What is a Mini Heeler?

A Mini Heeler is a scaled-down version of an Australian Cattle Dog. These cute little ACDs can be created by several less-than-perfect methods. The most acceptable of these methods is by breeding litter runts with other litter runts. The goal of this method is to produce smaller versions of the Australian Cattle dog.

Another method of breeding mini heelers is breeding a heeler with a smaller breed dog such as the dachshund. This method doesn’t really guarantee that the puppies will look like heelers so is not the best method. The worst method of the three is the introduction of the dwarfism gene into breeding. It is the worst method because it introduces bone deformities and other genetic issues into the breeding of the mini heelers.

The runt-to-runt breeding is the best of the three methods. However, unless carefully monitored this could also introduce genetic problems into the litter.

Both male and female mini heelers are usually around 11 to 15 inches tall, weighing between 12 and 25 pounds. This is not a hard and fast rule, however, as there is no standard for mini heeler size at this time. This is because mini heelers are not a recognized dog breed by any kennel clubs.

Mini Australian Cattle Dog Sitting on a Dock - What is a Mini Heeler?

Reputable breeders will run genetic checks on dogs that will be bred, and all the puppies produced from the breeding. This will ensure there are no genetic issues introduced because of the breeding.

Are Mini Heelers a Different Breed Than the Standard Australian Cattle Dog?

Other than size, minis have the same energy level, intelligence, and work ethic as the standard size Australian Cattle Dog. They should have the same ancestry, including the dingo.

These dogs are highly trainable as they are very intelligent.  They are also quite low-maintenance. They will still shed the same as the standard-sized heelers, as they also have a double coat. However, shedding can be reduced through regular grooming.

The exercise requirement, though still high, is less than the standard ACD due to the smaller stature of the mini. However, if they are not exercised enough mentally and physically they could become bored. You definitely don’t want a bored mini or standard heeler as you will not like the results of boredom.

Where Can I Get a Mini Heeler?

Minis are not as readily available as standard heelers; however, they are available. Before you take in a mini heeler as your fur baby, be sure you are ready to make the commitment. This is a commitment to keep your little heeler active, happy, and healthy so he will have a good life.

If you are ready for this commitment, you can begin searching for your new fur baby. Next, you need to decide if you want to try and adopt a mini heeler. If so, then start your search close to your home in shelters and rescues. It is always better to save the life of a dog that needs a home than to purchase a puppy.

You could widen your search area if you are willing to travel to adopt your new fur baby.

Finding a Reputable Breeder

If you have exhausted your search for shelters and rescues without success, then you will need to start looking for a reputable breeder. Before calling mini heeler breeders, talk to other people that have experience looking for reputable breeders and put together a list of questions for the breeder. Start searching locally first. When you find a breeder locally, ask if you can set up a visit. Breeders should be open and willing to show you anything and be completely open to in-person visits.

If they try and hold information back or try and discourage in-person visits, then move on to another breeder. First, ask if they have or will soon have a mini heeler puppy for sale. Next, ask to schedule an in-person visit. They should never discourage in-person visits as it is a sign that they have something to hide. Tell them that you want to see the sire (father) and dam (mother) of your potential new puppy during your visit.

During your in-person visit, have your list of questions ready and get answers that are satisfactory to you. They should be willing to answer all of your questions without being vague or presenting excuses why they can’t answer a question or show you medical records.

Also, ask to see the mother and father’s medical records. Additionally, ask to see any records of genetic testing done on parents and on the puppies.

Also, ask for a list of people who have purchased puppies from this breeder. You can call these people and find out how their puppy purchasing experience was. They should be happy to speak to you about their experiences.

If you insist on the breeder honoring your requests, you can be more certain you have found a reputable breeder.

Is the Mini Heeler Recognized as a Breed by any Kennel Clubs?

Minis are currently not recognized as a breed by any of the major kennel clubs. However, they can compete in American Stock Dog Registry events. These events include conformation, agility, trick dog, herding instinct, scent work, and more.

The American Stock Dog Registry (ASDR) is an organization where people can register their dogs that don’t have papers. This organization also takes an active role in getting dog breeds recognized by the AKC. The ASDR also has events called Polite Herding Dog (PHD) events. Mini cattle dogs can be entered and are allowed to perform in these events.

mini Australian Cattle Dog

More About the American Stock Dog Registry (ASDR)

There are 3 levels of 10 tasks for the dog to perform in Polite Herding Dog tests. The ASDR also sponsors quite a few dog shows in various parts of the USA. ASDR performance titles include Agility, Nose Work, Rally, and Herding Instinct Testing.

The ASDR gives Merit Awards for Kennels based upon the performance of their dogs. They also require genetic screening of the dogs for diseases their breed is predisposed to. These awards can help breeders to prove that their dogs are healthy and have been screened for genetic issues. This would help potential puppy purchasers to have the certainty they are purchasing from a reliable breeder.

All Award of Merit Kennel applications must include copies of the testing of your kennel.  Testing should include all tests recommended for Aussies as well as OFA and Cerf

The Ofa and Cerf tests are eye screening tests that must be performed by veterinary ophthalmologists. The tests screen for several eye diseases that Australian Cattle Dogs are genetically predisposed to.

Is the Mini Heeler a Teacup Dog?

The mini heeler is not a teacup size as their size is twice the size of teacup-sized dogs. I hope that teacup dogs continue to lose popularity. It is extremely cruel to produce puppies that are predisposed to so many health issues. This is done by careless breeding practices and the desire to produce something so “cute”.

These tiny dogs are plagued by health issues throughout their lives due to careless breeding practices.

Will my Mini Heeler be Able to Participate in Everything a Standard Heeler Can?

Your mini heeler should be able to participate in almost everything that your standard heeler is able to participate in.  The only exceptions I can think of would be herding cattle. This is only because I would be afraid for my mini due to his small stature. 

Mini Blue Heeler - What is a Mini Heeler?

Your mini could learn to herd sheep or ducks, so he will not be completely deprived of the herding experience. This will require your participation so you should be completely dedicated to allowing your pup to herd. Herding training will take a lot of time and most likely money. The cost would be considerably less If you have experience training herding dogs and have access to animals to herd.

Another option to provide your mini heeler the herding experience without the herd is to train him to play treibball. Dogs of any size can participate in treibball. Instead of herding animals, dogs herd balls across a goal like a soccer goal.

Final Thoughts

It is not impossible to find a healthy mini heeler. Just like the standard size ACD, your mini heeler will need to be socialized early and trained. You must also be sure to give your little heeler plenty of activity both mental and physical.

As long as you take your heeler to the vet for regular check-ups, and provide him with a healthy diet and plenty of activity you should have plenty of years of joy with your mini heeler.

Do you have a mini heeler, or know someone who does? Please feel free to comment on your experiences with these cute little dogs!

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3 thoughts on “What is a Mini Heeler?”

  1. Hi Barbara,
    This is a great article. Thank you for introducing me to the Mini Heeler. This breed is new to me, are they a common breed in Australia?
    People who delight in working with dogs, training them and taking them to dog shows would love this dog! I give them credit, I would not have the patience or energy to be that involved with a dog.
    I think these dogs would make a better dog for the country with room to run than a city dog? What do you think?

    Reply
    • Hi Chas,

      I’m glad you liked this article! Believe it or not the Australian Cattle dog standard size or mini are not in Australia’s top 10 favorite breeds of dogs. The Labrador Retriever is the number 1 most popular dog. That is similar to the USA. I guess everybody loves a Lab!

      I think Heelers can be happy either in the city or in a rural area as long as they get plenty of exercise and activities, both mental and physical, they will be fine in most places. However, they are not recommended for apartments.

      Thanks again for making this comment I really do appreciate it!
      Barbara

      Reply

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