Where Does the Blue Heeler Lab Mix Come From?The Blue Heeler Lab Mix results when a Blue Heeler, or Australian Cattle Dog, is bred with a Labrador Retriever. Purebred dogs are cultivated to certain breed standards, which helps reduce health issues while enhancing the breed’s signature attributes. But research shows that mixing breeds can also improve a dog’s health by introducing more genetic diversity. To learn about the debate over purebreds versus mixed breeds, visit this page. Just remember that whatever your stance, your dog’s welfare is the most important thing. A mixed breed dog can take after either parent, so look at the characteristics of each parent breed.
Origins of the Blue HeelerIn the early 1800s, following Great Britain’s colonization practices, Anglo-Australians started moving into Western Australia. So they needed good herding dogs for raising cattle. Yet British Smithfield dogs, with their heavy fur, weren’t up to it. Thus, stockmen started breeding a quieter herding dog that could work in that hot, rough climate. They crossed Smithfields with dingoes and other breeds to create the right working dog. A Queensland man bred blue merle Scottish Highland Collies with dingoes. The resulting dog was later mixed with Dalmatians and the Black and Tan Kelpie. The Blue Heeler was registered with the American Kennel Club starting in 1980.
Origins of the Labrador RetrieverThe Labrador Retriever is actually from Newfoundland! There, its ancestor, the St. Johns water dog, retrieved ducks and waterfowl. In the 1800s, English nobles brought the dogs back to England to be standardized and refined. Labs were cross-bred with other dogs in a way that threatened their existence, but English aristocrats stepped in again and saved them. They were recognized as a breed by England’s Kennel Club in 1903, and by the AKC in 1917.
Fun Facts about the Blue Heeler Lab Mix
- Labrador Retrievers are the AKC’s most popular dog in the U.S. Blue Heelers are ranked #54.
- Labs make great therapy and service dogs because of their mellow, eager to please nature.
- Bluey, the oldest dog that ever lived, was a Blue Heeler. He was 29 when he died in 1939!
- Blue heelers are very hardy. One, when thrown off a boat, swam five miles to shore and hunted feral goats to survive on an island for four months!
- Another, in Montana, stayed on a mechanical bull for the entire time it was on.
- And yet another in Utah hang-glides with his owner.
- The Blue Heeler Lab Mix is likely to try to herd things in your house if he can’t find anything else to do!
- Sometimes, the mix is called a Labraheeler.
Blue Heeler Lab Mix Appearance
Lab AppearanceLabs are large, well-proportioned dogs with a double coat and long ears. They usually come in “self” or solid colors of yellow, chocolate, and black. Labs reach up to 24.5 inches in height, and they can weigh up to 80 lbs.
Blue Heeler AppearanceBlue Heelers are medium dogs that appear strong and compact, with pointed ears and a broad head and neck. Their color is blue, blue-mottled, or blue speckle without other markings. They may have black, blue, or tan markings on the head. “Blue” is a base color that results from a mix of black and white hairs in the outer coat. Blue speckle means that light hair is clustered together evenly in the coat on a darker background. And blue mottle is made up of very small dark spots against a light background. Heelers may also be red, or red speckle, with darker red markings on the head. Dogs may have a marking called a “Bentley Star” – a group of white hairs on the forehead. Tails are white, solid colors, ringed or patched. Blue Heelers range from 17-20 inches in height. They weigh from 35-50 lbs when grown. In a mixed breed pup, the whole range of parent weights and heights is possible. Many Blue Heeler Lab mix coats show the colors and patterns of both breeds, alternating, and perhaps with eye patches.
Blue Heeler Lab Mix Temperament
Lab TemperamentLabs are well known for their friendly, confident personalities. They are loving and curious. Labs love people and are good with children because of their laid-back nature. They enjoy working, and they are active and intelligent.
Blue Heeler TemperamentBlue Heelers are smart, loyal and protective. They are naturally reserved. They’re smart, watchful, courageous, and trustworthy, with a strong devotion to duty. They are also sturdy and active dogs with a strong herding instinct. This means they may not be quite as good for families, especially less energetic ones. Blue heelers do better with experienced dog owners who can offer a yard for running. They can get very destructive if bored. A Blue Heeler Lab hybrid may be a bit more relaxed than the Blue Heeler but may show signs of headstrong behavior.
Training Your Blue Heeler Lab MixIf you’re not planning on putting them to work, the energetic Blue Heeler x Lab mix will need activity for its happiness and welfare. Your Lab X Blue Heeler will benefit from running time with you! A quick walk will not cut it with this combination. Show strong, positive leadership to this mix, as it may take some of its temperament from the Blue Heeler side. Socialization is very important. Consistency is key. Your dog will want to please you, but can be a bit stubborn. Consider more than obedience training. Herding and agility activities are recommended to utilize their natural instincts. This not only helps your dog expend some energy but creates a dog-owner bond. Socialization is also key, so that their independence and toughness can be tempered.
Blue Heeler Lab Mix HealthResearchers estimate the life expectancy of the Blue Heeler at 12-16 years. For Labs, it’s about 10-12 years. So expect a lifespan of 10-16 years. Both are generally healthy breeds, and the good news is that they do not share a large number of congenital health issues. Nevertheless, the mixing of breeds always leads to some unpredictability.
Lab HealthLabs are prone to obesity and related issues such as diabetes, arthritis, and thyroid problems. Labradors can suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, which affect the joints, and can get cancers such as lymphoma. Other genetic issues that may affect them include centronuclear myopathy (canine muscular dystrophy), patellar luxation, exercise-induced collapse, and idiopathic epilepsy (brain seizures). They may experience vision problems, including progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts. They may also develop skin problems due to allergies.
Blue Heeler HealthBlue Heelers may suffer from joint conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia, and osteochondritis dessicans, which causes excess cartilage and deficient bones. They can also suffer from a congenital portosystemic shunt of the liver, which causes failure to thrive. Blue Heelers may also experience different cancers and may develop orthopedic problems. They are prone to congenital hereditary sensorineural deafness. They may get eye conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy as well. It’s very important to get your dog health tested for known conditions.
Do Blue Heeler Lab Mixes Make Good Family Dogs?Labradors are, by nature, good with families that have small children. Blue Heelers, however, are not, especially when not properly trained or socialized. They have been known to herd and nip children while using natural behaviors. Plus, a Blue Heeler requires a fair amount of experienced attention. Not only can this dog be destructive if left alone, it needs validation and activity from its pack that some busy families cannot provide. So, we cannot recommend the Blue Heeler to families. But mixing it with a Labrador might temper those guardian tendencies somewhat. Still, since it’s hard to know in advance what a pup will be like, new families may wish to steer clear of this cross breed.
Rescuing a Blue Heeler Lab MixWant to rescue a Labrador Australian Cattle Dog mix? Be patient. Try a breed specific shelter, which sometimes takes mixes as well. One advantage is that you can have a better idea of a dog’s adult personality and temperament. If there are any health issues that show up early in a dog’s life, you may know them before you buy. On the other hand, you’ll have fewer choices about which dog to adopt. And you may not have the option of adopting a puppy.
Finding A Blue Heeler Lab MixStart your search online if you’re looking for a breeder. Ask your friends and social networks for recommendations, as well. Just make sure to fully vet organizations you contact through the Internet! Ask questions about a pup’s health testing, parents, environment, and genetic history. Make sure you’ve seen documentation. If you can do so, visit. Don’t hesitate to walk away if you don’t like the answers. Avoid pet stores and puppy mills. If you want some advice on how to search for puppies, visit our category page on the subject.
Raising A Blue Heeler Lab MixWant to know how to raise a Blue Heeler Lab mix puppy? If so, check out our guides on the subject. We have lots of resources to help with specific training issues. In the Blue Heeler, biting is a natural behavior, so you might want to know about this. Check out our Puppy Training category for more!
Pros and Cons of Getting A Blue Heeler Lab MixWhat are the advantages and disadvantages of getting a Blue Heeler Lab mix? First, the cons. Blue Heelers need a lot of activity and are herders by nature. So your pup may have high exercise requirements and may nip as a natural herding behavior. This makes them less desirable for families. Additionally, these dogs require experienced dog owners who can handle their needs. But then, there are the pros. The Lab side may temper some of the Blue Heeler side, making for a more easygoing nature. Both are relatively healthy breeds, without too many inherited overlaps, which makes the mix hardy and likely to live long.
Similar Blue Heeler Lab Mixes and BreedsLooking for something similar? We recommend first that you look at the parent breeds – Labrador Retrievers and Blue Heelers both make good pets for different kinds of people. Labradors especially are better for families and for less experienced dog owners. Also, look at other Lab mixes with similarly sized dogs, such as the Labradoodle or the Boxador. Or, you can check out Blue Heeler mixes, such as the Australian Shepherd Heeler mix, the German Shepherd Heeler mix, or the Border Collie Heeler Mix.
Blue Heeler Lab Mix RescuesIf you’re looking for a rescue that might harbor these dogs, start with some breed-specific options listed below: Blue Heelers
- US (nationwide): Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Inc.
- US (North East, South East & Ohio): Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Association
- UK: Australian Cattle Dog Society of Great Britain
- US (Illinois & Wisconsin): Labrador Education and Rescue Network
- US (South East): Lab Rescue LRCP
- UK: Labrador Rescue South East & Central
- Australia: Labrador Rescue Australia
Is a Blue Heeler Lab Mix Right For Me?Only you can decide if the Blue Heeler Lab Mix is right for you. This is a medium-large dog with high energy requirements. If might have some of the qualities we all love in the sweet Lab, but could also inherit the stubbornness of the Australian Cattle Dog. If you can handle a dog that requires more experience and love the look of this mix, you might consider this as your next pet!
References and Further Reading
- Australian Cattle Dog Club of America, Health Issues.
- Australian Cattle Dog Club of America, Coat Color.
- Adams, V. J. et al (2010). Methods and mortality results of a health survey of purebred dogs in the UK. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 51 (10).
- Hampson, B. A. and McGowan, C. M. (2007). Physiological responses of the Australian cattle dog to mustering. Equine and Comparative Exercise Physiology, 4(1).
- Lofrgren, S. E. (2014). Management and personality in Labrador Retrievers. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 156.
- McGreevey, P. D. et al (2018). Labrador retrievers under primary veterinary care in the UK: demography, mortality and disorders. Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, 5(8).
- Raffan, E. et al (2016). A deletion in the canine POMC gene is associated with weight and appetite in obesity-prone Labrador Retriever dogs. Cell Metabolism, 23(5).
- Strain, G. M. (2004). Deafness prevalence and pigmentation and gender associations in dog breeds at risk. The Veterinary Journal, 167(1).
- Tisdall, P. L. C. (1994). Congenital portosystemic shunts in Maltese and Australian Cattle Dogs. Australian Veterinary Journal, 71(6).