Are you ready to learn everything there is to know about the Australian Shepherd? If you’re interested in the breed, this is a must-read! From distinctive personality traits to expert suggestions from vets and trainers, this is a must-read!
The Australian Shepherd, a slim, tough ranch dog, is a classic “made in America” story. This European breed was developed in California via Australia. Aussies are popular on the rodeo circuit and have a strong connection to the cowboy lifestyle.
History of the breed
Despite its name, the Australian Shepherd is a dog breed that originated in the United States. This popular breed was created to help ranchers and farmers in the western United States herd livestock. Even now, there are still some Aussies that work as farm dogs. These dogs have also been trained to be police dogs to assist in narcotics detection; they have also been trained as rescue dogs due to their incredible intelligence.
There are several theories as to what breeds were crossed to create the Australian Shepherd. The likely ancestors of this intelligent breed are the Collie and Shepherd-type dogs (Basque Shepherds). These two breeds were originally imported with shipments of sheep from Australia in the 1840s. This is where the “Australian” portion of the dog’s name comes from. Breeders in the United States recognized the strong herding instincts and prey drive of these breeds and sought to enhance this quality. This gave birth to the incredibly versatile, hard-working, and intelligent Aussie that we all love today.
The rise of the Aussie
Aussies became incredibly popular after World War II when they were featured alongside riders in Western-style horseback riding rodeos. In addition, Australian Shepherds were often featured in western films and movies. These films depicted the dog’s incredible herding abilities and athletic talent. The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1993. However, the Australian Shepherd Club of America was established in 1957 and is currently the largest single-breed registry.
Today, the Australian Shepherd remains one of the most popular herding breeds in the United States. Its energetic and intelligent personality has catapulted it into the hearts of families around the world.
Daily exercise and mental stimulation
The Aussie, as a high-energy, athletic dog, requires a lot of daily exercise. Aussies need a fenced-in yard to run around in for an hour or two every day. Aussies develop strong bonds with their owners and like going on long walks and outdoor adventures with them. Once an Aussie reaches adulthood, its skeletal system is fully formed, meaning he would make a great running partner.
Puppies don’t require the same amount of vigorous exercise as adult dogs; you shouldn’t allow them to run on hard surfaces like concrete until they’re at least a year old. It could put a strain on their still-developing skeletal structure, leading to eventual joint issues.
Giving an Aussie a job, whether it’s herding livestock, shepherding children, or competing in canine competitions like obedience, herding, or agility trials, or dock diving, is the best approach to ensuring your furry friend receives plenty of exercise.
Obedience training for Aussies
In addition to physical exercise, you should consider enrolling your Aussie in obedience classes. These obedience classes can help subdue your Australian Shepherd’s herding instinct and satisfy their need for mental stimulation. Since Australian Shepherds are very intelligent dogs, they respond very well to training methods that use positive reinforcements. These positive reinforcements can include treats, praise, pets, and anything that excites your dog.
Can Aussies be house dogs? Yes, these herding dogs prefer to be in the company of their families. However, they still need plenty of outdoor exercise to release their high energy level.
How often should you brush an Australian Shepherd?
Do Australian Shepherds shed a lot? Yes, Australian Shepherds are notorious shedders. They shed year-round and tend to shed more heavily in the spring as they lose their winter coats. To keep the amount of hair within your house at a manageable level, brush your Aussie’s coat at least three to four times a week. Regular brushing not only prevents hair from clinging to your clothes but prevents the dog’s double coat from becoming matted.
When it comes to grooming, an undercoat rake is a necessary tool. The undercoat rake works great to remove excess hair from the dog’s thick undercoat. In addition, you can use a slicker brush to remove hair from the dog’s topcoat.
If you maintain a weekly brushing regimen to remove dead hair, you will only need to bathe your Australian Shepherd once every few months. However, if your Aussie likes to roll around in the dirt and mud, you may have to bathe him more often. Bathing your dog too much can strip the skin of its necessary oils and cause irritation and skin diseases.
Personality of the Aussie
Australian Shepherds were bred to be working dogs great at herding livestock. This has led to them being a more dominant breed of dog that needs a firm and confident leader. Proper socialization starting when the Aussie is just a puppy ensures that the dog will grow up to be well-rounded. A great way to begin socializing your puppy is to enrol him in puppy training classes. This not only introduces him to other dogs but sets the foundation for following commands and training.
Aussies are incredibly loyal dogs that are very loving towards trusted members of their families. However, you may notice that your Australian Shepherd is more standoffish when it comes to strangers. This behavior can be corrected with proper socialization, obedience training and agility training.
Australian Shepherds are great family dogs
Is an Australian Shepherd a good family dog? Australian Shepherds are great family dogs due to their docile personalities. If you have small children, you may notice that your Aussie tries to herd them up during playtime.
Do Australian Shepherds bark a lot? Keep in mind that the average Australian Shepherd barks a lot; it can be difficult to persuade him to stop unless you teach him the ‘speak’ command with training. However, your Aussie will always alert you if he sees something strange or somebody trespassing on your property.
Appearance of the Australian Shepherd
The Aussie has a medium-length and water-resistant coat that keeps them warm and comfortable in the rain or snow. This straight or wavy hair covers the dog’s body. The head, ears, and front legs of the Australian Shepherd are covered in short, smooth hair. The rest of the dog’s body is covered in a long fringe hair that is usually thicker within males of the active breed. The Aussie is found in a variety of colors, including: blue merle, tri-color (white, black, and tan), red merle, and black.
A merle coat is when a dog has a patchwork of dark blotches against a lighter background. Within a blue merle dog, the coat would have black patches against a grey or white background. A red merle dog would have red patches against a beige or light-colored background.
The Aussie is a medium-size breed that is typically between 18 to 23 inches in height. The average weight of the male Aussie falls between 55-70 pounds and 35-55 pounds for females.
The American Kennel Club says that the Australian Shepherd can be born with long or naturally bobbed tails. This guidance has been updated as breeders used to dock the tails of Aussies with traditionally long tails. This practice has mostly been stopped as of today.
Feeding your Australian Shepherd
How much should you feed an Australian Shepherd? The recommended daily amount of food depends on the dog’s age, weight, sex, and level of activity. The recommended daily amount of food falls between 1.5 cups to 2.5 cups of high-quality food divided into two meals. The quality of dog food makes a significant difference in the health and nourishment of the dog.
One diet for dogs that has been growing in popularity over the past months is a raw dog food diet. However, this diet is much more time consuming compared to feeding your dog traditional dry dog food. In the end, feeding your dog a raw food diet may actually be more beneficial to your dog’s health.
Australian Shepherd health
Are Aussies health dogs? In general, the Aussie is a relatively healthy breed. Australian Shepherds, like other dog breeds, are more susceptible to certain health issues. Working with a reputable Aussie breeder is one approach to help avoid these health risks. Some of the health issues that are common within Aussies are:
Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia in Aussies
Elbow dysplasia is a hereditary disease that is commonly found in medium to large-sized dogs. This condition is caused by the three bones within the dog’s elbow growing at different rates. This painful condition can lead to lameness and may require corrective surgery. If you notice that your Aussie is limping or refusing to walk, seek the help of your veterinarian. They will often recommend surgery or medication to control the elbow and hip joint pain.
Deafness within Aussies
Deafness is another health issue within Australian Shepherds that is fairly common. This is often caused by a hereditary disease that can lead to partial or full deafness. There are some forms of deafness that can be treated with medication and surgery. However, there are other more aggressive forms that can not be treated. Even if your Aussie is diagnosed with deafness, it can still go on to live a normal life; it will just take a little more patience and understanding on your end.
Epilepsy within Australian Shepherds
Epilepsy is another health condition that is commonly found within Australian Shepherds. While this condition can not be cured, it can be managed with medication. Your vet will be able to recommend the best treatment for your Aussie. Even if your Aussie is diagnosed with epilepsy, it can still live a long and healthy life with proper management.
Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD) in Aussies
This is another health issue that occurs due to improper growth rates within the Aussie. The orthopedic condition is caused by the improper growth of the cartilage within the joints. Most commonly, this condition is found within the elbow joints and has also been seen within the shoulders. Eventually, this common disease causes the dog’s joints to stiffen, leading to lameness. However, it can often be treated with medication and corrective surgery.
How long do Australian Shepherd live?
Due to their relatively healthy nature, Aussies have an average lifespan between 12-15 years. With proper exercise and diet, your Australian Shepherd may live even longer!
It is important to take your Aussie in for regular veterinary checkups; ensure that your dog is up to date on its latest vaccinations. By doing this, you are able to prevent your dog from developing common diseases and detect genetic diseases early on. Regular checkups also ensure that your dog is in optimal health; leading to a long and happy life.
Where to adopt an Australian Shepherd
How much do Australian Shepherds cost? The average cost of adopting an Aussie from a reputable breeder is $650 to $850. If you’re interested in adopting an Australian Shepherd, check with your local breed club or animal shelter.
It’s vital to find a reputable breeder to ensure your dog’s health. Breeders’ commitment to their animals and offspring is critical to the animals’ physical and mental well-being. To a conscientious breeder, the mother’s ability to recover after each delivery is vital. This reduces the number of litters per year and the income generated by the brood; however, it emphasizes the dog’s health and happiness.
Working with a reputable breeder
Puppies should not be sold before they have reached the age of eight weeks. The emotional and physical development of the puppies is dependent on this period of imprinting. As a result, your Aussie will grow up to be friendly and able to socialize with other dogs and humans.
All of this, of course, comes at a cost. Professionally bred dogs are frequently more expensive than dogs purchased from pet stores without a pedigree. Alternatively, there are many purebred dogs in animal shelters looking for a new home.
We encourage everyone to visit their local animal shelters since there are always pets waiting for a forever home. You might even score big and find an Australian Shepherd looking for a home at your local animal shelter.