There are a lot of dog breeds out there and it is impossible to know everything about each of them. Having a guide can be infinitely helpful, allowing you to create the perfect setting for you and your dog.
The red heeler isn’t quite as well-known as its blue counterpart, but it makes for a great dog, particularly for families. There is quite a bit to know about the red heeler such as its size, how you can expect it to grow, any behavior problems, and so much more.
What Is a Red Heeler?
The first question about the red heeler is what it is, exactly. The red heeler is similar to the blue heeler in that they are both Australian cattle dogs. Red heelers have strong necks and muscular legs, hanging tails, and are slighting longer than tall. They are broad, have round heads and ears that point.
The red heeler is a bit thicker than their blue counterparts. Heelers in general are protective, clever, hardworking, and loyal, though their higher energy levels leave them prone to boredom compared to other breeds.
Red Heeler Size
On average, the male red heeler will grow so that they stand anywhere from 17 to 20 inches tall at the shoulders. On average, their weight can be between 35 and 45 pounds, though each dog is different.
They have a denser bone structure than the blue heeler, with the properly built red heeler being a little longer than they are tall. Females are a little smaller than their male counterparts, coming in at the bottom of the aforementioned scales. Despite their smaller size, female red heelers are just as hardworking and determined as their male counterparts.
Red Heeler Growth Chart
The good thing about the red heeler is that they are quite similar to the blue heeler in almost every way. The one key difference, aside from their appearance of having a rounder face, is that they can be slightly smaller than their blue counterparts.
Knowing what the growth chart looks like for a red heeler can be an important thing to have before committing to one. At their peak, the red heeler can get to be anywhere from 35 to 45 pounds, while standing 17 to 20 inches ground to shoulder.
But what do they look like at each stage of development? They will see their largest growth period from the three-month to ten-month span. At around three months old, they should be anywhere from 10 to 15 pounds in weight. By the time they hit ten months old, they should be around the 30 pound mark. Their growth should effectively be over by the time they are one year old, though some can grow until the two-year mark.
It is important to know that each dog is different. One may be on the smaller end of the scale while another may be just above the high-end limit. So long as they have the proper diet, they will reach their full size after their first birthday.
Red Heeler Behavior Problems
Though they are quite loyal and intelligent dogs, they are not without their behavioral issues. After all, they are like any dog in that they need proper training. Without that training, those negative behavioral traits can take prevalence.
It is important to keep in mind that the red heeler – the Australian cattle dog – was bred to work. They get the “heeler” name because they are historically known for nipping at the heels of the cattle as they are herding them. This natural behavior can lead to some challenging issues.
Without a doubt, the most prevalent behavioral issue with red heelers is that they nip at your heels (or the heels of children). Remember that they were bred to herd cattle and part of their nature is to nip at their hooves to keep them moving.
Heelers don’t quite get the same use as herders, but that does not mean that they don’t still have that behavior in mind. Without proper training, they can get nippy with both adults and children. It is not unheard of to see them trying to herd small children simply out of their nature or when they are bored.
That said, the proper training can keep them from nipping at all. If you have small children especially, training them not to nip will become important. Even with the nipping, they are still one of the friendliest breeds out there, great for families.
Though they aren’t typically known for barking excessively, it can become a problem without proper training. Not only that, the heeler in general is a high-energy breed. They need stimulation and exercise to ensure that they burn that energy.
When they get bored or have too much energy, they start to look for attention. Part of their methods for doing so include barking, which can become an annoyance or scare small children. Exercise is a must for heelers, so if you notice that yours is barking a lot, consider taking them for a walk or playing with them.
This one goes back to their natural need to herd. When bored or having too much energy, heelers will try to herd kids and other animals. Even if they have training, that natural tendency can come out from time to time.
While this is largely harmful, there are times where it can be hazardous. For starters, with small children, the act of herding could see them knocked over. The last thing that you or your heeler want is to do harm to them.
Digging or Chewing
Their behavioral issues largely come down to their energy and training levels. They are good, smart, loyal dogs for the most part. When they get bored or don’t have proper training, they can act out in any number of ways.
Digging and chewing can be a way to act out if they have too much energy built up. If they get bored, they may chew on things such as socks and shoes or dig in your yard. It is their way of getting some of that energy out and solving the issue of their boredom.
Red Heeler Feeding Chart
The feeding amount and portion quantity will change as your heeler grows. The most crucial steps are through the 12-week mark as they are undergoing their most aggressive growth spurt. Ensuring that you are feeding them enough times per day, and in the right quantities, is important.
For the most part, you will get your puppy from the breeder around the six- or eight-week mark. When you bring them home, they will need four portions per day, around 1.5 cups to start. As they progress to the 12-week mark, the portions will drop down to around three per day with the overall quantity going up to around two cups per day.
Finally, when they hit the 6-month mark, they will go down to two portions per day at around 2-2.5 cups total. Keep an eye on them. If you notice that they have loose stools, you can increase the overall number of portions while keeping the quantity the same. If they still have loose stool, take them to be seen by the vet.
By the time they reach one year of age, they should be consistent in their feeding schedule. Changes to their diet should be done slowly but surely and always with the consultation of your vet.
Are Red Heelers Aggressive?
The good thing about the Australian cattle dog is that they are not typically aggressive. Really, the only difference between the red and blue heelers is in the color of their coat. Red heelers, like their blue counterparts, have origins as working dogs. They were meant to control cattle, so they are naturally nippers and biters.
Heelers in general are not aggressive animals. That said, they do need to receive proper socialization and training in order to get past the nipping and biting. Should they be in public spaces, they should be on a leash or have plenty of training to keep them from running off.
Keep in mind that the red heeler, just like any dog, can turn aggressive in suboptimal conditions. If you yell at them frequently, hit them, or are cruel, they will naturally become scared and defensive. They should be treated with love, care, and positive reinforcement each step of the way.
Red Heeler Lifespan
When adopting a dog, it is important to know how long they can expect to live. Each dog is different, of course, but the average should provide a pretty good idea of that timeline. The good news is that the red heeler lives a good, long life.
The good news is that the average lifespan for the red heeler is between 13 and 15 years. They can experience common health issues such as deafness, hip dysplasia, and eye problems. That said, they do better with big open spaces to run in. Living on a ranch may be the best option, though they can do well in other settings so long as they have room to run and are kept on a leash.
Red Heeler Shedding
One thing to keep in mind with a red heeler is that they shed quite a bit. They are considered to be moderate shedders, which means that you are going to find some fur around your house a good chunk of the time.
The good news is that they are not nearly as bad about shedding as a Labrador or German shepherd might be. During the autumn and spring seasons, however, they “blow their coats.” This can lead to seemingly excessive shedding when all that is happening is their coats are preparing for the changes to the weather conditions.
Giving them a good brushing out can be helpful with the shedding, though it will never stop entirely. Ensuring that they have the proper diet can help strengthen their coat, reducing shedding as well. Should you have concerns about the coat of your heeler, be sure to contact their vet.
Though they do shed, grooming isn’t all that bad. Brushing at least once per week should suffice. They also don’t have the same kind of strong dog odor that other breeds do, which means that they need bathing at most once per month.
It is important to brush out the undercoat, too. The undercoat is what allows them to remain comfortable no matter what the temperature may be. Keeping their undercoat from getting unruly goes a long way in keeping them looking groomed.
Is a Red Heeler a Good Family Dog?
The Australian cattle dog is a great family dog. There are more than a few reasons for this. So if you have been considering adopting a heeler, there are a couple of reasons in particular that will make it a great choice.
For one, they are great for families with kids. Because kids are active, they make a great choice for the highly active breed that is the heeler. They are also very loyal and protective. For families that have kids, knowing that they have the right breed.
Cattle dogs also don’t bark much. Whether you just like to keep a quiet household or don’t want your dog barking every time the children yell, the cattle dog is a great option. They are definitely protective but you won’t have to contend with frequent barking.
Finally, they are easily trained. One of the smarter breeds out there, it won’t take long to train your heeler to follow directions. They make great companions as it is but when they have received proper training, they can become the ideal family companion.
Red Heelers Are Naturally Playful
There are plenty of reasons why heelers in general are so good as family dogs. For starters, they are quite active, which makes them a great dog to want to play with. For kids, and a breed of dog that can get bored, having one another to spend time with can be a great thing.
Having a yard where both can run around and play will keep them from getting bored and allow your heeler to burn off that excess energy. Just keep in mind that heelers need more than physical exercise. They need mental stimulation as well.
Invest in toys and treats that make them work for it. This will not only keep them busy, and from being bored, but will also make them use their minds to solve the puzzle. You will be thankful for these puzzle toys.
They Are Great Protectors
Having a family dog means a lot of different things depending on the family. For some, it is about having a loyal companion who can play with the kids. For others, it is about having a protector around that can keep the family safe.
If you are looking for the latter, the red heeler makes for a great choice. They are naturally protective and brave, as their breeding shows. They can be quite defensive as well, forming a strong bond with their owners. That means wanting to keep a watchful eye on them.
This is where proper training comes into play. Without it, heelers can become wary of strangers. They aren’t big on growling or barking in defense, but they will definitely not be welcoming of those strangers. If you don’t want them to react negatively to strangers, make sure that they have been properly socialized.
Red Heelers Are Smart
There are plenty of dog breeds out there that seem like they are missing a brain cell or two. The heeler is not one of them. They are one of the most intelligent breeds out there, which means that they are optimal for training, companionship, and following commands.
Having an untrained dog can present a lot of problems. The good thing about a heeler is that they take to training well. When they have proper training, they will follow directions when instructed and won’t require much correction. They will also refrain from the kind of behavior that can lead to frustration and difficulty. There are plenty of smart breeds out there, but the heeler is both smart and loyal.
The red heeler is not as well-known as their blue counterpart, but they are similar in just about every way. Their red coat is unique not only to the breed but for dogs in general. For loyal, hardworking, smart dogs, it is hard to top what they have to offer.
With proper training and socialization, a red heeler can make for a fantastic addition to your household. Being properly educated on the breed, their demeanor, size, and eating habits can equip you with all the knowledge you could ever need.