The Blue Heeler is quickly jumping in popularity over the last few years and has become a great option for many dog owners.
However, the Rat Terrier has also earned a reputation as a unique pet with a passion for its owners.
When you combine the two in a Blue Heeler Rat Terrier mix, you get great results.
If you’re considering this breed (the “Cattledog Terrier” as some call it) for any reason, it is important to understand their appearance, temperament, and any potential health issues.
Doing so can help make this decision simpler and minimize any problems you might experience when buying one.
As with any mix between different-sized parent dogs, you can end up with many sizes and shapes with the Cattledog Terrier.
Some might end up about the same size as Blue Heelers or between 17 and 20 inches tall and 20 to 40 pounds.
Others might be as big as the Rat Terrier, or 10 to 13 inches, and between weighing about eight to 15 pounds, depending on the pup and their diet.
However, there’s also a chance you might get something in between these extremes, with a dog standing between 15 and 16 inches and weighing anywhere from 10 to 15 pounds.
Check with the parent dogs to get a gauge on their lineage.
This step helps you better understand what your Cattledog Terrier is likely to end up looking like and can help you prepare for any unique challenges.
As for their shape, coating, and other factors, expect sharply pointed ears that mirror either breed.
You usually end up with the almond-shaped eyes common to both dogs, and fairly friendly faces.
While Rat Terriers may have a somewhat serious face and soulful eyes, the Blue Heeler is usually quite playful, with a lot of open mouths and a beautiful shine in their eyes.
The eye color itself is typically brown in this breed.
Body shapes will typically match the prominent parent dog, including the lean body and broad head of the Blue Heelers or the more compact, but muscular, Rat Terrier.
The tails should be straight in either breed, with rare curls at the end in some pups.
As with all appearance factors, expect your Cattledog Terrier to mimic their parents. Research the parents’ past litters to get an idea of the potential here.
Coat thickness and color also generally vary quite heavily.
You might get the singular color common on Rat Terriers, though their heads often feature darker contrasting colors with different-colored eyebrows and cheeks.
There may be some patches on a Rat-Terrier-heavy Cattledog Terrier, though they typically have a prominent color, often white, which makes up most of their coat.
The Blue Heeler has a much more colorful coat, featuring a wild blend that varies from its nose to its tail.
This mix of colors may occur on a Cattledog Terrier with a Blue Heeler or Rat Terrier body and everything in between.
This variety makes them a pretty fun dog to shop for, though unpredictable when checking out pups. After all, their coloring may change slightly as they age.
Since both the Blue Heeler and the Rat Terrier are pretty loyal dogs, the Cattledog Terrier follows suit.
They are very energetic, as both were trained for work in either herding (Blue Heeler) or hunting (Rat Terrier), and love to play with you and your family.
They are also very determined and loyal dogs, as work dogs are conditioned to follow their master’s lead in everything.
One thing you might notice quickly with this breed is a tendency to “herd” you and your family.
This means that they might find your family members scattered throughout the house and try to get everyone in the same room.
They love when their family or “herd” is all together.
A Cattledog Terrier is also very protective of your family, particularly any weaker members, like your younger children.
While some may “nip” during their herding behaviors, they aren’t trying to hurt you, nor are they acting aggressively.
It’s simply an instinctive action they learned through herding cattle over the years.
Even Rat Terriers, with their hunting-driven instincts, are not biters.
You can thankfully train them out of nipping with positive reinforcement and obedience training courses.
The one thing you might notice is that your Cattledog Terrier bonds very well with one person and stick close to them.
That doesn’t mean that they ignore the rest of the family.
They simply bond to their alpha (in their mind, that person is their lead herder or hunter) and stick close to them.
As a result, they’re not a terrible choice for a single person, but some might challenge first-time dog owners.
For instance, a Cattledog Terrier with a Blue Heeler disposition may need almost constant physical and mental activity to stay out of trouble.
If you can’t provide them with enough entertainment, they might act out or destroy things in your home.
Their high intelligence doesn’t help much, either, as both Blue Heelers and Rat Terriers can be escape artists when given the chance.
That said, careful obedience training, consistent corrective behaviors, and early dominance establishment can keep them in line.
Just know that their prey drive is likely to be incredibly high, which makes cats a poor idea.
Some might also have a hard time adapting to strangers and new friends, so early socialization with people and dogs is a critical step for this breed.
The major selling point of the Cattledog Terrier is likely its low-maintenance healthcare needs.
While both these breeds can develop separation anxiety without proper obedience training, they don’t need a lot of grooming or maintenance and may work well for first-time dog owners.
The Cattledog Terrier is likely to have a short or medium coat that requires only one or two brushes a week.
They need at least one bath a month, though you may give them more if they get into anything.
If you notice a lingering odor between your baths, consider giving them once a week.
Some Cattledog Terriers may have a naturally sharper odor that can be masked with regular bathing.
Occasional (twice yearly) heavy shedding can be carefully planned for and maintained by daily brushing during spring and summer.
Unfortunately, you’re going to have to brush the Cattledog Terrier’s teeth at least two or three times every week.
This breed has a tendency for bad oral health problems, and brushing their teeth may help.
Thankfully, they also like to chew, which can help break apart a lot of plaque on their teeth.
Give them regular chew bones or hard chew toys to help break apart this plaque and minimize teeth problems.
Talk to your vet about the appropriate dog food, which typically comprises high-protein options with light veggies.
Both breeds tolerate vegetables quite well and may even enjoy baby carrots and other harder vegetables as chew toys and snacks.
Make sure you check your dog for poultry allergies, as this common problem can affect their overall health and dietary routine.
While the Cattledog Terrier isn’t as prone to various diseases as its purebred parents, thanks to careful selection, some lingering issues may affect them.
For example, Blue Heelers often have trouble with hip and elbow dysplasia, deafness, and osteochondrosis.
Rat terriers may also develop some dysplasia, as well as heart and liver troubles and the dental problems that make brushing so important.
As mentioned in the temperament section, the Cattledog Terrier has a lot of energy and doesn’t enjoy sitting around the house much.
If they don’t get exercise, they may struggle to feel normal and happy because both are work dogs that expect lots of activity.
Engage them in walks, jogs, and in various canine games.
They love to play tug of war, fetch, agility courses, and especially herding balls.
You can also use the Rat Terrier’s high prey drive to your advantage with remote-controlled animal toys.
The Cattledog Terrier will chase these toys with great joy and expel some of their restless hunting energy.
Make sure that you consider other animals in your house when trying this approach, though, as it may trigger chasing behaviors in the Cattledog Terrier if not redirected.
Should You Get a Cattledog Terrier?
The Cattledog Terrier is an absolutely adorable mix that will probably fit well into just about any home.
However, it is important to consider their high energy and mental intensity into account.
They don’t enjoy being left alone and can become quite bored and even act out in frustration.
This doesn’t mean that they’re not worthwhile or enjoyable dogs.
Quite the contrary!
Their unique personality and loyalty make them a fun and fascinating breed for most homes.
Make sure that you talk with your family about a Cattledog Terrier to discuss important training and care steps.