The Australian Shepherd is a harmonious combination of good looks and flexible intelligence. These dogs are known all over the world as reliable and loyal companions who will cheer you up with their funny antics. For her, there is no better entertainment than an active walk with the owner in the city park. Animals truly enjoy the company of their family and do not like being alone for a long time. This adorable shaggy friend will show you by his example what inexhaustible optimism and the ability to have fun all day long!
- Breed name: Australian Shepherd (Aussie)
- Country of origin: USA
- Weight: males 25-30 kg, females 18-25 kg
- Height (height at the withers): males 51-58 cm, females 46-53 cm
- Life span: 13 – 15 Years
- Despite the “speaking” name of the breed, the USA is considered the birthplace of the Australians.
- Dogs are easily trainable and for this reason, are often used for duty or as guide dogs.
- Australian Shepherd is known for their friendliness, which allows them to easily get along with other animals.
- A good-natured look does not diminish their ability to give a worthy rebuff to the offender.
- This breed needs 60 minutes of exercise every day.
- Australian Shepherds are not the best option for keeping in an apartment, but frequent walks more than compensate for this.
- These animals are hyper responsible and can look after a child, cat, or hamster for several hours.
- An inexperienced owner will not be able to suppress the dominant character of the pet.
- Aussies need careful grooming (especially for the coat).
History of the Australian Shepherd Breed
Despite the fact that the name of the breed literally sounds like the Australian Shepherd Aussie, in fact, the breed originated in America. The name sounds exactly like that, because the ancestors of the Aussie, the Scottish Border Collie, were brought from Australia. In the states, they were crossed with some other breeds, including in a natural way – through free crossing between neighboring dogs.
The Aussie breed was introduced to America around the 1840s and was widely used in the western states as a shepherd dog to help graze livestock in the developed areas. American farmers and settlers treasured them for their amazing intelligence, immense dedication, and endurance. Thanks to these qualities, the Aussies were able to endure all the difficulties of life in semi-wild conditions and provide a person with the necessary support.
During the Second World War, the population declined significantly, as the Aussies were often used in the US Army for various purposes, usually in rescue and courier missions. However, then the breeders quickly restored the normal population of these helpful and good-natured dogs.
The Australian Shepherd has a long coat. The muzzle is elongated, the head is oval, the ears are of medium length, triangular, hanging down the sides of the head, but sometimes you don’t notice this because of the coat. The chest is round, voluminous, the limbs are shorter than average, the physique is strong and muscular. The tail is long and fluffy.
Coat and Color
The coat of the Australian Shepherd is coarse, of medium length, and of moderate density. May be straight or slightly wavy. The coat consists of a longer guard coat and a short soft undercoat, which is completely replaced twice a year. Its density is directly dependent on climatic conditions: the cooler, the higher the density of the undercoat. In the periods between undercoat changes, a moderate molt is observed.
Despite the fact that among the Australian Shepherd dogs there are dogs with various colors, and the breed itself is famous for its uniqueness, only four types of color are recognized as the official standard: black, marble blue (Aussie is most often associated with it), red and marble red. In all cases, the presence of white areas is permissible, but no frills. Please note that the eyes should be framed in color. The coat darkens slightly as it grows older.
There are also sable, graphite, golden, and brindle colors, but they are not officially recognized.
Cheerful, affectionate, quick-witted, and agile – this is how you can describe any Australian Shepherd. By the way, this is one of the few breeds whose representatives, in a good mood, know how to “smile” in all 42 teeth and wag their backs. By their nature, these are born shepherds who are called upon to monitor the herd and return the strayed animals in time. This feature can be noticed when walking with a pet: he will constantly make sure that no one lags behind the company, and gather everyone together. Despite the constant desire to follow the owner’s commands, the dog in an emergency situation can make independent decisions.
Aussies are very friendly and easily find a common language both with their relatives during walks and with other domestic animals – be it a cat or a hamster, a cow, or a domestic goose. The dog behaves well at exhibitions among barking brethren, on the street, and at home. The Australian Shepherd is never the first to bully, but in case of unfriendly behavior of relatives, as well as in case of a threat to the owner or family members, it will always be able to give a worthy rebuff. For this, the animal has everything: well-developed musculature and strong teeth.
Aussie simply adores children and will become their tireless companion for outdoor games. The dog will be happy to accompany the owner while jogging or cycling, will take an active part in various competitions or hiking trips. It is unbearable for representatives of this breed to sit all day in a confined space. Physical activity is essential for them to maintain muscle mass, well-being, and mood.
It is easy to train and educate a dog of the Aussie breed – this is facilitated not only by an innate intelligence but also by an instinctive desire to please the owner. In addition, the dog needs activity not only for the body, but also for the mind, and training provides the necessary food.
Even complex commands can be taught to these pets, given the specifics of their content. That is, in other words, if the Aussie dog is a companion of a person with a disability, it would be quite reasonable to teach him commands that will greatly simplify the life of the owner.
The dog can bring a telephone, slippers, can open the door if it is equipped with a special lock, can serve various objects, and be used as a guide dog. In the process of learning, it is enough to maintain patience, a sense of humor, sincerity, and kindness, and your four-legged friend will surely reciprocate you.
Conditions of Detention
The Australian Shepherd is not a dog that likes to lie quietly on the couch. Being very active animals, Aussies need long walks – at least 2-3 hours a day. In the summer, in the heat, it is better to cut them down or use for this a cooler time of the day – morning and evening. Of course, if you have a country house, this is not a problem: the Shepherd dog itself will find what to do on the site. Owners of a city apartment, however, will have to devote a significant part of their time to the dog walking the pet. Aussie happily runs after a stick, ball, plastic discs, or along an obstacle course.
Of course, do not forget about dog training during walks: the Australian Shepherd will gladly follow the owner’s commands. Monitor your pet’s behavior during these activities. A workaholic by nature, the Australian is ready to work until he literally falls from fatigue, which is, of course, undesirable to allow.
When keeping the Australian Shepherd in an apartment, it is necessary to give it a separate place away from drafts and heating appliances, equipping it with a couch. The dog must be aware that this is its territory. Buy some toys for your pet to play with pleasure. Place a drinker next to it and make sure there is always clean water in it. The room in which the dog is kept must be periodically ventilated. The air must be fresh and humid enough, otherwise, the coat will constantly shed.
The Australian Shepherd, which has a semi-long coat with a thick undercoat, should be brushed 2-3 times a week, and daily during molting. In the absence of this procedure, dermatitis may develop, the formation of tangles, or the appearance of skin parasites. It is best to comb the coat with a metal brush with large sparse teeth and a special furminator. It is recommended to bathe your dog no more than once every two months, using special shampoos.
A dog’s nails are naturally worn down, but if he often walks on grass or soft ground, this does not happen. So, using a special nail clipper, they are trimmed twice a month, because long claws negatively affect gait and cause discomfort in the paws. In this case, one must try not to damage the pulp, which contains the nerve and blood vessels. If this happens, the wound should be treated with an antiseptic solution or iodine.
It is also necessary to monitor the health of the Aussie teeth with the help of special tools and devices – brushes, paste, artificial bones to remove plaque. In advanced cases, you may need a scaler – a dental spatula to remove stones. Before and after the procedure, it is necessary to disinfect the instrument and the oral cavity with a solution of peroxide.
One of the conditions for the proper keeping of a pet is rubbing the eyes using special medical solutions, ordinary tea leaves, or chamomile decoction. The dog’s ears should be wiped 1-2 times a week using ear sticks and cotton pads. To remove excess sulfur, you can drop a 3% peroxide solution into the ear canal and then let the pet shake its head freely. To wipe the auricles with cotton pads, decoctions of various herbs are used.
Aussies are very unpretentious in food. They can be fed with both natural food and various feeds. For an adult pet, porridge (rice, oatmeal, buckwheat) and meat (chicken, turkey, beef, and lean fish) are suitable. It is advisable for the puppy to add cottage cheese mixed with kefir, as well as quail eggs to the diet. If necessary, start with small amounts of milk. Australian Shepherds are happy to eat both raw and boiled vegetables and fruits: apples, carrots, zucchini, pumpkin, turnips. In winter, the diet of the Australian Shepherd must be enriched with vegetable and animal fats, which will better endure the cold.
If you decide to use dry food, you should choose premium products. Try to buy the one that contains less protein.
Australian Shepherds are in good health with proper care, nutrition, and adequate physical activity. For the prevention of diseases such as rabies, carnivorous plague, Lyme disease, and others, it is necessary to timely vaccinate according to the vaccination schedule.
Like many herding breeds, Australian Shepherds are at risk of developing juvenile cataracts. Among the most common diseases inherent in this breed are:
- autoimmune diseases (thyroiditis, allergies);
- dysplasia of the hip joint;
- dystrophy of the optic nerve;
- oncological diseases;
How to Choose a Puppy
Before purchasing an Australian Shepherd puppy, visit the exhibitions of this breed, talk with the owners to determine whether such a dog is suitable for you in temperament and activity. If nevertheless, you have made a final decision, it is advisable to visit several nurseries. After deciding with the breeder, find out what examinations were carried out on the male and female. A conclusion is required on the absence of pathology of the organs of vision (retinal atrophy, cataracts) and the musculoskeletal system (dysplasia of the hip and elbow joints).
Only after that start choosing your future pet. A healthy, plush toy-like puppy will show curiosity without feeling timid. A clean coat should not have tangles or bald spots. Examine the abdomen (there should be no rashes on the skin), make sure there are no hernial protrusions. The nose should be moist and cool. Give the puppy a walk to make sure there is no clubfoot.