Country of Origin: United States
Breed Type: Working
Popular Names: Aussie, Little Blue Dog, Ghost Eye, Pastor Dog, Bob-Tail, Blue Heeler, California Shepherd, Spanish Shepherd
Size: Medium – Large
Height: (At the withers) Males 50-62.5 cm, Females 45 – 52.5 cm
Weight: Males 23 – 30 kg, Females 18 – 25 kg
Best suited as: Pet, show, or working dog with an active owner or family.
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Intro Contrary to the name, these dogs were developed by ranchers in the United States, not in Australia.
Appearance Aussies may be blue merle, red merle, black, red, tricolour, or bicolour. They may have points of colour and/or white markings. Merles are most commonly associated with this breed because the merle gene is dominant. When two merle dogs are bred, which is not recommended, the resulting offspring has 1 in 4 chance of having blue eyes and a mostly-white coat. These dogs are usually blind and/or deaf. This breed may have eyes in any shade of blue or brown. Alternatively, they may have two eyes in different colours, or even split eyes where half of the eye is brown and the other half is blue. “Merle” eyes, where the colour is mixed and swirled, also occurs. Any combination and colour is acceptable. Red Aussies usually have amber eyes, although they can be blue. Black Aussies tend to have brown eyes. Red merle and red dogs have brown or liver noses, lips, and eye rims while blue merle and black dogs have black noses, lips, and eye rims. Some are born with naturally bobbed tails, while others have partial bobs or full-length tails. This is a double-coated breed, with a medium-length top coat that may be straight, wavy, or curly. It is waterproof and neither coarse nor fine. The undercoat is dense and soft, and is shed once a year in early summer. Some may blow their coats twice a year. Dogs kept inside tend to shed all year long. Feathering should appear on the backs of the legs. All dogs have a mane and frill, while the males have a thicker mane than females. The fur on the front of the forelegs and on the head is shorter than elsewhere on the coat.
History In the 19th and 20th centuries, European settlers who immigrated to the United States took with them herding dogs to manage their livestock. Many working breeds, including the Scottish Collie, Cumberland Sheepdog, Welsh Sheepdog, Dorset Blue Shag, Glenwherry Collie, Bouvier de Flandres, and the English Shepherd are thought to be the forebears of the Australian Shepherd. The ones that did well in the climate and worked best with the cattle were chosen for breeding. The breed became well known After World War II, when it started to appear in horsemanship shoes, rodeos, television shows, and movies. Many people chose this breed as a pet. To this day, Australian Shepherds are used on farms and ranches all across the United States and other parts of the world.
Temperament Dogs vary in temperament. Some are reserved and shy, while others are friendly and outgoing. They are all extremely intelligent, highly active, and love to interact with people. They can learn just about any task. They learn best with positive reinforcement, never harsh or overly-firm training. They learn very quickly when they receive a treat as a reward. All dogs of this breed should go on from basic obedience training to advanced obedience training and then into agility. All Aussies must be properly trained or else they will become bored, their herding instincts will take over, and they will begin to herd anything that moves, including children, cars, and other animals. They must receive early and ongoing socialization to people, situations, and other dogs. They have a tendency to become standoffish if not properly socialized, and can become territorial or aggressive towards strangers if this is not kept in check. They must always be on leash because they will try to herd all things they see moving outdoors. They love being involved in family activities, and have a tendency to develop separation anxiety. Dogs that are bored or lonely tend to bark a lot. An adequate amount of exercise and mental stimulation helps reduce separation anxiety behavior but will not eradicate it if the dog is left alone all the time.
Care and Grooming During a heavy shed, they need to be brushed once a day. Otherwise, a once-weekly brushing will keep mats from forming and will help reduce the amount of hair in your home environment. Baths should only be given as needed. They must have their ears cleaned and their teeth brushed on a weekly basis, and their nails clipped once a month as necessary. This is a high-energy breed that needs one to two hours of vigorous exercise each day. They love to take long walks, work as herders, play Frisbee and fetch, and make great jogging or cycling companions.
Health They live 12 to 15 years. Possible health concerns include patent ductus arteriosus, persistent papillary membrane, patellar luxation, osteochondritis dissecans, iris coloboma, hip dysplasia, epilepsy, dental problems, corneal dystrophy, Collie eye anomaly, cryptorchidism, congenital deafness, congenital blindness, cataracts, cancer, allergies, and autoimmune disease.
Suitability As A Pet These dogs are not suitable for apartment dwellers who are never home, nor do they make good pets for sedentary people. They do best in homes with highly active, outdoorsy people or ranchers. They love to work and have instinctual herding abilities. They make great pets for people committed to properly training, exercising, and socializing.
Australian Shepherd Organisations in Australia Australian Shepherd Club of NSW Inc
Australian Shepherd Organisations in the US American Kennel Club – Australian Shepherd
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