Coyote vs Blue Heeler: All Differences Explained

What is the tale of the tape between these powerful members of the canine family? Pound for pound, how does one stack up against the other?

What Are The Differences Between Coyotes and Blue Heelers? 

1. ORIGIN – The coyote ( Canis latrans ) belongs to the same taxonomic family as the grey wolf and the red wolf. It is believed that the coyote is the most primitive of the North American Canidae family. The coyote has been living in North America and the Mexico area for more than a million years. The word “coyote” comes from the Spanish translation of “coyote,” the Aztec term for the animal. 

The blue heeler is the alternative name for the Australian Cattle Dog. 19th-century Australian setters have specifically bred the heeler to guide and walk cattle over long distances. It gained its name for its acquired tendency to nip and bite the heels of stubborn cattle.

2. SIZE – A fully grown coyote is about 24 inches ( 60 cm ) tall at the shoulders, has a body length of 4.3 feet ( 1.3 meters ), and weighs around 50 pounds ( 33 kg ). Geography does play a role in size differences. The northern subspecies tend to be larger than the Mexican subspecies. Overall, coyotes are much smaller than wolves

The blue heeler is classified as a medium-sized dog. Fully grown, a blue heeler stands at an average of 20 inches ( 51 cm ) at the shoulders, weighs about 50 pounds ( 33 kg ).

3. APPEARANCE – The coyote’s fur is mostly light gray with hints of red and dashes of black and white. Geography tends to affect the color of fur since coyotes at high altitudes are more distinctly black and gray than their low-terrain cousins, which have light-colored fur. The Blue heeler color of its fur appears blue due to the distribution of black and brown hair across its white coat. Because they are smaller than wolves, their tracks are often mistaken for those of medium-sized dogs. But coyote tracks are longer compared to the tracks of dogs which have a more rounded shape. 


Blue heelers are named for their fur, which has a bluish color due to how the black hairs are spread across white fur. Red heelers are also an accepted color variation for these cattle dogs. The distinguishing marking on a heeler is the solid black or red patch over one or both eyes.

4. BEHAVIOR – Coyotes are socially adaptable because they can either be solitary or pack animals. Coyote packs are usually small and are led by a reproductive female. Because they shift between being solitary and pack hunters, coyotes have developed a specific set of vocal and visual communication cues. When threatened, a coyote assumes a pose where the back is arched and the tail is low. The piercing, solitary howl is the coyote’s most distinguished form of vocal communication. But it is also recognizable for its bark. 

The blue heeler is a very active and very independent-minded dog–typical for a working breed. It is very responsive to training. Aside from being a very effective cattle dog, the heeler can also be trained as a guard dog because it is fiercely loyal to its owners and reserved when dealing with strangers. It may not be an ideal dog companion for kids because it tends to nip at what it considers unruly behavior. The heeler rarely barks. But when it does, its bark is high-pitched and intense.

5. HABITAT – Coyotes can be found all over North America, from the elevated regions of Alberta, Canada, down to Sonora in northwest Mexico. With the diminishing population of cougars and wolves, they have extended their territories further north in Alaska and further south in Guatemala. They thrive mostly in grasslands and prairies, but they can manage in any terrain as long as there is a modest supply of small prey and a relative lack of competing predators such as cougars and wolves. Coyotes are mostly nocturnal and move an average of about 15 kilometers to hunt. They are also excellent swimmers. 

The heeler emerged as one of Australia’s most ubiquitous work dogs when English settlers first bred it by crossing English sheepdogs with dingoes. The result was an extremely hardy and agile dog that could manage long distances of cattle grazing territory.

6. DIET – Coyotes are not diverse eaters. They are opportunistic predators who will scavenge for meat at any given opportunity. They are primarily carnivores, but they will feed on berries and fruits, especially during the lean months. When hunting in packs, they can feed on large game such as moose and bison. But they will supplement their diet with smaller and easy prey such as gophers, chipmunks, and prairie dogs. On certain occasions, they will also feed on snakes and birds. 

On the other hand, blue heelers have been considerably domesticated that their diet is mostly a combination of fresh and processed food. Being energetic workers, they require dog food with a very rich protein and fat content. They also require high calories to fuel their active lifestyle. Heelers need to be fed at least twice a day. Lean meat and some vegetable supplements are ideal for these amazing creatures. 

Questions and Answers

Question: How do Blue Heeler and Coyotes Interact with People?

Answer: Blue heelers are one of the most evenly-tempered dog breeds. They are very faithful to their human companions. They are very versatile and can be trained easily as herders, guard dogs, or house pets. Although they have the natural disposition to nip, this potentially unsavory behavior can easily be corrected and directed while still pups. 

When raised and trained properly, they can be very good with children. They respond well to human companionship and will eagerly respond to commands, especially when these are challenging and are a source of intense activity. As guard dogs, they are as loyal to their companions as they are cautious of unfamiliar visitors. 

For a wild species, coyotes seem to thrive well near human populations. There are even coyotes that have successfully resided in metropolitan areas. Coyote attacks on humans are quite rare. Unlike other wildlife, which has been considerably displaced or rendered extinct by humans encroaching into their natural habitats, coyotes have adapted well. For one, they tend to keep a low profile. Their nocturnal behavior mitigates their exposure to humans. Coyotes that are mostly solitary are extremely wary of humans. At most, they are considered to be a nuisance when their dens and hunting grounds are close to residential areas or farms. But this is simply because they have become acclimatized to people who feed them. 

Question: How Do Coyotes Adapt In Captivity?

Answer: The coyote’s versatility allows it to thrive well in captivity. In the wild, coyotes have an expected life span of around 10 – 14 years. But in captivity, they have been known to live for twenty years or so. They can also breed well under such conditions. There are some instances when coyotes have responded well to attempts at domestication. Ancient cultures have likely tamed coyotes as pets or hunting companions. Coyotes may be trained as guard dogs because they can be loyal to their masters and aggressive towards strangers. When trained early as pups, they can be intelligent enough to acquire working-dog skills such as hounding, pointing, and retrieving. 

Question: How Do Blue Heelers Compare Against Other Dogs? 

Answer: Aside from their excellent herding skills and high energy, blue heelers are valued for one particular trait: endurance. They were specifically bred to thrive in the hot Australian climate because traditional English work dogs were notoriously short-winded. They acquired their durability from the equally hardy dingoes, which were cross-bred with sheepdogs. Their intensity and their constant desire for stimulation motivate them to work long hours. This was quite important for the early settlers who could not afford to keep and maintain several dogs to help tend the farm and the cattle. 

Question: Can Blue Heelers and Coyotes Breed? 

Answer: Because coyotes and domesticated dogs are genetically related, they can breed with each other. Coydogs are fairly common due to the frequency of interactions between male coyotes and female dogs. Unlike other hybrids, coydogs are fertile and can breed up to four generations. 

Hybrids of blue heelers and coyotes are possible but relatively unlikely because of their geographical separation. Other factors that lessen the probability of coyotes and blue heelers mating to produce offspring may also be due to the natural differences between the mating seasons of the two species.