Red Heeler vs. Blue Heeler: What’s the Difference?

Red Heeler vs. Blue Heeler

Are you one of those people who have no idea about the difference between Red and Blue Heelers? Well, you are not alone. Due to their distinctive coat color, they seem to come from a different lineage. 

But to tell the truth, Red and Blue Heelers are just a matter of coat colors. Both of these dogs are great matches for anyone who can appreciate their intelligence and tremendous energy. 

So, will it make a difference to a Heeler’s personality, health, or even how simple they are to teach if they are red or blue? In this article, we’re going to weigh the evidence about whether coat color matters for this breed.

What’s the Difference Between Red Heeler and Blue Heeler?

Adult Blue Heeler and a puppy

The Red and Blue Heelers are simply different colors of the same breed – Australian Cattle Dogs. The blue variant is the most common color of the breed, which makes it less expensive than the red one. Other than these differences, these two dogs are essentially equal in every aspect of the breed.

Both puppies are born white with a few spots that, as they get older, can either turn reddish-brown or black. 

A dog is referred to as a Blue Heeler when its black hair tangles with its white coat and a Red Heeler when its fur is reddish-brown.

Here’s a table summarizing the differences between the red and blue Heeler:

Red HeelerBlue Heeler
17–20 inches
17–20 inches
35–50 pounds
35–50 pounds
Coat Colors:
Red speckled, red mottled
Coat Colors:
Blue, blue speckled, blue mottled
Loyal, intelligent, tenacious
Loyal, intelligent, tenacious
12–16 years
12–16 years

If you compare the Red Heeler and Blue Heeler at birth, you won’t notice a significant difference. They don’t begin to develop red or blue hairs until they are about four weeks old.

Only after 8 to 12 weeks do these colors start to dominate and give you a good sense of what these dogs will look like when they are fully grown.

Origin and History

As a single breed, the origin and history of the Red and Blue Heeler are the same. 

In the early 1800s, breeders from the Australian countryside began crossing various dogs in an effort to create a robust working dog that could handle the harsh environment.

However, the exact breeds that contributed to the evolution of these dogs are the subject of so much debate. 

According to most sources, the original parents of the Australian Cattle dogs were the Dingo and the Blue Merle Highland Collie. Most likely, this combination is where Red and Blue Heelers inherited their colors. 

Later, these dogs were further bred with the Australian Kelpie, adding stamina and herding prowess. 

They were also crossed with the Bull Terrier, which increased tenacity and aggression, and the Dalmatian, whose genes are probably to blame for Heelers’ natural white color.


Red Heeler vs. Blue Heeler appearance

Due to the distinctive coat colors of Red and Blue Heelers, you might initially assume that these dogs are of a separate breed. But if you closely examine them, you’ll see that they have a similar overall look. 

Both Red and Blue Heelers have oval brown eyes and raised tapered ears, which gives them a curious expression. They also have curved heads, mid-length snouts, and bushy tails that hang freely from their hind legs. 

These dogs lack bulk and muscle, but their balanced, sturdy structure supports their strength and endurance. 

The Red Heeler and the Blue Heeler are identical in terms of size and weight. These canines weigh 35 to 50 pounds and stand 17 to 20 inches tall. 

These measures are based on breed standards, though, and a Red and Blue Heeler’s actual height and weight will depend on its gender, lineage, and diet. 

Coat Colors and Patterns

It is repeatedly mentioned that the Red and Blue Heeler differ in color. But how do they differ? The base color of the Blue Heeler is black, whereas the base color of the red Heeler is reddish or ginger. 

In order to give them a bluish or reddish appearance, their base coat may be speckled or mottled with white hair that is scattered throughout their outer coat. 

The amount of white hair on these dogs will tell how light or dark they will be. Dogs with more white hair will feature a lighter shade of blue or red, while those with less white hair will have a deeper shade of blue or red. 

These Australian Cattle Dogs can also have red, black and tan, and tan markings.

All of these markings are possible on the heads of Blue Heelers. Their chest, throat, and jaw may all be covered in a tan color that extends halfway up the front legs. Also, the dog’s thighs and hind legs may have a tan inside.

According to breed standards, a tan undercoat is also acceptable, but it cannot be visible through the outer coat. The Red Heelers should be uniformly colored throughout the body, including the undercoat. 

Although their face and body may be a darker shade of red, the American Kennel Club (AKC) prefers dogs with uniform markings on the head and no markings on the rest of the body.

Coat Color Genetics

Blue Heeler with bandana

The color of the parents’ coats does not reflect the color of the puppies. Instead, the gene they carry will help you predict the characteristics of their offspring.

The three important genes known as ticking, agouti, and spotting are responsible for an Australian Cattle Dog’s coloration. 

The ticking (T) gene is usually the reason why white Australian Cattle puppies suddenly turn red or blue as they reach four weeks old. 

Meanwhile, the agouti (A) gene is responsible for giving the dog solid red or blue patches. And finally, the spotting (S) gene determines the pattern of the spots on the dog’s body.

In spite of knowing these genes, determining the offspring of this dog will still be tricky. 

There is a possibility that Red Heeler puppies can come from a blue litter, a blue dog may give birth to red puppies, or both may come from the same litter.

Therefore, if a breeder makes a promise about a specific color of Heeler before the puppies are born and mature enough, you can assume that they are dishonest.

Temperament and Personality

No matter what color the Australian Cattle Dog is, this dog is known to have extreme hyperactivity, which may be quite stressful. 

Thankfully, this dog is smart enough to learn quickly. With proper training and early socialization, this dog will make a great playmate for active pet owners since it loves to run, play, and perform.

This cattle dog is incredibly devoted and will stick by your side for the rest of its life. Just be sure to keep your cattle dog busy to prevent it from getting into any mischief. 

Although this dog gets along nicely with kids, it should be closely watched since it can potentially knock a kid over. Children 10 years old and older are the ideal match for this dog. 

With other pets, this breed also gets along with other dogs as well as with other animals.

However, because of its herding instincts and tendency to be bossy, it’s crucial to socialize this dog as early as possible to avoid upsetting its playmates.

Check out this video to see how a Red and Blue Heeler behaves during training:

red and blue heelers, on the go training session. Just a little fun with my dogs.

Lifespan and Health Problems

Red Heeler playing on the grass

Both the red and blue versions of Australian Cattle Dogs have a lifespan of 12 to 16 years. Of course, this is an average, so some dogs may have shorter lifetimes while other fortunate puppies will live far longer. 

Evidently, a Blue Heeler by the name of Bluey, which lived to be 29 years old, was the oldest dog ever documented. 

If you also want your Red or Blue Heeler to live a long life, there are a few things you can do to keep them healthy and happy. And part of it is being aware of any possible health problems they might develop as they age. 

The following are some health issues that your Red or Blue Heeler could encounter:

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This condition affects the eyes of the Red or Blue Heeler. PRA can result in night blindness or even complete blindness, so consult your veterinarian if you think your dog may be experiencing vision issues. 
  • Hip dysplasia: Like many dogs, Red and Blue Heelers are vulnerable to joint problems such as hip dysplasia. Luckily, this illness can be managed with weight reduction, physical therapy, supplements, and medications.
  • Glaucoma: Another eye condition that might affect the appearance of your dog’s eye is glaucoma. If your Red or Blue Heeler is showing signs of glaucoma, call your vet for an appointment. Your dog may lose their vision if the treatment is given too late.
  • Deafness: Some Heeler lineages have been shown to carry hereditary deafness. Therefore, if your Red or Blue Heeler’s ears are in good shape, but they are still ignoring you, a hearing assessment may be required.

Considering the number of health risks associated with Red and Blue Heelers, getting pet health insurance is another important step in caring for them.

Your red or blue pooch will surely require medical exams and operations throughout its life, and pet health insurance can help you pay for those expenses.

Grooming and Shedding

Despite the color difference between Red and Blue Heelers, they both have a short double coat that sheds lightly and needs weekly brushing. 

Giving them a quick brush may get rid of any loose hairs they have before you discover them around your home. This will also aid in the distribution of their natural oils, which will preserve the smoothness and health of their fur.

Furthermore, Red and Blue Heelers will lose their undercoat twice a year, typically during the spring and autumn seasons. Because of this, your dog will lose fur much more often, necessitating extra brushing to keep up. 

In addition to brushing, these dogs can be bathed as often as every other week up to once every eight weeks. Bathing them will keep your Blue or Red Heeler’s coat will stay clean, and the dog odor will be kept to a minimum.

In order to prevent ear infections, they should also get their ears checked and cleaned frequently. Proper nail care is also important. Long nails are uncomfortable for the dog and may even cause injuries.

Puppy Prices

Red Heeler and Blue Heeler puppies resting on a large couch

Aside from the coat color, Red and Blue Heelers also differ in purchase price. The cost of Red Heelers ranges from $500 to $2,500, while that of ‘Blue Heelers is $500 to $1,000 on average. 

Blue Heelers are a little less expensive than red ones because the breed’s most common color is blue. But either of these two Heelers can be adopted from a shelter or rescue for only $100 to $300.

Once you’ve brought a Red or Blue Heeler puppy home, you should prepare some things to ease their transition to their new life. Typically, the initial cost for a medium-sized dog of this breed ranges from $605 to $2,240.

This price includes all the essentials for keeping your dog in its new home for the first year. Food, treats, bowls, beds, toys, and collars are just among these items.

If you’re on a limited budget, you can always seek discounts at your preferred pet stores or use tutorials to make your own dog toys or treats at home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Blue Heeler sitting on the grass

Are Heelers Born With Their Colors?

All Australian Cattle Dog puppies are born white. But with the help of their “ticking gene,” these canines begin to change color at four weeks of age.

This gene causes black or red hairs to scatter between their predominantly white coat, giving them their striking adult coloration. 

Do Red and Blue Heelers Have Different Temperaments?

Red and Blue Heelers are the same dogs. Their name only refers to the color of the Australian Cattle Dog. Therefore, there is no difference between them in terms of temperament.

Individual dogs will have distinct temperaments or personalities, but their color has nothing to do with it.

Can Two Blue Heelers Have Red Heeler Puppies?

Breeding two Blue Heelers will usually result in blue offspring. But due to the recessive genes lurking in the background, there are many instances of two blue parents giving birth to a red puppy. 

Likewise, two Red Heelers can have a Blue Heeler. If you’re wondering if a purple Heeler can be created with blue and red, the answer is simply no.

Are Red Heelers More Aggressive Than Blue Heelers?

The aggression level of Red and Blue heelers is the same. They are both merely Australian Cattle Dogs that exhibit aggression under certain conditions. 

Due to their herding ancestry, they are naturally possessive and controlling. However, these dogs are bright and obedient, so with the right socialization and training, this tendency may be managed and lessened.

Final Thoughts

Heelers of any color can be the perfect pet in the right home. As Australian Cattle Dogs, both the red and blue varieties are loyal, intelligent, and highly energetic dogs. 

Red and Blue Heelers need an active family to provide them with plenty of daily activity. These dogs are excellent jogging partners as they never get tired, no matter how many kilometers you desire to run each day. 

Even though they make fantastic pets, they still require frequent socialization since they may be violent against other dogs and very territorial.

Now that you are aware of the differences between Red and Blue Heelers, it is ultimately up to you to decide which color you prefer. You may express your opinions regarding them in the comments section below.

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