The 1980s have come and gone. They took with them our disdain for the mixed-breed dog. Gone are the terms mongrel and mutt and in their place are hybrid vigor and designer dog.
People’s love for purebred dogs has waxed and waned in waves since the Victorian Age. However, our love for the Doodles, French Bulldog or German Shepherd crosses, and anything else we can mix, and match seems here to stay. Today we decided to focus on the Blueweiler.
What is a Blueweiler? A Blue Heeler Rottweiler cross is a medium-large dog that embraces the qualities of a herding dog such as drive, energy, intelligence, speed, and strength.
Whether black and tan or mottled gray-blue, this mix makes a good companion for single-pet, active families with or without older children. The traits of both the Blue Heeler and the Rottie are usually readily apparent in Blueweilers.
Follow the path of what it might be like to own and care for a Blueweiler. Here you can imagine the unique qualities of this designer dog as you explore how it gets along with children and other dogs, possible health issues, training difficulties, intelligence, appearance, and exercise needs.
What is the history of a Blue Heeler Rottweiler Mix?
No one is sure about when the purposefully breeding of the Blue Heeler-Rottweiler began or why. It is possible ranchers wanted a more protective and larger herding dog. Perhaps they wanted a smaller and more mobile dog for their cattle than a purebred Rottweiler. Possibly, they were curious about how the mix might look.
Regardless, the Blue Heeler-Rottweiler mix did not appear until probably well after the early 1990s. More than likely it was a product of the US.
Where did the Rottweiler come from?
The Rottweiler is an old breed. Most experts believe it originated from Roman Molosser dogs that had branched into livestock and war dogs thousands of years ago.
Rottweilers may have arisen from ancient livestock guardians. However, Rottweilers were not merely guardians. They became drover dogs, which were herding canids that moved cattle from behind.
The main job of drovers was to help people get their livestock to market, but Rottweilers would later also pull carts with butchered meat and guard their masters’ purses.
Roman legions brought Rottweiler ancestors with them to Rottweil, Germany, where they continued their duties while breeding with local dogs. The Rottweiler would become larger and more protective while retaining its calm, watchful, and sociable personality.
In the 1830s the railway and its transport cars replaced Rotties. The breed almost died out as inferior specimens replaced prized working dogs. Fortunately, the police force recognized Rottie’s great working qualities and began active recruitment of the breed in 1910.
Rottweilers easily transitioned from law enforcement to the military during World War I. Arriving in America probably in the 1920s, the Rottweiler joined the AKC in 1931. Rottweilers have deviated little from their original breed standard established in the early 1900s.
Where did the term blue heeler come from?
Unlike the Australian Shepherd, the Blue Heeler is almost wholly a product of Australia. Settlers bred the Australian Cattle Dog, aka Blue Heeler, to help them work their cattle.
Two forefathers, George Elliott and Thomas Hall, separately came up with the idea to cross herding dogs with Dingoes. Many of the herding dogs they used were working Collies from Britain. Hall and his father worked in New South Wales in the early 1800s with Dingoes they had tamed. They had perfected a cattle-herding dog by the 1840s. Elliott orchestrated crossbreeding in Queensland and developed a successful working dog by 1873.
Robert Kaleski further refined the Australian Cattle dog using Hall’s line. He founded the Cattle Dog Club of Sydney and formulated a breed standard in 1902.
Australian Heelers arrived in the UK in 1979 while the AKC formally recognized them in 1980 as a working dog. Three years later the Australian Cattle Dog would move to the herding group when the category split from the working class.
Blue Heelers, like Rotties, are drover dogs, moving cattle from behind and sometimes biting their heels. Since their origin, people have called them Heelers, whether Hall’s or Queensland Heelers.
Since most of them have a blue speckled coat, the nickname “Blue Heeler” stuck. Australian Cattle Dogs can also be red-speckled, but the term Red Heeler is not nearly as prevalent as the blues.
What will a Blue Heeler Rottie cross look like?
Size and Appearance of Rottie
Rottweilers are medium-large to large-breed dogs that are imposing no matter what their size. Male dogs can be 24 to 27 inches at the shoulder and weigh 95 to 130 pounds. Females are usually two inches shorter and weigh 80 to 115 pounds.
The breed has a distinctive head with wide-spaced medium almond-shaped brown eyes and triangular pendant-like hanging ears. A Rottweiler’s muzzle will be somewhat shorter than the back skull. You will occasionally see furrows on Rottie’s forehead when she is alert.
Every part of the Rottie denotes power from the muscular neck to the exceptionally deep chest to the long and strong shoulders. A Rottie has driving strength from the hindquarters which give him a long-reaching, springy gait.
A Rottie is slightly longer than he is tall and does his best work at the trot. His tail is usually docked short where permitted. A natural Rottie tail is long, has plumes, and follows a sickle curve not quite over the back.
Rottweilers are always black and tan. They have no white markings and no saddle pattern. Rust to mahogany markings must be in a stereotypical pattern as points above the eyes, on the cheeks and chest, under the tail, and on the lower legs.
Size and Appearance of Blue Heeler
Blue Heelers weigh from 35 to 50 pounds. They stand 17 to 20 inches tall with females usually being slightly smaller than males.
The ACD has a broad head with prominent cheekbones and strong jaws. With a head in balance with its body, the Heeler is like the Rottie in that it should convey strength.
An Australian Cattle dog has medium-sized oval eyes that are not deep-seated like the Rottweiler’s. The ears are also strong and of various sizes. Medium to small ears are preferable to large, and they should be wide-spaced, oriented out towards the side, and end in points.
A Blue Heeler’s body is compact and similar to the Rottweiler’s, and should have a height to length ratio of 9:10. The shoulders are long, sloping, and strong, and the neck and limbs are sturdy.
This breed should have a loose, free, tireless gait with the ability for sudden bursts of speed and lateral or spinning movements. The brushtail is set low but carried high during work or excitement.
The Blue Heeler’s color remains a bit of a mystery because scientists as of 2020 have not identified all of the genes responsible for the pattern. Puppies are born white and develop the “roan” pattern over time.
Roaning in the ACD is simply filling in the white hairs with numerous spots or speckles of color which may be black or red. It resembles but is not the same as ticking. Blue Heelers can have tan markings on the cheeks, lower legs, feet, or chest. Their undercoat can also be tan but must not show through on the body.
Some ACDs do not have much color fill in the white and appear ticked. Others look almost solid black with minimal roaning. Both of these patterns are serious faults in the show ring. Kaleski’s breed standard allowed for large patches of color on the bodies of Blue and Red Heelers, but again, this is not desirable.
Make an educated guess about the appearance of a mixed dog.
A mix can always take on more characteristics from one breed or the other. Most Heeler-Rottweilers that show a balanced blend will be 22 to 25 inches tall and weigh 45 to 80 pounds. Picture a dog a bit smaller and more compact than a GSD and you will have a pretty good idea how big your mix might get.
Your hybrid’s head will be broad and proportional to the rest of the body with wide-set eyes and ears. More than likely the eyes will be dark brown, and the ears will be semi-upright, folding down halfway from the base.
Your dog will be compact with a wide and deep chest and a bushy tail with a slight to sickle curve. The Rottie-Heeler mix has medium-length wavy fur and a variable undercoat depending upon the climate.
Colors are complicated for the Blue Heeler Rottweiler mix. The Blue Heeler has a base color of black and tan and all Rottweilers are black and tan.
There is a good chance a mix between the Heeler and Rottweiler will deliver a black and tan puppy. However, the ACD has an extreme piebald gene that experts think is dominant and leads to the roaning of the Cattle Dog.
Therefore, your mixed breed dog can also have white patches or display roan ticking throughout the body or in isolated areas.
- Black and tan
- Black and tan with significant white areas most commonly on the chest, underbelly, and down the legs
- Black and tan with isolated ticking – You will see isolated areas of roan
- Roan and white – The mix is likely to have areas that fail to fill in with the roan ticking and remain white; There may also be tan markings
- Blue roan – Typical Blue Heeler color which is spots of black so close together mingled with the white hairs that the dog appears bluish; Tan markings are common in patterns typically seen on black and tan dogs – Jaws, lower legs, chest; White markings on the head are common.
A Heeler Rottie should have a steady disposition
Both Heelers and Rotties have a calm watchfulness that belies their intensity and willingness to work hard. Neither breed is prone to shyness or unprovoked aggression. Both these characteristics appear in dogs with harsh or improper training methods or without sufficient socialization. Each of the breeds has a healthy suspicion of strangers.
Your mix will be confident, self-assured, alert, and steady. Heeler Rottweiler mixes are active, intelligent dogs with strong herding and guard instincts.
While Rotties that have solid social skills can be great around children, Australian Cattle Dogs may be too intense. You must focus a lot of your training on discouraging the ACD from nipping and otherwise trying to drive children.
Rottie qualities in your mix can lead to also herding with her body, which can cause injury to toddlers. Your mix will likely require constant supervision and intervention with small children. Heeler Rottie crosses are much more suitable for children over 12 years of age.
Another potential problem area for a Blue Heeler Rottweiler is other pets. Australian Cattle Dogs can be possessive over their owners and territorial, leading to disagreements and fights with other dogs.
Rotties are occasionally aggressive against dogs of the same gender. Dogs that grow up together do better, but you will need to establish strong leadership and curtail possessive and dominant tendencies.
Perhaps due to their Dingo heritage, ACDs have an extremely high predatory drive. You and your family will be happier and suffer less stress if you do not have cats and other small pets living in the same house with an ACD Rottie mix.
If you focus on socializing your puppy as soon as you get her, she will be polite and happy to warm up to your guests over time. Rottweilers are excellent guard dogs but can be social when there is not a threat. They are not trustworthy alone with unfamiliar people anywhere near what they see as their owner’s property.
Australian Cattle Dogs are not necessarily aggressive towards people but are extremely suspicious of strangers. Suspicion is even part of the ACD breed standard. Your mix will have this same wariness but should become more amiable with exposure.
Early socialization through 16 weeks of age is crucial to prevent indiscriminate aggression and biting. You will need to continue training and socialization beyond your dog’s first year to reinforce appropriate interactions with people.
Is the Heeler Rottie healthy?
Blue Heeler Rottie mixes are healthy and vibrant but may inherit a few common ailments from their parents. You can expect your dog to live about 11 to 15 years.
- Hip dysplasia (Rottie)
- Elbow dysplasia (Both)
- Progressive retinal atrophy (Blue Heeler) – Eventually leads to blindness
- Eyelids roll in or droop outward (Rottie) – Entropion or Ectropion respectively
- Cataracts (Both) – Disease that affects the lens
- Von Willebrand’s (ACD) – Bleeding disorder involving clotting factors; Surgery and even nail trims can become concerns
- Cruciate ligament rupture (Rottie) – Comparable to ACL tears in human athletes and others
- Juvenile laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy (Rottie) – Can affect breathing and motor skills in young dogs
How should you care for a Blueweiler?
Blueweilers are high-maintenance dogs as you would guess from the parent breeds. They require a large living space because of their size and activity level. Grooming needs are low, but Blue Heeler Rottie crosses require a lot of training, socialization, attention, supervision, and exercise.
Without a couple of hours of activity every day, your dog can become bored, leading to destructiveness. You can pepper your dog’s rigorous exercises with training obedience and social skills.
- Herding trials
Assuming your mix weighs around 60 to 70 pounds, he will need approximately 1,050 to 1,800 calories or three to five cups of kibble daily. Food amounts need to go up or down depending on weight, age, activity level, and health. To decrease your dog’s likelihood of bloat, you should split amounts into two or more meals a day. Ensure your Blueweiler gets meat sources of protein in her diet and has continual access to drinking water.
Blueweilers need brushing at least twice a week to remove loose hairs and debris. You can brush daily during seasonal shedding in the fall and spring or just to decrease shedding. Pin and wire brushes are sufficient to brush both coat layers.
You should bathe your dog and clip her nails every four to six weeks. Allergies and skin issues may necessitate you bathing more frequently and with special shampoos.
What training challenges can you have?
Both the Blue Heeler and Rottweiler can be challenging to train for an inexperienced or uncertain trainer. Your Blueweiler will have in common with many working and herding breeds a few personality traits that are counter to blind obedience.
- Dominance – Blueweilers do not necessarily have dominance aggression but can be pushy or bossy at times; They may challenge your authority if they sense uncertainty or lack of leadership
- Large, strong – Difficult to physically control
- Independent thinking
- Prey drive – Distracted by fast-moving objects, people, or animals
- Boredom – Insufficient mental stimulation from repetitive day-to-day training
Come to your training sessions armed with a plan, rewards, and plenty of patience, confidence, and imagination. Strive to make your sessions fun, interactive, and positive.
Table of Important Features
Blue Heeler vs. Rottie vs. Blueweiler
|Country of Origin||Australia||Germany||US|
|Purpose||Herd cattle||herd cattle, police, guard||Unknown, companion|
|Size||Medium||Medium to giant||Medium-large|
|Good for Apartment||Too active||Large, active, bans||Active, too big|
|Guarding||Watchdog||Excellent guard||Good guard|
|Prey Drive||High||Low to moderate||Moderate to high|
|Tendency to Bark||High||Low||Moderate|
|Children||Friendly but herds||Large and rowdy||Large and herds|
|Other dogs||Same-sex aggression, jealousy||Same-sex aggression||Same-sex aggression, jealousy|
|Exercise needs||2 hours+||2 hours+||2 hours+|
|Feeding||1200 to 1750 cal/day||2100 to 2500 cal/day||1500 to 2200 cal/day|
|Health Problems||Eyes, Joints||Eyelids, joints, bone cancer||Eyes, joints|
|Lifespan||13 to 15 yrs||8 to 10 yrs||est. 11 to 15 yrs|
There are more images of Blue Heeler Rottweiler mixes than videos, but this short clip is representative. Note the size is standard for the cross, and you can see a lot of Rottweiler traits when the dog turns towards the camera. The head is broad with rust points above eyes and on the cheeks.
The distribution of tan on the legs can fit a Rottie or ACD. Roan has produced a ticking appearance in this dog because not much color spread onto the body.
There are a couple of large black patches which is how the piebald gene is expressed in this particular dog. You can see Blue Heelers with this pattern, but it is a serious fault.
Notice how the tail is full and longer and more curled than a typical Blue Heeler’s. Finally, note the high energy and drive to be active in this dog.