The Australian Shepherd, also known as Aussie, is a loving, brave, confident, smart and responsive dog. These dogs are affectionate, friendly, good-natured and are willing to go out other their way to please their master. The breed’s ears are of moderate size, triangular in shape, slightly rounded and are set high up at the side of the head.
The breed has a double coat – the out layer and the inner layer. The outer layer is weatherproof, whilst the inner layer provides insulation. The texture of the coat is considered to be medium, straight to slightly wavy and weather resistant. The coat colors of the Aussie are black, blue merle, red merle, solid red with or without white markings.
Australian Shepherd Video
History of the Breed
While there are countless theories as to the origin of the Aussie, the breed developed in America. Shepherds from Spain, Britain, Scotland, Australia and Latin America immigrated to North America in the 1800’s. The immigrants brought with them their herding dogs to help protect and manage the flocks of sheep that came with them. While shepherds, the sheep, and the herding dogs arrived in the United States from Australia, it is believed that the ancestors of the Australian Shepherds came from either Spain or from Germany. As with most herding dogs, the Aussie was first known by many names, including California Shepherd, New Mexican Shepherd, Spanish Shepherd, Pastor Dog, Bob-Tail and Blue Heeler.
Personality and Temperament
Australian Shepherds are smart, playful, animated, and active dogs that play along well with people of all ages. The dog can make a wonderful friend for kids, even though it may try to herd them through nipping. The dog also gets along decently with most other breeds of dog, but it is aggressive toward strangers due to its protective nature. Socialization from an early age is suggested due to its suspicion of strangers. This breed is generally easy to train thanks to its intelligence and willingness to please its owner. Herding dogs bark and the Australian Shepherd is no different. She is always alert and will bark to let the owner know that she has spotted something out of the ordinary.
The Aussie is not a yard dog, so it shouldn’t be tied out in the backyard all day. The breed needs a good exercise on a daily basis, preferably combining both mental and physical challenges. Without proper physical and mental stimulation, barking will become a big problem and she will get into trouble. Games such as agility, herding trials, and flying disc are strongly suggested. A couple of hour-long strolls daily, hikes or jogs, plus some training sessions at home will also help meet her needs for activity. Realize that it takes a lot of time and effort to keep the Aussie occupied to her satisfaction. But if you are ready to train her consistently and give her plenty of exercises, then this dog breed is right for you.
Suitability as a Family Pet
Australia Shepherds make wonderful family pets. These dogs are affectionate and require more time with their family. They will spend a lot of time at home running up and down and playing with their master. They even enjoy being lap pets, though their small size makes this a lot more difficult. This dog does very well helping with house chores like taking dirty attires to the laundry basket, bringing in light items as well as helping with yard work. The breed can also make an excellent companion for kids, even though it might try to nip them at their heels. The behavior comes from their early days of herding livestock.
Known Health Issues
Aussies are healthy dogs, but they are susceptible to certain health conditions. They include persistent pupillary membrane, nasal solar dermatitis, spinal defects, skin allergies, persistent pupillary membrane, epilepsy and Pelger Huet syndrome. These dogs are also at risk of developing hip dysplasia, a condition that triggers arthritis later in life. They can also be affected by different types of cataracts and detached retinas. Aussies are also among dog breeds that can be affected by Collie Eye Anomaly, eye disorders that affect the retina, sclera, and choroid. This long list of problems means that you will want to ensure the parents of your puppy are certified to have normal eyes by a certified ophthalmologist.
With its high energy and high intelligence, the Australian Shepherd is not a pet for everyone. You will need to have an active lifestyle to keep up with this dog breed.