A Blue Heeler German Shepherd mix dog has one German Shepherd Dog parent, and one Australian Cattle Dog parent.
These are both proud and accomplished working dogs, and their offspring have reasonably predictable personalities.
But it takes a lot of preparation to find and train one!
The Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix
There are so many adorable dog breeds to choose from, it can feel overwhelming! If you’re considering a breed like the Blue Heeler German Shepherd mix, you’re probably looking for more information about the breed.
How healthy is the German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix? How long do they live? How are they with children? We will answer all these questions, and more, in the detailed guide below.
Where Does the Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix Come From?
This is a relatively new crossbreed, with a limited history. However, we can look to the parent breeds to learn more about these dogs.
Both the German Shepherd and the Blue Heeler share a similar history. Both were bred to be herding dogs, primarily to be used on cattle ranches.
In the late 1800’s, a German named Captain Max von Stephanitz bred the original German Shepherd to be the best herding dog Germany had ever seen. He then spent the next 35 years refining the breed, while promoting it and forming the first German Shepherd club in existence.
As commercial husbandry took over, and the need for herding dogs declined, the German Shepherd retained its role as a working dog. It quickly became a top choice for law enforcement agencies, who appreciated the breed’s fierce loyalty, intelligence and agility.
The Blue Heeler was also bred to herd cattle, but this time in Australia. It is actually formally known as the Australian Cattle Dog. “Blue Heeler” is just a nickname that the breed has developed.
The Blue Heeler was developed through a complex mix of breeds including Collie, Dalmatian, Black and Tan Kelpie, and even a feral breed known as the Dingo.
So, both parent breeds have definite history as herding dogs, and both still love to have a job to do to this day. The Blue Heeler German Shepherd mix is relatively new, and we don’t have an exact origin story for the crossbreed. It’s not a mix you see every day, but it is definitely gaining popularity.
Fun Facts About the Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix
The German Shepherd in particular has some notable history, making many appearances in films and other pop culture creations.
Perhaps the most famous GSD is Rin Tin Tin, a male German Shepherd who was saved from a WWI war zone by an American soldier. The soldier went on to train Rin Tin Tin, leading to the dapper pup starring in over 25 Hollywood films!
It is said that at one point in his career, Rin Tin Tin received over 10,000 fan letters each and every week! He was a true Hollywood Elite, and definitely an iconic German Shepherd dog.
The Blue Heeler, on the other hand, has some decidedly more wild ancestors. Did you know that the Australian Cattle Dog actually has some Dingo blood?
Dingoes are wild dogs that are native to Australia. They are very much a wild, free breed that is rarely, if ever, domesticated.
The breeders of the original Australian Cattle Dogs incorporated Dingoes into the mix. Some Blue Heelers still have a bit of that “wild” look to them!
Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix Appearance
Like any mixed breed, the Blue Heeler German Shepherd mix can take on more characteristics from either parent breed. Thus, you could end up with a mix that looks more like a German Shepherd, or more like a Blue Heeler – and anywhere in between!
There is always some variability with mixed-breed dogs like this, so keep that in mind. With that said, we can look at the details of the parent breeds to get a good idea of the general appearance and size that a German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix might take on.
The German Shepherd is a large dog, weighing between 50 and 90 lbs and measuring 22-26 inches tall. The Blue Heeler is short and stocky and generally smaller, at 35-50 pounds and a typical 17-20 inches tall.
Thus, you can expect your Australian Cattle Dog German Shepherd mix to be somewhere in the middle – around 40-80 pounds, and 19-25 inches tall. Again, this varies from dog to dog and is difficult to predict!
As far as their coats, both parent breeds have thick double coats to protect them from the elements. The GSD’s is a medium length, while the ACD’s is generally short.
Both dogs tend to shed a lot, particularly in the spring as they prepare for the warmer months.
Coat color is also difficult to predict. The speckled look of the Blue Heeler does typically come through at least somewhat – and a wide variety of coat colors are possible. The most common are brown/tan, black and grey tones.
Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix Temperament
To get an idea of this breed’s temperament, we can look to the parent breeds.
The German Shepherd has a confident, intelligent and courageous temperament. On the other hand, the Blue Heeler has an alert, curious and watchful personality. Both are extremely loyal and protective.
These tendencies can be both positives and negatives at the same time. For instance, the mix’s tendency to guard and protect their family makes them great watchdogs, but can also make them very distrustful of (or even aggressive towards) strangers.
Their intelligence and confidence makes them able to accomplish incredible feats, but can also make them stubborn and difficult to train. In short, this mix needs an experienced owner.
If not properly trained and socialized, this breed can be aggressive and is prone to guarding tendencies. Early and frequent socialization is very important!
One need only to look at the purpose these dogs were bred for, and what they are used for today. Both breeds are herding dogs for large animals, designed to both herd and protect large groups of big animals. They are excellent at what they do, but these instincts can make them difficult to keep in domestic situations.
If you have children, you’ll need to supervise your dog whenever they are around your child. German Shepherds have a higher than average likelihood of bitting children, and Blue Heelers have strong herding instincts that can lead them to nip at running children.
This mix can make for a wonderful companion for the right people. This is a headstrong breed that requires a confident, experienced owner who is willing to work hard at training their dog.
Training Your Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix
The Blue Heeler GSD mix is a very intelligent dog that can be taught to do just about anything. With that said, they are definitely not the easiest breed to train.
Training should start early, and be conducted often. Positive reinforcement training is the most effective way to train your dog.
Socialization is also important – both with other dogs, other animals, and with humans. This mix is not naturally outgoing. So, socialization is even more important than it is with many breeds.
Ideally your pup should be trained and socialized from a young age, for best results.
This is also a fairly high-energy breed that will need plenty of exercise. Aim for at least 2 long walks per day, and ideally mix in some higher-intensity exercise like running or hiking.
You should also seek to give your dog mental stimulation by giving them challenging tasks. The Blue Heeler German Shepherd mix loves to have a job to do!
Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix Health
This mix is generally fairly healthy, with an expected lifespan of 11-14 years. Although, like any breed, some health concerns are possible.
The German Shepherd brings with it a high likelihood for back problems due to the intense slope of their back. You can visually see this in many GSD’s.
Hip and elbow dysplasia is also common in both breeds, as are certain eye problems and allergies.
Some of these conditions can be tested for, and some cannot. To maximize your chances of getting a healthy pup, try to source your dog from a reputable breeder, or adopt an adult dog.
In terms of grooming, this mix will require frequent brushing and patience when it comes to shedding! The German Shepherd is a prolific shedder, especially in the spring season.
Beyond that, normal grooming and care routines are standard. This mix is likely a medium-maintenance breed.
Do Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mixes Make Good Family Dogs?
This breed can make for a good family pet, for the right situation.
While they are generally okay around children, they should always be supervised. The Blue Heeler’s tendency to herd can lead to them nipping children as they run, and the GSD’s aggression can potentially cause problems.
That said, this mix can also make for a loving, and fiercely loyal, companion dog. When push comes to shove, they will not hesitate to protect their family, making them excellent watch dogs.
For experienced owners, this breed can make for a good family pet.
Rescuing a Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix
Many people looking forward to owning a dog prefer to adopt than shop.
While adopting a shelter dog is a noble act, it’s important to be aware that you don’t really know the history of the dog you are adopting.
Try to spend some time with the dog in the shelter, and watch for signs of aggression.
Finding a Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix Puppy
It can be a bit difficult to find Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix puppies, simply because the breed is not very common.
You can search Google for breeders in your area, or contact local breed clubs for information.
We recommend avoiding puppy mills and pet stores at all costs!
Raising A Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix Puppy
Raising and caring for a puppy is a lot of work, but it’s a rewarding process! Be sure to follow tips in our puppy care guide for best results.
Remember, socialization is extremely important with this breed! Make sure that your dog gets plenty of time with other animals, strangers and children from a young age.
Pros and Cons of Getting A Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix
- The breed can show guarding and aggressive tendencies if not properly trained and socialized
- They need to be supervised when around children
- Training can be difficult as they can become stubborn
- Grooming needs are fairly high
- Energy levels are high
- A very intelligent and loyal breed
- Excellent watchdogs
- Friendly and loyal once they get to know you
- Up for anything – a good adventure buddy!
Similar Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mixes and Breeds
Or perhaps you’d love a big working dog like the Russian Bear Dog!
Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix Rescues
We haven’t found a rescue or club specific to this crossbreed, but there are plenty for the parent breeds!
Blue Heelers/Australian Cattle Dogs:
- Australian Cattle Dog Rescue
- Caroline ACD Rescue
- Arizona Cattle Dog Rescue
- Pacific Northwest Cattle Dog Rescue
- All Shepherd Rescue (Baltimore)
- Shep Rescue (Los Angeles)
- Shepherd Rescue (Virginia)
- Bright Star GSD (New York)
- South East German Shepherd Rescue (South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland)
- UK German Shepherd Rescue (Lancashire, UK)
- German Shepherd Rescue Elite (UK)
- German Shepherd Rescue Scotland
- Sweet Shepherd Rescue (Australia)
- German Shepherd Rescue Victoria (Victoria, Australia)
Do you know of another rescue organization? Let us know in the comments!
Is A Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix Right For Me?
If you are an experienced dog owner willing to put in the time and effort to care for and train your dog, then the Blue Heeler GSD mix can be a good dog for you!
If you have an active lifestyle, plenty of room in your home and experience in handling confident dog breeds, we can recommend this breed as a top consideration.
What has your experience been with the German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix? Let us know in the comments!
References and Resources
American Kennel Club
Schalamon, J., Ainoedhofer, H., Singer, G., Petnehazy, T., Mayr, J., Kiss, K., & Höllwarth, ME . Analysis of dog bites in children who are younger than 17 years. Pediatrics, 2006
Somerlad S et al. Prevalence of congenital hereditary sensorineural deafness in Australian Cattle Dogs and associations with coat characteristics and sex. BMC Veterinary Research, 2012
Black L, ‘Progressive Retinal Atrophy’ Journal of Small Animal Practice, 1972
E. A. Leighton, ‘Genetics of Canine Hip Dysplasia’, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 1997
Gough et al, 2018, Breed Predispositions to Disease In Dogs and Cats, Wiley Blackwell, 2018