Texas Heeler 101: Personality, Training, Facts & More

Texas Heeler

Texas Heelers are medium-sized dogs that are hard-working, loving, energetic, loyal, and smart. Despite these amazing qualities they are often confused for Blue or Queensland Heelers.

The Texas Heeler is actually a hybrid dog that is a mix of Blue Heeler (i.e. Australian Cattle Dog). The Australian Cattle Dog is bred with an Australian Shepherd or Border Collie to produce this dog.

This Heeler is like many herding dogs. He has a loyal personality and a love of adventure. Yet, there are a few unique characteristics that make Texas Heelers stand out.

In this article, we will discuss their origin and cover everything you need to know about owning one. We also share what makes this breed stand out and explain the differences between them and Blue Heelers.

What Is A Texas Heeler?

Texas Cattle Dog

The Texas Heeler is a mix between the Australian Cattle Dog and the Australian Shepherd. This dog was originally bred by cattle ranchers for their ability to work with and herd cattle.

Many Texas Heelers are now enjoyed as family dogs who do very well in canine sports and agility courses. Whether you choose to use them as a working dog, or as an active family pet, they will need lots of exercise each day.

The Texas part of their name comes from the fact they were originally bred in the state of Texas. The Heeler part is from their parent, the Australian Cattle Dog, which is also called a Blue Heeler. Heeler has long been the nickname of Australian Cattle Dogs as they would often nip at the heels of cattle.

Sometimes they are a mix of Australian Cattle Dog and Border Collie, not the Australian Shepherd. However, this is less common. Border Collie mixes still have the qualities of a herding dog, but have a long feathered coat.

Most Texas Heelers have a short to medium length coat that can be any mix of black, blue, red, white tab or merle. Some puppies will look closer to the Australian Cattle Dog, others will look like an Australian Shepherd. Their appearance is highly variable.

Just because your dog may look like an Australian Cattle Dog, does not necessarily mean that they will inherit their temperament.

Their personality is very hard to predict.

The majority of Texas Heelers have personality traits that include fierce loyalty and dedication to their owners. Many take after their Australian Shepherd parent and are very high energy and have a strong attachment to their owner. Others take after their Blue Heeler parent can be aloof and distant.

History and Origin

Australian Shepherd Herding
Like the Australian Shepherd (pictured above), the Texas Heeler was bred to help herd cattle and sheep.

As both parents are herding dogs, it can be assumed that this mix was first bred for the herding needs of cattle ranchers. But, the origins of this mix are not very clear.

What is known is that the Texas Heeler is a hybrid dog that was first registered by Lucy Guynes in 1970 to the Dog Registry of America. It is likely this mix occurred for many years before being officially registered, but 1970 is the first official record.

Due to the limited information about their origin, it may be helpful to discuss the history of both parents.

Australian Cattle Dogs were originally bred in Australia by mating an English dog imported into the country with the local wild Dingo. This breed needed to be high energy and strong to work on cattle ranches.

The Australian Shepherd, despite its deceiving name, originated in the western united states. They are a herding dog too and come in standard and mini sizes. The Mini Australian Shepherd was used as a rodeo dog in the 1960s.

Appearance

Three Australian Cattle Dogs
Three Australian Cattle Dogs (above) show the different color combinations that the Texas Heeler can be found in.

Many Texas Heelers are taller and lankier than both of their parents. However, if they take after one parent, their body looks similar to the Australian Cattle Dog.

Texas Heelers are medium-sized dogs with moderate muscling, a bobbed tail and upright ears. Most have upright ears, but their ears will occasionally be folded down, similar to the Australian Shepherd.

The most common coat colors include black, blue merle and blue ticked with trimmings of tan or white, especially around the feet and legs. Their coat color is very difficult to predict due to them being hybrids. Even puppies within the same litter can look distinctly different from one another, especially when it comes to color.

Their coat length and texture are pretty consistent. Their coat is between short to medium in length while the texture is soft and straight.

This coat consistency makes maintenance easy. They will need brushing at least three times a week and there is no need to schedule regular grooming appointments.

Texas healer is known to be a moderate to heavy shedder, and so is not considered to be a hypoallergenic dog.

Texas Heeler Size

Texas Heelers weigh between 25 and 50 on average. It is considered a medium sized dog.

They stand between 17 and 22 inches tall. Males will be taller than females at closer to 22 inches tall. They are typically larger than a Miniature Australian Shepherd and smaller than any Labrador Retriever.

Are Texas Heelers Hard To Train?

Texas Heeler Playing Fetch
A Texas Heeler in a training session. Early training and socialization are important for all herding breeds.

When it comes to training, this hybrid is very eager to please and exceptionally smart. One-on-one obedience training with a Texas Heeler is a very easy process, even for a first time owner. They respond very well to positive reinforcement dog training and can learn a wide range of dog tricks. Training them is a fun and enjoyable experience.

The difficult part of training is to make sure that they have enough socialization, especially when you bring them home.

Socialization with new dogs, people, and places is very important.

Texas Heelers who do not have proper socialization and training are more likely to herd family members within the household. They may have a desire to nip at the heels of young children and can be more susceptible to separation anxiety and aloofness.

Working closely with an obedience school that has experience with herding breeds is highly recommended.

They are best suited to families without pets and children older than the age of ten. This will make sure that no family member is being unintentionally herded.

Providing plenty of mental and physical exercise will also help to reduce herding behaviors.

Due to their origin as a working breed they need to have lots of physical activity. This will help them stay fit and mentally healthy. They need at least 60 minutes of exercise per day and will excel at high intensity activities such as: agility courses, flyball, or competitive herding.

If a Texas Heeler does not get enough walks, they tend to feel anxious and can even be destructive in the house.

Though many would say “a tired dog is a good dog”, it is important to achieve this through a combination of physical and mental stimulation. A mix of both will result in a happy and relaxed Texas Heeler!

If you are planning on adopting this breed as a family pet, they still need a job. They have a very strong desire to work. Great jobs include retrieving the mail, or tidying their toys up. Giving Texas Heelers a job to do will help them feel accomplished. It is also a great way to strengthen the bond between owner and dog.

How Much Is A Texas Heeler?

The typical cost of a Texas Heeler can range from $200 to $500. The price difference will be based on each breeder and where the puppy is coming from.

A Texas Heeler being purchased in Texas, the epicenter for breeding these dogs, will cost much less than in other states. When purchasing puppies in other states expect to pay closer to $500, especially if the breeder is providing micro chipping or transport for your puppy.

If you decide that this dog is the perfect fit for your family, you may end up on a waiting list.

These dogs can be very hard to find in the northern states, especially Connecticut, Illinois and Michigan. Luckily, many breeders are willing to work hard to get their dogs into good family homes.

There are many who may prefer to adopt a dog instead of buying a puppy.

For the Texas Heeler it is possible to adopt through organizations such as The Texas Cattle Dog Rescue or the Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Association. These organizations will typically charge around $250 for their adoption fees. This fee contributes to rescue efforts for current and future dogs in their care.

Personality and Temperament

Texas Heeler Jumping
Texas Heeler jumping over a homemade agility course.

Texas Heelers have a combined personality of part Australian Shepherd and part Australian Cattle Dog. They have the adaptability of the Australian Cattle Dog, while also having the affection of an Australian Shepherd.

All of these hybrids are extremely hard-working and loyal, similar to both of their herding parents.

Texas Heelers have the need to work very hard. They also have the need to please their owner engrained into their personalities. This can result in them being very affectionate towards their immediate family and aloof to strangers.

Their personality trait of being aloof is due to their parents’ herding origin. Herding breeds naturally want to herd strangers away from their family or flock in order to protect them.

Despite having this personality trait, they are not known to be aggressive. Unfortunately, some have the desire to herd small children, or smaller animals in the same household. This desire may include chasing, nipping and herding.

It is because of this tendency that they are not the best match for:

  • Families with children under the age of ten.
  • Households with multiple dogs.
  • Households that have both dogs and cats living under the same roof.

Do Texas Heelers Like To Cuddle?

Texas Heelers are incredibly loyal, affectionate, caring, and smart dogs. With the aid of professional training, these dogs can learn to live well with young children and other dogs. However, you should not expect them to be cuddly like a mini goldendoodle. They are working dogs.

The earlier your dog receives training and socialization, the better they will know how to act around family members and strangers. If an owner is willing to commit to daily training and socialization, they can be the perfect addition to any active family.

Texas Heeler vs. Blue Heeler Differences

Texas Heeler vs. Blue Heeler
The Texas Heeler (left) is much clingier to their owners and also has more health concerns due to their Australian Shepherd lineage.

It is important to note that the Texas Heeler is not a Blue Heeler. They are a mixed breed dog bred from the Blue Heeler (i.e. Australian Cattle dog) and Australian Shepherd. Because of this, there are some similarities between both dogs that cause them to be confused for one another.

However, there are also some notable differences between these two dogs.

Generally, the Texas Heeler tends to be taller and leaner. In comparison, the Blue Heeler tends to be heavier and more muscular.

The average weight of a Texas Heeler is between 25 and 50 pounds, while the average weight of a Blue Heeler is heavier at 30 to 60 pounds. They are also slightly taller at 17 and 22 inches, while the Blue Heeler tends to be shorter at 17 to 20 inches.

Texas HeelerBlue Heeler
Height17 and 22 inches17 to 20 inches
Weight25 and 50 pounds30 to 60 pounds

Kennel Club Registration

The Texas Heeler is not a recognized breed by the American Kennel Club. Their lack of kennel club recognition is because of their mixed breed status. In comparison, the Blue Heeler was officially admitted into the American Kennel Club in 1980.

The purebred status of the Blue Heeler tends to make them more expensive at $400 to $800. The Texas Heeler is usually less expensive in comparison and costs $200 to $500.

Health

The Texas Heeler tends to have more genetic-based health concerns. These health concerns come from their Australian Shepherd lineage. Australian Shepherds are predisposed to some genetic defects that include: epilepsy, deafness, hip and elbow dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy. The Blue Heeler in comparison, is a healthy breed that does not have any notable health concerns.

Energy Levels

The exercise needs between the Texas Heeler vs. Blue Heeler are slightly different as well. Texas Heelers have a moderate energy level, which can easily be satisfied by a home with a semi-active lifestyle. They need around 60 minutes of exercise a day.

Blue Heelers have an extremely high energy level and need to have an active job. They are also known for sleeping only 4 to 6 hours each day.

Personality

When it comes to personality and temperament there are many similarities shared between both dogs. Both breeds are known for being obedient, intelligent, and hard-working. These attributes make them relatively easy to train. Both dogs are also sensitive to touch and loud noises, so sensitivity training is a must for both breeds.

One personality difference between these dogs is the level of affection each dog gives to their owners. Texas heelers tend to be overly affectionate towards their owners. Because of this, they are often called “velcro dogs.” In contrast, the Blue Heeler can come off as unfriendly or standoffish due to their independence.

Facts and Information

Breed Characteristics
Family Friendly★★★★★(3)
Energy Levels★★★★(4)
Ease of Training★★★★★(3)
Shedding Frequency★★★★★(3)
Price★★★★★(2)
  1. The American Kennel Club does not recognize this dog as a purebred breed. This means there are no approved kennel club breeders or breed standards. However, a few smaller organizations such as the Dog Registry of America and American Canine Hybrid Club do recognize them.
  2. They were first bred in the 1970s as working dogs. Both parent breeds have be used for decades as herding dogs by cattle ranchers. This hybrid loves being active and needs at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Some of the favorite past times includes fetch, agility courses and hiking.
  3. The Texas Heeler is not a purebred dog. It is a mix of Australian Cattle Dog and Australian Shepherd. It is not the same as a Blue Heeler. The Texas Heeler is a name saved exclusively for a mix between the Australian Cattle Dog and the Australian Shepherd. They are also known as Texas Cattle Dogs.
  4. This breed has three major health concerns. The first is elbow and hip dysplasia. The second is Distichiasis, which occurs when eyelashes grow on the inside of the eyelid. The last health condition is progressive retinal atrophy. Progressive retinal atrophy is rare, but it progresses to eventual blindness.
  5. The first generation of the Texas Heeler is termed F1 and these dogs are bred from purebred Australian Shepherds and Australian Cattle Dogs. F1b generations are F1s backcrossed with either an Australian Cattle Dog or an Australian Shepherd. A F2 generation is created when two F1 dogs are mated to one another. All of these genetic lines are considered Texas Heelers.
  6. They need socialization training in order to live with other dogs. If you already have a dog at home, it is best not to adopt this hybrid. It is important to recognize the needs of your current dog.
  7. Their coat length is normally short to medium, but it can be almost any color imaginable. Their ears can be erect or floppy, and their tail can be bobbed or long. With so many different potential appearances, two Texas Heelers can look completely different from one another.
  8. This breed does shed. Regular grooming and vacuuming at home can be expected.
  9. It can be difficult to predict the temperament of any mixed dog breed. The personality of this hybrid can vary greatly, although generally, they have a very loyal and devoted personality.
Texas Heeler Swimming
Most Texas Heelers love to swim and it is a good way to give them their 60 minutes of exercise per day.

Summary

The Texas Heeler is not the same dog as a Blue Heeler. It is a mixed dog breed that was created by breeding the Australian Cattle Dog and the Australian Shepherd. The first official record of the Texas Heeler dates back to the 1970s, but it is likely this mix was bred before then.

Most Texas Heelers are medium-sized lanky dogs. They have a short to medium length coat and are black, blue merle or blue ticked. However, they can come in almost any color imaginable. No two mixes are ever the same!

Many of these hybrids have the affectionate, but clingy, personality of the Australian Shepherd while also being adaptable and hardworking like the Australian Cattle Dog.

To be at their very best, this mix will need at least 60 minutes of intense exercise each day. Without this energy outlet, herding and anxious behaviors can show themselves in the household. For these reasons, training must begin at an early age. This will make sure your dog has proper socialization and does not attempt to herd younger family members.

Texas Heelers are a wonderful combination of two dog breeds. They make a perfect addition for any active family with older children and no other pets. If this is the mix for you, let us know why in the comments below!

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