The Dalmatian Heeler: A Complete Guide

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Height: 17 – 24 inches
Weight: 35 – 60 pounds
Lifespan: 13 – 16 years
Colors: black, white, blue, brindle, red
Suitable for: very active families, working ranches, families with older children, experienced dog owners
Temperament: hardworking, energetic, intelligent, loving, loyal

 

The Dalmatian Heeler is the beautiful puppy product of the Dalmatian and the Australian Cattle Dog. The Australian Cattle Dog is more commonly known as the Heeler, and we’ll explain precisely why later on. In 2020, the American Kennel Club has ranked the Dalmatian as the 56th most popular dog breed in America, with the Heeler ranked just in front of the Dalmatian as the 55th most popular dog.

The Dalmatian is a well-known breed thanks to the Disney hit, 101 Dalmatians (that’s right, you can never have enough!). The Australian Cattle Dog is a firm favorite on ranches across America, and he is the cowboy’s canine colleague of choice.

Both of his parents are hardworking and powerful dogs who need to be exercised hard. Without exercise, the Dalmatian Heeler can become problematic. This guide is a must-read for all prospective Dalmatian Heeler owners, and we’ll walk you through everything that you need to know about him.

But, if you are the right family and can offer him everything that he needs, he is a rewarding canine companion to have about the home. He is affectionate, loving, and, most importantly, lots of fun. So, let’s find out more.

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Dalmatian Heeler Puppies – Before You Buy…

Dalmatian Heeler puppy
Credit: Evandro Silvino Rodrigues, Shutterstock

The most important thing to know about the Dalmatian Heeler is that he is a workaholic. His Heeler parent is a herding dog. And although the Dalmatian finds himself in the non-sporting dog group, he was traditionally used as a coach dog to guard the horses and carts. So, you can expect that their puppy is going to be an energetic pup who has lots of power and stamina. All of his energy needs an outlet. So, he either needs to be placed with a working family or a family who can guarantee him a lot of exercise.

If you underestimate this pup’s exercise needs, he will become unruly and problematic. You must be honest about what you can give him, for both his and your sakes. But if you can, inviting this boy into your home will be the start of a very happy and rewarding relationship.

The Australian Cattle Dog is known as the Heeler because his chosen herding technique is to nip at the heels of cattle. This technique is used by other dogs, like the Corgi, and it is one that works really well on the farm. But it should not be tolerated in the home. Unfortunately, Heelers and Heeler mixes are known to herd the younger family members, which can result in nipping. This is a reason why the Dalmatian Heeler should be placed with a family with older children.

The nipping and high intelligence of the Dalmatian Heeler is one of the reasons why he should be placed with an experienced dog owner. You will need to train him not to use his herding technique in the house, and to leave other pets alone. We’ll cover this more in the training section. If he doesn’t get enough exercise, this is one way that he will become problematic. With the right training, he will be a very obedient dog, which is ideal if you like a well-behaved pooch.

Because he has so much energy, stamina, and intelligence, this boy would be happiest in the country or somewhere where he has plenty of land to roam. This guy is not suited to small homes, homes without access to land, or apartment living.

Energy
Trainability
Health
Lifespan
Sociability

What’s the Price of Dalmatian Heeler Puppies?

Neither of his parents are expensive breeds, which means that their puppy is likely to be less expensive. The average cost of a Dalmatian Heeler will fall anywhere between $300 and $700. The price will be dependant on the breeder’s reputation, the dog’s lineage, and the supply and demand depending on where you live.

No matter what the price, always be sure that the breeder you are working with is reputable. Conduct your own research and look online for other customer reviews. You must meet the parents and their puppies in person too. Not only will you be able to see for yourself that they are all healthy and developing as they should, but you also get to see them in action with their littermates. This can tell you a lot about their personality.

Never work with a puppy mill or unscrupulous breeder because they do not care about the health of their puppies. Saving a few dollars at the beginning increases your chances of having to fork out on high vet bills at a later date, so please don’t be tempted.

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3 Little-Known Facts About Dalmatian Heeler

1. His parents are related

The Dalmatian is a much older dog breed when comparing him to the Heeler. It is thought that Dalmatian DNA was bred into the Heeler line so that he would be comfortable around horses for his work on the ranches.

2. He is a Dingo descendant

Following on from the above fact, the Heeler is a mixture of a few other dog breeds too. Although it is not certain which dog breeds these are (the breeder never documented his breeding selection, so no one is 100% sure). But what we do know is that there is a little bit of Dingo thrown into the mix.

3. He could be a blue or red Dalmatian Heeler

The Heeler takes two different colors, blue or red. The blue Heeler is not actually blue, and the red Heeler isn’t really red. Instead, the blue is a mixture of gray and white giving him a bluey appearance, and the red Heeler is a mixture of brown and rust. And if the Dalmatian Heeler’s parent is blue, there is also a chance that he could inherit the red color genes and vice versa.

Dalmatian Heeler Parents
Image Credit: Left- Pikrepo, Right – Greg Kintz, Flickr

Temperament & Intelligence of the Dalmatian Heeler

So, you already know that he needs plenty of exercise. But he also requires a lot of mental stimulation throughout the day too. Activity doesn’t just stop when you walk through your front door, he needs much more than this. He will need interactive playtime with his family, either in the form of fetch or flyball. He will also need access to a lot of doggy toys so that he can keep himself entertained when you have jobs to do. Without them, he will undoubtedly find the nearest chair leg or rug to chew, so it’ll save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

If you can give him the exercise that he needs, as well as firm (but kind) leadership, and the outdoor space that he needs, he is a happy dog who has oodles of love for his family. At the end of a hard day’s work, he will settle with you in the living room, either by your feet or on the sofa. He will enjoy chilling with his humans and feeling as though he has earned this time-out with you. His sensitive side comes from his Dalmatian parent, so this could be more or less depending on which parent he takes after.

Are you an early riser? We hope so because the Dalmatian Heeler is. If you’re not, you will need to set your alarms and get ready for sunrise walkies. He can be a barky and talkative pooch, so if you sleep in, he will let you know it’s time to get up. This is something to remember when thinking about your neighbors. If they are sensitive to noise or if there are noise restrictions in place, the Dalmatian Heeler might get you into trouble.

The Dalmatian Heeler can be aloof with strangers, but as soon as his master greets them with a hug, he will quietly sneak over for attention and neck scratches. His suspicion of strangers combined with his barky nature makes him an excellent watchdog. He will let you know if there is something or someone untoward around the estate. But he is a sensitive dog, so don’t count on him to be a guard dog. If he feels threatened, he will more than likely back away and join his family.

Being sensitive means that he does not like confrontation. He doesn’t like drama, and he just wants to get the work done. You need to be firm but gentle to him when it comes to training. Thankfully, being an energetic pooch, if the household is happy, he is happy. He is lots of fun and will keep you entertained for hours on end. He is in tune with his family’s emotions, so you can expect a cuddle if you’re feeling down.

Dalmatian Heeler
Credit: Seth R, Shutterstock

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The Dalmatian Heeler is a fantastic family dog, but for the right family. He is not for every family out there, which is why you must be honest about what you can offer him, for the next 13 to 16 years of your life. He needs to be homed with a working ranch family or a family that is active for around 2 hours a day. He makes a brilliant jogging partner, and we bet our bottom dollar that you will not tire this boy out.

Because of his intense energy and potential to be nippy in the home, it is advised that Dalmatian Heelers should be placed with families that have older children. Nippy herders and small children can be a recipe for injuries and an unhappy household.

He makes a great canine companion for young and fit couples or singletons who love to travel, just as long as you can take him with you. A reputable breeder will talk you through your lifestyle to make sure that you and your family are the right family for the Dalmatian Heeler.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

The Dalmatian Heeler can get along with other pets, and there isn’t anything to suggest that he won’t. However, as with all dog breeds, he needs to be socialized well as a puppy to ensure that he learns polite puppy etiquette. If socialized well, there is no reason why he wouldn’t thrive in a multi-pet household.

The only thing to remember is that if he exhibits nipping behavior in the home, he may try to nip other pets. However, as long as you correct this behavior, he will soon grow out of it.

If you are introducing a new pet into the fold, always arrange to have a controlled pre-meet with all pets. Just like us humans, there are some occasions where animals just don’t get along for no real reason.

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Things to Know When Owning a Dalmatian Heeler:

In addition to the information that you have learned about the Dalmatian Heeler so far, here are a few extra things that you need to know about his day-to-day needs.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

The Dalmatian Heeler will do well on a high-quality kibble that provides a well-balanced diet. His kibble should offer a high protein content to support his muscle mass and high energy levels. The MSD Veterinary Manual states that all dogs need a protein content of at least 18%, and puppies need a protein content of at least 22%. For a high energy dog such as the Dalmatian Heeler, this should be much more to keep up with his energy needs.

Kibbles with a high fat or calorie content will ensure that he gets enough energy to fuel his long day. Specific working or performance kibbles are available for working dogs, and they usually have a 30/20 protein to fat ratio. If he is a working dog, look for a kibble offering a similar ratio to this.

A kibble that has a high glucosamine and chondroitin content is also advised for the Dalmatian Heeler. These nutrients support bones and joints, and because he is always on the go, his joints wear down quicker than most. For this reason, he could do with the extra joint support, and if not, glucosamine supplements should be a part of his daily diet.

Exercise 🐕

The Dalmatian Heeler is a high energy dog and needs between 90 to 120 minutes of exercise every day. He would love to be placed with a ranch family, but would happily take a mountain hike or a long-distance jog every day.

He makes a great agility course participant, and he is really agile, so you could always sign him up to your local doggy sports days too. He will also love the local dog park, and interaction with other bouncy pooches is a great way to burn off his energy and continue with his socialization.

Overall, this guy’s love for exercise and games is boundless, so there is nothing he cannot handle.

Training 🎾

The Dalmatian Heeler, like any other dog, needs early socialization. Reputable breeders will start this from day one by keeping him with his littermates and parents, and you should continue to mix him with other dogs when you bring him home. Enrolling him in puppy obedience classes are a great way to combine socialization and obedience training.

Exposing him to unfamiliar environments and sounds is a big part of this process. And if he is a working dog, be sure to expose him to his working environment early, including animals, loud noises, and any farming machinery.

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Positive reward training is the best method to use when training the Dalmatian Heeler, especially if he inherits the Dalmatian’s sensitive side. He will shy away from punishment and will quickly become scared of you, both damaging your bond and his confidence.

If the Dalmatian Heeler displays any herding or nipping behaviors in the home, you will need to train him not to nip. Although it isn’t a hard bite, it can make the family home environment uncomfortable for some.

Grooming ✂️

The Dalmatian Heeler’s grooming schedule is minimal, which is just as well considering how much time you will be out exercising him. A brush once or twice a week will keep his coat free from dirt and dead hair. It will also promote the blood circulation in his skin and spread his natural coat oils, all of which promote a healthy coat. He sheds moderately throughout the year, and so a de-shedding tool will be the best brush for his coat.

His large triangle ears, whether they are erect or drop-down, will need cleaning once a week to prevent infections, as do his eyes. His teeth should also be cleaned once a week with specially formulated dog toothpaste to avoid a buildup of bacteria and plaque. Because he is so active, it is unlikely that you’ll have to clip his nails, but be sure to keep an eye on them and trim them when needed.

He is a relatively clean dog, and he will need a bath once every 8 weeks or so. Some Dalmatian Heelers are known to suffer from skin problems. For this reason, we would recommend using a gentle shampoo made of natural ingredients to avoid any skin irritation.

If he works on a ranch, you’ll need to brush him every day to get rid of all the dust and dirt that he will collect. Try not to wash him more than the recommended amount with shampoo, or you might irritate his skin.

Health and Conditions 🏥

The Dalmatian Heeler is a healthy dog breed thanks to both of his parent’s relatively good health. He should enjoy a long lifespan of 13 to 16 years. Being a mixed dog, he can inherit health problems from either parent’s breed, so be sure to keep an eye on the following:

Minor Conditions
  • Skin allergies
  • Urinary stones
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Deafness

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Male vs. Female

There is no significant difference between male and female Dalmatian Heelers. The males tend to be slightly larger than the females, and some owners state that males can be more boisterous, but this is not scientifically proven.

If you live in a multi-dog household and have a female dog, you need to consider her heat phases. If you are planning to spay her, this will not cause you any issues. But if not, you will need to keep her separated from the other dogs in the house during this period.

This is particularly important to think about if you live on a working ranch and plan to work her, because she will need annual leave. If not, her male canine colleagues will not be interested in herding the cattle, and they’ll never get any work done!

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Final Thoughts

Overall the Dalmatian Heeler is a beautiful pooch who would make the best companion for the right home. If you are a thrill-seeking family, who are always on the go, this guy might just give you a run for your money.

You must make sure that you can give him everything that he needs, and if you can, he will provide you with everything that you want in a dog. So, everyone’s a winner with the Dalmatian Heeler.


Featured Image: MTAM Photography Nebraska, Shutterstock