Dog Breeds > Australian Shepherd
|Alternate Names||Aussie, Australian Shepherd|
|Group||Shepherd, Mountain Dog|
Australian Shepherd Profile
The Australian Shepherd is a well-balanced dog that is slightly longer than what would be called ‘tall’. It is of medium size and skeleton, and has a strong constitution and light musculature. Its eyes, which are generally slanted, can be brown, blue, amber or any combination of these colors. The ears are triangular, set high on the head and have small pavilions. When the dog is attentive, they fold forward. The tail is straight but naturally short or shortened, with a maximum length of 10 cm.
Fur: medium length and texture. It is usually straight, or slightly wavy, and weather-resistant. The undercoat varies in quantity and thickness according to the season.
Color: blue merle, red merle or red. All of these colors can appear with or without either white or tan markings.
Size: 51 to 58 cm for the males, and 46 to 53 cm for the females.
Weight : 25 to 34 kg for the males, and 9 to 26 kg for the females.
Origins and History
Although many theories exist about the origin of the Australian Shepherd, the breed was actually developed exclusively in the United States. The word “Australian” was given to the breed due to its association with shepherd dogs who were imported to the United States from Australia during the nineteenth century.
Character and Abilities
The Australian Shepherd is an intelligent working dog, with a pronounced instinct for leading and herding. With a stable temperament, this breed is naturally good-natured and will very rarely turn out to be a brawler. This is a very good companion dog, because the breed is adapted to various tasks and sports. It is also a friendly dog who is very tolerant of other dogs and adapts well to family life with children.
This is a very endearing dog, but it is not advised as a first dog or as a dog for people who live too sedentary lifestyles. The Australian Shepherd is very active and needs to exercise regularly. Having a garden is ideal, and taking your Australian Shepherd for long walks – we’re talking hours here – is indispensable. It is a very loving dog, though sometimes invasive, that doesn’t do well when it is left alone. It needs an owner who can be firm, consistent, and very involved.
Many health problems can affect the Australian Shepherd, including back and/or hip problems and eye defects. The breed is also affected by epileptic problems. Studies have shown that a breeding between two merle dogs gives a 25% chance that puppies might be born, or soon become, blind and/or deaf. Finally, it is recommended that an MDR1 test is done because this dog potentially has this gene, which could result in severe reactions to some medicines.
Average life expectancy: about 13 years.
Information and Tips
This has become an exceptionally popular breed in the United States mainly due to the exposure the Australian Shepherd received at western style riding events. Spectators reacted very positively to the Australian Shepherds they met at rodeos and horse shows, not to mentioned the ones they saw on the big screen. This breed’s popularity has also recently started increasing in Europe.