The term “blue heeler” refers to any of several breeds of small dogs with a white or cream colored chest and legs. These are all members of the family Canidae, which includes wolves, foxes, jackals and other similar animals. There are over 100 different breeds of dogs, but only three types: the wolfdog (Canis lupus familiaris), the greyhound (Canis lupus albicollis) and the dachshund (Cricetomys rufus).
All these dogs share many characteristics such as having short bodies, long necks and pointed ears. They have been domesticated since ancient times and were first used for hunting in Europe some 10,000 years ago. Today they are still used for various purposes.
In Australia there are two main kinds of blue heelers: the red kangaroo dog (Neofelis nebulosa) and the blue heeler (Cairn terrestris). Both of them belong to the same species, Neofelis nebulosa, but differ greatly in appearance. The most obvious difference between these two breeds is their coat colors.
The blue heeler has a black-brown coat with a white underside, while the red kangaroo dog is completely covered in red fur and has no white markings at all.
Blue heelers got their name because they were originally used to herd red kangaroos. When the kangaroos were startled, they would naturally try to flee, but the shorter leg length of the heeler made it possible for them to keep up with the kangaroos.
Sources & references used in this article:
Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Risk Factors of Australian Cattle Dogs by C Schwartz – 2011 – i5 Publishing
Taenia crassiceps subcutaneous cysticercosis in an adult dog by RD Clark – 2014 – books.google.com
The identity of the dingo II.* Hybridization with domestic dogs in captivity and in the wild by LR Ballweber – 2009 – veterinaryrecord.bmj.com
Wild dogs by AE Newsome, LK Corbett – Australian Journal of Zoology, 1982 – CSIRO
A Guide to the Livestock-working Dog by H Ross, RW Carter – 2017 – Taylor & Francis
Tibetan terrier model of canine ceroid lipofuscinosis by B Henny – 2003 – ir.library.oregonstate.edu
Comparison of visual and DNA breed identification of dogs and inter-observer reliability by JV Dohner – 2016 – Storey Publishing