Acquired: Other (stray, given dog by friend etc.)
Oklahoma, United States
Posted February 16, 2014
I was very excited when friends offered us one of their Australian Shepherd/ Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler) cross puppies. We were expecting our first child and wanted a loyal, protective, kid-friendly dog. I had owned an Aussie before, and knew that they could be trained easily.
Pepper was approximately 12 weeks old when she came to live with us, and was beautiful! We started teaching her to be an indoor/outdoor dog, because we have live in the country and needed a good watch-dog outside. Our troubles began with trying to housebreak her.
She loved to go outside and run, splash in the ponds and practice herding the cows. But then she would make a special trip inside to toilet. We finally consulted with a friend who is a professional trainer, and she managed to teach Pepper to sometimes go outside to do her business.
As she grew, Pepper preferred being outside more than inside. From the very beginning she had killing instincts. I worked daily with her trying to teach her to walk on a leash, heel, sit, stay...the basic commands needed for an outside farm dog. But she would literally go wild whenever she saw cats, squirrels or other small animals, and ignore any commands. She also had a bad habit of trying to "herd" automobiles, snapping at the tires.
Even though we live in the country there is a road close by. We eventually had to build her a large dog-run to keep her from chasing cars. She also likes to dig very deep holes. Her greatest achievement is a pit that measures 5 feet deep by three feet wide by four feet across!
Personality-wise, she is very enthusiastic and loyal, but despite consistent (and persistent) training, she still jumps on people and knocks them down. My husband and I have scars from times that she has knocked us down and then pawed us.
On a positive note, she has never bitten a human (she has killed several cats and tried to kill our smaller dog). She is an excellent watch dog, but not a very good guard dog. She is friendly to strangers after she warns us that they are here. We don't let the children around her anymore, though, because she still knocks them over and tramples them. She has even hurt them on occasion just because she is so rough.
I've been very disappointed with Pepper. My last Aussie was not this way. He was easily trained, very calm, and very gentle with children. The Blue Heelers that I have known were very similar in intelligence and temperament, so I assumed I would be getting twice the goodness. Instead, I think the two breeds cancelled each other out. This cross would probably be excellent for a working ranch, but it really hasn't worked well for us.