(8) History, Queensland Heeler

History of the Old Style Queensland Heeler in America as I know personally it.

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When the Queensland Blue Heelers first came to California in the mid 1960s they called Queensland Blue Heelers for they originated in Queensland Australia. they were usually called Blue Heeler for short. It was in the 1970s when i first herd the term Australian Cattle Dog. I remember an ad in the Western Horseman that said Australian Cattle Dog pups for sale $50 each. there was photo that looked to me like like a Blue Heeler I showed the ad to Lyle Damewood the man who had one of the early imported pairs of dogs he said humm looks like a Blue Heeler to me I do not know what an Australian Cattle Dog is. In 1980 when the AKC excepted the Australian Cattle Dog into thjere registry there became a split in the breed, many disagreements over bloodlines and dogs. the AKC dogs became mostly show dogs the old blue heelers just kept on working. I never seen a Red Heeler until sometime in the 1970’s. The first Red dog I owned was in the 1990s. there are many articles out on the internet about the Australian Cattle Dogs. some have conflicting information some go along with what i personally experienced as a teenager in the 1960s. but none that i have seen go into detail about the 1980 split in the breed.

when the original Queensland Blue Heelers came to Calif from Australia they were about as perfect as a dog breed could be they were small about 30 pounds on the average some as small as 20 pounds some 35 to maybe 40 at tops, good balanced body build that moved with ease & could go all day every day, no deafness no eye issues they live a long time some made it to 20 years or more. Much of the greatness of the first Blue heelers that came in the early 60’s were bred by Allen McNivin an Australian Veterinarian of the 1940’s who added more Dingo & Kelpie some say other breeds to to fix the inbreeding issues the breed was falling prey to such as PRA that was being experienced in 1930’s it was taking a toll for many dogs were going moon blind at around 8 to 10 years, more Dingo fixed the problem. However the Australian registry & the AKC did not like his fixing the breeds issues so would not let his dogs in the registries. Allen’s dogs were the superior dogs that the US ranchers first purchased. I grew up on my father ranch that he bought from my mothers Father who homesteadeded it in the early 1900s in North Lake County Oregon. It was cold desert range land that took tough rugged animals of all kinds & tough people to work & survive there. My first Blue Heeler was a female of 20 pounds that came from Lyle Damewood our next door neighbor 10 miles away that were an imported pair of McNiven blue Blue heeler dogs, she is in the background of most of our dogs we have now. When the split in the breed came in 1980 the year that the Australian Cattle Dog was excepted in the AKC the show breeders started the AKC gene pool with only a handful of dogs that were chosen from mostly the Woolsten kennels & a few others out of Australia, that is the bloodline that carried the PRA. Little Logic & his son Logic return & Woolsten Blue Jack all of the same bloodline were the main base of the AKC dogs. The McNivin dogs were what the early ranchers had & kept on raising and using they earned the name of little iron dogs. There became 2 types of heeler the show type & the working type. The show type worked very well in the beginning but as time went on they started showing up with more genetic defects. PRA being the most common, PLL another blind genetic, DM a nerve paralysis, hip Dysplasia, elbow & hock issue and others as well. The working type were still refereed to as The Queensland Blue Heeler, Queensland Heeler, Blue Heeler or just Heeler, the show type Australian Cattle Dog. One could find a good Queensland pup quite easy up until the early 90’s as the AKC dogs started outnumbering the Queensland’s, as time went on the ranchers grew old the new ranchers & children of the old ones did not keep up the breed as it was & they started being hard to find. In the late 90’s we purchased a red heeler Dingo pup out of a pair of imported red heelers probably of McNiven lines we called him Dingo we combined him with my old bloodline of the 60’s that i had kept going, we kept a top pup we named Spur & have used him extensively for 17 years so when you see Spur in the pedigree of our dogs that is 7 generations down from my first little female of 20 pounds i got in the 1960’s & the 1st generation from the imported red Queensland heeler Dingo of the 90’s. Spur is very old still has good site, hearing & mobility. we are breeding 3 lines together this year that have Spur in in the first 4 generations to intensify & preserve his bloodlines for the future. I feel the old Queensland Heeler is almost extinct for i have searched for a few years now & i cannot find any more true dogs of the original imports that anyone has out there to purchase anymore. luckily we have several different lines to cross to so we can keep the linage going. I have bred these dogs for 50 years now & do not want to see them become extinct so we have ben doing a breed restoration program for a few years now & have several other breeders doing it as well. we do genetic testing for PRA, PLL & DM the most common defects known to the heeler breed on all our breeding dogs. I know most people think the AKC Australian Cattle Dog is the same as a Queensland Heeler but there are a few differences so they are not the exact same breed.

Whither it is Queensland Heeler or Australian Cattle Dog they are made up of quite a variety of Breeds: Smooth Collie crossed with wild Dingo seems to be the base then bull Terrier & Dalmatian were added then Kelpie to round it out in the 1800s. In the 1930s moon blindness now known as PRA started to appear along with other health issues. Allen McNiven a breeder of the 1940s on for many years added more Dingo & some more Kelpie to his strain of Heelers some say he added other breeds as well but i have never ben able to find any reliable info on that. I personally knew an old Cowboy that knew Allen personally that said he did ad what he called his secrete ingredient but no one ever knew what it was but apparently something small for so many of his dogs were little like 20 to 25 pounds along with some that were 30 to 35 pounds. The old style heeler as we refer to them could have dogs of the same litter range from 20 to 35 pounds in the same litter quite often. What ever the mix was made a super dog for all purpose use.

I will keep adding to this info as i find info to ad.

C.W.

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