Athletic, dedicated and smart, smart, smart – that’s the Australian Shepherd! Aussies are a working breed originally developed for herding sheep. Today they are still used on ranches around the world, but they are also popular companion dogs and are among the most popular breeds. They make loyal companions with lots of love and affection to give… as long as they get enough exercise.
In this detailed breed profile, we cover everything about Aussies, from their big personalities and grooming needs to their ideal family (hint: you need one country the exercise). Read on to find out if the Australian Shepherd is the right dog for you.
- Origin Spain
- Weight: 40-65 pounds
- Shelf life: 13-15 years
- Breed Group: Herding Group
- Activity level:
- Bark/Howl Level:
- Good with cats:
- Easy to fix:
- Easy to train:
Appearance of the Australian Shepherd
Standard Australian Shepherds are a stocky, medium-sized breed, weighing between 40 and 65 pounds. They are built fairly low to the ground; Remember, they were bred to run around flocks of sheep! – and have large, forward-hanging ears. Australian fur is thick and sturdy and comes in a variety of colors or patterns. You can find an all-black Aussie, one with a red coat (called “liver”), or the commonly pictured “blue merle” which has a coat spotted with black, gray, and white. Australians also often have blue eyes, or one blue eye and one brown eye.
A common canine trait you won’t find in an Aussie: a full-length tail. In the past were their tails tied up after birth, meaning part of his natural tail was surgically removed. However, over time, selective breeding has resulted in naturally coiled tails. Today, tail docking is considered an inhumane practice, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Australian shepherd personality
As a herding dog, Aussies like to keep busy and are made for running all day. They are fast, agile and have a lot of resistance. If you are a dog sport enthusiast, an Australian Shepherd is great fun on the agility course!
Australian Shepherds are also one of the smartest dog breeds. In fact, the AKC warns that Aussies are “capable of fooling an unsuspecting first-time owner.” In other words, he’s a dog that needs to be kept busy! But beyond that, Australian Shepherds are genuinely loyal to their people (although they can be wary of strangers).
Ideal environment for an Australian Shepherd
Did we mention Australians are very energetic? These hardworking dogs need space to exercise and call a ranch their home. But that doesn’t mean they have to live on a farm. In fact, many Aussies live happily in city apartments as long as they have plenty of extras like puzzle chargers, games, and access to outside areas to romp.
Plan on getting at least an hour of exercise a day, and that doesn’t mean taking leisurely walks around the neighborhood. Dog sports like agility and flyball are a great way to keep your Australian Shepherd entertained and strengthen your bond. If you have kittens or children at home, be careful: Aussies can make great family dogs and get along with other pets, but they can also have strong herding instincts that make them want to be on their heels.
Ideal male for an Australian Shepherd
Australians love their people and you don’t have to be a breeder to get along. The ideal Australian Shepherd owner is as devoted to their dog as their dog is to them. It helps to be active and energetic, willing to meet your Aussie’s daily exercise needs, and having plenty of time for exercise and company. Australian Shepherds are deeply devoted dogs but can be protective of their humans and wary of strangers. The ideal match for an Australian Shepherd is someone who understands their needs and is committed to helping them thrive.
Australian Shepherd training
Australian Shepherds are intelligent, motivated and love a job to be done Exercising is not only a good idea, it is also important for staying healthy. The good news is that Australians love to learn! Training is an important part of building a relationship with your Aussie.
If you have an Australian Shepherd puppy, enroll in a group puppy class as soon as he is old enough. The foundation of socialization and training will lead you to success. And if you’re adopting an adult Australian, group obedience classes are always a great way to work on socialization and get the basics down.
Once your Australian Shepherd has mastered the basics (it won’t take long) you can teach him tricks and chores like cleaning toys or bringing you his slippers. Regardless of the type of exercise, start in a calm, distraction-free environment and be consistent. It’s helpful to train them beforehand and stick to short, focused workouts with lots of positive reinforcement.
Australian Shepherd grooming
Australian Shepherds have a waterproof, double-layered coat that can pick up dirt when you run, so be prepared to comb it out! Brushing sessions once or twice a week usually keep his coat in good condition. During the shedding season (spring and fall), you can remove dead hair with an undercoat rake. Aussies only need an occasional bath if they’ve stepped on something really dirty. Otherwise, regular brushing, trimming nails, and brushing teeth are enough to keep it well groomed.
Australian Shepherd health
Australian Shepherds are a hardy breed and are generally in good health. However, some health conditions are more common among Australians. They can be prone to hip dysplasia, a genetic abnormality of the hip socket that causes inflammation and arthritis. Australians can also develop eye problems, including cataracts, and be more prone to epilepsy. In general, preventative veterinary care, a quality diet, and regular exercise will help keep your Aussie healthy. The AKC recommends annual hip, elbow, and vision screenings, as well as regular ear checks and teeth cleanings. A healthy Australian Shepherd typically lives to be between 12 and 15 years old. Many pet owners opt for pet health insurance just in case.
History of the Australian Shepherd
You may have assumed that Australian Shepherds originated in Australia. However, they did reach the American West pass Australia, the true origins of the breeds are in Europe.
According to the AKC, the breed originated in the Pyrenees, where Basques lived and herded an ancient sheepdog breed now called the Pyrenean Sheepdog. In the early 20th century, a large population of Basques migrated to Australia with their sheepdogs at their side. In Australia, Basque Shepherd Dogs have been crossed with Collies and Border Collies. As many of these shepherds and their dogs moved west, Americans began calling the dogs “Australian Shepherds”.
The Australian Shepherd as we know it was perfected in the early 20th century and became popular after World War II when it appeared in rodeos, horse shows, on television and in films.
Get an Australian Shepherd
Finding an Aussie puppy or adult dog can be as easy as searching the internet, but beware of puppy mills and internet scams. Animal shelters and breed-specific rescue groups are the best places to start, as Australian Shepherds are often available to people who adopt dogs they can no longer care for.
Price of an Australian Shepherd
Pet parents looking to welcome an Australian Shepherd into their family need to be aware of all the costs involved. In fact, according to Rover’s Cost of Pet Parenting survey, 60% of Australian Shepherd pet owners say they expect to spend between $500 and $1,000 to acquire their dog, but 58% said the actual Acquisition costs were within the framework of their means. Budget and 32% said the cost was actually higher. Overall, 66% of pet owners spend between $50 and $149 a month on their Australian Shepherd.
Australian Shepherd rescue
According to the AKC, most breed rescues report that the majority of their rescued dogs are from abandoned individual owners, with the most common reasons being a lifestyle change or the breed not being the right one for the owner. Aussies are often rescued because owners are overwhelmed with the amount of exercise and activity they need, but adult Aussies can be an amazing addition to your family – 43% of owners have adopted their Aussies into a family!
The Aussie Rescue & Placement (ARPH) Helpline is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit organization. Visit their website to browse available Aussies by geographic region and learn more about this amazing breed!
Australian Shepherd breeders
If having a puppy is important to you, remember to do your research. Speak to breeders in person and check their references and reputation before committing. It’s also a good idea, if possible, to meet the puppy’s parents and any offspring. Observing their personality can help you determine if a puppy from this breeder would be right for you.
Be sure to ask the breeder about genetic health testing for common issues like hip dysplasia and cataracts. Responsible breeders offer a written contract and guarantee a home for the dogs they breed if the owner is unable to care for them.
Knowing what to expect when getting an Australian Shepherd is an important step in being a responsible pet owner. Whether you’re finding a responsible breeder or considering adoption, get ready for an energetic, intelligent, and hard-working companion.
More information about Australian Shepherds
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Source : rover.com