Commonly known as the Aussie, the Australian Shepherd Dog is a type of herding dog. The Aussie is considered one of the most desired dogs among dog breeds because of its versatility and trainability. Australian Shepherd Dogs routinely perform sports and other physical activities as a result of their agility and pleasant natures. The Australian Shepherd Dog is known to be one of the most obedient dog breeds.
Thought to have originated in Australia by most sources, the Australian Shepherd Dog was actually developed in the United States. According to the following excerpt from the 2007 publication "Vanished Trials and Faded Memories of Australian Shepherd History," the Australian Shepherd name was chosen "because some of the Australian sheepdogs arrived in the United States with boatloads of Australian sheep. The breed rose gradually in popularity with the boom of western riding after World War I." They became known to the general public through movies, television shows, and rodeos.
The Australian Shepherd is known to be one of the friendlier dogs to own. Easily trainable and sophisticated in its demeanor, this dog breed is highly energetic and fun to be around. "An Australian shepherd enjoys working , whether it is learning and practicing tricks, competing in dog agility, or engaging in any other physically and mentally involving activity." – excerpted from the 2011 publication, "Is the Australian Shepherd Right for you?" While most dogs need to warm up to their respective owners, Australian Shepherds are friendly towards humans.
The Australian Shepherds are very intelligent, as most dog breeds are. Sometimes called "the worker dog," Australian Shepherds are known to be on ranches and on ranch-styled lands as they tend to be highly protective of their habitat and eager to participate in a plethora of activities. However, Australian Shepherds constantly need attention from their owners. If they are not provided that attention, the Australian Shepherd can potentially be disparaging in their behavior and mind-set. "This loyal and obedient companion is a bit reserved with strangers but is very protective and an excellent watchdog for its owners. Naturally being a herder, it may try to herd children when playing, and may even nip when trying to herd. They make great companions for singles, families, ranchers, and those who enjoy the outdoors.” – excerpted from an undated publication, "Australian Shepherd."
Australian Shepherds come in a variety of colors, ranging from red to black to tan. All Australian Shepherds tend to have copper-type markings that indicate that they are truly an Aussie. Various color combinations are possible with Aussies, with the dominant color dependent on the dog’s genetic background. Following in the next paragraph is a list of many different types of Australian Shepherds that exist. With a coat imprevious to inclement weather, the Australian shepherd enjoys protection from any condition.
All black and blue Australian Shepherds have black noses, while their red counterparts possess brown noses. Australian Shepherd eye color is quite possibly one of the most fascinating aspects of their appearance. Many Australian Shepherds have two different eye colors and are often called "split-eyed” or "ghost-eyed” dogs. In addition to the eyes, the tails of Australian Shepherds are an equally diversified feature. Some Australian Shepherds have tails that are bobbed in appearance, while others display stout or lengthy tails.
Size and Proportion
Australian Shepherds have a strong body build and are medium-sized as puppies. One will rarely find a large Australian Shepherd dog. The ASCA standard calls for the Australian shepherd “to stand between 18-23 inches at the withers, females being 18-21 inches and males measuring 20-23 inches; however, quality is not to be sacrificed in favor of size." – "Australian Shepherd Breed Standard," 1977)
The most common health issues that Australian Shepherds encounter are vision, back, and hip problems. Merle-colored Australian Shepherds are also prone to being born blind or deaf. "Based on a sample of 48 still-living dogs, the most common health issues noted by owners were eye problems (red eye, epiphora, conjunctivitis, and cataracts). Dermatologic and respiratory problems are also ranked high. Collie eye anomaly (CEA) and cataracts are considered major health concerns in Aussies. Other conditions include iris coloboma, canine hip dysphasia (CHD), Pelger-Huet syndrome, hypothyroidism, and nasal solar dermatitis. A veterinarian should test your Australian Shepherd's hips, eyes, thyroid and DNA. Blue merle shepherds of the miniature variety are known for a markedly short lifespan, usually only 5-7 years. The median life span of the Australian Shepherd, typical of breeds similar in size, is between 11 and 13 years.
Maintenance and Care
Australian Shepherds are relatively easy to care for but require a lot of maintenance. With short coats, they will shed for only a short time in early spring. Regular brushing controls excessive shedding. Good grooming is recommended to dislodge any parasites and assure optimal health. Maintaining a regular schedule of medical checkups also protects the condition of the eyes, teeth, ears, coat and skin.
Nutrition is also an important component in the Australian Shepherd's life. Speaking with a veterinarian is essential when deciding upon whether to feed your Australian Shepherd dry or wet dog food, and whether advanced age requires any dietary modifications.
Vanished Trials and Faded Memories of Australian Shepherd History.
Is the Australian Shepherd Right for you?
Basic Body Colors of the Australian Shepherd.
Australian Shepherd Grooming Maintenance.
Building Blocks to a Healthy Australian Shepherd.
Australian Shepherds: High Energy, High Maintenance.
Australian Shepherd - Breed Information.
Group Classification: Livestock/Herding; The Herding Group.
Country of Origin: N/A
Date of Origin: 1700s
Shedding: Moderate Shed
Body Size: N/A
Weight M: 50-65 pounds
Height M: 20-23 inches
Weight F: 40-55 pounds
Height F: 18-21 inches
Litter Size: 6-9 puppies - Average is about 7
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
Recognized By: CKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, APRI, ACR
Blue merle, red merle, black, and red. Each of these colors may also have tan points on the eyebrows, cheeks, and/or legs; thus also creating a black tri and red tri color variations.
Not recommended for living in the city. They need a large fenced in yard and open country.