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 called Australian cattle dogs, are highly prized for their herding abilities. Because of their different styles, some people have crossed them to find the perfect mix.
Border collies are very energetic medium-sized dogs. 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. The breed is know for its intelligence and agility and originated along the border of Scotland and England.
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. The dog is medium-sized and very stout, but compact. Slightly longer than tall, it has a rounded head and pointed ears. Its long tail, which is part of the breed standard, is often docked. Its coat is very thick and usually red speckled with larger red or tan spots.
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. Heelers are less sensitive by nature and are content to lie around. Heelers are also more heat resistant than border collies.
Border collie-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 with some puppies looking more like border collies and others more like heelers; however the 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. Like the two parent breeds, the resulting cross has strong herding characteristics.