The Texas Heeler breed is the result of breeding an Australian Cattle Dog with an Australian Shepherd. Originally from Texas, this highly intelligent dog has a great temperament and is highly adaptable, making them an excellent family pet and working dog. While many of their traits and characteristics are unpredictable due to the fact that they are a hybrid, the popularity of this dog has continued to grow within the last few years.
If you want to learn more about this crossbreed of dog, read on below as we discuss their history, characteristics and what living with and taking care of a Texas Heeler is like.
History Of The Texas Heeler
The hybrid Texas Heeler is a cross between an Australian Cattle Dog and an Australian Shepherd. Their name comes from the nickname for the Australian Cattle Dog, which is Heeler, because of the Australian Cattle’s tendency to nip at cattle’s heels to encouraging to direction of movement while they are being herded.
There are two different types of Australian Cattle dogs and therefore there are two different types of Heelers — the Original Cattle Dog, from New South Wales, and The Queensland Heelers, who are a variant of the breed from the 1940s. Both are now known as Heelers.
There has been some confusion about the name of Texas Heelers, and often litters of puppies are named Texas Heelers when they are actually another breed type. Quite often, people believe that a “Queensland Heeler” or a “Blue Heeler” are nicknames for a Texas Heeler. In fact, the nickname for a Texas Heeler is a Texas Cattle Dog, and the nicknames for an Australian Cattle Dog are Blue Heeler or Queensland Heelers.
Although the Texas Heeler is now a popular breed of dog, the exact origin on the breed is not really known. It was first registered as a breed to the Dog Registry of America in 1970 by Lucy Guynes. The first Australian Cattle Dog was registered in the USA in 1980 and the first Australian Shepherd in 1993, both after the Heeler!
Because the Heeler is a crossbreed dog, they are not recognized by any major Kennel club, such as the American Kennel Club (AKC). They are recognized by some smaller clubs; as well as the Dog Registry of America, the Texas Heeler is also recognized by Animal Research Foundation and American Canine Hybrid Club.
Characteristics Of The Texas Heeler
Despite this breeds popularity, the Texas Heeler does not have a breed standard. This is because they are a hybrid dog and you cannot be quite sure what traits and characteristics you are going to get from each parent.
There are multiple genetic generations of the Texas Heeler. An F1 is the first generation of Heelers and is bred from a purebred Australian Cattle Dog and Australian Shepherd. An F1B is a first generation Heeler crossed with an Australian Cattle Dog or an Australian Shepherd Dog. An F2 is two first generation Heelers mated together.
The Texas Heeler is a medium sized breed that normally stands between 17 and 22 inches tall. They normally have the stance of the Australian Cattle Dog and generally have upright, pricked ears, but they can be folded like the Australian Shepherd Dog. Their tail may be bobbed like the Australian Cattle Dog or long like the Australian Shepherd. They also have big eyes and a happy expression!
Texas Heelers coats are usually short to medium in length and can be strong and stiff. They are a low maintenance dog and do not require much grooming, although we will go into more detail about that later on.
Again, because they are a crossbreed, it can be difficult to know what color coat your Texas Heeler might have. The most common colors are black, blue merle, red, white or tan.
So we understand the temperament of this Texas Heeler hybrid better, lets take a look at the temperaments of it’s parent breeds.
The Australian Cattle Dog are not a particularly affectionate dog and prefer to please their owners through work. However, they are very loyal and love to be by their owner’s side. They do not do well with children and other animals and may try to herd them!
The Australian Shepherd Dog shows a lot more affection to their owner in comparison to the Australian Cattle Dog. They love to play, although they can be shy with strangers. They are happiest when they are by their owners side and do well in families with older children because they are very excitable and energetic.
Difficult To Predict
Although it is difficult to predict the temperament of the Texas Heeler, there are some traits that are more commonly seen in this mixed breed. In most instances, the Texas Heeler is loyal and dedicated. They love to work and will thrive in an environment where they have something to do. They are not known for barking and only bark when they feel they are in danger, which makes them excellent watchdogs and guard dogs.
Texas Heelers do get along with children but, like their Australian Cattle Dog, may show herding behaviors with younger children so it is best to keep them in a family with older children. They do not do well in a house with other pets, so they are not a good dog to have if you already have other loving canines at home!
The best way to determine your Texas Heeler’s temperament is to look at the parent’s temperament when you are buying your puppy. This will give you the most accurate indication as to what your Heeler will be like, as temperament is passed down through genes.
Texas Heelers have a relatively long life expectancy. They usually live to between 12 and 15 years.
Known Health Issues
Like with all breeds of dog, the Texas Heeler can be prone to some health issues. While you should look at any heath issues the parents of your pup may have dealt with and obtain a health clearance from your breeder (a reputable breeder will give you one), there are three main health problems that your Heeler may be more susceptible to.
- Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia —these are two conditions that are seen in other large dogs. It is caused by the incorrect formation of the cartilage in the hip or elbow joint.
- Distichiasis — this is when an extra row of eyelashes grow on the oil gland in the dog’s eye and protrude along the edge of the eyelid. They can be removed with surgery.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy — these are a series of conditions that cause eventual blindness and is incurable.
Now we know what the characteristics of a Texas Heeler are, we can take a look and see what everyday life with one of these dogs is actually like.
Food And Diet
Texas Heelers love food and will eat anything! You should always feed your dog high-quality dog food and you should feed them the correct amount based on their size, weight and activity level. For a Texas Heeler, this is around three cups of food a day, although you should always check the back of the food packet to see the exact measurements.
The food you feed your Heeler should also be tailored for active dogs, because they have a lot of energy. This also means that they have high protein dietary requirements and no less than 20% of their diet should be meat. For this reason, many pet owners may choose to feed their dog a raw diet.
You can check your dog is overweight by looking at and feeling their bodies. At the correct weight you shouldn’t be able to see a waist and you should be able to feel but not see their ribs without pressing too hard.
We have mentioned above that Texas Heelers are very active dogs and have high exercise needs. Because they are working dogs, they do not do well when they are feeling bored. If they are bored, they can display signs of aggressive or destructive behavior, so they will love it if they can run free or be given a purpose.
Texas Heelers need about 60 to 90 minutes of exercise a day, preferably split into two walks. If you want to fulfil your dog’s needs of being given a purpose, even something as simple and training and teaching them tricks will work. You can teach them to pick up toys or clothing, too, and they will love working for you!
This breed of dog loves to walk, hike and swim. They will do best with people who are outside a lot and exercising, and don’t want to be cooped up at home.
Texas Heelers love people and are a real family dog. Because they are an adaptable dog, they can live anywhere — whether it’s in a big house or a small apartment. The only thing you will need to make sure is that they are getting enough exercise everyday, so they will benefit from a family that likes to go out hiking or jogging. This means that they will definitely benefit from having a large yard or area to run around in.
While Texas Heelers get on well with both adults and children, they can exhibit herding behavior around very small children because of their herding instincts. They are best kept with children over the age of 10, although if you have younger children socializing with your Texas Heeler may help. Texas Heelers should also not be kept with other dogs or animals because they will show herding behavior towards these animals too and have been known to chase them.
Because Texas Heeler dogs love to work and feel needed, they are very easy to train. Just like all dogs, they will benefit from positive reinforcement training which includes both verbal rewards and treats. Training can help to stop unwanted behaviors that your Texas Heeler may show when you have to leave the house, as well as helping to stop herding behavior.
Socializing is just as important with training and should be done with every pup. Socializing should start from a young age and include different sights and sounds. We have mentioned above that Texas Heelers don’t do well with smaller children, so if you do have young children in the house then early socialization is very important.
Texas Heelers are very low maintenance dogs. Because they most often have short, stiff and straight coats, they do not require a lot of grooming and can be brushed once a week and bathed less often. If they inherit a longer coat from their parent, then they may need brushing and washing more often.
You will also need to clip their nails every so often, and brush their teeth as frequently as you can to prevent build up of decay that could lead to gum disease. Some dogs don’t like to be groomed, so establishing a grooming routine from a young age can be really beneficial.
Texas Heeler FAQ’s
Should I adopt a Texas Heeler?
While many people prefer to buy their dogs as puppies from a breeder so they can raise them from young, it is important not to forget that there are many dogs in shelters at the moment who need good homes.
There are many organizations set up for Texas Heelers where you can go to adopt. The Texas Cattle Dog Rescue rehomes these dogs all over America and the Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Association also re-homes these dogs by working with local shelters to advertise dogs on their website.
Is a purebred dog better than a crossbreed dog?
There has been a rise in crossbreeding in recent years. This is because there is a desire to breed dogs with certain characteristics and to get rid of unwanted characteristics within dog breeds. With crossbreeding you can get designer dogs, although some worry that they are more susceptible to health problems.
In fact, in a recent study, there was no indication that mixed dogs were more prone to health issues that purebred dogs. The most important thing to look for in your dog is the breeder. They should be a reputable breeder and both the breed parents should be healthy.
If you want an energetic and active dog that wants to spend their days by your side, a Texas Heeler might be for you. This crossbreed hybrid is a loving and affectionate dog that thrives in an active environment and loves being given a job to do. Teach these doggies to do tricks or pick up items around the house and they will thrive as a working dog. Although they love humans — both adults and older children — they are not afraid to bark when they are scared so they also make excellent guard dogs. Although they can display herding behavior around other animals and small children, with the right training and socialization the Texas Heeler can be the perfect family pup.