The Australian Shepherd's average lifespan is 13–15 years. He is generally healthy but prone to certain health issues like elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia. Other health problems that the Australian Shepherd dog breed is also highly vulnerable to are:
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
The Aussie can develop PRA, which is a hereditary ocular disease that causes gradual degeneration of the retina. This can lead to irreversible blindness. An affected Aussie Shepherd starts showing vision loss when he is around 6–8 years of age.
The Australian Shepherd will have night vision loss, which is an early symptom of PRA. This means he will have a hard time navigating in your home during night-time. There is no treatment for PRA, but there is a way to prevent it.
Potential Aussie breeding dogs will need to undergo a DNA test. It will determine if these dogs have high chances of developing PRA. These affected dogs should not be used to produce litters to avoid passing off the eye disorder to their offspring.
Multiple Drug Sensitivity
The Australian Shepherd breed can Develop this condition, which happens when the breed's genes mutate. It is very common in herding breeds such as the Australian Shepherd dog.
Afflicted dogs are hypersensitive to certain medications, including anticancer drugs, antiparasitic agents, and antidiarrhoeal medicines.
Affected Australian Shepherds can only be administered with small medicine doses, as large doses can cause neurological toxicity. Therefore, Australian Shepherd puppies are highly at risk of fatal reactions to particular veterinary drugs. Signs of this condition are lethargy, tremors, weakness, and seizures.
An Australian Shepherd puppy will need to undergo cheeks swabs and blood sample tests to see if he is positive of the gene mutation. If the results show that your Australian puppy has even one copy of the gene mutation, he is considered to be sensitive to multiple drugs.
An Australian Shepherd with hereditary hearing loss is linked to his merle-colored coat. This happens when there is a lack of pigment in the inner ear. These pigments are made up of cells that are essential in the process of identifying sound wave vibrations. Insufficient amount of pigment cells can result in deafness.
An Aussie with this hearing disorder can be affected in one or both ears. Unfortunately, this condition has no available treatments. The only way to avoid it is by buying an Australian Shepherd puppy from a reputable breeder.
Be sure to ask the breeder first if the puppy and his parents were tested for Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER).
BAER test involves placing recording electrodes in your dog's ear. It will produce clicking sounds that will check if your dog has hearing loss or not.
The Australian Sheepdog has high energy levels, so he needs a great deal of daily exercise and mental stimulation. He should have at least 2 hours of energy-exhausting activities.
Meanwhile, Miniature Australian Shepherd needs less physical exercise than his larger counterpart. However, he requires just as much mental stimulation.
The Australian Shepherd dog breed will need 2 long walks a day to burn off his extra energy. Learning new tricks and playing fun games such as fetch, puzzle toys, and Frisbee are great ways to keep him fit and free from boredom.
The Australian Shepherd also does well in dog sports, particularly agility, herding, obedience, and water diving. Since the breed has herding tendencies, make sure that you have a securely fenced yard. This will keep him from chasing down cars, children, or other animals when playing outside.