Types Of Heeler Dogs And Breeds That Resemble Them

Types of heeler dogs - Australian shepherd
© iStock.com/Julia_Siomuha

Written by Melissa Bauernfeind

Updated: April 21, 2023

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Originally bred by farmers in Australia, Heelers were intended to drive cattle over rough terrain. Farmer Thomas Hall combined multiple collie strains and the Dingo to get what was known as Halls Heelers. These Heelers were then later cross-bred with Dalmations, Collies, and Kelpies to obtain desired traits.

The Heeler breed is alert and energetic with a ready-to-work stature. Usually smaller in size, bred to work, they’ve historically tended animals for herders. They have weather-resistant coats, provided by Mother Nature to withstand the harsh environments they find themselves in.

For the most part, these canines exhibit exceptional ranges of resourcefulness and intelligence. Bred to perform outdoors, it’s no surprise that a key identification for these pooches is high levels of energy and an ability to adapt quickly.

Comfortable overcoming their smaller size running and herding other animals, these dogs are also perfect family pets. They’re protective, loving, loyal, and fun. They make ideal friends for both active families and singles. But heeler dogs are also preferred by sportsters, hunters, and — big surprise — cattle breeders!

Though a noted trait is a great sense of independence, they love their companions and can spend all day running and working with them, learning and appreciating good treatment, encouraging feedback, and getting in hard work.

These 9 breeds all resemble the 2 types of Heeler dogs – Australian Cattle dog and the Texas Heeler.

Read on to learn facts about popular heeler dogs and why the animals make for great companions

Types Of Heeler Dogs

#1 Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog standing on log by the water
This type of heeler dog is one of the best dogs to drive Australian cattle to stockyards.


Muscular and compact, the Australian Cattle Dog breeding centered around herding. They’re resilient and hardy animals that easily adapt to the harsh Aussie outback, as well as a variety of other ecosystems.

This heeler species has near-boundless energy and you better be ready to keep up. Loyal, alert, and smart, the Aussie Cattle dog makes for great family pets and companions for children. But if they don’t get a good workout and regular activity, these pooches go looking for mischief.

The Australian Cattle Dog also goes by the name Queensland Heeler, Blue Heeler, or Red Heeler, which refers to the color of its coat.

Read more about the Aussie Cattle pooch here.

#2 Texas Heeler

The Texas Heeler is a cross between two super-herder dogs – the Australian Cattle Dog and the Australian Shepherd. They are born to be herding dogs, which is evident through their strong work ethic.

This mixed-breed heeler is highly intelligent, alert, and has an energetic and highly active nature. They are also very loving pets to members of their family and don’t often interact with new people because of their shy nature.

Much like the Cattle Dog, this breed is very active so they need at least one hour of exercise a day. They would not be a great fit for people who are mostly inactive, have a small living space or don’t at least have a large, fenced-in backyard.

Read more about the Texas Heeler here.

Types Of Breeds That Closely Resemble Heeler Dogs

#1 Border Collie

Types of heeler dogs - Border Collie
Purebred border collie outdoors on a summer day. You need to be ready to invest your energy and time to keep these types of heeler dogs physically and mentally happy.


In the world of herding, the Border Collie has no challengers. Few heeler breeds have an edge over the determination, skill, and stamina of this doggy.

On the list of the most intelligent dogs in the world, the Border Collie is nothing short of amazing. It loves to stay alongside its working owner, engaging and learning. Though careful with strangers, this collie is passionately devoted to the family.

They exhibit exuberant energy and you need to be ready to invest your energy and time to keep them physically and mentally happy.

You can get the facts on the border collie by clicking here.

#2 Belgian Malinois

Types of heeler dogs - Belgian Malinois
An alert Belgian Malinois lying on the grass. With these types of heeler dogs, farm work is a natural aspect built into them.


Confidant. Dedicated. Hardworking. These characteristics are part of the Belgian Malinois’ easy-going temperament. Lean and muscled, this breed of herding dog’s farm work is a natural aspect built into these animals.

The dogs form strong bonds with their owners and, in turn, cannot be left alone for long periods. The dog is happiest with human companionship and running in open fields.

The Belgian Malinois is often mistaken for the Shepherd. The Malinois has a shorter and thicker coat compared to the Shepherd. The Belgian heeler dogs are also considered to have a higher prey drive than their cousins.

#3 Old English Sheepdog

Types of heeler dogs - Old English Sheepdog
The Old English sheepdog is an expert type of heeler dog.

©Best dog photo/Shutterstock.com

The Old English is an expert heeler. The Old English sheepdog, as the name implies, was a go-to for herders that needed to keep their sheep moving and organized.

Cuddly and soft on the outside, these powerful herders always had the fleetness and intelligence to keep other animals in line. Among many facts about the sheepdog, they show no lack of courage and have a playfulness that always surprises.

Everyone recognizes that happy-go-lucky sagging tongue and shaggy white coat. A love of being around humans makes the Old English Sheepdog an amazing guard dog and family pet.

Get the scoop on Old English by reading this.

#4 Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Types of heeler dogs - Cardigan Welsh Corgi

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is perfectly built as a type of heeler dog.


The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is perfectly built as a family of herding dogs. The animal has a gentle, loving temperament and is quick to take charge.

Don’t let their small frames, short legs, and extreme adorability trip you up. These herding dogs demonstrate surprising speed, agility, and determination.

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is friendly and, loving. They are wonderful dogs for an active family. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is born to play and work outdoors.

#5 German Shepherd

German Shepherd playing with blue ball
German Shepherds are considered the third most intelligent dog breed. These types of heeler dogs are known for their intelligence, versatility, adaptability, and unwavering loyalty.


The German Shepherd is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable and popular dogs in the world. Initially bred for herding and still performing that duty today, the German Shepherd’s reputation in America is more about being a guard and police dog.

Owners and workers love the Shepherd for its intelligence, versatility, adaptability, and unwavering loyalty. These herding dogs are easily trained and, as so many owners are aware, make for outstanding family pets with a loving and gentle temperament. With protection ingrained in their DNA, the Shepherd makes for an incredible watchdog.

Everything you’d want to know about the German Shepherd is right here.

#6 Australian Shepherd

Blue merle Australian Shepherd dog with a red harness staying in the forest
The Aussie Shepherd is an exceptionally intelligent type of heeler dog. You can expect lots of energy and athleticism around them.


Though they may have a Down Under reference, the Australian Shepherd is all American. Borne out of California, the Aussie Shepherd is a strong doggy and the top choice when a cowboy needs a herder.

If you want one for a family pet, expect them to take charge and herd the children, dogs, cats, birds — and you! That breeding’s ingrained in generations of these dogs that have never seen a ranch.

The Aussie Shepherd is exceptionally intelligent. Expect lots of energy and athleticism around them. These herding dogs were not intended to keep a sedentary lifestyle.

Click here and learn more.

#7 Finnish Lapphund

Types of heeler dogs - Finnish Lapphund
The Finnish Lapphund is a rugged dog ready to operate in all types of weather. This type of heeler dog was once a herder for reindeer.

©Hannu Makela/Shutterstock.com

A rugged dog ready to operate in all types of weather, the Finnish Lapphund was once a herder for reindeer.

The Lapphund has a sturdy, muscular body and a thick coat that protects the dog from the cold. They attach to owners and remain fiercely loyal while they prefer to mind their distance from strangers.

Though it doesn’t show disruptive behavior when left alone, the Finnish Lapphund is known for showing signs of depression when its family’s away. The Lapphund is a relatively breed, joining the American Kennel Club in 2011.

#8 Bergamasco Sheepdog

Two adult Bergamascos
Two adult Bergamascos lying on the grass. These types of heeler dogs are devoted workers.


They have that dreadlocked, casual coat of hair, the Bergamasco Sheepdog. This is a devoted worker. A dog that’s always anxious to please others. That’s what makes them ideal heelers.

Extremely smart, the creatures are loyal, highly intelligent, loving pooches that take to training easily and make great companions for children. A wild, thick coat makes them hardy vessels that do well in cold weather. The facts are this heeler breed comes out of the icy Italian Alps.

If you want more identification about this unique breed, click here.

#9 Bearded Collie

Types of heeler dogs - Bearded Collie
Two amazing bearded collies lying in the grass in later summer. This type of heeler dog naturally drives livestock and is a hard worker.


Boisterous and clever, the Bearded Collie is a heeler bursting with personality. They’re recognizable by their long ears and shaggy coat.

You want a lot of space because these dogs love to run outside. Out of Scotland, these pooches naturally drove livestock and are hard workers. They can be funny and enthusiastic as they play and work.

Ideal family pets, they’re great with children and make for solid playmates with owners. You’ll need to avoid letting the Bearded Collie get bored. Be ready to supply plenty of physical and mental stimulation.

There’s more to learn about the breed here.

Summary Of 9 Types of Breeds That Resemble Heeler Dogs

1Border Collie
2Belgian Malinois
3Old English Sheepdog
4Cardigan Welsh Corgi
5German Shepherd
6Australian Shepherd
7Finnish Lapphund
8Bergamasco Sheepdog
9Bearded Collie

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About the Author

Melissa Bauernfeind was born in NYC and got her degree in Journalism from Boston University. She lived in San Diego for 10 years and is now back in NYC. She loves adventure and traveling the world with her husband but always misses her favorite little man, "P", half Chihuahua/half Jack Russell, all trouble. She got dive-certified so she could dive with the Great White Sharks someday and is hoping to swim with the Orcas as well.

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