Written by Anna Hollisey
The hit TV show “Bluey” is definitely made by dog people. It features families of dogs – in several different breeds – doing everyday things like dropping their ice-creams, Zoom-calling their cousins, and refusing to eat their edamame beans. But was the show really designed for dogs to watch? And what kinds of dogs are Bluey and her friends?
Bluey is an Australian Cattle Dog – also known as a Blue Heeler – just like her dad, Bandit. Her mom, Chilli, and sister, Bingo, are Red Heelers – which are also Australian Cattle Dogs, but with orange, yellow and cream tones in their coats.
Australian Cattle Dogs (or Heelers) are native to Australia, with an ancestry which probably included imported British Smithfields, Dingos and Collies. They got the nickname ‘Heeler’ because their herding style involves nipping at their livestock’s heels. The modern Australian Cattle Dog is bright, trainable, and unwaveringly loyal. They’re energetic, and likely to need plenty of entertainment in the home – just like Bluey and Bingo.
Did you know? Heelers’ coloring is really distinctive – in shades of rusty red or blue-gray – but all the pups are born with white coats!
So you’ve learned Bluey’s dog breed, and now you’re squinting at Indy (Bluey’s gluten-free pal) and wondering what she’d be in real life? Well, Indy is an Afghan Hound – athletic and elegant with a famously long and silky coat. Although the Afghan is now a rarer breed, it’s believed to have been one of the world’s earliest pure breeds.
Rusty’s an Australian (Red) Kelpie. Probably related to the Scottish Collie, the Kelpie is a quick and lively sheep-herding breed with a loyal nature.
Bingo is a Red Heeler, but she is actually the same breed as Bluey – they’re both Australian Cattle Dogs. The breed comes in two colors, Red and Blue, and gained the nickname ‘Heeler’ for its herding style.
Is Bluey designed for dogs to watch? Its creator, Jaclyn Byrne, caused a viral sensation when she posted a video of her puppy watching Bluey.
Is it because of the color palette used in Bluey? It could be. Did you know that dogs have a limited range of color vision?
In the past, it was widely believed that dogs are color-blind. But in 1989, a research team led by Jay Neitz learned that canine eyes contain two types of color receptors. They carried out behavioral tests to discover whether dogs could differentiate between colors. The result? Their paper became famous – confirming with confidence that dogs can distinguish two types of color: blues and yellows.
Who’d have guessed that this research paper would become the inspiration for a team of digital animators in 2018?
So, yes… it’s quite likely that dogs enjoy watching Bluey because it uses colors which attract them, keeping their attention. Does your dog appear to be mesmerized by Bluey? We’d love to hear from you on social media!
The Australian Cattle Dog is a herding dog – learn more about this group, and find out whether they make good pets. Kim, on the FOTP team, owns an Australian Shepherd; read about her experiences with Osric!