Australian Shepherd Breed
The Australian Shephard is the 17th most popular breed in North America, Aussie’s are active, intelligent, hard working, and versatile. They make for terrific family companions and thrive in home environments where their energy and intelligence can be put to work. Aussie’s are at their best when they have a job to do, as herding dogs their most ideal day would be rounding up a herd of sheep, but for most dog owners that’s not possible. An Aussie will love to learn how to help out with chores around the house and is a top contender in all levels of obedience, agility, flyball, and herding tests. They are also commonly used as guide dogs, hearing dogs, assistance dogs, police dogs, and search and rescue dogs.
Australian Shepherds have plenty of energy to burn and therefore need between 1-2 hours of exercise per day, preferably with high-energy activities such as running, swimming, and chasing either a ball or Frisbee. An Aussie will not do well if limited to backyard time and a few daily walks around the neighbourhood. These high energy working dogs will quickly become bored, destructive, and loud when neglected of their daily exercise requirements. If you live in an apartment, or don’t have the time to commit to training and 1-2 hours of outdoor activity per day, the Australian Shepherd is not the breed for you.
Australian Shepherd History
Despite their name, the Australian Shepherd is not Australian by origin, the breed actually originated in the western United Stated in the 1840’s. These dogs were bred and used to herd sheep in the Rocky Mountains, they are relatively unaffected by altitude and perform well in severe weather conditions. There legendary abilities to herd sheep caught the attention of ranchers from all over North America. Selective breeding for many generations gave these dogs great speed, athleticism, energy, endurance, as well as intelligence, obedience, and independence.
Australian Shepherd Appearance
Size – Medium
Height – Males: 20 to 30 inches; Females: 18 to 21 inches
Weight – 35 to 70 pounds
Color – Black, red, blue merle, red merle, white, copper, and tan
The Australian Shepherd is a beautiful, medium-sized breed weighing in between 35 and 70 pounds. Their medium length coats are generally bi-color or tricolor with any combination of black, red, blue merle, and red merle with white, copper, and tan markings. One of their most distinct characteristics is their eye color, which can be dark brown, yellow, blue, green, or amber. Some Aussies have multicolored eyes, and those with light blue eyes were nicknamed “Ghost Eyed” in early days. The second most distinct characteristic is their docked tail, Aussies are born with full long tails, but breeders generally dock the tail when the puppies are born.
Australian Shepherd Personality
- Health Issues 100% 100%
- Intelligence 60% 60%
- Playfulness 60% 60%
- Shedding 100% 100%
- Social Needs 100% 100%
- Stranger Friendly 100% 100%
- Teritorial 80% 80%
- Trainability 60% 60%
- Watchdog Ability 80% 80%
- Adaptability 100% 100%
- Affectionate 100% 100%
- Apartment Friendly 100% 100%
- Barking Tendencies 60% 60%
- Cat Friendly 100% 100%
- Child Friendly 80% 80%
- Dog Friendly 100% 100%
- Exercise Needs 20% 20%
- Grooming 20% 20%
Australian Shepherd Exercise Requirements
Australian Shepherd Care
Australian Shepherds respond best to positive reinforcement training methods that use praise, play, and treats as rewards. Having a fenced in backyard is an absolute must with an Aussie, it must be secure, high enough they can’t jump over it, and reinforced so they can’t dig under it. This breed’s natural desire is to find an open field full of sheep to herd, therefore it’s best to start training on-leash until you’re confident your Aussie can resist the temptation to run away. These dogs need at least 60-minutes of stimulating activity per day, and love having toys, dog puzzles, and games to help occupy their time inside. When herding, Australian Shepherds use nipping and chasing to coral the sheep, so it’s important this habit is trained out of Aussie’s as early as possible.
Australian Shepherd Health
– Minor health concerns: CHD, nasal solar dermatitis, Pelger-Huet syndrome, iris coloboma, CEA, hypothyroidism
– Occasionally seen health concerns: Lumbar sacral syndrome, epilepsy, PRA, distichiasis, elbow dysplasia
– Suggested tests: Hip, eye, (thyroid), (DNA for CEA), elbow
– Average life span: 12–15 years
Australian Shepherd Grooming
The Australian Shepherd is full of medium length hair, their coat requires regular maintenance, but nothing too overwhelming. To prevent hair from matting, it’s recommended that owners brush weekly, and trim wherever needed. Aussies shed year-round, but twice per year their shedding is significant. Between bi-annual shedding, warm baths and blow drying every month should keep extra shedding under control. Aside from their coat, caring for an Australian Shepard is basic. They wear their nails down naturally, but it’s always good to double check every few weeks and trim any excess. It’s recommended that you brush their teeth, and frequently check and clean their ears.