The German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix is a hybrid dog breed. What this means is that this is a newer dog breed that is still quite early in the breed evolution.
Hybrid dog breeding is becoming more popular because combining the genes of two different purebred dog breeds can contribute strengths to the continuing breed line.
As we will discuss in detail in this article, there are health as well as temperament advantages that your puppy stands to gain from a well-designed, reputable, and health-focused hybrid breeding program.
German Shepherd Blue Heeler Mix
A German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix dog may have one purebred German Shepherd dog parent and one Blue Heeler parent dog.
Alternately, a German Shepherd Blue Heeler dog may have two German Shepherd Blue Heeler dog parents.
Which set of parents your mix puppy has will influence what your German Shepherd Blue Heeler puppy looks like as well as how your puppy acts and what your dog needs.
The rest of this article will be devoted to exploring this unique developing hybrid dog breed!
Learn About the German Shepherd and Blue Heeler Dog Breeds
As this YouTube video explains, the German Shepherd and the Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) are both working dog breeds.
However, they have as many differences as they do similarities, which can make choosing a German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix puppy challenging if you want or need certain traits in your new companion canine.
Understanding Hybrid Breedings By Dog Generation
As Breeding Business explains, there are several different generations that a hybrid dog breeder can choose to focus on.
It is easy to tell which generation a breeder specializes in by looking for numeric clues in the breeder’s description.
These clues are labeled F1, F1b, F2, F3, F4, and so forth. Sometimes a breeder will specialize in more than one generation and may indicate the differences between litters on their website or in their literature.
So let’s take a closer look at what each classification is referring to. This can help you decide what generation of German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix puppy you would like to add to your family.
An F1 generation hybrid breeder focuses on the earliest stage of hybrid dog breeding – crossing two different purebred dog breeds together to produce puppies.
F1 puppies would have one purebred German Shepherd dog parent and one purebred Blue Heeler dog parent.
The F1 generation is arguably the most interesting generation for dog breeders. This is because it is literally not possible to calculate in advance how each parent dog’s DNA will influence a given puppy.
Keeping things very simple just for example purposes, one puppy in the litter may get the Blue Heeler parent dog’s signature coat markings and the German Shepherd dog parent’s height.
Another puppy in the very same litter may inherit just the opposite blend of traits.
Choosing to get your puppy from an F1 generation breeder is kind of like saying “surprise me!” Alternately, you can tell your breeder what traits you prefer and ask to be notified when a suitable puppy becomes available.
F1b generation dog breeding typically pairs one purebred dog parent (either a German Shepherd or a Blue Heeler in this case) with one hybrid dog parent (here, a German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix).
In dog breeding terminology, this is called “back-crossing.” It means choosing one parent dog from the current generation and one parent dog from the previous generation.
In this breeding stage, the breeder is refining for preferred traits, whether they be for appearance, temperament, or some combination thereof.
F2 generation dog breeders have a different focus for their breeding programs. This is because a breeder who chooses to breed at the F2 generation is cross-breeding two-hybrid dog parents.
With two parents who are each half German Shepherd and half Blue Heeler, you are going to start to see more uniformity among the puppies in each litter, both in terms of appearance and in terms of temperament.
So, for example, if you need your dog to grow up to be a certain size or smaller, you would want to work with a breeder who focuses on F2 stage or later dog breeding.
The focus of an F2b breeding program is once again further refinement to the new hybrid breed through back-crossing.
F3, et al
With each later stage of a hybrid dog breeding program, the puppies grow more and more uniform in every way.
Certain “natural” dog breeds excepting, this is exactly how nearly all of today’s recognized, registered purebred dog breeds came to be – with one important exception.
For many of today’s purebred dog breeds, including the German Shepherd and the Blue Heeler, more than two other dog breeds were cross-bred to develop the breeds.
Meet the Parents: German Shepherd and Blue Heeler
The German Shepherd and the Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) are each iconic dog breeds in their own right.
Both have very distinctive looks and temperaments. And both share some important similarities that make crossing the two a good idea from a hybrid breeding perspective.
So let’s meet each parent dog and learn more about the purebred breeds that will be influencing your German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix puppy.
German Shepherd dog
The German Shepherd is one of those dog breeds that almost introduces itself – the “GSD” is just that popular.
As the American Kennel Club (AKC) explains, the German Shepherd breed was first envisioned by a retired German Calvary officer named Captain Max Von Stephanitz.
The Captain had a very simple goal: he wanted to produce the perfect working dog.
Interestingly for our purposes here, the German Shepherd dog’s work was to be herding livestock, not protecting people, which is what the GSD is best known for today.
Captain Von Stephanitz didn’t much care what the dog looked like as long as the new breed had the right working dog traits. But over time, people started to care more about the look of the German Shepherd and two breed lines diverged.
Today, there are two distinct breed lines for the German Shepherd dog: the “show” or appearance-based line and the pure working dog line.
If you want your German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix dog to work, you may want to pick a hybrid puppy whose GSD parent comes from the working breed line.
Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle) dog
The Australian Cattle dog is the formal breed name for the Blue Heeler dog.
In fact, there are also Red Heeler dogs and as the American Kennel Club (AKC) points out, the two dog lines are only distinguishable from each other by coat color.
The Australian Cattle dog’s history actually began in Britain with a breed known as the Smithfield dog. When British ranchers emigrated to Australia, they interbred their Smithfield dog with a wild Australian dog called the dingo.
These were the earliest Australian Cattle dogs, although there was more cross-breeding yet ahead as these new hybrids were also crossed with Scottish Highland Collies, Black, and Tan Kelpies, and even the iconic Dalmatian.
This has given the Australian Cattle dog its signature blend of stellar working dog traits.
This interbreeding has also given the Australian Cattle Dog its unusual nickname of “blue heeler” or “red heeler,” which comes from both the dog’s coat color and tendency to nip at the heels of livestock (or people) to herd them.
Genetic Health Concerns: German Shepherd and Blue Heeler
One of the biggest drivers behind today’s hybrid dog breeding programs is a concern about dog breed health.
German Shepherd dogs in particular have been plagued with an increasing series of genetic (heritable) health issues over the past several years, as the Journal of Canine Genetics and Epidemiology points out.
The leading school of thought points to modern breeding practices as a potential cause for the increase in serious health issues, some of which can be severely life-limiting or even fatal.
Breeding the “show” line of German Shepherds for strict adherence to an appearance standard may have promoted certain less desirable genes along with those that code for the desired appearance.
But whatever the cause, there is one thing canine biologists do know for sure – adding back genetic diversity to the GSD gene pool may be able to strengthen future generations of German Shepherds.
Unfortunately, there are only two viable ways to add back genetic diversity: find a new breed line of German Shepherds to cross-breed with or opt for hybrid dog breeding.
In this case, the only viable option is hybrid breeding.
Blue Heelers also have a growing list of heritable health issues that can cause joint, heart, knee, eye, and other serious problems that can be life-limiting or fatal.
For the Australian Cattle Dog as well, hybrid dog breeding programs represent one possible way to increase genetic diversity and strengthen the health of future generations of Blue Heelers (and Red Heelers).
So let’s take a closer look at the known health issues that can crop up in each parent dog breed.
To do this, we will consult the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) database.
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals CHIC database is a voluntary database purebred breeders can participate in by adding health records for their breeding stock (parent dogs) to increase knowledge of breed-based health issues.
German Shepherd health concerns
According to the CHIC database, all German Shepherd dogs that are going to be bred should be pre-screened for these known genetic health issues:
- Dysplasia (hip, elbow).
- Autoimmune thyroiditis.
- Cardiac issues, including congenital.
- Degenerative myelopathy.
- Temperament issues.
- Eye issues.
Blue Heeler health concerns
According to the CHIC database, all Blue Heelers that are going to be bred should be pre-screened for these known heritable health issues:
- Dysplasia (hip, elbow).
- Patellar luxation (trick kneecap).
- Eye issues, including lens luxation and Progressive Retinal Atrophy.
- Cardiac issues.
- Congenital deafness.
- OCD/Osteochondritis dissecans (hocks).
In reviewing the major genetic health issues each parent dog breed is known to carry, you can see how some of the health issues are quite similar for both breeds, the German Shepherd and the Blue Heeler.
In particular, you will need to make sure the parent dogs of your German Shepherd Blue Heeler puppy have healthy joints, hearts, eyes, and immune systems.
Any responsible breeder should be happy to share the results of all prescreening test results on both parent dogs. Ideally, you should also take time to meet and interact with both parent dogs before making a lifetime commitment to a new puppy.
What to Expect When You Choose a German Shepherd Blue Heeler Mix Dog
So now that you understand what “hybrid dog breeding” means and how it works and you understand the health concerns that make hybrid breeding programs so popular today, it is time to turn our attention to this unique hybrid dog breed.
What can you expect when you decide to welcome a German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix dog into your life?
What will your new dog need from you? What type of personality and temperament can you expect? How much exercise will your new puppy want and need? How about brushing and grooming needs?
Let’s find out!
German Shepherd Blue Heeler Mix weight and height
The German Shepherd dog can weigh 50 to 90 pounds and stand 22 to 26 inches tall (paw pads to shoulder tops). The Blue Heeler can weigh 35 to 50 pounds and stand 17 to 20 inches tall.
Depending on what generation your hybrid puppy comes from, the potential weight range you are looking at maybe anywhere from 35 to 90 pounds, which is quite a range!
Height-wise, you are looking at anywhere from 17 to 26 inches tall – again, quite a range.
But taking an average of this range, without factoring in gender, the most likely outcome is that your hybrid puppy will grow up to weigh around 60 pounds and stand around 20 inches tall.
German Shepherd Blue Heeler Mix temperament
Both the German Shepherd and the Blue Heeler have very distinctive and unique temperaments.
The first thing to remember is that both of these dogs are true working dog breeds. Most working dog breeds have a naturally high energy level and love to stay active.
Both German Shepherds and Blue Heelers fall into this category.
Both parent dogs make great family guard dogs and watchdogs. Both will be very protective of their home and family. Both dogs will need mental as well as physical stimulation.
And both dogs are incredible canine athletes who will easily escape if your yard is not dog proof.
A German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix puppy is going to crave athletic outlets and an active lifestyle. Whether you involve your dog in canine athletics or put your pup to work, these dogs are born to work long hours with dedication and diligence.
In other words, a German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix dog is not going to do well living a life of leisure. While puppies sleep a lot, you need to be prepared to devote at least two hours a day to running and playing and caring for your adult dog.
German Shepherd Blue Heeler Mix exercise and training
As you just learned in the previous section here, both German Shepherds and Blue Heelers have been deliberately bred through generations to work hard, long hours each and every day of their adult lives.
The one caveat to keep in mind is that puppies must not be allowed to exercise too vigorously until they have finished growing.
The only way to know when your dog is finished growing is to have your canine veterinarian do X-rays of the long leg bones. What your vet is looking for is the closure of the soft growth plates at the top of each leg bone.
This typically occurs at the age of 12 months or older. Once the growth plates have closed and hardened, your dog is done growing.
At this point, you can train for canine athletics or K-9 protection work or herding, or other working dog jobs without the risk of damaging your dog’s musculoskeletal system, tissues, tendons, ligaments, or muscles.
With a highly intelligent dog like a German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix, you want to use only positive reinforcement training methods like praise, treats, pats, and playtime.
These dogs are smart and will become easily bored if training sessions become repetitive or drag on for too long. For best results, add new skills to each training session and keep the sessions short, fun, and extremely positive.
German Shepherd Blue Heeler Mix shedding and grooming
So now let’s turn our attention to a topic that many prospective dog owners have lots of questions about – grooming, shedding, and coat care.
The first thing you absolutely need to know about both the German Shepherd and the Blue Heeler parent dogs is that each dog has the classic working dog coat.
If you are not familiar, a working dog coat is a double layer coat that services two purposes: protection and insulation.
The inner layer of a working dog’s coat is like a down jacket. It is soft, thick, and warm and keeps the dog’s skin dry.
The outer layer of a working dog’s coat is like a protective parka. It is longer and coarser and has a naturally water-repellant property. This outer coat layer keeps the dog from getting bitten by pests, sunburned and windburned and drenched in the rain.
The inner layer of the coat will “blow out” seasonally as the dog’s body adjusts to the need to be warmer or cooler. This seasonal shed is called a “coat blow” for a reason – it looks like a snowstorm of dog hair.
All year-round, the working dog coat sheds lightly to replenish itself and keep all the guard (top) hairs functional.
So you will have a shedding dog when you choose a German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix. The best way to control shedding hair is to make time to do a daily de-shedding and brushing for your dog.
Luckily, neither parent dog requires professional grooming and your hybrid puppy won’t either. You can easily learn to do minor routine maintenance tasks like trimming the hair around the paw pads and cleaning your dog’s ears.
You won’t have to do baths very often unless your dog rolls in something stinky. In fact, bathing too frequently can strip the outer layer of the coat of some of its water-repellant, protective properties, so you want to bathe sparingly.
Special Considerations When Choosing a German Shepherd Blue Heeler Mix Dog
You now know that the German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix dog is going to be smart, active, energetic, protective, playful, and extremely eager to spend time with you.
If you have very young children in your home, you may want to wait until they are older before you bring a German Shepherd Blue Heeler into your home.
This dog will have a tendency to nip at your heels to “herd” you and young children, in particular, might find this upsetting or stressful.
Another thing to think about is if your family already includes vulnerable family pets such as small mammals, rodents, birds, or reptiles, the German Shepherd Blue Heeler may not be the best choice.
These dogs are hunters with a strong prey drive and chase instinct and may put your other pets in harm’s way.
Is a German Shepherd Blue Heeler Mix Dog the Right Dog for You?
For the right family or individual who wants to lead an active lifestyle, a dog at their side, a German Shepherd Blue Heeler mix dog may make a fabulous companion canine!