Lively, intelligent, and people-loving, the Australian Shepherd is a delightful breed filled with enthusiasm for life. There are growing numbers of … [Read More...]
The Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized robust dog that belongs to the Pastoral Group. He is bred to herd sheep, compete in the show ring, and serve as a companion dog. This dog breed is also known as the Aussie, Aussie Shepherd, and Australian Sheepdog.
The Australian Sheepdog, as a herding dog, is intelligent and very easy to train. He could be quite aggressive when working with livestock, but he is friendly and gentle with children. Naturally protective and loyal, the Australian Shepherd is an effective watchdog.
The Australian Shepherd dog is active and energetic, so he needs regular exercises to burn off his excess energy and stimulate his mind.
The Australian Shepherd's waterproof double coat needs weekly brushing. During the shedding season, he will need to be brushed regularly to remove copious dead hair.
The Australian Shepherd's origin is unclear, and one of the reasons is his confusing name. This herdingbreed is believed to have been dveloped in the United States. Others claim that his ancestors are Spanish herding dogs that went to Australia with Basque shepherds. Later on, the shepherds moved to America together with these dogs.
However, scientific evidence proves this theory otherwise. The Australian Shepherd breed is descended from dogs that came to America through the Bering Land Bridge.
Other Australian Shepherd dog breed's origin theories suggest that he may have been descended from the Pyrenean Shepherd. Other possible ancestors of the Australian Sheepdog include the Australian Long-haired and Bobtailed Collie types of dogs.
The German Sheepdog, also known as the German Koolie, along with the herding dogs brought by Basque shepherds, were believed to be used to develop the breed as well.
The Australian Shepherd is a versatile and highly energetic dog capable of doing various tasks on farms and ranches. He was used to herd livestock, round up cattle, and load horses into trailers and stalls. In addition, his sturdy physique works well in high altitudes and plains, herding livestock in rocky and hilly terrains.
The Australian Sheepdog's name has gone through many changes. He was called Spanish Shepherd, Pastor Dog, New Mexican Shepherd, Blue Heeler, California Shepherd, and Bobtail.
The Australian Shepherd turned from a simple farm and ranch dog into a fun, entertaining performer after World War II. The breed was featured in horse shows, rodeos, film, and television.
Two Australian Shepherds called Shorty and Queenie were trained by Jay Sisler to carry out his performing-dog act between the 1950s and 1960s. These dogs appeared in various venues, from Madison Square Garden to the Calgary Stampede.
The two Australian Sheepdogs starred in Disney movies as well, including Run, Appaloosa, Run, and Stub: The Best Cowdog in the West.
The Australian Shepherd Club of America was formed in 1957. Then, a miniature variation of the Australian Shepherd dog breed was created in 1968. Doris Cordova, a woman who hails from Norco, California, is the main force behind Miniature Australian Shepherd breeding.
The Miniature Australian Shepherd breeder aimed to create a dog that possesses the likeness of the Australian Shepherd but smaller in size. This allows the dog to become a good fit in homes and makes it easier to transport him to stock shows.
The Australian Shepherd dog breed was registered in the Kennel Club in 1991 and was followed by the American Kennel Club in 1993. The United States Australian Shepherd Association, a separate breed club, was established for dog owners who wanted to show their Aussies.
Today, the Australian Shepherd dog is an excellent family companion. He is also prized as a police dog, search and rescue dog, service dog, therapy dog, and narcotic detector aside from being an adept herding dog.
The Australian Shepherd dog breed is a medium-sized muscular working dog with high endurance and stamina. The breed is slightly longer than he is tall. He has a powerful neck, medium triangular ears, and firm jaws.
Male Australian Shepherds stand 51 to 58 centimetres at the withers and weighs 18–25 to 32 kilos. Female Australian Shepherds measure tall 46 to 54 centimetres and weigh between 16 to 25 kilos
The average litter size of the breed is around 6 to 8 Australian Shepherd puppies. The standard-size Australian Shepherd takes approximately 6 months to fully mature. A Miniature Australian Shepherd, on the other hand, reaches adulthood and stops growing after a year.
The Australian Shepherd dog is one of the few dog breeds that have heterochromia. It is a condition wherein each eye has a different eye color. According to the breed standard, the Australian Shepherd's eyes can have any combination of amber, blue, brown, and green hazel. Some may even display over one color in the same eye.
The Australian Sheepdog sheds all-year-round, but it becomes heavier in the spring. He has a medium-length, weather-resistant coat that can withstand rain and snow. Australian Sheepdogs that live in cold climates have heavier coats than those in warmer areas.
The Aussie's hair can be straight or wavy with moderate feathering, which is generally low-maintenance.
The Australian Sheepdog possesses a distinctive merle-colored coat. The dog breed's standard colors are black, red, blue merle, and red merle, with or without white or tan markings. The colors should be dominant and rich, and white should not overpower the head.
The Aussie will only need weekly brushing to remove dry hair and mats. Baths are only necessary a few times a year, especially if he is regularly brushed. When shedding season starts, brushing should be done more frequently.
Use an undercoat rake to comb through the Aussie's fur. Do this every 2–3 days to get rid of loose and dead hair. Finish the brushing session with a wire brush.
Australian Shepherd owners must also make sure to regularly trim their nails, clean the ears, and check the fur for ticks or fleas.
One overlooked aspect of dog ownership is maintaining good oral hygiene.
Take care of your dog's teeth and gums to prevent disease and bad breath by brushing them at least 2–3 times a week.
The Australian Shepherd dog breed is intelligent, loyal, alert, and energetic. His flexible and agile body allows him to change his speed and direction easily. He has a balanced disposition towards strangers. He can be aloof but never shy or hostile.
Since the Australian Sheepdog has been developed to guard farms and ranches, he tends to bark when he is suspicious. Avoid excessive barking in your home by training your Australian Shepherd puppy on identifying threats from ones that are not.
The Australian Shepherd is a people-oriented dog. He requires a lot of attention and can be clingy. In addition, as he is a highly active breed, he is prone to making destructive behaviours due when bored. Due to this, he can only be left alone for 4–6 hours at best.
The Australian Shepherd is not a suitable dog for busy people living in a city apartment. He would thrive in a spacious urban area.
The Australian Sheepdog is extremely sensitive to noises. This can easily lead him to develop a noise phobia, especially with thunderstorms. You can prevent this by desensitising and gradually making your Australian Shepherd puppy accustomed to loud sounds.
The Australian Shepherd is a great family pet that loves to play with children and other pets. However, as a shepherd dog, he tends to nip and chase people and fellow pets. He will need to undergo training to curb this behaviour.
The Australian Shepherd dog gets along well with children, preferably older ones. Supervision is a must, especially when this lively dog interacts with smaller children as he is prone to chase and nip.
The Australian Shepherd breed is a great furry companion for other pets as well. However, due to his herding instincts, the same precautionary measure should be applied to prevent him from herding and nipping other pets.
This herding dog is one of the most highly intelligent dog breeds in the world. He is a fast learner and enjoys playing. This is why he is inclined to amuse himself with games and activities.
Training the Australian Shepherd becomes enjoyable when his mind is at work, so giving him various jobs would be best. Put his amazing stamina to work through exercise to avoid him from developing destructive behaviour.
Provide an adult Australian Sheepdog 1.5–2.5 cups of excellent-quality dry dog food per day. There are various considerations in feeding your dog depending on his age, size, build activity level, and metabolism.
Whilst it is true that breeds have basic nutritional needs, you must also know that each individual dog is unique and has distinctive needs. An Australian Sheepdog has high energy needs, which means high nutrient requirements.
The Australian Shepherd will require more protein than carbohydrates to be able to support his energy requirements. Protein is an important component that helps build muscles.
Typical calorie needs of an adult Australian Shepherd per day:
As previously mentioned, the Australian Shepherd dog needs a lot of protein, so his food should mainly be composed of meat. You can feed him with high-quality commercial dog food that has meat protein as the main ingredient. You can also make home-made dog food with chicken, beef, or lamb as the protein source.
Other good protein sources are eggs, lentils, peas, and chickpeas. Omega-3 fatty acids from salmon, herring, and other sources are also recommended to his diet to maintain a shiny coat.
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.
Buying a well-bred Australian Shepherd puppy will cost anywhere from £800 to £2,000 from a reputable breeder. It is also a great idea to get one from a dog shelter or rescue center as the price is less costly—premium-quality dog food will cost around £40 to £60 a month, excluding treats.
Insuring an Australian Shepherd dog will prove a bit costly depending on the type of pet insurance you will use. For a basic cover, prepare to spend over £20 a month, whilst it will cost about £45 for a lifetime policy cover.
An Australian Shepherd's veterinary consultations and initial vaccinations can cost £320–£430 for the first year, including boosters and neuter or spay costs. It will cost less for the following years, minus the initial one-off treatments.
An Aussie Shepherd owner will roughly spend a total of £90–£120 a month to care for the dog.
Are you sure the Australian Shepherd is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.Dog Breed Selector Quiz
Still not convinced if the Australian shepherd is a suitable dog for you? Take our quick Pet Finder to find more dog breed choices.
Reading Time: 6 minutes
Lively, intelligent, and people-loving, the Australian Shepherd is a delightful breed filled with enthusiasm for life. There are growing numbers of dog lovers who want to add this pooch to their brood.