you notice any changes in their mobility or hind limbs, it’s time to see the vet.

Hip & Elbow Dysplasia

Hip and elbow dysplasia are seen in both parent breeds, and German Shepherds have one of the highest rates of hip dysplasia. Joint dysplasia occurs when the bones do not fit into the joints correctly, and over time, it causes increased wear and tear, leading to mobility problems and arthritis. Joint dysplasia is manageable with medication, although it sometimes requires surgical correction.

Nutrition

Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix begging for a treat.
The amount you feed your German Blue Heeler depends on various factors, such as their energy levels, age, size, the food you choose, and more.

Following the feeding instructions on your preferred food is essential, as it gives you specific guidelines for your dog. Overfeeding German Blue Heelers can increase pressure on their joints, cardiac system, and overall wellness.

Always select a high-quality diet for your pooch. It should meet the guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). It should also include high-quality ingredients such as animal protein, carbs, fiber, omega fats, vitamins, and minerals. Choose an age-appropriate diet that meets their nutritional needs, as their needs change over time. This is especially important during the first year when their body, particularly their joints, are developing. Why not consider a high-quality option like Ollie?

Grooming

Grooming a Blue Heeler German Shepherd mix is relatively simple, thanks to their standard straight coat. They have a double coat that needs brushing several times a week throughout the year to keep their jacket dirt-free and healthy. You might need to brush them more often than usual during the shedding seasons to manage the extra hair and fluff. The best brush for a German Blue Heeler is a bristle or slicker brush and an undercoat rake for the shedding seasons.

This hybrid breed only needs bathing once every two or three months unless they get super muddy on their adventures. Start their dental care regime as early as you can, brushing their teeth every day. Clip their nails when they get too long to prevent pad sores, although their nails often wear down naturally, thanks to their high activity. And keep their ears clean with a warm, damp cloth to prevent infection and odor.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

German Blue Heelers are a rare mix, so it’s likely you need to spend some time researching and finding the right breeder to work with. Look for a responsible breeder that allows you to meet them, the pups, and at least one parent and who can provide you with the relevant health certificates. If you get a bad feeling about a breeder, or they rush or pressure you in any way, walk away. Finding a healthy pup that is right for you is an incredibly important decision.

The average price of a German Blue Heeler puppy from a responsible breeder is around $1,000. If you find one for much less than this, they might not be a responsible breeder or be as healthy as you’d want them to be. In addition to the cost of the puppy, you also need to invest in everything they need. Items include beds, toys, harnesses, food, health care, and other supplies, making the first year of doggy ownership one of the most expensive.

Rescues & Shelters

Rescuing a German Blue Heeler is an option instead of buying a puppy from a breeder. However, they are rare breeds, so finding one in a shelter might be difficult. Head out to your local rescue and speak to the staff who can help you in your search. Alternatively, search for them via online rescue organizations that advertise dogs in need nationwide. Often, the costs of adopting a dog rather than buying a puppy are much lower.

As A Family Pet

  • German Blue Heelers are very energetic and need an active family.
  • They need at least 60 to 90 minutes of challenging activity daily, if not more.
  • Provide your tireless pup with mentally stimulating toys to keep them busy.
  • They are protective and loyal dogs.
  • These pups are affectionate with their family but aloof with strangers.
  • German Blue Heelers need a home with a secure backyard to play in.
  • Their grooming regime is simple, but they shed heavily during the shedding seasons.
  • Early and consistent training is the key to training success.
  • They can live with kids and other pets as long as they are socialized well.
  • German Blue Heelers thrive in human company and hate to be alone.
  • Crate training them is a great idea to help combat separation anxiety.

What Else Should I Consider Before Adopting A Dog?

The German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix offers protection, companionship, and endless fun. These pups need a very active family who can offer them several hours of exercise and playtime throughout the day and who can provide company for most of the day. They can be stubborn and tricky to train, so they are best suited to an experienced dog owner. But with the right family, they make excellent furry family members. If you’ve never had a dog, we have some tips and questions you may want to ask yourself about owning a dog before you take the leap. Dog ownership is a big responsibility, so you want to make sure you’re prepared.

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