Believe it or not, the Australian Shepherd is not actually an Aussie! This medium sized dog breed falls under the working dog category.
Originally bred for hunting livestock, Aussie Shepherd date back to the 1840’s from western US. Basque people from south-western France and Pyrenees of north-eastern Spain travelled to the western United States to herd sheep and brought dogs with them.
They derive from the English Shepherd with a life expectancy between 12 and 14 years and are closely related to the Border Collie – probably why they often get confused for them.
What do Australian Shepherd dogs look like?
Aussie Shepherds are known for their beautiful looks. Both genders of the breed stand between 50cm and 56cm in height. A males healthy weight falls between 22kg and 30kg whilst a females healthy weight would sit slightly lower between 18kg and 25kg.
They are the proud wearers of a medium double coat that is medium in length and straight. The backs of their legs are feathered, their ears are floppy and tails are short. You may also recognise their impressive mane that coats their proud chest. You’ll find Australian Shepherds in a variety of colours including black, red, blue or red merle (with and without white) and tan.
They are high shedders with their grooming needs being moderate. They require brushing often (twice a week) to avoid matting.
What is the personality of an Australian Shepherd?
Common traits of an Australian Shepherd include: loyal, protective, energetic, sporty and loving.
This medium-sized dog breed loves to be busy and greatly resembles traits of the Border Collie. They are very high in energy need to be kept active – physically and mentally. Activities like competitive sports are a great way to occupy these beauties. They’re exceptionally good at agility, flyball, herding tests and obedience competitions when trained correctly. Due to their need to be busy and challenged, they are easy to train and respond quickly to commands.
They are definitely not dogs that like to stay indoors and especially not apartments. The Australian Shepherd needs room to move and run around to burn off their energy and don’t like to be left alone for long. If left to their own devices, boredom kicks in and may cause them to become destructive.
They have a natural herding instinct which often shows in their obsessive need to round up as well as their protectiveness. They are incredibly loving and loyal, making for great careers as guide, hearing assistance, police and search and rescue dogs.
What are common health problems for Australian Shepherds?
Joint problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia are common in many dogs, this one included. Dysplasia is a condition where a joint doesn’t fit into its socket properly. If left untreated can develop into arthritis, a painful joint disease.
It may not reveal itself until later in your dog’s life so it’s important to know if there has been history of hip or elbow dysplasia in their family.
These problems can be managed with easy-to-use supplements, weight managements, vet injections and more!
Eye problems are very common in our Aussie Shepherd friends. Cataracts, (a condition that causes a cloudy lens) mostly affects this dog breed between the ages of 1 and 3 but can appear as late as 7 years old. It can progress to blindness at a later stage in life.
Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) is another common eye disease. This can be genetically tested and good breeders will breed to try and eradicate this from their lines. It can range from minor to major with the latter also holding the potential to lead to blindness.
Coloboma is a condition where part of a dog’s iris fails to develop and results in having part of the eye missing, causing great discomfort in bright light. This disease is present at birth and seen almost always in Merle-coloured Aussie Shepherds.
MDS (Multiple Drug Sensitivity) is rare across dog breeds as a whole but Australian Shepherds fall under the few breeds to suffer. MDS causes hypersensitivity to veterinary prescribed medications. This includes medications such as heartworm tablets. The brain cannot pump the drugs out of a dog’s brain, causing a potential fatality to the medication administered.
Less common diseases in Australian Shepherds include: heart disease, blood-clotting diseases, allergies and ear infections.
It is important to understand the level of care this dog breed will need before welcoming them into your home. Remember that this breed’s focus is work!
Aussie Shepherds are your perfect fit if you can keep up with their high energy, attention and overall health needs.