The Australian Shepherd or simply Aussie is an intellectual working dog with a strong herding and guarding instincts. It is solidly built, loyal, energetic and well-balanced breed. It is attentive, alert and eager. It is slightly longer than tall when measured from chest to thigh and from withers to the feet. The head is proportional to the body with an equally proportional muzzle with well-defined stop that tapers little from base to nose with a rounded tip. Its almond-shaped eyes are brown, blue, amber or any variation. The moderately sized ears are triangular and feathered which break forward or to the side as a rose ear when the dog is excited. The slightly arched neck is moderate in length. The back has a level topline. The tail is straight and is docked or naturally bobbed. The front legs are straight with very slightly sloped pastern, cushioned to the ground by oval feet with thick pads. It has clearly defined stifles, moderately bent hock joints with oval, compact feet. The weather-resistant double coat is made of mildly textured outer coat that varies from straight to wavy with a soft undercoat that varies in density depending on the season. Hair is shorter on the head, ears, forelegs and below the hocks with moderate feathering at the back of the forelegs and britches. Dogs also have moderate mane and frill. Coat colours come in tri-colour (black/red/white), bi-colour (black/red), blue merle, black, red merle, or all red. Males are between 51cm to 58cm in height while females stand between 46cm to 53cm in height. Typical male weight is between 23kg and 29kg while females are on the 14kg to 20kg side of the scale.
All dog breeds have different levels of intellect. Some dog breeds; working dogs in particular, are very independent thinkers and have been evolved to be very intelligent. Typically, a highly intelligent dog does well in obedience training and other activities. A highly intelligent dog can be very demanding and do require lots of physical and mental stimulation. If you’re looking for a relatively laid-back dog, that doesn’t require lots of mental and physical stimulation, then you must fully understand the level of intelligence of your dog breed of choice.
Before committing to a certain dog breed, you must fully understand their intellect levels and their specific levels of energy. To keep your dog well-balanced and happy, their needs must be met and maintained.
All dog breeds have different needs when it comes to the level of exercise they require. For the high energy dogs; which are your typical working dogs, they have a lot of energy and require lots of daily exercise along with plenty of mental stimulation. A highly energetic dog breed would suit an individual or family that is equally as active and loves the outdoors. There are also breeds that have relatively low exercise needs, such as toy dog breeds. Although they require daily exercise and mental stimulation, they’re just as happy chilling at home with their loved ones. This type of dog breed would suit an individual or family that prefers the peace and quiet and relaxation.
Before deciding on your chosen dog breed, Mypetzilla recommends that you research the exercise needs and whether you’re well equipped before committing to buying or adopting a particular dog breed.
There are several dog breeds that are known and potentially predisposed to developing health related conditions. Sensible breeding can help prevent the onset of health related conditions and this should always be taken into condition when researching your dog breed of choice. Before committing to a dog, you should speak to the breeder about any health related conditions that may affect the dog you’re looking to buy or adopt. You can also request to see any test results from genetic testing.
There are many dog breeds that tolerate children really well and are not affected by the constant noise and need for play-time. However, there are some dog breeds that don’t do very well with children and can become frustrated and snappy. That being said, all children should be shown how to handle and care for a dog in their home and should always be supervised when playing. As much as a dog can become annoyed and snappy with a younger child, the child can also become less tolerant and misbehaved towards the dog.
Mypetzilla recommends that you always supervise play-time between your children and dog. Children need to respect the boundaries and feeding time for the dog and likewise for the child. We also strongly advise that play-time doesn’t get out of control and too rough which can cause injury to both child and dog.
There are lots of dog breeds that are well suited to living in an apartment. It’s worthwhile noting that you need to check that you’re allowed dogs in your building before committing to bringing one home. If you do decide to own a dog and are living in an apartment, then you must make sure that they have plenty of room to roam around and frequent walks outside to prevent them from becoming bored and depressed.
Mypetzilla recommends that you check as to whether you’re allowed dogs in your apartment building and to fully ensure your apartment is dog proof before committing fully to bringing a dog home.
All dog breeds shed to some extent, some more than others. With this, all potential dog owners should be aware of this, as it will be a matter of putting up with some hair or lots of hair being left around the house. Depending on the dog breed, there are certain times during the year where some dog breeds shed the most and this is typically around spring and autumn. However, there are some dog breeds that shed all year round.
If you’re very house-proud, they you may want to choose a dog breed that sheds very little. Mypetzilla strongly recommends that you fully research your dog breed of choice and their shedding levels before committing.
All dog breeds require different levels of grooming. Some dog breeds are easier to maintain than others and only require a weekly brush to help keep their coat in good condition. There are some dog breeds that require regular trips to the grooming parlour and this can come at a huge cost. Either way, all dog breeds require their coat and nails to be maintained and cared for.
Mypetzilla strongly advices that potential owners research the grooming needs and associated costs with their desired dog breed before fully committing.
Barking is a necessity for your dog to communicate. However, it can also be a nuisance to yourself and fellow neighbours if it’s not kept under control. If you live in an apartment, then you’re better off choosing a dog breed that doesn’t bark as much. If you live further out and far from civilisation, then it’s worthwhile looking into a dog breed that does bark and will bark to alert you of any other company on your property.
Mypetzilla advices that you research the behaviours of your dog breed of choice and whether this would work for you and your family. It’s worth noting that dogs can be trained to bark less and this will take a lot of effort and training from the owner.
Majority dog breeds form very close relationships with their owners and as a result can become very stressed when left alone for a period of time. If a dog is suffering with separation anxiety then they’re very likely to become destructive around the home as a way of dealing with their anxieties. Dog breeds that do form strong bonds with their owners are better accustomed to a household where one member of the family remains home, whilst the others are out, this is to help avoid further anxieties and destructive behaviours.
Mypetzilla recommends that all potential owners research their dog breed of choice on their bonding abilities and how well-adjusted they are to being left alone at home. It’s also worth noting that you should never leave your dog for longer than 4 hours alone at home.
There are certain dogs breeds that have very high intellect and therefore easier to train than other dog breeds. There is also a downside to this; as fast as they learn the new trick or command, they can easily pick up bad habits just as quick. Other dog breeds that don’t rank as high on the intellect scale require patience and plenty of reward treats from their owners during training.
Before committing to a certain dog breed, Mypetzilla advices you to fully research your dog breed of choice and their level of training needs.
All dog breeds have different energy levels. The working dog breed has one of the highest energy levels in comparison to the low-energy dog’s breeds such as the Toy dog breed group. To keep a dog truly happy, healthy and well-balanced, their energy levels must be met.
High-energy dog breeds need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. High energy dog breeds would suit an active family or person. Dog breeds that are considered as low-energy, love to spend the majority of their time relaxing and sleeping in their favourite, comfy spot. A low-energy dog breed would suit an individual that equally loves the quiet life and relaxing lifestyle. Of course, low-energy dogs still need their daily walks and mental stimulation, just not as much as a high-energy dog breed.
Mypetzilla recommends that potential owner research fully on the type of dog breed that would suit their existing lifestyle and to also take into consideration the dog breeds energy levels and exercise requirements.
Before you decide on what dog breed would be suitable for you and your family, you must consider whether they’re a friendly dog breed and if you already have other pets within the household. For homes that already have dogs and other domestic pets, then it’s wise to choose a dog breed that has a friendly personality and temperament.
There are some dog breeds that mix well with other dog breeds and there are others that don’t suit one another and this could potentially cause issues later on down the line.
Another important point to consider is whether the dog breed of choice is friendly towards people and children.
Mypetzilla recommends to research fully on the right dog breed for your family and to also consider their temperament and characteristics.
The Australian Shepherd’s history is somewhat unclear as is the case with other breed of dogs. However, one thing is for sure: this breed is not of Australian origin. Previously, it was known by some other names including the Spanish Shepherd, Pastor Dog, Bob-Tail, New Mexican Shepherd, California Shepherd and Austrian Shepherd. Some experts believe that the Aussie might have originated in Spain and was brought to the American West via Australia by Spanish emigrants. What is known however, is that this breed has an Asian/Siberian origin whose ancestors were brought to the Americas by people who crossed the Bering Land Bridge some 20,000 years ago. Its modern ancestors however, were bred in the American Old West around the middle of the 19th and 20th centuries. According to an expert, the Australian Shepherd might have gotten its name from the imported sheep that it used to herd or that many of the shepherds from the Old West were from Australia. It is also suggested that because many dogs coming out of Australia during those years were blue merle, hence the term “Australian” became synonymous with any dog of that colour.
For many centuries, appearance was not a matter of importance for the shepherds as they were more interested in the dog’s working abilities. Over time, they interbred dogs that they presume would yield better workers depending on the type of weather and setting. This selective breeding produced a shepherd dog that can withstand any weather, fast and agile, athletic, energetic, intelligent, flexible and independent but obedient. However, the foundation stock for the modern Aussie was established only around the 1940s and early 1970s when a national club for the breed was formed.
The Australian Shepherd is an energetic dog, owing to its natural instinct to herd which requires a great deal of physical activity outside the house. It is an intelligent breed that enjoys doing work, whether its learning, competing, or any other activity that involves physical and mental stimulation. It is a kind and loving dog that is very loyal to its master. Originally bred as a sheep herder and property protector, the Aussie tends to bark at anything it deemed suspicious but it is not inclined to bark excessively.
Similar to other herding dogs, the Australian Shepherd excels in many dog agility competitions especially herding, Frisbee and flyball. It is fairly easy to train and responds well to a positive, rewards-based training methods. Just like any dog breed, puppy training is essential in order to raise a well-balanced companion. Basic obedience training commands such as sit, come, stay, and down are easily learned. One of the more important training to teach an Aussie is the recall command which will come in handy when keeping the dog off leash. Chew toy training should also be introduced to a puppy Aussie to prevent destructive behaviour.
The Aussie’s medium-length water-resistant double coat requires regular brushing, at least once a week to maintain a healthy coat and skin as brushing promotes blood circulation. Weekly brushing also prevents matting. It sheds its coat usually in the spring. Regular bathing should be done, especially if the dog tends to get dirty but it should not be done on a frequent basis because it might dry out the skin and damage the coat.
The Australian Shepherd shares a lot of common health issues with other working dogs, including:
Feeding between 1.5 to 2 cups of dry food a day is an ideal diet. The average lifespan of the Australian Shepherd is between 13 to 15 years.
As a working sheepdog, the Australian Shepherd shares the same exercise requirements as that of the other herding dogs in its class. It is an active breed that needs daily exercise to stay healthy both physically and mentally. Two to three hours of physical activity in a large yard, a long walk or jogging alongside a bike are ideal daily routines. It is not recommended for an apartment life but if the owner is able to meet its exercise requirements, then it will make a wonder pet at home. The best home for the Aussie is a house with a large fenced-in yard where it can freely play a couple of hours per day. An under-exercised Aussie can become destructive.
An Australian Shepherd is excellent with children because it loves to play around. It is a loyal and devoted guard dog, eager to please its owners. It is sometimes called a “Velcro dog” because of its tendency to follow and always be near its owners. It can also get along quite well with other dogs and pets in the house.