The Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized, athletic working dog. The breed is extremely agile, intelligent, loyal and hard-working. Though known as a herding dog, the Aussie has a talent for all types of athletic activities. However, the breed also makes an excellent companion dog for high-energy owners.
Australian Shepherd At a Glance
Size: 40-65 pounds
Colors: Blue merle, red merle, black, red; all colors may have white markings and/or tan (copper) points
History of the Australian Shepherd
The Australian Shepherd, despite its name, was actually developed in the United States. American ranchers raised and bred the dogs as livestock herders and farm workers.
As with many breeds, the Aussie's early history is not clear. It is believed by some that the breed originated near Spain in the Pyrenees Mountains. The name "Australian Shepherd" may have come from an association with Basque shepherds who came to the United States from Australia in the 19th century.
Aussie enthusiasts and breeders have worked hard to keep the breed true to its heritage. Aussies were first recognized by the AKC in the early 1990s.
Caring for Your Australian Shepherd
The Aussie has a thick coat that is medium to long in length. Routine grooming is very important to keep your Aussie healthy and comfortable. Thorough brushing of the hair should be done 1-2 times per week to avoid tangling and matting.
Exercise will help maintain the Aussie's mental and physical health.
Due to its high intelligence level, the Aussie is quite receptive to training and learns quite quickly. Give your Aussie the detailed training he needs to be fulfilled. With proper training, the Aussie is extremely obedient.
Remember that this breed's focus is work. The Aussie excels at dog sports and other activities like Frisbee, herding, agility and obedience competition. Most Aussies are happier with a "job," and a dog sport is just one way to provide that job.
Australian Shepherd Health Problems
Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:
Is the Australian Shepherd Right for You?
Overall, the Aussie is a very smart and loyal companion that is affectionate and connected with its owner. The breed is very alert and in-tune with the sights and sounds around it. Most Aussies excel at herding and general farm/ranch work. However, they are also quite skilled in other jobs, including assistance/service, search and rescue, and pet therapy.
Of course, the Aussie also makes a wonderful companion for the right family. This breed tends to adapt well to all kinds of active households as long as they provide proper exercise and training.
Do you think this is the right dog for you? If you want to become the proud owner of an Australian Shepherd, take the time to do your research first. Talk to your veterinarian, other Aussie owners, reputable Australian Shepherd breeders, and Aussie rescue groups to learn more.