In this article we will take a look at what to expect from a Blue Heeler Lab mix. How to predict their temperament, personality and appearance. Giving you the information you need to decide whether this pup is the right one for your family and lifestyle, and letting you know how to raise them to be a happy, confident pet.
The Blue Heeler Lab mix is a cross between the Blue Heeler and the Labrador Retriever. Also known as the Labraheeler, this mixed breed combines two loyal, intelligent, and extremely active dogs. It can be from 17 to 24.5 inches tall, weighing from 35 to 80 pounds as an adult.
But, whenever two breeds are mixed there’s no way to know for sure which of the parents the offspring will take after in terms of appearance and temperament. The best way to determine what Blue Heeler Lab mix puppies will be like is to take a closer look at both parent breeds.
Blue Heeler Lab Mix History
Although we don’t know specifics about the origins of the Blue Heeler Lab mix, we do know the histories of the Blue Heeler and the Labrador Retriever. But first, let’s learn more about what it means to be a mixed breed.
Purebred vs Mixed Breeds
A purebred dog is the offspring of two dogs of the same breed with a documented pedigree. This creates puppies that are consistent in terms of appearance and temperament. The problem with pedigree pups is that restricting the gene pool leads to some serious genetic disorders.
Mixed breeds like the Blue Heeler Lab mix are the result of crossing two different purebred breeds. This practice can reduce the risk of inherited health issues due to genetic diversity. However, the offspring are still at risk for health issues that affect either parent breed.
Blue Heeler History
The Blue Heeler’s history began in the early 1800s. British settlers needed a hardy, herding dog. The dogs they brought from England were known as the Smithfield and they were good herders. But they couldn’t withstand the punishing climate and rough terrain of the Australian Outback. To develop the Blue Heeler, Smithfields were crossed with the following:
- Wild Australian Dingoes
- Scottish Highland Collies
- Black and Tan Kelpies
Labrador Retriever History
The Labrador’s story also began in the early 1800s. English nobles visiting Newfoundland, Canada spotted the St. John’s Dog. They were impressed with the breed’s abilities as a duck retriever and fisherman’s mate. A number of St. John’s Dogs were imported to England. British breeders refined and standardized the breed in the latter half of the 19th century.
Did You Know…
- The Blue Heeler is officially known as the Australian Cattle Dog.
- A Blue Heeler named Bluey holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest dog. Born in 1910, Bluey lived to be 29 years and 5 months old.
- Actors Matthew McConaughey and Owen Wilson both own Blue Heelers.
What Does the Australian Cattle Dog Lab Mix Look Like?
The Labraheeler will typically combine physical traits of both parents:
Australian Cattle Dog Traits
The Australian Cattle Dog stands from 17 to 20 inches and weighs between 35 and 50 pounds. These dogs are strong, agile. They are compact but muscular. All puppies are born white. But their short, smooth coat will turn either blue-gray or red with distinctive mottling or specking patterns. This breed resembles the Australian Dingo with an intense gaze and erect ears.
Labrador Retriever Traits
Labradors are a larger dog, standing from 21.5 to 24.5 inches and weighing between 55 and 80 pounds. The Lab is also an athletic breed with a well-balanced conformation.
There are actually two types of Labradors. The American or field type. And the English show type, which is shorter and stockier with a wider head and thicker tail. Both types have kind, expressive eyes, ears that hang close to the head. And they both have a wide muzzle. Their short, dense, weather-resistant coat is one of the breed’s defining features. They come in black, yellow, and chocolate colors.
Blue Heeler Lab Mix Personality
The Blue Heeler Lab mix personality can favor one parent breed or be a combination of both. Both parent breeds are highly intelligent, intensely loyal, and extremely energetic dogs. You can expect these traits to be passed along to their offspring. It’s also safe to say that the Blue Heeler Lab mix will be an affectionate dog who forms strong bonds with his family. Let’s take a look at each parent breed’s personality.
Blue Heeler Personality
Blue Heelers have strong guarding and herding instincts. This can make them protective and suspicious of strangers. It can also mean they’ll try to herd children and other small pets. And they’ll often nip at heels as they run around. Some Blue Heelers have been known to show aggression towards people. Therefore, your Blue Heeler Lab mix that needs to be well socialized. They need to be introduced to a wide variety of people and pets from an early age.
There’s a possibility that the Lab’s famously sweet, friendly nature will temper some of the Blue Heeler tendencies. But with a mixed breed, there are no guarantees. As with appearance, there can be some temperamental differences between the working and show lines of the Labrador breed. Working or field types tend to be more sensitive and serious. Show type Labs are more outgoing and playful.
Blue Heeler Lab Mix Training
The Labraheeler has two parents known for being intelligent and easy to train. This mixed breed will want to please you, but may also be independent and stubborn. However, both breeds are receptive to clicker training and positive reinforcement methods. Use encouraging words and tasty treats as rewards.
Consistency is important. And you should start training and socialization early. Boredom will be the biggest obstacle for your Blue Heeler Lab mix to overcome with this smart and energetic hybrid breed.
Blue Heeler Lab Mix Exercise
The Blue Heeler Lab mix combines two supremely energetic breeds. The Australian Cattle Dog in particular needs a job to keep him fit and happy. Without enough physical activity and mental stimulation to exhaust excess energy, they will likely turn to destructive behavior. The Blue Heeler Lab mix will not be satisfied with a leisurely walk in the park.
Exercise Options to Consider
Obedience, herding, tracking, or agility training are recommended to channel their natural instincts. Fun activities such as swimming, retrieving games, and other sporting activities are also good options. Labraheelers are well-suited to a rural setting where there’s lots of space for them to roam freely. This is not a dog to keep in an apartment. And they also don’t like to be left alone for very long.
Australian Cattle Dog Lab Mix Health
The average life expectancy for the Australian Cattle Dog is 12 to 16 years. For Labs, it’s approximately 10 to 12 years.
As with all breeds, both parents are at risk for genetic health problems. In many cases, these health issues can be avoided by breeders doing proper health testing of their breeding stock.
Problems that Affect Both Breeds
There are a few conditions that affect both breeds:
- Progressive retinal atrophy, which causes loss of vision.
- Hip and elbow dysplasia, an abnormal formation of the hip socket, which can lead to arthritis.
You should also be aware of and test for the health issues for each parent breed listed below.
Australian Cattle Dog Health
- Osteochondritis dissecans is another joint condition that affects the Australian Cattle Dog. It occurs when abnormal cartilage separates from the bone. This inflammatory condition can affect the shoulder, elbow, hip, or knee.
- Deafness is a significant problem for the breed. This study of 899 dogs found that 10.8% were affected. 7.5% were unilaterally deaf. And 3.3% were bilaterally deaf.
- A congenital portosystemic shunt is an abnormal connection. It allows blood from the dog’s intestines to bypass the liver.
Responsible breeders will screen their breeding stock for the following conditions:
Blue Heeler Labrador Mix Grooming and Feeding
The Blue Heeler and the Labrador Retriever are double-coated dogs. This means you can expect their offspring to shed a lot. Regular brushing will remove dead hair and help to keep it off your clothes and furniture. When they shed their undercoat twice a year you’ll need to brush them daily. The Blue Heeler Lab mix will also require an occasional bath to keep him clean. Trimming nails and brushing teeth should also be a part of their grooming regimen.
This active, medium-sized dog will require high-quality dog food with a good source of protein. Avoid overfeeding a Labraheeler as they’re prone to joint problems. They also have a high incidence of obesity on the Labrador side of the family.
Do Blue Heeler Labrador Mixes Make Good Pets?
The Lab is known to be good with children. But the same cannot always be said for the Blue Heeler. Older kids should be fine with this breed. But families with younger children may want to consider a dog without strong herding instincts. However, both parent breeds are very loyal and family-oriented. This dog would be perfect for families with an active lifestyle and want a pet to accompany them in outdoor pursuits.
Blue Heeler Labrador Mix Rescue
Choosing to adopt a Blue Heeler Lab mix from a shelter is a wonderful way to bring a pet into your life. While these are usually older dogs, it offers some advantages for pet owners. Firstly, rescue dogs are usually housetrained and socialized. Secondly, it also means not having to cope with a rambunctious puppy. But best of all, rescuing a dog from a shelter gives you the wonderful feeling of saving a dog’s life.
Finding An Australian Cattle Dog Lab Mix Puppy
There are numerous avenues to find an Australian Cattle Dog Lab Mix puppy with the growing popularity of mixes. Make sure you do your research and find a reputable breeder who can answer your questions and provide official paperwork. It’s important to avoid pet stores, online ads, and puppy mills. They may have unethical breeding practices. And they may be more concerned with making money than the dogs themselves.
Blue Heeler Labrador Mix Puppy Care
Bringing a puppy into your home can be both exhilarating and exasperating. From daily routines to major developmental milestones, it makes your life easier if you know what to expect. Our puppy care and puppy training guides will help you and your new puppy get off to a great start.
Blue Heeler Labrador Mix Products and Accessories
- Best Toys for Blue Heeler Dogs
- Labrador Retriever Gifts
- Best Dog Leash
- Labrador Retriever Shop
- Best Indestructible Dog Beds
- Best Dog Nail Polish
Blue Heeler Labrador Mix Pros and Cons
Are you still trying to decide if the Blue Heeler Labrador mix is the right dog for you? Look at this roundup of the pros and cons to help put things in perspective.
- Herding instincts may make them chase after and nip young children and other animals
- Vigorous daily exercise requirements
- Protective instincts can make them suspicious of strangers
- Heavy shedding
- Very intelligent
- Highly trainable
- Loyal and family-oriented
- An excellent companion for active people
Similar Breed Mixes and Breeds
If you’re still undecided, these are some other Blue Heeler and Labrador mixes to consider.
- Blue Heeler
- Labrador Retriever
- Australian Shepherd and Australian Cattle Dog Mix
- Blue Heeler German Shepherd Mix
- Blue Heeler Border Collie Mix
- Australian Shepherd Lab Mix
- Boxer Lab Mix
- Golden Retriever Lab Mix
- Chihuahua Lab Mix
- American Labrador
- Black Lab Pitbull Mix
Blue Heeler Labrador Mix Rescues
Here’s a list of shelters that specialize in the Australian Cattle Dog and the Labrador Retriever. If you’d like an organization to be added to the list please post details in the comments box.
- Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Inc.
- Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Association
- American Lab Rescue
Is a Blue Heeler Labrador Mix Right For Me?
The Blue Heeler Lab mix can make a wonderful companion and family dog. This hybrid breed would be an excellent choice if you’re an active person looking for a running companion who can keep up with you. Their intelligence makes them highly trainable, but you need to be able to give this dog the time and attention to socializing and exercise that they need.
References and resources
- Blackshaw, J.K. “An overview of types of aggressive behavior in dogs and methods of treatment,” Animal Behavior Science, Volume 30, Issues 3–4, 1991
- Dekomien, G, et al., “Exclusion of the PDE6A gene for generalised progressive retinal atrophy in 11 breeds of dog,” Animal Genetics, 2008
- Oberbauer, AM, et al. “Long-term genetic selection reduced prevalence of hip and elbow dysplasia in 60 dog breeds,” PLOS One, 2017
- Sommerlad, SF, et al., “Prevalence of congenital hereditary sensorineural deafness in Australian Cattle Dogs and associations with coat characteristics and sex,” BMC Veterinary Research, 2012
- Mason, TA, et al., “Osteochondrosis of the elbow joint in young dogs,” Journal of Small Animal Practice, 1980
- Tisdall, PLC, et al., “Congenital portosystemic shunts in Maltese and Australian Cattle Dogs,” Australian Veterinary Journal, 1994
- McKerrell, RE, et al., “Hereditary Myopathy in Labrador Retrievers: A Morphologic Study,” Veterinary Pathology, 1986
- Famula, TR, et al., “Evaluation of the genetic basis of tricuspid valve dysplasia in Labrador Retrievers,” American Journal of Veterinary Research, 2002
- Lowe, AD, et al., “Alimentary lymphosarcoma in a 4-year-old Labrador retriever,” The Canadian Veterinary Journal, 2004
- Jaggy, A., et al., “Genetic aspects of idiopathic epilepsy in Labrador retrievers,” Journal of Small Animal Practice, 2008
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