Are Blue heelers any use with sheep?

Joe984

Member
Been looking at blue heelers. I know they’re hard to come by in this country but I was just wondering if they are any use with sheep as well as cattle? Not had anything to do with them before
 

primmiemoo

Member
Location
Devon
There was one shown on Ffermio In New Zealand (it's on iPlayer). He was working suckler cows with calves at foot, and doing a good job of it.

Sort of a Corgi with even more attitude.
 

Hummin-Cummins

Member
Livestock Farmer
Hellish strong dogs. We had one years ago, remember mum taking him to a training course, he chased a yow into a gate and she broke her neck and died on the spot 😳 but he turned out well and there wouldn’t be anything better for moving cattle imo.
Lovely temperament, loyal gentle giants
 

Becs

Member
Location
Wiltshire
Our old girl, an Australian Cattle Dog which I believe is another name for a Blue Heeler, sadly died last year at the grand old age of 17/18 years. Brilliant, tough, loyal Dog. Fantastic as a cattle dog but too hard on sheep - you had to be on top of her all the time to hold her back otherwise she’d take a chunk out of their rear leg (The clue is in the name!) She didnt have the herding instinct of a collie but was more of a driving dog. Really, really intelligent, easy to train but very hard-wired. i think the breed is very ‘raw’ and unspoilt by hard, selective breeding - no health issues - our dog only ever had the vet to her twice in her lifetime -once to have her head stapled when a cow kicked her and a cesarian when she unintentionally got in pup at the age of 12. There is something very primitive about the breed. We have her daughter who is half collie and she too is a heel-biter, again great on cattle but too hard for my liking on sheep. She also cant help but bite at my collie’s leg if they are running together! Miss our old Dingo-Dog very much -hard as nails but soft as butter with me and my grandkid.
 
Err, they were bred as cattle dogs. That is their common name here. “Cattle Dog” means a blue or red heeler breed . . .
The “heeler” part of their name comes from their habit of nipping at the heels to get cattle moving.
very loyal & trainable dogs, but my guess is they might be a bit hard on sheep.



Never seen them used in sheep here, but that’s not to say it can’t be done

most seem to use kelpies or collies for sheep work
 

Bury the Trash

Member
Mixed Farmer
Err, they were bred as cattle dogs. That is their common name here. “Cattle Dog” means a blue or red heeler breed . . .
The “heeler” part of their name comes from their habit of nipping at the heels to get cattle moving.
very loyal & trainable dogs, but my guess is they might be a bit hard on sheep.



Never seen them used in sheep here, but that’s not to say it can’t be done

most seem to use kelpies or collies for sheep work
Ive seen them on sheep cant remember where though :ROFLMAO::cautious:

wouldve been i NSW somewhere. :unsure: blue dogs and red ones common on livestock places iirc.

was good all round farm dog if there is such a thing.
 

dogjon

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Western Oregon
Had a couple come to me for training years ago. I tend to think a dog that will heel but not head is only useful if the stock are already pointing in the right direction in which case you dont really need a dog. I think they can be useful for people who are working cattle on horseback which is where the two I started went. Used kind of like a remote cattle prod. Hard dogs, too hard for sheep I think and hard to get a good stop on them once they commit to a bite. Also have a bad reputation for sneaking up on people and nipping them from behind.
 
Had a couple come to me for training years ago. I tend to think a dog that will heel but not head is only useful if the stock are already pointing in the right direction in which case you dont really need a dog. I think they can be useful for people who are working cattle on horseback which is where the two I started went. Used kind of like a remote cattle prod. Hard dogs, too hard for sheep I think and hard to get a good stop on them once they commit to a bite. Also have a bad reputation for sneaking up on people and nipping them from behind.
we had a Bluey when I was a kid ( ive had a few blue & red dogs myself, & our 3 pet dogs now are all cattle dog crosses - wolfhound, Rottweiler & mastiff ). My aunt had remarried, to an Englishman who was an ex Para in WW11 & had lost both his legs ( below the knee ) in I think the Arnhem landings & then a POW.
Anyway, they visited us one day & as they were leaving, Sam ( the cattle dog ) ducked out & grabbed Bill’s heel. His leg came off, Bill fell over & Sam was left with a leg in his mouth. The look on his face as he dropped it & took off ( presumably in fright ) was priceless 🤣
 
They don’t respond well to being kept on a chain. They go crazy. They need a lot of mental stimulation, exercise and attention.

A friend of mine had a couple of these and it annoyed me that he didn’t give them what they needed. They would work cattle but way too hard on sheep.
 

Dry Rot

Member
Livestock Farmer
we had a Bluey when I was a kid ( ive had a few blue & red dogs myself, & our 3 pet dogs now are all cattle dog crosses - wolfhound, Rottweiler & mastiff ). My aunt had remarried, to an Englishman who was an ex Para in WW11 & had lost both his legs ( below the knee ) in I think the Arnhem landings & then a POW.
Anyway, they visited us one day & as they were leaving, Sam ( the cattle dog ) ducked out & grabbed Bill’s heel. His leg came off, Bill fell over & Sam was left with a leg in his mouth. The look on his face as he dropped it & took off ( presumably in fright ) was priceless 🤣
Pat Macgettigan, a famous sheep dog trainer up here, took me to see some Scottish beardies that were cattle dogs and probably ancestors of the Australian dogs. They had mouths like crocodiles! Fifty years ago, I also saw smaller beardies on Speyside owned by a 90yo shepherd that were used exclusively as sheep dogs. He'd had the same strain all his life.

I've noticed tooth/jaw size to be an indicator of what various breeds of terrier were bred for. Border and Lakeland terriers have charactistically strong jaws and big teeth because their job was to go down into dens in rock that can't be dug to and kill the fox below ground. Jack Russell types, on the other hand, were bred to either bolt the fox for the hunt or stand back and bay to locate and hold so they could be dug to. Killing the fox was considered a major fault.

Having said all this, there are few species that can be changed as quickly and dramatically by selective breeding as the canids (witness https://evolution-outreach.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12052-018-0090-x) and if buying a pup of any working breed today I'd very carefully research it's recent ancestry to make sure it hadn't been "improved" by The Kennel Club and the show bench! We are losing our working dogs, which were created by unqique sets of circumstances over a period, at a horrifying rate because the circumstances that determined their selection are simply not present any more and are unlikely to be reproduced. Don't use it, you'll lose it.

Indidentally, Pat also had an artificial leg. His leg was amputated after he fell from a electricity pylon while working for the Scottish hydro electric board. (Didn't stop him poaching the odd deer, though, or dragging it home! :)). He, too, had been bitten by a collie and although his leg did not come off, the look of absolute astonishment on the dog's face was something he often remarked on!
 

2wheels

Member
Location
aberdeenshire
Pat Macgettigan, a famous sheep dog trainer up here, took me to see some Scottish beardies that were cattle dogs and probably ancestors of the Australian dogs. They had mouths like crocodiles! Fifty years ago, I also saw smaller beardies on Speyside owned by a 90yo shepherd that were used exclusively as sheep dogs. He'd had the same strain all his life.

I've noticed tooth/jaw size to be an indicator of what various breeds of terrier were bred for. Border and Lakeland terriers have charactistically strong jaws and big teeth because their job was to go down into dens in rock that can't be dug to and kill the fox below ground. Jack Russell types, on the other hand, were bred to either bolt the fox for the hunt or stand back and bay to locate and hold so they could be dug to. Killing the fox was considered a major fault.

Having said all this, there are few species that can be changed as quickly and dramatically by selective breeding as the canids (witness https://evolution-outreach.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12052-018-0090-x) and if buying a pup of any working breed today I'd very carefully research it's recent ancestry to make sure it hadn't been "improved" by The Kennel Club and the show bench! We are losing our working dogs, which were created by unqique sets of circumstances over a period, at a horrifying rate because the circumstances that determined their selection are simply not present any more and are unlikely to be reproduced. Don't use it, you'll lose it.

Indidentally, Pat also had an artificial leg. His leg was amputated after he fell from a electricity pylon while working for the Scottish hydro electric board. (Didn't stop him poaching the odd deer, though, or dragging it home! :)). He, too, had been bitten by a collie and although his leg did not come off, the look of absolute astonishment on the dog's face was something he often remarked on!
we had a beardie cross collie which was a better driver than gatherer. great for keeping the pens full. solid muscle, a fraction larger than a collie and he weighed 26kgs.. a great friend as well, when he went suddenly due to a ruptired undiagnosed liver tumour the wife and i shed a lot of tears.
 
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