Why Do The Amish Love The Blue Heeler Dog So Much

Why Do The Amish Love The Blue Heeler Dog So Much

By Josh Brown

May 19, 2022

Amish Products, Amish viewpoint, Amish Way of Life, Livestock

If you have ever been around an Amish farm, you may have noticed that the Amish love dogs. In the Amish communities, it's not uncommon to drive down the roads in Amish country and see many different breeds around an Amish home place. But, generally, you see Blue Heeler dogs around most Amish farms in Tennessee.  So why do the Amish love Blue Heeler dogs so much? This post is sure to get your tails wagging!!!

Hotdogs For Food

The Awesome Dogs At Bob's Café In Ethridge Tennessee

The Awesome Background Of The Blue Heeler Cattle Dog 

When looking at the Blue Heeler dog, the most important thing to remember is where the breed originated. The answer to where Blue Heelers come from helps answer the question of why the Amish love the breed and the many uses of the Blue Heeler so much. The Blue Heeler originated in Australia in quite a fascinating way. The Blue Heeler was created by people traveling from England with their particular pure breeds of dogs to Australia and crossing the pure breed English dogs with the wild Dingo dogs found in Australia. This cross of the domesticated dogs with the wild Dingo gives the Blue Heeler its look and shape and its ability to live and work in harsh climates!!!

As we all know, Amish farmers often have large amounts of livestock on their farms. So the Amish are always in need of a good herding dog to help move livestock from one place to another. Amish farmers learned the Blue Heeler had breeding to do just that. The Blue Heeler, with its genes from the wild Dingoes mixed with purebred herding dogs that originated in England. This gave the Blue heeler the want to please their owner and perform a job such as herding.  But to also have the health and mental capabilities to withstand many different weather conditions and have the strength to move quickly and not tire while working all day.    

The Founding Fathers Of The Blue Heeler Breed

George Elliott of Queensland, Australia, around the 1840s, was the first to cross the Blue Merle Collie with the indigenous wild Dingo dogs found in Australia.  The first cross was successful, and many of the puppies from the crosses George Elliott made were excellent working and herding dogs, but Australia's cattle farmers wanted more. So from George Elliott's cross, two gentlemen, Jack and Harry Bagust, decided to add to the Blue Heeler cross George Elliott had made and mixed the Blue Heeler of that time with the Dalmatian coach breed of dogs. This was to help give the Blue Heeler a shorter, different color coat and more intelligence when dealing with humans and guarding property. Unfortunately, the downfall of the first crosses made by the Bagusts was that the first Blue Heelers crossed this way lost some of their working and herding abilities. 

Gaining the intelligence for companionship and guarding that was sought after by the cross of the Dalmatian and Blue Heeler. They then changed their focus to bring the herding genes back. They decided their Blue Heeler pups needed more breeding to produce a Blue Heeler that could do more in herding and gathering livestock. In addition, they wanted to install more working ability into their new Blue Heeler cross. So with their subsequent breeding, they used a Black and Tan Kelpie. The Black and Tan Kelpie is a small, short-haired dog found in Australia that was also used for herding and was developed originally to be a herding sheepdog. So the cross of the Black and Tan Kelpie and the Blue Heeler Dalmatian gave the Bagusts the Blue Heeler that we know and love.

The results of all this cross-breeding make the standard for the Australian Blue Heeler, with its short body resembling a Dingo with a thick and muscular frame but still slim in hind quarters. The coat and markings of the Dalmatian and Black and Tan Kelpie with its tick coat that is marked with patches on the chest and dark marks over and around the eyes and followed up with the intelligence and loyalty of the Dalmatian and the working herding drive of the Black and Tan Kelpie.

A final name to remember is Robert Kaleski regarding the Blue Heeler breed. Kaleski acquired the Blue Heelers of the late 1800s and continued to work on the Blue Heeler breed. He wanted to refine and help the Blue Heeler even more through more selective breeding to ensure that the Blue Heeler would NOT have as many red tick markings in its coat and to ensure that the Blue Heeler breed would be able to endure harsh climates, much like its ancestor the Dingo. He also wanted to ensure, through more extensive selective breeding, that all of the herding traits of the Blue Heeler would be expanded on to make the Blue Heeler a known name in the herding dog world. This need for greatness in herding was to ensure the breed was reliable enough to be recognized by the Kennel Clubs of Australia as a new pure breed of herding dog.   

So, keep in mind if you are interested in the Blue Heeler breed as a pet or for work. The Amish might have a pup for sale, or you might find a Blue Heeler elsewhere. But, remember, many times, the Blue Heeler will be called by different names depending on what area of the world you are in and due to the breed's many types of breeding compared to who is doing the talking about the breed. Below is a list of names to show some of the different names people in different parts of the world use to describe the Blue Heeler dog. 

Different Names For The Blue Heeler

  • Australian Heeler
  • Red Heeler (A Blue Heeler With a Different Coat Color - Redder)
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Queensland Heeler Dog
  • Amish Heeler Dog
  • Amish Blue Heeler Dog
  • Amish Cattle Dog
Amish Boy With Dog

The Amish With Blue Heeler Puppies For Sale

Why Would The Amish Farmer Want To Promote The Blue Heeler Breed?

As you see from the background of the Blue Heeler, it is a great working dog. The Amish are known as hard-working people with excellent skills and knowledge regarding livestock and herd animals. It is not uncommon to see Blue Heeler dogs working in pairs around the Amish community and moving cattle, sheep, and goats from pasture to pasture, or separating the livestock herd to single out a particular animal for the farmer. The Amish are always up to something around their farms and businesses. This makes the Blue Heeler the dog of choice for the Amish due to its high energy level and desire to accomplish a task. With the Amish mindset and everyday problems you find around a working farm, the Amish can find many tasks besides herding for the Blue Heeler to help the Heeler use its energy for a greater purpose. Most Blue Heelers have many jobs around the farms. When asked if they train their dogs to work, one Amish man said.

"Amos is a good dog; we use him to help with the livestock, and he is the mouser on the farm. He is smart and understands what we say for him to do. He does a better job than the cats of getting the mice and rats out of the barn, and he lets us know every time someone comes up the driveway." (*edited for clarity and conciseness)

He further explained that his Blue Heeler was relatively easy to train. It was almost as if "Amos" knew what to do without teaching him anything!!! His love for helping with the livestock was evident; it could go weeks without moving the livestock or needing to separate the herd. Then when the time came around, the Blue Heeler picked right back up as if he herded each day. It is common to see  Amish children petting and playing with Blue Heeler puppies and giving commands to the puppies in Pennsylvania Dutch, and it is obvious the puppies understand. When the puppies are spoken to in English, they also respond. I have to say I was very impressed when I learned the Blue Heeler is so clever in intelligence that it can be bilingual.     

Amish Sign

Amish Sign Showing What's For Sale

When Choosing A Blue Heeler Puppy From The Amish As A Pet

If you travel to Amish country many times, you will see the signs that explain what each Amish farm has to offer, and on those signs, you might see puppies for sale or free. So if you have decided that the Blue Heeler might be an excellent dog for you and your family, keep a few points in mind before getting a Blue Heeler as a pet or for a working dog. 

Points To Remember About The Blue Heeler Before You Buy

  1. The Blue Heeler would most likely not be happy in an apartment due to its need to physically run out its large amounts of energy. A home with a large yard or farm would be the ideal setting. (Big open spaces)
  2. The Blue Heeler is brilliant and will not do well in a setting left alone all day while the family is at work or school. (Keep in Mind: The Amish are farmers and are around their farm all day interacting with their dogs.)
  3. If you have small children, Blue Heelers might NOT be the best breed for your family. (Keep in Mind: The Blue Heeler is a herding dog who will nip at your heels while playing, much like it herds livestock!) 
  4. The Blue Heeler is a herding dog; if you have decided to purchase a Heeler for herding, find out the lineage. (Make sure to check with the Amish person you are purchasing from if the puppy's parents had good herding skills.) 
  5. If you purchase a Blue Heeler puppy from the Amish, always ask if the puppy comes with registration papers. (The Amish MAY or MAY NOT have registered dogs.)
  6. If you purchase a Blue Heeler from the Amish, ask about the puppy's vaccinations. (Many times, the Amish farmers will take care of all or some of the shots a young puppy requires.)
  7. Blue Heelers generally have a lifespan of 13 to 15 years. (One of the oldest dogs ever reported to live was a Blue Heeler.)

Hopefully, the points above will help you if you decide to buy a Blue Heeler from the Amish as your next family friend. If you travel to Amish country to find an Amish Blue Heeler puppy make sure to NEVER go on Sunday. The Amish never work on Sundays; this includes selling a puppy. 

So What Could An Amish Bred Blue Heeler Be Trained To Do For You

Amish-bred Blue Heelers can also be used in sporting K9 events if you want fun and training for your new Amish-bred Blue Heeler puppy. K9 events such as agility, obedience, tracking, and rally are where the Blue Heeler excels. Another great K9 event would be water events for the Blue Heeler. This is due in part to the Blue Heelers double coat. The Blue Heeler was bred to have a coat that can repel rain and wetness from stormy weather conditions. Therefore, the first layer of hair found on the Blue Heeler is for repelling rain, and the second more dense layer of hair is to keep the Blue Heeler warm if they get wet in outside conditions. 

Also, another great thing to remember is if you have decided to find an Amish Blue Heeler puppy. When Blue Heeler puppies are born, whether their parents are the standard blue or red, all Blue Heeler puppies are born with a white coat, and their adult colors will not show up until they reach an older age in life. So taking a good look at the mother and father of your Amish Blue Heeler might indicate how your puppy will look when grown, especially if you have decided to enter your new Blue Heeler in any dog shows. But, viewing the parent animals should be fine on an Amish farm, and most Amish farmers are happy to show you any of their animals. 

If You Decide To Get An Amish Blue Heeler To Herd For You Or For Stock Dog Trials

The Amish usually use their Blue Heelers as herding and livestock working stock dogs, just what the Blue Heeler was bred for. So if you have decided to get an Amish-bred Blue Heeler to herd around your farm or are interested in stock herding events, the American Stock Dog Registry (ASDR) is a great place to start. This is one of the biggest names in stock herding events. Many Amish breeders use it as a register, like American Kennel Club (AKC), United Kennel Club (UKC), and Professional Kennel Club (PKC). When you visit the American Stock Dog Registry (ASDR), you can find all kinds of information about the requirements on what your new Amish Bred Blue Heelers would need to have to compete in stock herding events and where different events will be held. If you decide to start a new line of Blue Heeler dogs, ASDR can show the different kennel club registries it accepts and get you into the correct performance programs for your pup.  

If you're not really into paperwork, don't care about any type of herding events, and need a good dog around to help out on your farm, the Amish can usually help on this too. If you are not concerned about paperwork with your new Blue Heeler, the Amish can offer a much better price or give you a free Heeler puppy.  Suppose you decide to go and find a Blue Heeler puppy for just herding around your farm plan to go and spend some time with the Amish breeder and ask if they could show you the parent dogs working and moving livestock at the Amish farm. Keep in mind that when buying a puppy, especially a Blue Heeler, for herding, it's not always a guarantee that your puppy will be a great herder. Still, the chances are more likely if the parent dogs can herd well. Your puppy will usually have those abilities when it's grown. 

Bald Eagle

Fly Away

Hopefully, this information has helped you understand why the Amish love the Blue Heeler dog breed and might influence you to love Blue Heeler dogs. If you found this post insightful, please sign up for our newsletter to stay informed on everything going on at Amish of Ethridge to get our most up-to-date blog posts. Look for Amish of Ethridge on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Thank you for reading this post, have a great day and an even better tomorrow. 


What does a Blue Heeler Puppy cost at the Amish?

Depending on the breeding and paperwork, a Blue Heeler puppy can range from $600 to $1000. But this is the great thing about the Amish line of dogs often, the puppies will be cheaper and sometimes at no cost. But, of course, this depends on different factors such as  paperwork, vaccinations, and the number of puppies in a litter. 

How Do I locate aN AMISH FARM THAT HAS A Blue Heeler puppy without signs by the road?

Word of mouth is the most commonly used communication within the Amish community. Plan on spending a Saturday in Amish country driving, from farm to farm, and asking around if no signs for puppies are out. This method of driving will usually produce good results. (Visits are usually the best on Fridays and Saturdays)

How do the Amish take payment for blue Heeler puppies?

Usually, cash is the best bet. The Amish do not have ATMs or accept debit or credit cards. The old-order Amish don't believe in using such things because of their religious beliefs. Some Amish farmers will accept personal checks, but not all of them.

Things to always ask an Amish Farmer about a new puppy?

  1. Do the pups have papers? If not, can you get me some or tell me how to get papers for my puppy?
  2. If my puppy got sick and something terrible happened, could you get another puppy or give me my money back?
  3. How old are the puppies? Are they weaned from their mother? If so, what have you been feeding the pups? (Many times, people rush the solid food weaning process, which is unsuitable for any dog.)
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