The Australian Shepherd is not for people who like to take it easy. Find out everything about keeping, training, and feeding Australian Shepherds here.
Australian Shepherds are among the most popular pedigree dogs among dog lovers. Here you will find the most important information about the Australian Shepherd.
- Size: male 51-58 cm, female 46-53 cm
- Weight: 16-22kg
- Coat length: medium length
- Coat Colors: Base colors Black, red, mottled black with the gray ground, mottled auburn, mottled with light red or beige ground in many combinations
- Country of origin: United States
Reasons to choose an Australian Shepherd
- Sports friend: The active Australian Shepherd is an ideal sports companion.
- Low-maintenance beauty: The Australian Shepherd just needs regular brushing.
- Smart head: The Australian Shepherd is one of the most intelligent dog breeds.
- Family happiness: The Australian Shepherd makes a good family dog.
- Action dog: The Australian Shepherd is bright and lively – it never gets boring with him!
- Social vein: The Australian Shepherd is very social and communicative.
- Child-Friendly: The Australian Shepherd is known to be child-friendly.
- Motivator: An Australian Shepherd is always up for action.
- Sensitive little ones: The Australian Shepherd needs sensitive guidance.
- Dog with a heart: The Australian Shepherd is often used as a therapy dog.
Origin of the Australian Shepherd
Even if its name suggests it, the Australian Shepherd does not originate in Australia. The breed originates from the USA. And yet there is a real mix of different European dog breeds in the Australian Shepherd.
In addition to the herding dog breeds native to North America, his ancestors include northern Spanish herding dogs, the border collies of Scottish immigrants, and Australian cattle dogs, which were brought to America together with Australian Merino sheep.
On the American ranches, of course, those dogs, in particular, were bred that had the desired qualities: intelligence, herding instinct, alertness, and attractiveness.
The appearance of the Australian Shepherd
An Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized dog, standing 45 to 55 cm at the shoulder. Females are slightly smaller and more delicate than males. Adult animals usually weigh between 13 and 22 kilograms. The Australian Shepherd is well balanced in size and bone structure, the dogs being slightly longer than they are tall.
The Australian Shepherd has an expressive head. The ears are set sideways, falling forward when fully alert and pricking up to a quarter to a half times their length. Pricked ears and ears typical of hounds are considered serious faults in breeding.
The Australian Shepherd has brown, blue or amber (amber) eyes, also in combination and with mottling.
Fur and colors
The Australian Shepherd has a medium-length, smooth, and lush coat. There are hardly any limits to the fur colors. There are three basic colors in this dog breed:
- Red Merle (marbled red or brown)
- Blue Merle (marbled black)
In addition to these basic colors and combinations of them, markings in white or copper are permitted.
Attention: When mating two dogs with the merle gene, the puppies can become blind, deaf, deformed the skeleton, and have heart defects. Breeding two dogs with the merle gene is therefore considered torture breeding.
The maintenance of the coat is quite low. Thorough brushing once a week is enough to remove dirt particles and small tangles. More frequent brushing is only recommended during the moulting season in spring and autumn to remove the dead hair from the coat.
Temperament and upbringing
The Australian Shepherd is an alert, lively, and smart dog that displays great strength and endurance. He is one of the smartest dog breeds.
Anyone wanting to raise an Australian Shepherd should know that sometimes they like to take the initiative themselves. He does this when the instruction from his owner seems strange to him. What the dog finds more meaningful or funny in such a situation (e.g. chewing socks) is not always what the master or mistress finds just as meaningful or funny.
It takes a lot of sensitivity and dog sense to own an Australian Shepherd. It must be clear to the animal that it can trust its human and should obey. A hard hand, on the other hand, is of no use in training the Australian Shepherd, because Aussies are very sensitive dogs and lose trust in their owner if they are treated too harshly or even roughly.
The Australian Shepherd as a family dog
Due to its friendly temperament, the Australian Shepherd is a wonderful family dog. Of course, it is important that the dog is properly kept and exercised.
When dealing with children, care should of course be taken to ensure that the little ones do not treat the dog too roughly. If an Australian Shepherd has already grown up with children, he will certainly get along well with them.
The animals are also used as therapy dogs. Here they benefit from their open and friendly nature.
Keeping and caring for an Australian Shepherd
An Australian Shepherd has an average life expectancy of around 13 to 15 years. You must be able to guarantee that you can offer the dog sufficient exercise and also thinking tasks for that long. The breed is less suitable for keeping in an apartment because it needs a lot of exercises. A house with a garden, on the other hand, is perfect for these dogs.
Life with a second dog is ideal for Australian Shepherds. They can romp and play together. The breed is very communicative and social. The perfect conspecific would be another representative of the same breed who makes the same demands on the owner and environment.
Daily bike rides and long walks are just fine with the Australian Shepherd. He is also wonderfully suited as a riding companion dog and is happy when he can accompany his human on the horse on long rides. In addition to walks, which can be combined with various play and learning tasks, this breed is also very suitable for dog sports.
Agility or obedience training ensures a varied workload for the Aussie. But the intelligent Australian Shepherd also needs mental work in addition to the physical workload. Learning tricks, retrieving, and searching games also challenge him mentally. Since these dogs have always been active in very different areas, targeted and varied activities are important.
But even an Aussie needs to rest from time to time. Too much pressure to perform stresses the Australian Shepherd, too much sport makes him get too excited. It is best to always alternate phases of excitement and sport with phases of relaxation and rest.
Typical diseases of the Australian Shepherd
Unfortunately, dogs of this breed often suffer from joint problems. These include hip and elbow dysplasia. In addition, eye diseases, epilepsy, and dental defects are more common. It should also not be underestimated that many Australian Shepherds have a so-called MDR1 defect: Affected animals are hypersensitive to certain drugs.
In addition, reputable breeders will never mate two Australian Shepherds with the merle gene: the offspring are often blind, deaf, have a deformed skeleton, or a heart defect. However, since the Australian Shepherd looks appealing to many, the popularity of the breed is steadily increasing.
The result is that the dogs are often mated indiscriminately, without health checks, and the puppies are offered at low prices. One reason why breed-specific diseases have been found in Australian Shepherds in recent years.