When it comes to herding livestock, good stock dogs are indispensable. While many breeds have been developed to handle this task, border collies and red heelers, also known as Australian cattle dogs, are highly prized for their herding abilities. Because of their different styles, some breeders have crossed them to find the perfect mix.
Border collie characteristics
Border collies are very energetic medium-sized dogs. The breed is known for its intelligence and agility and originated along the border of Scotland and England. Border collies are descended from dogs used by Vikings to herd reindeer. Because they are a highly trainable breed that enjoys hard work, border collies are often used as police dogs and are frequently engaged in dog sports.
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Most border collies are black and white in color, but they also come in red and white, tri-color, merle, sable, yellow and yellow and white, as well as totally black. The border collie sports two coat types: smooth and rough. The border collie has a broader forehead and shorter muzzle than a regular collie and has a body slightly longer than tall. Its ears are set apart and are either erect or break over slightly near the tips. Its tail is low set and reaches below its hocks.
Red heeler mixes
Developed in the early 1800s in Australia, the red heeler or Australian cattle dog is the result of crossing dingoes with collies and other herding breeds. These heelers are considered a part of the American Kennel Club's herding group because of their strong herding instincts.
Red heeler mixes are medium-sized and very stout, but compact. Slightly longer than tall, red heelers have a rounded head and pointed ears. Their long tail, which is part of the breed standard, is often docked. The coat of red heeler mixes is very thick and usually red speckled with larger red or tan spots.
Cattle dog breeds comparisons
While the border collie is a "busy" dog and always seems to be in motion, the red heeler is more laid back. Both breeds are very intelligent and easy to train. While border collies tend to circle the animals they're herding and occasionally bark to move them, the heeler usually works silently and stays behind the animals. Although border collies tend to be sensitive, they will sometimes challenge authority without enough work to do. Red heelers are less sensitive by nature and are content to lie around. Australian cattle dogs are also more heat resistant than border collies.
Cattle dog breed crosses
An Australian cattle dog mixed with border collie will have the strong herding instincts of both parent breeds. Border collie and red heeler crosses tend to combine the best characteristics of both breeds. Puppies resulting from this cross tend to be more heat resistant and heavier boned than border collies.
Colors will vary in border collie x red cattle dogs with some puppies looking more like border collies and others more like heelers. Regardless, their coat length is usually somewhere between the length of the parents. The resultant cross is also usually more laid back like the red heeler side of the family. Cattle dog breeds and crosses are great family dogs who enjoy being active and are highly intelligent.