THE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD

Australian Shepherd dog

The Australian Shepherd comes from a line of European herding dogs and is thought to have originated from the Basque regions of Spain and France.

Brief History

The Australian Shepherd is a herding dog breed. During the 1800’s, Australia’s Basque emigres pushed further inland to cattle farm and brought their dogs with them. The Basque Shepherd dogs were then crossed with Collies and Border Collies. After some time, the population began to immigrate to California. Farmers there took a liking to these herding dogs and named them Australian Shepherds.

Physical Features

The hard-working Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized dog that is both athletic and intelligent. With a strong head and a slightly rounded skull, this exceptionally easy-going dog has a muzzle that is equal to, or slightly shorter than, the length of the back skull. The Australian Shepherd has warm almond–shaped eyes that can be blue, brown, amber, or a combination of the three.

This breed has adorable triangular drop ears which are high set. Their tails are straight and naturally bobbed or docked. The Australian Shepherd has a double coat that is either wavy or straight. Feathered fur covers the backs of legs, thighs and neck. This breed’s coat color is either blue merle, red merle, black, red and with or without white markings.

Average Height:

18-23 inches

Average Weight:

35-75 pounds

Life Expectancy:

13-15 years

Temperament

The Australian Shepherd has a strong work drive, and is an intelligent dog breed. They are easy to train and enjoy being around family. The Aussie is sensitive, loyal, fun-loving, energetic and smart. They also make terrific guard dog and manage their posts without aggression.

The Aussie is also fantastic with children, other dogs and animals. They have a strong prey drive and also try to herd people around them. The Aussie should be kept away from small animals and sometimes cats depending on the individual dog. This high-energy breed does well with an active family and open spaces. The Aussie does well with farm life around cattle and horses.

Special Needs

The Australian Shepherd has to have a job and plenty of daily exercise. These dogs form very close bonds with their pet parents and enjoy long off-leash hikes. Aussies make good running companions after puppyhood when their bones are fully formed. The Aussie most definitely is at his best when competing in canine sports like agility, obedience and herding.

Possible Health Concerns

This breed is generally healthy. Yet there are still a few illnesses they may be prone to:

  • Hip Dysplasia – This is an abnormal development of the hip joint in large breeds like the Australian Shepherd. It is generally characterized by a loose joint and degenerative joint disease. Excessive growth, types of exercise, nutritional and hereditary factors all come into play with hip dysplasia.
  • Cataracts – This is a condition in which the lens of the eye progressively loses transparency, which often results in loss of vision. Consult with your veterinarian for advice.
  • Elbow Dysplasia – This is an abnormal development of the elbow joint in young, large, fast-growing breeds. It involves abnormal bone growth, cartilage development, or joint stresses. Treatment involves nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and surgery before the degenerative changes of osteoarthritis take place.
Australian Shepherd dog breed

Exercise

The Australian Shepherd is a high-energy breed that thrives on exercise. The Aussie needs to have a stimulating environment and active pet parents. Rural or countryside living with plenty of space work well for this breed. Cattle herding is an Aussie’s job preference, followed by simply being a fun-loving companion.

Nutrition

A high-quality dog food for the appropriate life stage is recommended. Pet parents should never underestimate the importance of a well-balanced diet for their Australian Shepherds. That said, a dog food that works for one Aussie, may not work for another.

Grooming

Daily grooming is necessary for this breed’s waterproof, double –layered coat. During shedding season pet parents will need to groom more frequently. Undercoat rakes will remove dead coat hair and wire brushes are great for grooming. This breed is most often outdoors, so bathing regularly is a must. The Aussie is often dirtier and smellier than other dogs when outdoors having fun. Nails, ears and teeth need regular care.

With a sweet and fun temperament, the Aussie makes a great dog breeds to adopt if you are active and have a large property. It’s not a good idea to adopt this dog breed if they will be cooped up indoors. The Aussie is too smart to do nothing all day and needs a job. Children often love this dog’s fun-loving temperament.

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