Other Names: Aussie
Dog Group Kennel Club: Herding (AKC) Pastoral (KC)
Australian Shepherds are medium sized, solid and muscular dogs. The eye colour in Australian Shepherds are stunning. They may be any colour or combination of colours from glassy blue, amber, hazel, to all shades of brown.
They have a double coat consisting of a; moderate length, weather resistant, slightly wavy outer coat; and a soft and dense under coat. The Aussie coat colours include: black, blue merle, red, and red merle. They have a variety of white and tan markings on the face, chest, front and rear legs.
Weight: 35-70 lbs
Average life span: 14-16 years
The Australian Shepherd is an intelligent, medium-sized dog with strong herding and guardian instincts. They are a delightful, loyal, alert, enthusiastic and good natured, making them excellent companions and great family dogs. They are good with children, but will have a strong instinct to herd them. Australian Shepherds also get along with well with other dogs.
Australian Shepherds are easy to train, easy to housebreak, and eager to please. Consistent training is needed as they can be rather dominant. They should be socialised well from early puppy-hood. The Australian Shepherd is a highly versatile dog and have been used as seeing-eye dogs, utility dogs to the physically handicapped, hearing aid dogs, police dogs and search and rescue dogs.
This is a breed that requires a lot of brushing as their medium length coat can become matted easily. Brushing twice a week should keep the coat mat free.
The Australian Shepherd is a VERY active dog that needs a great deal of both mental and physical exercise on a daily basis! otherwise they can develop destructive habits. One of the most frequent reasons Australian Shepherds are turned over to rescue groups is because their owners didn’t realize how much energy the breed has. If you don’t have the time for this exercise this is not the breed for you.
Australian Shepherd Health Issues
Hip dysplasia: a malformation of the hip joint resulting in a poor fit between the head of the femur bone and the hip socket. This condition can be alleviated by surgery, at some cost to dog and owner. Because dysplastic dogs often produce dysplastic puppies, buyers should ask if both the sire and the dam of the puppy in which they are interested have been rated clear of hip dysplasia. Do not take yes for an answer without seeing a certificate, and ask for a copy to take to your veterinarian.
Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA): The disorder occurs commonly in collie breeds, including the border collie, rough collie, smooth collie, Shetland sheepdog, but has been found in the Australian Shepherds. This eye disorder results in the dog having “blind spots”. This condition is not a life threatening disorder and the animals are capable of having normal, full lives. It is only through screening and selective breeding that this problem will be eliminated. The best way to avoid this problem is to purchase a pup from parents that have been registered with the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF), and have never produced affected pups.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a hereditary disease of the eye that has been identified in this breed. PRA is a blanket term for many types of retinal diseases, all of which result in blindness. All aussies, regardless of age or breeding status, should be examined yearly by a member of the Veterinary Opthalmologists.
Distichiasis: or double eyelashes is a condition in which a dog is born with an extra row of eyelashes, usually on the lower lid, that causes irritation to the cornea and tearing
Cataracts: cause a loss of the normal transparency of the lens of the eye. The problem can occur in one or both eyes and can lead to blindness.
Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD): is an autosomally (not sex-linked) inherited bleeding disorder with a prolonged bleeding time (somewhat similar to hemophilia in humans) and a mild to severe factor IX deficiency. A DNA test for vWD is now available. Carrier-to-carrier breedings, in theory, will produce puppies that are 25% clear, 50% carriers, and 25% affected. Ideally, only clear-to-clear or clear-to-carrier should occur, so that no puppies will be affected. Not all dogs that are vWD affected will have severe bleeding problems, but they ARE at risk whenever they need to have surgery or have an accident. Some unlucky affected dogs will actually bleed out from a needle stick or minor wound.
Australian Shepherd History
The Australian Shepherd does not come from Australia as their names suggest. The breed most likely originated in the Basque region near the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France.
Early European and Australian settlers took many of their herding dogs with them as they emigrated to the eastern United States in the 19th century. The dogs probably included the English Shepherd, Dorset Blue Shag, Cumberland Sheepdog, Scottish Collie, Glenwherry Collie, and Bouvier des Flandres.
With the 1849 California gold rush, a massive migration occurred from the east coast to the west coast, and along with the people came flocks of sheep and the eastern herding dogs. Shepherds also came along with the flocks from Latin America, Europe, and Australia, along with their own herding breeds. Dogs from Australia had already begun to be selected and bred for climate and terrain that were quite similar to many parts of California.
The Australian Shepherd was given its name because of this association with the Basque sheepherder from Australia during the California gold rush.
The Aussie rose rapidly in popularity with the boom of western riding after World War II, becoming known to the general public via rodeos, horse shows, movies and television. Their inherent versatility and trainability made them useful on American farms and ranches.