Working dogs are like cheese-flavored popcorn, they tend to divide opinion straight down the middle. You’re either a fan or you’re not, and nothing and no one will ever change your mind one way or another.
If you are a member of the former camp, then we’re about to introduce you to a dog that might just steal your heart and soul, the rarer than hen’s teeth Blue Heeler and Rat Terrier mix.
While the breed doesn’t have an official (or even unofficial) name as a lot of designer dog breeds do, the Blue Heeler (or Australian Cattle Dog) and Rat Terrier mix isn’t a dog for any would-be owner who hasn’t spent any time around working dogs, and as they tend to combine the high prey drive of the Terrier and the herding instincts of the Heeler, they’re not a typical family dog.
In fact, truth be told as this designer breed dog is a relatively recent addition to the canine kingdom, trying to find any information about it isn’t exactly easy. It’s almost as difficult as trying to actually find one of the dogs, which thanks to the relative rarity of Teddy Roosevelt’s favorite dog, the Rat Terrier, is a task unto itself.
But we love a challenge almost as much as we love working dogs, so we made it our mission to find out as much as possible about the Blue Heeler Rat Terrier mix so that you’ll know exactly what to expect if you do decide to try and find, and add one of these determined, single-minded dogs to your family.
It’s All About The Temperament
They’re a best of both worlds dog, as the Heeler Terrier mix tends to inherit the loveable, playful nature of the Heeler and the enduring, incredible loyalty of the Rat Terrier.
They adore their family members, but tend to be wary of strangers and can snap and growl at anyone or any other dog that they perceive to be a threat to their “pack”.
Ideally, they should be socialized with other dogs and as many people as possible from an early age so that they become used to the idea that strangers and canines that they don’t know don’t pose an immediate threat.
As both branches of their family tree are also highly intelligent dogs with a lot of energy, they’ll need to give plenty of stimulation, as they’re not couch potatoes and they are not content to spend their lives sleeping and having their tummies scratched.
Not that they don’t like a good scratch and being petted, they do, they just prefer to be on the go and would prefer to spend their time outside yomping and adventuring in the woods and exploring the world rather than curled up in a dog bed in the lounge of a suburban home.
Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder – What Do They Look Like?
The Blue Heeler Rat Terrier mix is a small(ish), powerful, muscular dog that’s always ready for action and prepared to spring into action at the drop of a hat.
They tend to look more like a Heeler than a Terrier, sharing their same red and blue short-haired coats that can be mottled with the Terriers’ brown, white and black patches.
The best description of the dog that we’ve found is that it’s a smaller, more compact version of the Heeler with the attitude and face of a Rat Terrier.
Their ears are always standing to attention, their tails are always wagging, and if you can get one to stand still long enough to actually have its picture taken, then you’re probably some sort of dog savant who speaks a secret canine language that most humans will never understand.
They tend to stand between sixteen and twenty-two inches tall at the withers (the space between their shoulder blades) and can weigh anywhere between eighteen and twenty-five pounds.
But just because they’re a little smaller than a Blue Heeler, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have the same infinite amount of energy, they do and they’ll need to find an outlet for it, with or without you.
Living With A Blue Heeler Rat Terrier Mix
Here’s where things tend to get a little more complicated, as you’ll need to devote the time to your dog that he needs if you’ll want him to be the sort of fearless, devoted friend that he can be.
And the first thing that you’ll need to understand is that he needs a lot of exercise, and when we say he needs a lot of exercise, we mean he needs a LOT of exercise.
A Heeler Terrier mix needs at least two hours of outside time a day, an hour in the morning, and an hour in the evening, and he’ll need to live somewhere with a lot of yard space so that he can burn off the rest of his excess energy.
They’re not built for apartment life and they don’t do well in the city, they need the space to stretch their legs and run, and are best suited to life in the country, where they can roam for hours on end with their favorite human companions.
You’ll also need to be prepared to stick around for the long haul, as this mix is a long-lived breed, who’ll keep you on your toes well into his dotage. On average, they tend to live between fourteen and sixteen years and won’t even begin to calm down until they’re well into middle age.
The Constant Companion
We need to make one thing clear, about life with a Heeler Terrier mix, and that’s the fact that they can’t live with cats.
Their prey drive is so high, that they’ll spend every waking hour of every day chasing a cat from one end of your house to the next, and they’ll make your feline’s life a misery. They won’t mean to, it’s just who they are.
If you’ve already got a cat, you can’t throw one of these dogs into the mix and hope that everything will work out for the best. It won’t.
They’re not great family dogs either. Sure, they’re affectionate, loyal, and devoted to their owners, but they tend to bond strongly with one person and they’re not great around toddlers who they’ll instinctively try to herd and round up.
They can live happily ever after with older children who will play and romp with them all day long, but if you have younger kids, they’re definitely not the right dog for you.
The good news though is that as long as you’re happy to take them on long adventures and put in the time that you’ll need in order to socialize and train them properly, then they’re an ideal dog for first-time owners.
And as neither breed is particularly prone to separation anxiety, as long as they’re left with something to occupy their insatiable curiosity, you can leave them on their own for a couple of hours at a time.
But if you do leave them alone for too long and they get bored, then they can and will find innumerable destructive ways to fill the hours.
Which could end up irreparably damaging your bank balance when you’re forced to replace the soft furnishings and shoes that they’ve chewed their way through.
Training And Socialisation
Even though the Blue Heeler is an incredibly sociable dog, the Rat Terrier isn’t and unfortunately, this side of the dog’s personality seems to be dominant. which means that it’s important to socialize your boy with other dogs, and even people from an early age.
The younger he is when he starts to understand that other dogs aren’t there to be chased or herded and aren’t a threat, the happier he and you will be.
They’re also incredibly easy dogs to train as long as they’re given a purpose and a task. The Heeler lives to work, as he’s never happier than when he has a job to do, and the Rat Terrier is the same.
If they’re not assigned a role, training them can be difficult as both lines of their family tree are stubborn, single-minded, and incredibly intelligent.
They don’t respond well to chastisement or being told off, so they need positive affirmation and to be taught what you expect from them and want them to do with a reward-based training program.
The Final Word On The Blue Heeler Rat Terrier Mix
By now you probably know if they’re the right dog for you and if you’re the right person for this demanding and rewarding designer breed.
They’re not for everyone, they need a special kind of owner who prefers spending their weekends in the wild to grooming their dog (and they don’t need a lot of grooming, as their single coat only needs to be brushed a couple of times to week to keep it in prime condition) and who would rather embark on a thousand different adventures than spend an hour in front of the television.
If that sounds like you, and if you’re looking for a canine companion to accompany you on your trailblazing hikes, and you can find one, then the Blue Heeler Rat Terrier mix could be the best friend that you’ll ever make.