Australian Shepherd

Highly Energetic, Thrives on Constantly Challenging Activity

Australian Shepherd

Toni Grzunov - Last Updated on May 04th, 2021

All you need to know about the Australian Shepherd

Active, loyal and hardworking companions

Australian Shepherds, often called Aussies, were originally bred to be working and herding dogs on the American Frontier. 

Aussies are playful, active dogs that are known for their strong sense of loyalty. They are highly intelligent and always willing to please you. This means that they are quite easy to train, which is always a nice bonus with pets!

However, Australian Shepherds actually do need more experienced owners since they have a strong prey drive combined with a herding instinct. These dogs will feel the most satisfied when occupied with lots of training and various activities. 

These pups love the outdoors and being active, so if you are looking for a pet like that, Aussies might be a good pick for you. Read on to learn everything you need to know about them.

Fast Facts

Group - Herding

Weight - 50-65 Pounds (male) 40-55 Pounds (female)

Height - 20-23 Inches (male) 18-21 Inches (female)

Hair Length - Medium

Shedding - Moderate

Lifespan - 12-15 Years

The Appearance of the Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds are medium-sized dogs with a body that is a bit longer than tall. Their bodies are built solid, and they give off a look of dogs who love being active. 

They have a medium-length coat with two layers. The topcoat is usually straight but can be wavy. The undercoat helps these dogs adjust to the weather, no matter if it is hot or cold. 

The tail of an Aussie is usually docked while it is still a puppy. This was done to prevent injuries in the field originally, but nowadays, it is mostly done for cosmetic purposes. However, it is actually not recommended because it might cause problems for your pup.

Some Australian Shepherds can have bobbed tails, although this is actually quite rare and appears in about one in five of these dogs. Others usually have lengthier tails that they display proudly.

The eyes of an Aussie are one of its most striking features. Their color can vary greatly, and they are prominent, large, and bold. The color depends on the genetics, and they can be brown, amber, blue, or a combination of those colors!

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What colors does an Australian Shepherd come in?

According to the breed standard, the permitted colors for an Aussie are:

  • Blue merle
  • Black
  • Red merle
  • Red with white markings
  • Tan (copper)

Having some white coloring on the neck, chest, legs, head, and muzzle is acceptable, although it shouldn’t be the dominant color, especially not on the head. However, this only matters if you plan on competing with your dog.

Merle is the one specific trait that you will often see in these dogs, and it is a genetic pattern that appears as dotted patches on the coat.

The color of the coat also has an influence on the eyes, nose, and lips of an Aussie. Red and red merle Aussies have red noses, lips, and eye rims. On the other hand, black and blue merle Australian Shepherds have black lips, noses, and eye rims.

All about the Australian Shepherd personality

After spending some time with an Aussie, it is hard not to see traces of their working heritage. These dogs were bred to work. They used to spend hours every day running on the fields and herding cattle, so they require daily exercise. You need to be able to stimulate the body and mind of your Australian Shepherd.

Australian Shepherds are not aggressive dogs but they are quite loyal, which means they tend to be territorial. They won’t get too close to strangers and will prefer to stay at your side.

Since they were bred to be protective, you can expect your Aussie to start sounding off whenever it notices strangers getting close to your residence. Socialization is key to solving some of these issues, and it is best to start early.

If socialized properly, Aussies will love spending time with little children, as well as cats and other dogs. Their herding instinct might awaken and they could try nipping at the ankles of your children! While this won’t be a huge issue, you can get rid of this habit with proper training and socialization.

Other than that, Australian Shepherds are friendly and intelligent dogs that will enjoy all sorts of activities with your family. If you enjoy spending time outdoors, you will have no problems keeping these pups happy and satisfied.

Is an Australian Shepherd easy to train?

Aussies are highly intelligent dogs, so training them won’t be an issue. They are also eager to please, which means they will respond well to your commands. However, they do require an experienced owner because of their activity level, which is quite high.

About an hour of stimulating activity every day will work wonders for your Australian Shepherd. This can be a game of catch, running, or simply obedience exercises. These pups respond well to this, so you should do it as often as possible.

When you don’t have the time to play with your Aussie, dog toys are always a great choice. They will work really well, especially puzzle toys that will keep the mind of your dog constantly working.

Aussies can have a habit of nipping peoples’ ankles because of their herding heritage. Obedience classes work wonders with this, and your dog will learn quickly not to do it. The intelligence of these pups helps with learning.

Exercise isn’t optional with these dogs, so don’t adopt one if you can’t commit and be consistent! If their energy isn’t used up, these dogs can become destructive, and you don’t want that. You shouldn’t leave your Aussie alone for too long because of this.

How much Grooming does an Australian Shepherd need?

Don’t be fooled by the long-ish coats of the Australian Shepherd. As far as grooming requirements go, these pups are actually quite low maintenance. The topcoat is good at self-cleaning. This means you won’t need to give baths to your Aussie often.

However, weekly brushing is required. Use a slick brush to control shedding and matting. This will also keep the skin of your pup healthy. You should brush your Aussie twice a week during periods like spring and fall when it will shed more heavily.

They do also shed throughout the year, so these dogs are unfortunately not hypoallergenic! If you suffer from allergies, it would be best to look at other dog breeds.

By brushing your Aussie’s coat, you can also check the coat sheen. Dull hair is usually a sign of a lack of nutrients in your pet’s diet, so you will know you need to change it by checking this. 

Trimming their coat is not recommended since it helps them regulate their temperature. You will want to check with a veterinarian and a professional groomer on how smart it would be to do this.

While brushing, you should also always check the nails, ears, and teeth of your Aussie. Brushing the teeth weekly can help prevent various illnesses. The nails should be trimmed if you hear them clicking on the floor since keeping them too long might start causing pain for your pup.

There you go, these pups are as simple as they come when it comes to grooming. What about the living environment and nutrition of the Aussie?

The Living Environment of the Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds have adapted well to the modern lifestyle, considering they were herding dogs in the past. Still, outdoor space is necessary daily, since exercise is so important for them.

Having a large backyard would be ideal since these pups have large activity needs. If you don’t have one, don’t be discouraged. However, expect to take daily walks to the park and spend quite some time playing and running with your pup.

You should expect to be able to get outside for a walk with your Aussie at least for an hour every day if you live in an apartment. If you aren’t able to provide that for your pet, you should definitely look into other breeds.

These dogs need as much activity as possible. They will enjoy training sessions with you and engage them physically and mentally.

Australian Shepherds love spending time with their family and will want to be near you most of the day. They can develop separation anxiety if left home alone for long hours often. The best owners of this breed are the ones that are able to spend quality time with them.

The Health and Nutrition of the Australian Shepherd

Aussies have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years and are generally considered healthy dogs. Certain health issues that are common in most dog breeds can occur, such as hip and elbow dysplasia.

They can also develop hereditary eye problems. You should test your Australian Shepherd for cataracts, drug sensitivities, collie eye anomaly, and autoimmune thyroiditis, as recommended by experts.

Rarely, Aussies that have double merle characteristics, meaning their coats are mostly white, can develop hearing and eyesight issues. Despite this, they will be capable of living a normal and long life with proper care.

When it comes to feeding, your Aussie should get the best quality food you can give it. Discuss this with your vet. They will also help you with determining the amount of food you should be giving your pet daily.

It will depend on its age, size, and activity level. Since these dogs are quite active, expect to feed them up to 2 and a half cups of dog food each day. It would be best to divide this into two meals.

Where does the Australian Shepherd come from?

Despite their name, these pups aren’t really connected to Australia in any way. They are descendants of dogs from Basque sheepherders that were living around the Pyrenees mountains in Europe.

They immigrated to the United States during the 19th century to work there. They brought their dogs with them, and local ranchers fell in love with these puppies immediately. They spread around the country and became a staple of American cowboy culture in no time and appeared in many films.

As far as the name goes, some believe it has something to do with these sheepherders coming to the American West through Australia, although there is no proof of that. The American Kennel Club officially recognized this breed in 1993.

Australian Shepherd Mixes you would like to know about*

Dog crossbreeds or mixes are sometimes called designer dogs. The name fits since you are “designing” a new dog by mating two purebred dogs. It has become popular in recent times, and more and more breeds have several noteworthy crosses we could write about.

The thing with mixed puppies is that it is hard to know which characteristics they will inherit from their parents. You should research as much info as possible on the parent breeds to understand what you can expect. This way, you will find a mix that has all of the characteristics you want and love.

Read on to see the most popular Aussie mixes:

*Not all breed mixes are equal in quality! neither condones nor endorses any example of unethical and unhealthy crossbreeding. We encourage everyone to research in detail before they choose to get a crossbreed. 

Questions people often ask about Australian Shepherd

  • +Is an Australian Shepherd a good family dog?

  • +Do Australian Shepherds bark a lot?

  • +Are Australian Shepherds cuddly?

  • +Can Australian Shepherds be left alone?

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