While Bandit's ingenious imaginary emu Shaun may be the easier option for a pet (because it’s *imaginary*), it's hard not to watch Bluey and immediately want to add a new dog to your household. The adorable animated series is a hit with parents and kids around the world, thanks to the boundless love and imaginative play exhibited by the Heeler family at its center. Bandit, Chili, Bluey, and Bingo may be dogs, but they're also one of TV's most relatable families. However, even the most ardent Bluey fan may find themselves wondering exactly what kind of dog Bluey is.
Since the intrepid Bluey is a bright blue pup with dark markings around her eyes and tail, she doesn't exactly look like a real dog. Of course, that's part of the show's charm. Sure, it's about a family of doggos, but this smart animated series isn't afraid to tackle serious and lighthearted subject matter alike. Over the seasons, that has included conversations about aging grandparents, talking to kids about death, and why parents don't have "favorites" when it comes to their kids.
There's a reason Bluey is beloved by parents and kids alike. It's the rare cartoon that doesn't talk down to its young viewers, and as a result, the Australian series has been known to make adults shed a tear or two in between belly laughs. Given just how charming the Heeler family is, it's not surprising that it may inspire you to look into bringing home your very own Bluey. But before you start checking out your local shelter, you'll need to know what kind of dog Bluey is in the first place — and whether or not a real-life Bluey would be the right fit for your family.
What kind of dog is Bluey?
Bluey's last name gives the answer to this question away: She’s a blue heeler, which is also known as an Australian cattle dog (what all the members of Bluey’s family are). This is fitting since the Heelers are residents of Australia, where the breed originated. Interestingly, not all of the characters on Bluey have breed-specific names. For instance, Bluey's best friend Chloe is a Dalmatian, and her next-door neighbor Judo is a spitz.
But in the case of Bluey, her last name makes it clear what sort of dog she is. Plus, her first name is fitting since she's blue — although you should make sure the little ones in your family don't expect real blue heelers to come in such a vivid shade of the color. The dogs do have a bit of a blue tint to their coats, but most of them look more like Bluey's cousin Muffin than they do Bluey and Bandit in real life. Australian cattle dogs also have red coats, a variation of the breed sometimes called “red heelers,” which is represented by Bluey’s Chili and Bingo.
What are blue heelers like in real life?
It's no accident that Bluey is an adventurous and endlessly curious little girl. Blue heelers were originally bred in 19th century Australia to be herd dogs. As a result, they still have an instinctual need to have a job. A byproduct of their past as working dogs is that they're a smart, driven, and extremely active breed.
According to Veterinarian Dr. Jamie Freyer, DVM of Veterinarians.org, blue heelers are "loyal, intelligent, and playful." Still, they won't thrive in every environment. "The cattle dog is also an extremely energetic breed and needs lots of exercise and mental stimulation," she says. "This breed is not likely suited to apartment living due to its high exercise needs. They do tend to be fairly biddable and relatively easy to train due to their food motivation and smarts; however, they can quickly become destructive or even aggressive if their needs are not met. This is a dog that needs a job to do."
In terms of appearance, blue heelers are medium-sized dogs that usually weigh between 35-50 lbs. Their coats tend to be a bluish-gray with tan, white, or mottled gray markings. While they're not hypoallergenic, their coats are fairly low-maintenance — always a bonus if you don't want to make frequent trips to the groomers.
Are blue heelers good family dogs?
If your child is begging you for a dog just like Bluey, there are a few things you should take into consideration first. As Dr. Freyer noted, blue heelers need plenty of exercise and outside time, so they're not ideal for apartment living. Additionally, their herding instinct means they may not be the best dog for babies and toddlers since they could chase and nip little ones without proper training.
However, if your children are past the baby stage and ready to take on an active role in a dog's life, a blue heeler might be a good choice. Since the breed is super energetic, they're a good dog for families who love to take walks, play outside, go on hikes, and generally enjoy the outdoors. They need lots of playtime and mental stimulation, and as long as they're trained and properly socialized, they make terrific companions.
In fact, the breed is often called a shadow dog because they love to be with their owners as much as possible. The flipside to this is they don't like to be left alone, so if you're always on the go in situations where bringing a pup along with you isn't feasible, then a blue heeler isn't the right dog for you.
What should your kids know before you adopt a dog?
Whether you get a blue heeler or another breed, it's always a good idea to talk to your kids about what to expect before bringing home a dog. First of all, you should discuss what their role in the animal's life will be. Will they be expected to take the dog for walks? Are they in charge of filling the water and food bowls? How much training time will be their responsibility? Dogs are a big commitment, and in reality, a real pup won't be anything like Bluey or her family.
But there's no doubt that having a dog can be a rewarding experience for a child. Not only do dogs offer companionship, but they also teach children responsibility. Before adopting a puppy, Dr. Freyer advises talking to your children about treating the new family member with respect, especially since even adults sometimes have trouble giving cuddly newcomers the proper amount of space.
"Parents should be sure to instruct their children on how to care for a dog, including how to treat them with respect," she explains. "This includes making sure they know to leave the dog alone when it is sleeping or eating, and know how to be gentle while petting and touching the dog."
Getting a dog is a big step — and while Bluey is a show for everyone, a blue heeler isn't the right dog for every family. But if you're looking for a clever, high-energy pooch to join your pack, then a heeler could be the perfect choice (and hey, you probably already have the perfect name picked out thanks to a certain energetic TV character).