While most people may know the perpetual motion machines* as an "Australian Cattle Dog" or "Red/Blue Heeler," Heeler owners usually refer to their beloved dogs as a "Blankety bleep son of a bleep!" Don't get me wrong, Heeler owners love their dogs. But even parents get upset at their children when they chew the upholstery out of the family minivan or rip a shiny red bicycle's tires to shreds. This is also true for Heeler owners.
I have personally owned a Heeler myself, so I, Joshua Lynn of Reading, Pa, consider myself somewhat of an authority on anger issues. Don't read into this as me saying that I hated my Heeler. Sure, I may have swore at him, I may have tried to contain his explosive curiosity, but Dingo was an awesome dog. When he was in the right circumstances.
Heelers need space. If you can't give them space then don't buy a Heeler. Heeler's are born into this world and instantly start ricocheting around their surroundings, pausing occasionally long enough to relieve themselves.
If you are adventurous and spent lots of time in the great outdoors, buy a Heeler. They are incredibly adventurous and literally love the outdoors, especially squirrels, to pieces. They love water and can carry a doggy backpack with ease. Make sure, however, when you fit your little pack mule with a doggy backpack that you don't put more than 25% of his adult body weight in the pack. You wouldn't want the little bugger to hurt himself while he's jumping through tree tops or chasing Grizzly bears down a mountain ravine.
Australian Cattle Dogs usually only weigh around 30-35 lbs full grown which is why I don't understand how they can be so supernaturally active. They shed like crazy as well. This means that their thick, short coat is low maintenance because all the dirty hair that was on the dog five minutes ago is now on your couch for eternity.
After much research I found the best food to feed them is a good quality food formulated for high energy dogs. Personally I think ProPac Performance Puppy and High Performance adult food gets great results and is highly rated with many breeders. Heelers are perpetual motion machines* and have an incredibly high metabolism so you need to fill them up with good food. (*editors note: If they truly were perpetual motion machines they wouldn't need food)
The breed can be very loyal and is geared towards watch dog duty which can make him act aggressively towards strangers, although my dog Dingo certainly didn't. Be sure to socialize your Heeler with other people and dogs while he's growing up. This makes him a much more outgoing and friendly animal later in life.
Heelers do have a tendency to herd things by nipping at them. They tend to chase with a vengeance anything that moves and can be a handful to control. My 20 lb Red Heeler puppy, Dingo, chewed off a metal cable rated for a 120 lb dog and then terrorized the neighborhood all day eventually showing up at my house in the back of a police cruiser. Seriously. I'm not even joking. My Heeler got arrested. Of course, they somehow held me responsible for his actions.
In short, Australian Cattle Dogs are incredibly cute, vivacious, demanding, intelligent, maniacal dogs. Locking one in an apartment for eight hours at a time will quickly give you an excuse to re-decorate. Be kind to yourself and be kind to your dog. If you want an apartment dog buy a Shih Tzu. If you want a wide eyed force of nature to pull you up mountains and to fend off herds of mountain lions, buy a Heeler. If you dare.
-Written by Joshua Lynn