What is a Texas Heeler?
The Texas Heeler originated in the early 1970s in the state of Texas. They are mixed breed dogs being a cross between the Australian Cattle Dog (Blue/Red Heeler) and the Australian Shepherd. The cattle ranchers in Texas needed a breed of dog that had certain traits, in particular, a strong natural instinct to herd cattle and sheep. For a comparison between the Australian Shepherd and Australian Cattle Dog see here.
The Texas heeler does not have to be the result of mixing a Blue Heeler with an Australian Shepherd. The Australian Cattle Dog must be present, but a Border Collie can be used and the resulting puppies will still be considered Texas Heelers.
Obviously, due to the variation of genes in the genetic make up the Texas Heeler is not recognized by any of the major kennel clubs. They are a cross breed yet have well-defined traits but they do not meet the standard a pure breed does.
If there is a 50/50 cross between the Australian Cattle Dog and the Australian Shepherd (both parents are pure breeds) it is known as a first-generation hybrid or F1 mix. This type of mix is the most varied as the puppies can have the looks and characteristics of either of the parents. It is impossible to predict which one of the parents the puppy will take after the most.
There are also some Texas Heelers that have a greater percentage of either the Blue Heeler or Australian Shepherd. This comes as a result of crossing a Texas Heeler with either an unrelated Blue Heeler or Australian Shepherd depending on which of the traits are preferred.
Second generation or F2 Texas Heelers are the result of breeding two Texas Heelers together. This gives a more predictable outcome of looks and traits than would be the case with a first-generation F1 mix.
For a guide to the history and origins of the Australian Cattle Dog see here.
Advice and tips for Texas Heeler owners
Much of the advice, tips, and information on this website relating to the Australian Cattle Dog apply equally to the Texas Heeler. Click the link below on the subject of interest. Recommended articles that you may find helpful are: –
|Exercise needs and ideas||Behavior Problems (Solutions)|
|Mental stimulation and enrichment||First-time owner|
|Reducing shedding||Dog toys|
|Leaving home alone||Calming a hyper Heeler|
Teach Your Herding Breed To Be A Great Companion Dog – From Obsessive To Outstanding. A MUST READ for all owners of a herding breed dog – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. View here.
Blue Heeler vs Texas Heeler comparison
To understand the ways the Texas Heeler and the Australian Cattle Dog are similar and in what ways they differ we will take a look at the various traits and characteristics of each. Of course, with the Texas Heeler being a mixed breed there can be a lot of variation between individuals.
The Texas Heeler usually weighs 25-50 lbs (11–23 kg) with an average weight of 37.5 lbs (17 kg). The weight of an individual Texas Heeler will depend on many factors including the make-up of their genes (Australian Shepherds are heavier than Blue Heelers), gender, and how active they are.
The Australian Cattle Dog weighs 30 – 50 lbs (13-23 kg).
The height of a Texas Heeler is 17-22 inches (43–61 cm) compared to a Blue Heeler with a Male being 17-20 inches (43-51 cm) and a female being17-19 inches (43-48 cm).
So, on average the Texas Heeler may be slightly taller but due to their slim build will often weigh a little less. Of course, every dog is an individual so both Texas Heelers and Blue Heelers may vary.
The coat color of most Texas Heelers is speckled with mixtures of white, grey, black, and brown. Being a cross breed of the Australian Cattle Dog and Australian Shepherd their coat is a mixture of the two but tends to be closer to the Blue Heeler in type. The usual colors of the Australian Cattle Dog are Blue Mottled, Blue speckled, Red Mottled, or Red speckled but there can be other variations.
The coat of the Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler) is short-medium length and coarser. The coat of the Australian Shepherd is longer and softer. The Texas Heeler has a short coat like the Blue Heeler but it tends to be less coarse. This makes them reasonably low maintenance from a grooming point of view. However, they do shed so brushing once or twice a week to remove undercoat is needed. They usually do shed more in the Spring and Fall (Autumn). For more on reducing shedding see here.
Temperament and personality
When it comes to the temperament and personality of the Texas Heeler compared to the Blue Heeler they are very similar on average. The Texas Heeler does have the slightly softer personality traits of the Australian Shepherd. They generally show more affection to their owners than the Blue Heeler who tend to be a little independent. This doesn’t mean the Blue Heeler is not affectionate or closely bonded to its owners.
Blue Heelers are usually wary and slow to warm to strangers and the Texas Heeler can show this trait also though to a lesser degree. Both breeds are friendly and playful with other dogs as long as they have been socialized well. Being Heelers there can be a tendency to herd other animals without proper socialization. For more on socializing a Heeler see here.
Both the Texas Heeler and Blue Heeler are quite territorial and combined with their suspicion toward strangers make them good watch and guard dogs. They are not breeds that are known to bark excessively so when they do bark it is usually for a good reason. However, any breed of dog can develop nuisance barking behavior if their needs are not being met.
The Australian Cattle Dog and Texas Heeler are both extremely active high-energy working breeds. They require a large volume of exercise daily to release pent-up energy. It is recommended that they receive two hours a day of moderate to intensive physical activity but would not say no to more. For a guide to Heeler exercise needs with suggestions see here.
The Australian Cattle Dog is ranked 10th out of the 138 breeds tested for working and obedience intelligence. Blue Heelers are able to learn a new command in 5 repetitions. They are then able to obey a new command they have learned in 95% or more attempts. For more on Blue Heeler intelligence see here.
The Australian Shepherd is ranked lower at 42nd position for working and obedience intelligence learning a new command in 15 to 25 repetitions and obeying the new command in 75% of attempts. However, these tests are not a good indication of how smart a dog really is. Where Blue Heelers and Australian Shepherds excel is in instinctive intelligence. This is their natural ability to perform the job they were bred to do – herding.
Both the Blue Heeler and Australian Shepherd also have very high adaptive intelligence. This is the ability to learn from past experience and problem-solving. Adaptive intelligence can be hard to quantify as it varies between individual dogs even of the same breed.
When it comes to the intelligence of the Texas Heeler there is no data for working and obedience intelligence as they are a mixed breed and not included in trials. However, feedback from owners of Texas Heelers report that they are very comparable to the intelligence of the Australian Cattle Dog.
Highly intelligent breeds like the Texas Heeler and the Blue Heeler require a lot of mental stimulation and enrichment to challenge and tire their minds. Mental exercise can tire a dog as much as physical activity. Boredom is one of the leading causes of behavior problems in dogs. For more on mental stimulation and enrichment for Heelers see here.
Both the Texas Heeler and the Blue Heeler are generally easy to train as long as you focus their attention. Both breeds are smart and have a real eagerness to please their owners. However, they can have an independent streak and can be strong-willed. This is probably more evident in the Blue Heeler, but there is this element in the Texas Heeler also.
If they don’t want to do something they probably won’t. However, as they want to work for and please their owner they will generally be very obedient.
Summary – Blue Heeler vs Texas Heeler
As you can see the Texas Heeler and the Blue Heeler are very similar breeds. Obviously, the Texas Heeler is half Blue Heeler and they do tend to be more like the Australian Cattle Dog than the Australian Shepherd.
There are some differences such as appearance. The Texas Heeler is on average slightly taller but is leaner so weighs less. The Texas Heeler coat is relatively low maintenance being closer to the Blue Heeler coat type rather than the Australian Shepherd. However, regular brushing is required to reduce shedding and keep the coat in good condition.
Both the Texas Heeler and Blue Heeler require a high volume of exercise, are relatively easy to train, and are highly intelligent. They have similar personality traits but the Texas Heeler does tend to be more affectionate and less stand-offish towards strangers.