The Texas Heeler is a hybrid dog that combines beauty, brains, and incredible work ethic. While this mixed breed is an incredible dog for those with a good understanding of working breeds, he could be overwhelming for the more novice or laid-back dog owner.
Are you considering investing in the Texas Heeler? If so, you’ll want to keep reading. Today, we are taking a deep dive into this mixed breed in an effort to help you discover if he would be the right addition to your home or family.
Let’s get started!
The Texas Heeler – A Brief Breed Overview
The Texas Heeler is a cross between the Australian Cattle Dog and the Australian Shepherd.
Type: Mixed Breed
Parent Breeds: The Australian Shepherd and the Australian Cattle Dog
Height: 16 to 22 Inches
Weight: 25 to 50 Pounds
Temperament: Intelligent, Work-Oriented, Eager to Please, Energetic
Best Suited For: Active and Experienced Dog Owners
Lifespan: 12 to 15 Years
Health Issues: Hip Dysplasia, Collie Eye Anomaly, Distichiasis, Elbow Dysplasia
The Texas Heeler At A Glance:
The Texas Heeler is the crossbreed offspring of the Australian Shepherd and the Australian Cattle Dog. Also known as a mixed breed, hybrid, or designer dog, crossbreed dogs like the Texas Heeler are surrounded by controversy in spite of being some of the most popular canine companions in the United States.
The Texas Heeler in particular is a family-friendly, people-oriented dog that can do well with active and experienced dog owners. He is best suited for homes with large, securely fenced-in yards where he can run and play freely and with families that have time to work with him when it comes to training, exercise, and mental stimulation.
This is a work-oriented hybrid dog that is happiest when he has a job to do. Without the proper care, exercise, or mental stimulation, the Texas Heeler can be prone to behavioral issues, depression, anxiety, and destructive behaviors like chewing, barking, or marking.
It’s also important to note that the Texas Heeler is a very high-energy dog that requires plenty of routine exercise each and every day. For this reason, he is not the best apartment dog and is not a good fit for those who are unable to provide him with the exercise and playtime he needs in order to thrive.
Is the Texas Heeler the perfect mix for you? Before we talk in depth about this cute crossbreed, let’s learn a bit more about the designer dog debate.
What You Should Know About The Designer Dog Debate
Texas Heelers are not very well known, but hybrid dogs like them are very popular.
There are countless breeds of canines in the world and an infinite amount of crossbreeds and mixes to go along with them.
But what is the difference between a purebred, a crossbreed, and a mutt? Take a look!
A purebred dog is a dog that has been perfected and bred over generations. Purebred dogs are considered more predictable when it comes to their temperament, physical appearance, and health. Purebred dogs are also eligible for show by most major breed clubs due to this predictability.
Unfortunately, purebred dogs also tend to struggle with more common health issues, depending n their specific breed type. This is due to the fact that many of these dogs have been overbred for generations in an effort to maintain their breed standard, leading to a smaller gene pool.
Also known as hybrids, mixed breeds, or designer dogs, crossbreed dogs are the early generation offspring of two specifically chosen purebred parents. In the Texas Heeler’s case, he is the offspring of the purebred Australian Shepherd and the Australian Cattle Dog.
Crossbreeds differ from purebred dogs because they are less predictable in a number of aspects, including when it comes to health, temperament, and physical appearance. In spite of this, crossbreed dogs have become quite popular due to their propensity to combine the characteristics and traits of two specific purebred dogs.
There is some controversy surrounding hybrid dogs, as we mentioned briefly above. Some of the controversies have to do with the comparison of a crossbreed to a mutt. While both mutts and crossbreed dogs do have different canines in their DNA, crossbreeds are generally purposefully bred while mutts may have a wide variety of different dogs in their genetic history.
This has stirred up some debate when it comes to breeders breeding and selling newer generation crossbreeds for as much as purebred dogs. While crossbreeding has been an ongoing practice for centuries, owning crossbreed dogs has only recently become a popular trend over the past 20 years.
Crossbreeding was originally done by breeders in an effort to eventually create a purebred dog with specific qualities, often for work purposes.
These days, “designer” dogs are often sought after by the general public due to their unique appearances and temperament.
There are some benefits to owning a hybrid, including the benefit of hybrid vigor. Hybrid vigor is the idea that crossbreed dogs could be healthier than their purebred counterparts thanks to their widened gene pool.
Of course, you can’t always guarantee this, and it’s important to remember that crossbreed dogs are still likely to be less predictable than their purebred parents. For this reason, it can be difficult for owners to have a good understanding of what they are investing in.
The best way to understand your particular crossbreed dog is to take a closer look at his purebred parent breeds. Keep reading to learn more.
Getting A Grasp Of The Texas Heeler Temperament
Texas Heelers are work-oriented dogs that are best suited for more experienced dog owners.
The Texas Heeler is a cross between the purebred Australian Shepherd and the purebred Australian Cattle Dog.
Both the Aussie and the Cattle dog are bred herding dogs, and as such, they are high-energy dogs with an incredible work ethic. In fact, Cattle Dogs and Australian Shepherds are not only considered energetic but they are also considered some of the world’s most intelligent purebred dogs.
This means that your Texas Heeler is likely going to be incredibly energetic, work-oriented, and eager-to-please.
However, this doesn’t mean that he will be easier to train than other dogs or more manageable. In fact, more intelligent dogs with a higher energy level can tend to struggle with more behavioral issues.
This is due to their propensity for boredom and anxiety if they are not kept busy or mentally stimulated.
Temperamentally, the Texas Heeler is an independent dog that can do well with children and other pets when well trained and socialized. However, he’ll be happiest and more at peace in homes where he has plenty to keep him busy.
This is a hybrid that may also have some herding instinct, and he may be prone to nipping at heels or trying to herd up smaller animals or children. It’s important to work with your Texas Heeler early on during puppyhood to help reduce these unwanted tendencies.
Otherwise, the Texas Heeler is a pleasant canine companion. He is the ideal dog for active families who are often on the go and can take their dog with them on adventures. He will enjoy being a part of his human pack and is not an outdoor-only dog, though he will enjoy having a yard he can play in freely each day.
If you do plan on raising your Texas Heeler with children, it’s very important that you implement proper training and socialization at an early age. We also suggest working with children and family members to ensure they know the respectful ways to properly interact with the family dog.
Tips On Training And Socializing A Texas Heeler
Like all dogs, the Texas Heeler should have routine training and socialization.
All dogs require routine training and socialization to ensure they grow up happy, healthy, and well-rounded. The Texas Heeler especially can be prone to struggling with some behavioral issues if not properly trained and socialized at an early age.
While the Texas Heeler is an intelligent and eager-to-please pup, training can be somewhat difficult for those who are not taking the proper steps. If your Texas Heeler becomes bored during training sessions, he could be prone to “tuning you out” or he could become easily distracted by more interesting things happening around him.
The best way to keep your Texas Heeler engaged when it comes to training is to use positive reinforcement training techniques like traits, praise, and patience. Keeping training sessions short and game-like will also help, which means that sessions can be done in five-minute increments.
Use lots of enthusiasm during training and avoid punishments or scolding. Aversive training methods can actually hinder your dog’s ability to learn and may even deteriorate the bond built between you.
We also recommend you use high-value training treats, like those listed below.
Zuke’s Puppy Training Treats
We often recommend training treats like Zuke’s Training Treats because they are small, highly palatable, and quite smelly. This combination of traits means these treats are very attractive to dogs and will help hold their attention during training sessions.
We also like that Zuke’s training treats in particular are made with high-quality ingredients that are healthy for your dog. They are low in calories and are offered in different recipes for your unique dog’s specific tastes.
Training treats not only come in handy when it comes to training your Texas Heeler, but they can also be very useful when it comes to socialization.
Socialization is the act of introducing your dog to as many new experiences as you can as early as possible in your dog’s life. It’s incredibly important to ensure that first impressions are positive for your dog so as to teach him that the world around him is a safe and pleasant place.
This will help reduce anxiety, depression, and behavioral issues like fear-based aggression. With that noted, we don’t recommend forcing your dog into a situation he is clearly frightened of. While you do want to encourage your dog to explore new experiences and become comfortable with them, it’s best to allow your dog to explore the world at a pace he is comfortable with.
How Much Exercise Does The Texas Heeler Need
Texas Heelers need plenty of daily exercise and mental stimulation.
Along with training and socialization, it’s also very important to make sure your Texas Heeler is properly exercised and kept mentally stimulated.
While training and socialization can go a long way in helping to decrease potential behavioral issues, exercise and mental stimulation are equally as important.
Exercising A Texas Heeler
Texas Heelers are high-energy dogs that require at least an hour or more of exercise each and every day. Dedicated exercise for this mixed breed could include long walks, hikes, swimming, or runs.
When you are exercising your Texas Heeler, it’s important to use the proper equipment. Because these dogs can be so energetic, they could have a tendency to pull during walks. It’s best to avoid using aversive walking equipment like prong collars or choke chains and instead use a proper no-pull dog harness that helps teach your dog good walking manners without harming him.
Pet-Safe Easy Walk No-Pull Front Clip Harness
The above PetSafe No-Pull front clip dog harness is one of the most popular dog harnesses recommended by trainers because it not only helps to reduce pulling, but it helps to teach your dog how to walk properly with you without causing him pain.
This harness clips at the front to help direct your dog gently back to you if he pulls. When combined with treats and positive reinforcement, this can help to ensure walks are more natural feeling and pleasant for your dog.
The Mental Stimulation Needs of a Texas Heeler
Routine physical exercise is very important for your Texas Heeler, but so is mental exercise. Remember, these dogs are incredibly intelligent and are happiest when they have a job to do.
Keeping your dog mentally engaged with his environment can help to reduce boredom, depression, anxiety, and stress. This in turn can help reduce destructive behaviors like chewing, barking, scratching, and marking.
You can implement mental stimulation for your Texas Heeler by ensuring you keep up with routine training. This is a dog that will enjoy learning new cues and spending time engaging with you.
The Texas Heeler can also be trained to help with chores around the house. Some people find they can teach their intelligent dogs to help with sorting the laundry, loading the dishwasher, bringing in the mail, and even taking out the garbage!
Texas Heeler dogs are also great candidates for puzzle toys that challenge them and keep them engaged while you are away. KONGS, snuffle mats and treat balls are more excellent toys you can utilize to keep your Texas Heeler’s mind active.
The Grooming Needs Of A Texas Heeler
Texas Heelers are shedding dogs, but their coats are short and generally easy to care for.
Texas Heelers have weather-resistant double coats that do shed year-round. For this reason, a Texas Heeler hybrid may not be the best dog for those who struggle with allergies. With that being said, routine brushing and proper care can help reduce shedding and can help keep your Texas Heeler looking and feeling his best.
We recommend brushing your Texas Heeler once a week, and perhaps two or three times a week during shedding season, which occurs in both spring and fall. Your Texas Heeler will only need to be bathed once every four to six weeks, as bathing him any more than this can strip his coat of the natural oils it produces that help to keep it healthy.
When you do bathe your Texas Heeler, be sure to use a shampoo that is specified for canine use and that is free of dyes, alcohols, parabens, or other ingredients that can harm your dog’s sensitive skin.
Bert’s Bees Dog Shampoo
We recommend a gentle dog shampoo like the Bert’s Bees dog shampoo listed above. This dog shampoo is made with ingredients designed to help nourish your dog’s skin and coat and to help reduce dryness. We also like that it can help alleviate itching or hotspots due to allergies or skin sensitivities.
The shampoo is specifically designed for use on dogs and is made with natural ingredients like honey, oatmeal, and colloidal oat flour.
Along with routine bathing, the Texas Heeler should also have his nails trimmed every two weeks or so using a dog-safe nail trimmer or grinder. You can learn to do this yourself, though trimming your dog’s nails at home can be nerve-wracking. You also have the option of going to a groomer to have your dog’s nails taken care of.
It’s important not to let your Texas Heeler’s nails grow too long, as this can lead to splitting and cracking of the nail, which can cause pain and even infection.
Last, all dogs can be prone to dental disease, so it’s best to take care of your dog’s dental health daily. We recommend investing in a dog toothbrush and toothpaste and brushing your teeth at least once a day to help prevent dental disease and stinky breath.
And speaking of dental disease, let’s take a quick look at any potential health issues of this unique hybrid dog.
The Lifespan And Health Issues Of A Texas Heeler Dog
Texas Heelers have a decent lifespan and the added benefit of Hybrid Vigor.
The Texas Heeler may have the advantage of hybrid vigor when it comes to his health, but as we mentioned above it’s important to remember that hybrid vigor is not guaranteed. Mixed breed dogs may be just as susceptible to any and all of the same health issues as their purebred parent breeds.
When it comes to the Texas Heeler, in particular, this is a generally hardy dog. With that being said, he can be prone to a few common health issues any potential owner should be aware of.
With a lifespan of 12 to 15 years, the Texas Heeler is most susceptible to suffering from:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Collie Eye Anomaly
- And Elbow Dysplasia
You can help combat particular health issues by ensuring you follow the below tips and tricks.
Get Your Puppy Or Rescue Dog From A Reputable Source
A healthy dog begins before conception, and this is why responsible breeding practices are so important. It’s imperative that you get your Texas Heeler puppy or rescue dog from a reputable source or go through breeders who understand the importance of responsible breeding practices.
If you have decided to invest in a puppy, it’s best to go through breeders with a history of breeding Texas Heelers who can provide you with paperwork proving their dogs have been screened and cleared of any serious health issues.
Avoid backyard breeders, online sellers, or those attempting to sell Texas Heeler puppies for much more or much less than what you know them to be worth. On average, a Texas Heeler puppy sold through a reputable breeder costs between $400 to $500.
You also have the option of going through a rescue to adopt your Texas Heeler. One of the benefits of going through a rescue to adopt a Texas Heeler is that you can often find dogs who are over the age of one. This means their appearance will have often been solidified.
Rescuing a dog is also usually a fraction of the cost of going through a breeder. You may even be able to find hidden savings when rescuing a Texas Heeler if that dog has already been spayed or neutered, or if that dog has been microchipped.
Schedule Routine Veterinary Visits
Another way to ensure your Texas Heeler is happy and healthy is to keep up with routine veterinary visits. Like people, dogs should be seen at least once a year for routine checkups until they are the age of seven, at which point many experts recommend dogs be seen twice a year.
If you are concerned about the cost of keeping up with veterinary checkups for your dog, we recommend investing in pet health insurance.
Have Your Dog On A Healthy Diet
You are what you eat, and the same goes for your dog. The Texas Heeler is a high-energy, large breed dog that will do best on a high-quality dog food specified for his age, weight, and activity level. He should eat dog food that is high in real animal protein and is rich in fatty acids, carbs, vitamins, minerals and is also a good source of water.
Avoid dog foods that contain additives, fillers, byproducts, soy, corn, wheat, or gluten. Remember, there is a good variety of dog food options available for your dog including dry dog food, wet dog food, and raw dog food.
The dog food that is best for your unique Texas Heeler is going to depend on his age, weight, and overall health or sensitivities. If you’re not sure what the best dog food would be for your dog, we suggest speaking with a trusted canine nutritionist or, of course, your veterinarian.
Implement A Healthy Exercise Routine
Daily exercise is going to be key to ensuring your Texas Heeler is not only physically healthy but mentally healthy as well.
Keeping up with exercise from a young age can help decrease or prolong the onset of a number of health issues including diabetes, obesity, bone and joint issues, and more. Routine exercise can even help curb anxiety and stress in your dog, which in turn can help to boost his immune system!
Consider Having Your Texas Heeler Health Screened
Last but not least, if you do get your Texas Heeler from a rescue or from a breeder who does not provide you with paperwork, you can always opt to have your dog health screened with a canine DNA kit.
Canine DNA kits can give you a good idea of what your unique dog could be susceptible to genetically. These tests can also give you a wealth of other information about your dog that you may not have known otherwise.
Do You Have The Ideal Home Type For A Texas Heeler?
Texas Heelers are best suited for experienced dog owners.
Do you have the ideal home for a Texas Heeler dog?
Remember, Texas Heeler dogs are active, energetic dogs that do best in homes that have large, securely fenced yards where they can run and play freely.
They can do well in families with children and other pets, though they will require routine training, socialization, exercise, and mental stimulation to ensure they are happy and healthy.
For this reason, we recommend the Texas Heeler for more experienced dog owners and dog owners who have a good understanding of the temperament and needs of working breeds.
The Texas Heeler is also an active dog, so they will mesh well in energetic households with families that have flexible schedules and are able to cater to their dog’s unique needs.
Last, remember that the Texas Heeler is a shedding dog, and he may not be the best dog for those who struggle with allergies.
If you’re considering a Texas Heeler, we want to know! Tell us what you think about this unique hybrid in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading!
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.