If you are looking for an intensely intelligent working dog, the Catahoula Heeler mix may be the right breed for you. However, this is not a dog well suited to being a casual pet. Here's what you need to know about this unique mix.
Catahoula Blue Heeler mix history
The Catahoula Leopard dog has a remarkable history that is founded in function. Native Americans developed the Catahoula Leopard as a mix between the Native American dogs that were present before white explorers arrived and the dogs of the explorers.
As time went on, Catahoula Leopard Dogs were used mainly in Louisiana around the Catahoula Lake area to catch wild hogs and cows. They developed a unique way of working in which they would create a barrier around the herd and then drive the hogs or cattle as instructed by their handler.
While individuals of this breed vary dramatically in appearance, this way of working the herd is essential to the breed. Without this characteristic, the dog is not a Catahoula.
The Blue Heeler is also known as the Australian Cattle Dog or Queensland Heeler. Over the years, it has been absolutely essential to the success of Australian herders.
When English immigrants first came to Australia and began ranching cattle, they needed a dog that could handle the harsh terrain and work tirelessly to herd vast numbers of cattle over the open plains.
The British imports were not well suited to these conditions. Therefore, they were crossed with wild dingoes and other breeds like the Scottish Highland Collie to develop a well-suited dog to work in the Australian terrain. Later on, Dalmatians and Black and Tan Kelpies also were bred into the line.
Temperament and personality of the Blue Heeler and Catahoula mix
The Blue Heeler and the Catahoula are closer to a wild heritage than many other purebred dog breeds. This means that mixed breed dogs resulting from these breeds may have some wilder instincts and be harder for dog owners to handle than some other breeds.
This Heeler mix is wickedly intelligent and can work all day on rough terrain and under challenging conditions. Without a job to do, this hybrid dog can be a very difficult pet. However, when given work to do, this is the perfect dog for several jobs.
Appearance of this mixed breed
Both the Catahoula Leopard Dog and the Blue Heeler come in a number of different colors and patterns, although a merle pattern with lots of spots and splotches is common to both breeds. Both breeds have short, easy-to-maintain coats.
Your Blue Heeler Catahoula mix may inherit the short single-layer coat of the Catahoula parent or the double coat of the Blue Heeler parent. Catahoula Blue Heelers may have either flop or pricked ears or a combination of these ear types since the Catahoula Leopard has flopped ears and Blue Heelers have pricked ears.
Training and Exercise needs of a Blue Heeler and Catahoula mixed dog
Since both Blue Heelers and Catahoulas are extremely energetic, you can expect this mix to be very high energy as well. Expect your Blue Heeler Catahoula mix to need a lot of exercise.
These are active dogs that do best with a pet owner who enjoys working with their dogs. This is not a breed well suited to apartment living. They are high energy from the time they are a puppy.
Grooming a Heeler and Catahoula mix
Thanks to the durable, low-maintenance coat, the Blue Heeler Catahoula mix is very simple to groom. Periodic brushing should be all it takes to keep your dog looking their best.
The exception is twice a year when your Catahoula Blue Heeler mix may shed their coat extensively if they take after the Australian Cattle Dog in their ancestry. At these times, daily or every other day, brushing will be required.
Health and life expectancy of this breed
Both of these breeds tend to be relatively healthy, so you can expect your Blue Heeler Catahoula mix to be a reasonably healthy dog. Australian Cattle Dogs, in particular, tend to be very long-lived for a relatively large dog, often living until 12 or 16 years of age. Catahoulas can typically live from 10 to 14 years.
Both breeds can be prone to hip dysplasia, so be careful to make sure your dog has hip screenings. Deafness and eye problems can also occur, particularly in dogs that are predominantly white around the eyes and ears.
Fun Facts about this mixed dog
- This dog has the genetics of two wild dogs relatively recently in its ancestry: the wolf and the dingo
- The Catahoula Blue Heeler mix may be one of the longest-lived of all large breed dogs
- Your puppy may come in a vast range of colors but will likely have spots and splashes in their coat
How much does this breed cost?
There are two primary ways that you may find a Blue Heeler Catahoula: At a shelter or rescue or as the result of the deliberate breeding of working dogs. This mix may be completely free or very cheap as a shelter dog. As intentional breeding of working dogs, expect to pay a fair amount depending on the quality of the working dog parents.
Do they make good family pets?
When properly socialized from an early age and raised around children, the Catahoula Blue Heeler mix can be expected to do well in the family. However, keep in mind that this independent and sometimes strong-willed dog may not always respond well to children who pester them or handle them roughly.
Are they easy to train?
The Catahoula Blue Heeler mix is extremely intelligent and highly trainable. However, this dog isn't always easy to train. Both parent breeds use their intelligence and decision-making to work for herds. They may also tend to make their own decisions in their life with you.
They need early socialization and consistent, positive training to develop into faithful companions. This is a dog that will not only respond poorly but may respond with aggression to rough handling, so they should always be trained with consistency but not with a heavy hand.
My experience as the liaison of integrative medicine, neurology, and zoo medicine at UF Small Animal Hospital gave me valuable insight into the challenges faced by pet owners with animals who have medical conditions. My time there also gave me the opportunity to care for a disabled dog and write a book about the experience.
As manager of a dog daycare, I learned about how dogs play and interact, warning signs for aggression, and how to rehabilitate dog-reactive dogs. During my time there I was under the mentorship of two groomers, from whom I learned grooming essentials.
I currently work with high-risk shelter dogs and manage a blog to help other volunteers and foster families. I have two dogs of my own, a Maltese and a Standard Poodle.