I was concerned when I got my Blue Heeler she needed to be a working dog like her mama. I didn’t know whether she would make a good pet. I am happy to say she was the best damn dog I ever had. Her combination of loyalty, intelligence, gentleness and work ethic, a play ethic when she wasn’t herding, is an amazing mix for a great dog.
If you choose to have Blue Heelers as pets, you can never forget they are working dogs at heart, and desperately want a job to do. Their temperament includes an active mind, keen intelligence, devoted companionship and a protective nature. Though they are generally very happy and affectionate with those they know, they are reserved and very cautious with strangers. They make an excellent guard dog. In order to prevent them becoming overly aggressive and protective, it is imperative your Heeler is very well socialized at a young age. The more they are exposed to a variety of people as puppies, the less nervous they will be around strangers.
Heelers will be devoted to one master. The bond with their master will be very strong and deep, and they will naturally assume the job of protecting their master. If you raise a Heeler in a family, they will identify with only one person to be their master, and become protective of everyone close to their master. The Heeler herding instinct is innate, and will appear regularly. Tapa was always ready to herd me into the shower or the hot tub. You will need to guard against a Heeler’s desire to herd small children who like to run and scream as well as herding guests into your home. They will have a natural tendency to nip at people’s heels. Some people will take this the wrong way, and accuse your dog of biting them. This herding instinct will be very hard to change so training your Heeler not to herd when it is inappropriate will be necessary. Heelers inbred nature to bite and be protective must be kept in check for it not to become a danger to others. My Heeler was not raised around children as my kids were grown so she was a bit unsure about kids. Most people I know who have raised children with Heelers have had no problem.
Blue Heelers are not shy, and are the first to be on the scene and know everything that is going on. They are notorious chewers, as many puppies are, but they can have an extended chew time. My Heeler, when left at home, would gather socks, shoes, underwear, pillows, whatever she could find and spread them around the house. She would pick one of those to chew thoroughly. My son’s male Heeler would chew doors and walls if he could, a bit more extreme. Blue Heelers need to learn, but they are bold and can be a bit resistant at first. Be diligent in teaching them, reward them, especially with petting them a lot, and they will learn fast. The cattle dog breed is rated as one of the most intelligent dogs ranked for the ability of obedience command training. These dogs are so smart, and you can train them to do almost anything within a matter of days. They are eager to please, and will quickly learn responding to commands is rewarding.
Heelers are quite independent, and need socialization with other dogs. They will respond well to familiar dogs, but in the presence of many dogs, they can become more aggressive. Tapa would play affectionately with dogs she knew, but tend to show her teeth and nip at strange dogs to stay away. She never got in a dog fight with another dog, but definitely let other dogs know she wanted them to keep their distance. Heelers are not pack dogs so it takes them time to get to know other dogs. Once they make dog friends, they never forget those friends.
If you choose a Heeler for a pet, they will be the most loyal and protective companion, ready for an adventure at all times, yet able to be quiet and calm when you are. Their loyalty is such many folks call them “velcro” dogs. They want to be by your side constantly. Your Heeler wants to share his/her high energy love for life in which you will see this dog shine with keen intelligence and athletic superiority and agility.
I would never have any other breed of dog except for a Heeler!