What Is a Blue Heeler German Shepherd?

By Jane Meggitt

A blue heeler German shepherd mix is a cross between an Australian cattle dog of the "blue" hue and a German shepherd. The resulting mixed breed dogs can take on the attributes of either parent. The crossbred might resemble a combination of both breeds, or favor one parent strongly over the other. Since both breeds are members of the American Kennel Club's herding group, you can bet their offspring instinctively will move livestock.

The Australian Cattle Dog

Australian cattle dog laying on the concrete.

Margo Harrison/iStock/Getty Images

Cross a dingo, Dalmatian and collie and what do you get? Over a few generations, the result is the Australian cattle dog, arguably the finest of all cattle-herding canines. Originally known as the Australian heeler, it is also referred to as the Queensland heeler or the blue or red heeler, depending on the dog's coloring. The AKC color standard for the blue version of the heeler calls for "blue, blue-mottled or blue speckled, with or without other markings." The blue heeler can have tan points on the head and legs. At maturity, male blue heelers stand between 18 and 20 inches high at the point of the shoulders, with females slightly smaller at 17 to 19 inches. The overall impression is of a strong, well-built working dog. Like the German shepherd, the blue heeler has pricked ears atop his broad skull.

The German Shepherd

German Shepherd dog on grass.

diego cervo/iStock/Getty Images

Mature male German shepherds stand between 24 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder, with females slightly smaller at 22 to 24 inches high. The dog's length should exceed his height. The German shepherd should possess a "noble," strong, well-proportioned head. While the most common coloring is a light shade of brown with a black saddle and mask, any color except white is permissible in the breed standard. That doesn't mean white shepherds don't exist, but they are not permitted to show in AKC conformation classes.

ACD/German Shepherd Cross Temperament

Blue Heeler puppy with green tennis ball in its mouth.

Klaus Hollitzer/iStock/Getty Images

The Australian cattle dog and the German shepherd are both exceptionally smart and active canines. Both breeds require strong, firm leadership from their person. If you're lucky, your crossbred dog will lean more toward the exercise needs of the German shepherd, which are considerable, rather than the Australian cattle dog, which are enormous. With either, you can't stint on the mental stimulation. Since both breeds are good with older children, your cross could make a fine family pet, but he's probably too tough for younger kids.

ACD/German Shepherd Cross Training

Blue Heeler dog running across field with a tennis ball in his mouth.

Carmelka/iStock/Getty Images

Since the German shepherd and Australian cattle dog both soak up knowledge like canine sponges, your crossbred should be relatively easy to train. These dogs need jobs; they are not coach potato canines. If these dogs don't receive good, solid training and the requisite amount of exercise, expect either breed to find their own outlet for their minds and energies -- an outlet you're unlikely to appreciate. If you're a novice dog owner, you're probably better off with another type of canine. In the hands of an experienced dog owner familiar with strong, working breeds, your Australian cattle dog/German shepherd mix can shine.