The Australian Shepherd is a clever, focused dog that may be your closest friend for life, but only if you’re willing to keep him occupied with dog sports like agility, flyball, flying disc games, herding competitions, obedience, and tracking, or if you’re willing to teach him household duties to complete. His desire for exercise will also be met by a few hour-long daily walks, jogs, or treks, as well as some at-home workouts. He needs to be entertained for a long period of time in order to be happy. The Australian Shepherd, however, may be the appropriate dog for you if you’re prepared to offer your dog loving leadership, teach him regularly and fairly, and provide him with lots of exercise and a way to use his impressive intelligence.
Despite their name, Australian Shepherd dogs were first domesticated in the western United States during the Gold Rush of the 1840s, not in Australia. They were originally developed as labor dogs to herd animals by petlifehealth. If possible, consider adopting one of these dogs from a shelter or a rescue organization.
As they are known, the “Aussie” is happiest while they are working. If their intellect and enthusiasm are directed toward dog sports or activities, they may make fantastic family companions.
For a comprehensive list of Australian Shepherd characteristics and information, see below!
Australian Shepherd Breed More Info
The Aussie is a no-nonsense dog who thrives in a home where his intelligence and energy are put to good use. He is intelligent, hardworking, and versatile. Although it doesn’t hurt, you don’t have to raise a flock of sheep if you live with an Aussie, but you do need to keep him occupied. He’s an energetic dog who doesn’t understand the term “couch potato” and wouldn’t like it if he did.
He requires a lot of exercise since he has energy to burn; a stroll around the neighborhood won’t do, and he needs at least a small yard to help him work off his ya-yas. Due to a lack of work, he becomes restless, erratic, and noisy .He could even create his own work, such as chasing automobiles or other animals, herding children—yours or the neighbors’—chasing children, or tearing your house up. The Aussie is not the breed for you if you don’t have the time or energy to teach and exercise him every day.
However, the Aussie is the best if you’re interested in dog activities that are competitive. This medium-sized dog with the naturally or artificially bobbed tail is a top competitor in obedience, agility, flyball, and herding competitions of all levels. He also had success working as a police dog, support dog, guide dog, hearing dog, and search and rescue dog.
Even household tasks like picking up soiled clothing off the floor and bringing it to you may be taught to an Aussie. But you’ll probably have to fold your own clean clothing.
With his appealing medium-length coat and rich brown, yellow, blue, green, or amber eyes, the Aussie is a great beauty who stands out from the crowd.
His background as a working dog makes him a devoted friend who may be guarding of his house and family while remaining distant with outsiders. He gets along with children, however until you educate him otherwise, he’ll probably want to “herd” them. The Australian makes life exciting. He will labor and play from dawn till dusk and capture your heart with his devoted and kind nature. This adaptable breed is a great family pet and working dog, but only if the household is busy.
Australian Shepherd History
This breed was developed in America, despite his name. Australian Shepherds were first bred to herd cattle for ranchers and farmers in the western United States, and some of them still do so today.
The breeds that were combined to produce the Australian Shepherd are the subject of several hypotheses. The term “Aussie” comes from the fact that in the 1840s, shipments of sheep from Australia brought collie and shepherd-type dogs with them. Breeders worked to improve the dogs’ herding skills and produce a canine that was adaptable, diligent, and clever. In the years following World War II, the breed had a surge in popularity that coincided with a resurgence in Western-style equestrian riding. Audiences of western films or television shows, as well as attendees at rodeos or horse events, were astounded by the athletic canines they observed working alongside the cowboys. Despite widespread interest, it took until 1993 for the American Kennel Club to recognize the breed.
The attractive, active, and witty Australian Shepherd is still there today, serving farmers and ranchers in the old West in much the same way. He is adored by many people and likes his life as a herding dog, family friend, and guardian.
Australian Shepherd Puppy Size
The Australian Shepherd is somewhat longer than he is tall, measuring 20 to 23 inches for males and 18 to 21 inches for females at the shoulder. Males weigh 50 to 65 pounds on average, while girls weigh 40 to 55 pounds.
The medium-length, luxurious coat of an Aussie might be straight or somewhat wavy. They have a thick mane around their necks and feathering on the backs of their legs. Variable coat colors with white and/or tan markings, such as blue or red merle or red or black tricolor, are all acceptable. The tails of most Australians are normally short, but if they are longer than four inches, they may occasionally be docked. Advertisements for dogs referred to as teacup, toy, or tiny Australian Shepherds may be seen. Breeders of Australian Shepherds do not consider these dogs to be authentic Australian Shepherds. The breed has no lower size variants since its purpose is to be a practical working dog that can herd hardy cattle over long distances in difficult terrain or snowdrifts.
Australian Shepherd Personality
Aussies are playful, easygoing dogs who like playing with kids. With other pets, they often get along nicely. The breed is regarded as being exceptionally clever and trainable. Aussies are renowned for having a strong desire to please their owners.
Aussies are extremely protective of their families and territory in accordance with their herding tendencies, and they will let you know if a stranger approaches, but they are not thought of as aggressive.
Australian Shepherds may and will assume the dominant position in the home if you don’t provide them with solid and certain leadership since they were bred to be aggressive with cattle. They are therefore a bad option for novice or fearful owners. Australian Shepherds are naturally devoted to their family yet wary of outsiders, like many herding dogs. When they are young, they require early socialization, which involves exposing them to a wide variety of people, sites, noises, and experiences.
In order to guarantee that your Aussie puppy develops into a well-rounded dog, socialization is important. He should start by enrolling in a kindergarten class for puppies. Regularly hosting guests, taking him to crowded parks, dog-friendly shops, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will all help him hone his social skills.
Australian Shepherd Temperament
There are many great qualities that the Australian Shepherd possesses that should appeal to a very involved owner. An excellent representative of this breed is pleasant and gregarious with a strong desire to express themselves. It must also pay attention to the instructions and wishes of its owner. This breed is a role model dog with a good sense of self-control and diligence, as long as its enthusiastic and devoted temperament is used for good. Because of its calm disposition, it makes a fantastic therapy dog, drug detector, and search and rescue dog. Both Toy and Mini Aussies display the same traits as the normal breed.
Australian Shepherd Health Issues
Although Aussies are often healthy, they are susceptible to some health issues like other breeds. Although not every Aussie will contract one or more of these illnesses, it’s crucial to be aware of them if you’re thinking of getting one.
Find a reputable breeder that will provide you with the health clearances for both of your dog’s parents if you are purchasing a puppy. Health certifications attest to a dog’s having undergone testing and been declared free of a certain ailment. For hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand’s disease, you should expect to see health certificates from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), with a fair or better score; for Thrombopathia from Auburn University; and for normal eyesight from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF). You can visit the OFA website to validate health approvals (offa.org).
- Hip Dysplasia: The femur does not fit tightly into the pelvic socket of the hip joint in this heritable disease. Hip dysplasia may or may not show any clinical symptoms. On one or both of their back legs, some dogs are painful and lame. Arthritis may appear as the dog aged. The University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program or the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals both provide X-ray screening for hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia in dogs should prevent breeding. Verify with the breeder that the parents have undergone hip dysplasia testing and have come out negative.
- Elbow Dysplasia: It is a heritable disorder that affects large-breed dogs often. The three bones that make up the dog’s elbow have three separate growth rates, which results in joint laxity. Painful lameness may result from this. Your veterinarian could advise either surgery to fix the issue or painkillers to lessen the discomfort.
- Epilepsy: Epilepsy, a condition that results in seizures in the Australian Shepherd, is a condition that can affect them. Although epilepsy cannot be cured, it can be managed with medicine. With the right treatment, a dog may live a full and healthy life despite this inherited condition.
- Deafness: This breed has a high prevalence of deafness, which can present several difficulties. Although some types of deafness and hearing loss may be managed with medicine and surgery, deafness is mostly incurable. Although it takes time and patience to live with and train a deaf dog, there are various tools available, such as vibrating collars, to make life simpler. Consider if you have the time, patience, and capacity to care for the animal if your Aussie is diagnosed with hearing loss or complete deafness. No matter what choice you make, it’s best to let the breeder know.
- Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD): This orthopedic disorder, which is brought on by abnormal cartilage formation in the joints, often affects the elbows but has also been observed in the shoulders. The dog’s elbow becomes painfully stiffened to the point of being unable to bend. As young as four to nine months old, dogs can already show signs of the condition. High-protein diets or overfeeding of “growth formula” puppy food may hasten its development.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This degenerative eye condition eventually results in blindness due to the loss of photoreceptors in the retina. Years before the dog exhibits any evidence of blindness, PRA is evident. Fortunately, dogs can compensate for blindness with their other senses, and a blind dog may lead a long and content life. Just remember not to rearrange the furnishings frequently. Reputable Aussie breeders do not breed dogs with this condition and have the eyes of their dogs verified by a veterinary ophthalmologist each year.
- Cataracts: An obstruction on the eye’s lens known as a cataract impairs vision. The dog’s eye(s) will appear to be clouded. Cataracts typically develop with ageing and can occasionally be surgically removed to enhance the dog’s eyesight.
- Distichiasis: A second row of eyelashes, or distichia, develop on the dog’s eye’s oil gland and extend along the border of the eyelid with this disease. Your Australian could squint or wipe his eye as a result of this irritating his eye (s). By using liquid nitrogen to freeze the extra eyelashes and then removing them, distichiasis is surgically cured. Cryoepilation is the name of the procedure, which is carried out under general anesthesia.
- Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA): Some dogs with Collie Eye Anomaly, a hereditary disorder, may go blind. A veterinary ophthalmologist diagnoses it when it first appears, which is often by the time the dog is 2 years old. Although there is no cure for CEA, as was already said, blind dogs can navigate their surroundings extremely effectively with their other senses. It’s essential to keep in mind that your breeder should be informed if your puppy has this issue since it is a genetic anomaly. Spaying or neutering your dog is essential in order to stop the gene from being passed on to future litters of puppies.
- Persistent Pupillary Membranes (PPM): Persistent Pupillary Membranes are tissue strands in the eye that were formerly part of the fontal membrane that provided nourishment for the eye lenses prior to birth. Usually gone by the time a puppy is 4 or 5 weeks old, although occasionally they linger. The strands are occasionally seen in the anterior (front) chamber of the eye and can extend from iris to iris, iris to lens, or cornea to iris. The strands often fall out around 8 weeks of age and provide no complications for many dogs. The strands may result in cataracts or corneal opacities if they do not degrade. Your veterinarian may prescribe eye medications to help dissolve them.
- Hypothyroidism: A thyroid gland hormone production level that is excessively low is known as hypothyroidism. Infertility could be a minor illness symptom. Obesity, mental dullness, lethargy, drooping eyelids, poor energy levels, and erratic heat cycles are more overt symptoms. The dog’s skin turns harsh and black, and its coarse, brittle fur starts to fall out. Daily medicine must be given to the dog for the duration of its life in order to cure hypothyroidism. A dog getting thyroid medication on a regular basis can lead a full and content life.
- Allergies: In dogs, allergies are a prevalent condition. By removing specific foods from the dog’s diet temporarily, allergies to particular foods are detected and addressed. A response to something that touches the dog, such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, or other chemicals, is what causes contact allergies. By locating and eliminating the allergy’s source, they are treated. Airborne allergens including pollen, dust, and mildew are what cause inhalant allergies. The right treatment for inhalant allergies will depend on how severe the allergy is. One typical adverse impact of inhalant allergies is ear infections.
- Drug Sensitivity: Australian Shepherds and Collies are two herding breeds that are prone to medication sensitivity. The Multidrug Resistance Gene (MDR1), which generates the P-glycoprotein protein, is the mutation that causes it. To prevent the negative consequences of toxins, this protein acts as a pump to remove them from the body. Drug sensitivity in dogs is caused by a dysfunctional gene, which is harmful. Ivermectin, a substance frequently found in anti-parasitic medicines like heartworm preventives, as well as other medications, including chemotherapy therapies, may cause sensitivity in dogs with this mutant gene. Tremors, depression, convulsions, incoordination, hypersalivation, coma, and even death are symptoms of this sensitivity.
- Cancer: Like people, dogs can have cancer. There are several distinct forms of cancer, and each patient’s response to therapy is unique. Tumors are surgically removed from certain cancers, treated with chemotherapy in others, and treated surgically and medically in others.
- Nasal Solar Dermatitis: This ailment, often known as Collie-nose, is not exclusive to Collies and typically affects dogs with little to no color in their noses. Dogs with extreme photosensitivity often get lesions on their noses and even around their eyelids, which can range in color from light pink to ulcerating. Due to the fact that a number of different diseases can result in the same lesions, the condition may initially be challenging to identify. Keep your Aussie out of the sun and give him dog sunscreen when you take him outside if he has been diagnosed with Collie nose. The best technique to treat the condition is to tattoo the dog’s nose black, which will act as a protection against sunlight.
- Detached Retina: The retina may separate from the tissues supporting it following a facial injury. Blindness or severe vision impairment can result from a detached retina. Although there is no cure for a detached retina, many dogs with visual impairments have normal lives.
Australian Shepherd Care
If you have a yard, be sure to have a sturdy fence that your Australian shepherd can’t dig under or leap over. For this breed, underground electrical fence is ineffective: Any worries your Aussie may have about receiving a little shock will be outweighed by his urge to go out and herd something. Walk him on a leash for the same reason unless you want to teach him to control his desires.
Every day, your Aussie needs to engage in a half-hour to an hour of exciting activity, such as a run, a game of Frisbee, or agility or obedience drills. Puzzle games like Buster Cubes are a terrific way to keep that busy mind occupied while you’re not playing with your dog.
Puppies don’t require as much vigorous activity as people do, and you shouldn’t even allow them run on concrete or engage in vigorous leaping until they are at least a year old. It could put undue strain on their still-evolving skeletal structure and lead to joint issues later on.
Nipping and chasing is a typical Australian behavior that works well for herding sheep but is rude when used on people or other animals. Your Australian shepherd may stop herding if you enroll him in an obedience class, which also satisfies his desire for cerebral challenge.
Aussies are often pleased to follow their trainer’s instructions and react well to training techniques that include positive reinforcement, which includes incentives like praise, play, and food.
Australian Shepherd Exercise
The Aussie, an athletic, high-energy dog, requires a lot of exercise every day. The greatest thing to do, however, is to give the Aussie a job, whether that be herding cattle, shepherding youngsters, or competing in canine activities like obedience, herding or agility competitions, or dock diving. The Australian Shepherd needs at least two hours of dog activity a day, ideally more. In addition to physical activity, the Aussie needs lots of cerebral stimulation in the form of training, puppy games, and problem solving. The Aussie is a bit of a training addict and may do well in a wide range of canine sports and activities, so ideal owners will be those who wish to compete and who like training as a passion in and of itself. He ought to have access to a sizable, enclosed yard at the very least, where he may play for a while each day. Aussies have strong bonds with their owners and adore going on long walks—or, even better, hikes—with them. An Aussie may be a fantastic jogging buddy once puppyhood is over and his skeletal system is completely developed.
Australian Shepherd Training
For the Australian Shepherd, early socialization and obedience training are essential. The owners’ inability (or unwillingness) to use training to positively channel the breed’s unlimited energy is one of the most frequent reasons Aussies wind themselves in rescue situations. Aussies have close bonds with their families and may be possessive and overly protective of their owners’ possessions. They can also turn destructive if they are frequently abandoned for extended periods of time. Fortunately, the breed’s great activity and intellect combine with their loyalty to make them quite easy to teach.
The Aussie can learn any sport, activity, or task that a dog can physically complete when trained with positive reinforcement, but it’s not as simple as it seems. Careful supervision must accompany canine training since they are easily capable of learning the incorrect things just as quickly as or even quicker than the correct ones. Early kid and animal socialization is crucial, as is teaching your dog a reliable recall, loose-leash strolling, and a “quiet” cue! Aussies have excelled in a variety of sports, including agility, obedience, disc-dog, Hooper’s, and scent work. They require a wide variety of activities to keep their brains and bodies happy.
Australian shepherds are energetic dogs that require activity, especially those descended from working lines of the breed. They get dissatisfied when left alone and restricted and may even turn violent. They need at the absolute least have a sizable fenced yard and owners who want to spend time with their dog if they wish to live in the country.
Australians are thought to shed on average. Despite having a luxuriant coat, they may maintain a pleasant appearance and avoid matting by combing their hair once a week with a bristle brush and washing them sometimes as needed.
Australian Shepherd Dog Food
1.5 to 2.5 cups of premium dry food should be consumed every day, split between two meals.
NOTE: The amount of food your adult dog consumes is influenced by his size, age, build, metabolism, and degree of activity. Like people, each dog is unique, thus they don’t all require the same quantity of food. A very active dog will require more than a couch potato dog, which should almost go without saying.
The kind of dog food you purchase also matters; the better the food, the more effectively it will nourish your dog and the less you will need to shake into the bowl. Instead of putting food out all the time, feed your Australian shepherd twice a day using a measuring cup. Give him the hands-on and eye tests if you’re not sure if he’s obese.
Look down at him first. There should be a waist visible. After that, lay your hands on his back with your thumbs down his spine and your fingers stretched outward. Without exerting much pressure, you should be able to feel his ribs but not see them. He needs less food and more activity if you can’t.
Australian Shepherd Grooming And Coat Color
The medium-length, water-resistant coat of the Australian Shepherd keeps him dry and warm in rain and snow. Australian shepherds that reside in colder climates have thicker undercoats than those who do.
The body is covered in straight or curly hair, with short, silky hair on the head, ears, fronts of the forelegs, and beneath the heels (known as the hocks in dog terms). The rear of the forelegs and the britches, the pantaloon-like fur on the top portion of the hind legs, have moderate feathering, or a longer fringe of hair. On the neck and chest, there is long, thick hair that is particularly dense and full in men. Australian Shepherds may be seen in a variety of hues, including black, red, white, and tan tricolor, blue merle, and red. A merle dog has black spots on grey, whereas a red merle dog has red patches on beige. A merle coat is made up of a patchwork of dark blotches on a lighter backdrop. Merles often get darker as they mature.
The Australian Shepherd does shed, if that is a question you have. The breed sheds all year round, but in the spring when he loses his winter coat, it sheds more severely.
To avoid matting, brush the Australian shepherd’s coat once a week—possibly more frequently during shedding season. Spray the coat with water-diluted dog hair conditioner to untangle it before you begin brushing. After that, using a slicker brush, brush in the direction that the hair grows, making careful to reach the skin underneath and not just the top of the coat. For getting rid of extra hair, an undercoat rake comes in helpful. Mats are frequently present behind the ears, and you might need to use a stripping comb to remove them. Any of these grooming supplies can be purchased from a reputable pet supply retailer.
Your Australian shepherd should only require a wash when he is dirty, which shouldn’t be more than a few times each year if you keep him groomed. To stop his skin and coat from drying out, use a shampoo designed for canines.
It’s a good idea to examine your dog’s general health during grooming appointments. Check your dog for sores, rashes, dry skin, or illness symptoms like inflammation or soreness before you begin brushing. Examine ears for foreign things like burrs or foxtails and eyes for gooey discharge. The coat should appear lustrous rather than drab. A dull coat can suggest that the pet needs to eat healthier or groom themselves more frequently.
Regularly trim your nails to avoid unpleasant splintering. The nails are too long if you can hear them clicking on the floor.
Trim the hair on and around the ears, on the feet and in between the toes, and around the tail area to keep your Aussie looking neat.