Australian Shepherd

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Australian Shepherd

Australian shepherd or more commonly known as ‘Aussie’ and are an affectionate breed.

It is not in an aussie’s nature to be aggressive.

They are devout to their keeper and family.

Australian shepherds are furry dogs that if groomed well, look splendorous.

If you are looking for a medium-sized, well natured and enthusiastic pet then this is the breed perfect for you. 

A. Quick Facts:

Avg. Weight: 55 – 70 lbs (male), 35 – 55 lbs (female)

Avg. Height: 20 – 23 inches (male), 18 – 20 inches (female)

Life Expectancy: 13 – 17 years

Dog Group: Herding Dogs

Colors: Tri-colored (black/red/blue), Bi-colored (black/red/blue), blue merle/red merle

Rank (America): 17/193

B. At A Glance:

Australian Shepherd
  • Size (3/5)

It is a medium-sized dog that can grow tall up to 23 inches and can weigh around 70 lbs depending on genes, food and physical activity.

Physical activity like playing In the yard or a walk or a run help in maintaining a dog’s weight and prevent it from gaining unnecessary size.

  • Affection Level (5/5)

Yes, this breed is extremely affectionate and strongly bonds with its family.

Australian shepherd temperament is calm and non-aggressive.

They just need to be kept busy in some or the other physical work leaving no space for boredom as it can make them destructive indoors.

  • Apartment-Friendly (1/5)

It is not among the ones to keep in an apartment as the breed is very energetic and being a herding breed it has a tendency of yapping.

It needs to be physically active throughout the day and so a house with an attached yard will serve well to both the dog and the owner.

  • Cold Weather Tolerability (4/5)

Aussie’s do well in cold weather, in fact, they love it outside when it’s cold due to their thick fur coat.

This does not mean that an Australian shepherd can live outdoors, it is an indoor dog and should be provided with the warmth of a house.

  • Hot Weather Tolerability (4/5)

Aussie’s do well in both heat and cold due to their double coat that acts as a perfect insulator.

They can do well even in humid weather.

Aussie’s love to lie on a cold surface like tiles, concrete and surfaces which stay cool.

  • Barking Tendencies (4/5)

These dogs are filled with energy and can use barking as a means to get rid of some.

These dogs should be involved in various physical activities so as to make them release their energy or else they may show destructive behavior indoors like excessive barking and outdoors they can showcase aggression towards other dogs.

  • Cat-Friendly (3/5)

Australian shepherds can be seen doing great in getting along with a house cat, but this is not always the case, some might show aggression towards a cat.

It depends on the individual aussie’s personality.

  • Dog-Friendly (5/5)

Australian shepherds vary in their behavior with other dogs.

They can either be very playful and friendly or they can be the introvert kind that doesn’t want much contact with other dogs.

It depends on the way they have been raised and also their social environment.

Mini Australian shepherd can be very good with other dogs as they are small and easily dominated by usual or large sized breeds.

  • Exercise Needs (5/5)

It takes a lot to drain this pooch’s energy so as to have it relaxed indoors.

It needs at least one hour of playing every day and the game should be challenging like Frisbee or fetch.

Apart from that it also needs to be involved in some kind of training that involves the use of its agility and stamina, like herding.

  • Grooming Needs (1/5)

Australian shepherd coat should be brushed every day in summers and at least once a week in winters.

Brushing the coat helps in removing dead hair and spreading natural oil throughout the fur.

Do never shave an Aussie unless suggested by a vet as the double coat might not grow back the right way.

  • Playfulness (5/5)

These dogs have enormous stamina for playtime and can keep you busy in their activities throughout the day.

They are great with all the family members of the house, especially the kids as both can keep playing endlessly throughout the day.

The less they play the grumpier they get and can become dull or destructive.

  • Trainability (5/5)

Aussie’s are highly flexible when it comes to training them and their intelligence helps in easing the trainer’s efforts.

Like all other dogs, this breed should be made to mingle with all since the start so as to prevent it from growing into a pooch running on instincts.

Got a new pup in your house and excited about training it into a fine grown dog, then go and check out 10 Basic Dog Training Commands Your Dog Should Know which will help in increasing the understanding between you and your dog and will create a basis for your dog to go for further complex training when the time comes.

  • Intelligence (5/5)

     It is a fairly intelligent dog, which is usually expected of a herding breed.

     It is quick at decision making and also highly trainable.

  • Mouthiness (4/5)

Aussie’s are a yapping kind which is one of the major traits of a herding breed.

It can be mostly seen barking on unfamiliar people or animals being protective of itself and its household.

It can also do so when feeling anxious which can happen when its energy has not been spent.

It can also do a lot of nipping and play biting which can be taken care of by giving it a play toy.

  • Price Group (5/5)

Australian shepherd puppy bought from a reputed breeder can cost $600 – $1500.

Adopting an Aussie can cost around $300 including the expenses to cover its pre-adoption care cost.

FACT-ILICIOUS: “The Aussies have very interesting eyes. Their eyes may be brown, amber or crystal blue but it is not unusual to see this dog with one of a different color than the other (a condition is known as heterochromia iridium).”

“Some Native American tribes called the Aussie “the ghost-eye dog” (because of its unusually bright eyes) and they considered the dogs sacred and to be avoided.”

C. About Australian Shepherd:

About Australian Shepherd

Aussie’s are a furry breed with a real family-friendly nature.

They come in many variations of coat among which the blue merle Australian shepherd is the most famous one.

It seems as if they never run out of energy and have to be kept busy in activities like playing, agility training or herding.

They cannot be left idle for long as it can bore them and boredom can strike destructive behavior like barking and mouthing.

There not many common traits about this breed as each individual differ in personality depending on its upbringing.

It is flexible to train and also mingle well with kids, neighbors and animals.

If you have a house attached with a yard and are looking for a furry, energetic and friendly breed, then this might be the one for you.

D. Where Did Australian shepherds Come From:  

Where Did Australian shepherds Come From

The breed has no clear past and is known to have been originated from Spain and was used there by the shepherds.

It is said that these shepherds might have then immigrated to America via Australia and brought with them this breed.

Initially, this breed was known by many different names which are also said to be a reason for its ambiguously known past.

It was known by names like Spanish shepherd, Austrian shepherd, California shepherd, bob-tail and pastor dog.

In America, this breed was initially used in the Rocky Mountains by the shepherds to control their sheep.

It was an energetic breed with endless stamina which could go the whole day controlling and looking after the sheep flock.

It was also popular among herders as it could resist both cold and hot weather nearly alike. 

Blue merle shepherds were shipped mostly from Australia and so the word ‘Australian’ got attached to the name of dogs of that coat color.

This breed came to be properly known around after the 1940s and the Australian Shepherd Club of America was formed starting its registry.

E. Size:

size

The breed is medium in size and in some exceptional cases, it can grow a little bit getting into the category of medium-large.

For the people who are fond of mini dogs and want a herding dog, there is also a smaller version of this breed called the mini Australian shepherd.

The size of this dog also depends on the quality of food being given to it and also the amount of physical activity being done by it.

 A pooch can grow oversized or obese if not made to do any or much physical activity and this can shorten its life span and make it more prone to heart diseases.

Males can grow up to 23 inches in height and weigh up to 70 pounds.

Females, on the other hand, can grow up to 21 inches in height and weigh up to 55 pounds.

F. Trainability:

Trainability

Trainability is the ability of a dog to grasp and respond to its keeper’s commands which is not only dependent on a dog’s intelligence but also on its willingness to take directions and follow them.

Aussies are highly intelligent making it easy for the keepers to train them.

Also, they have a good attitude towards the task provided to them which keeps them busy.

This dog needs to be taught the difference between right and wrong in a very clear manner so that it doesn’t indulge itself in doing whatever it feels comfortable in.

It needs to be taught boundaries since the puppyhood and needs a clear leader to take instructions from.

The leader of this pooch has to give instructions in a crystal clear manner as any ambiguity left can make the dog get anxious and take its own instinctive steps in fulfilling the command.

Australian shepherds behave with strangers in a reserved manner and so the owner has should introduce the new person to the pooch and then let the new person spend some time with it or make it do some of its favorite activity or treat it with its favorite treat.

This can help in building friendly relations with others.

FACT-ILICIOUS: “The Australian Shepherds make great search and rescue dogs. Many Aussies, for example, were used in the search and rescue works after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.”

G. Grooming:

Grooming

Australian shepherds need to be bathed once every 3 to 4 weeks.

This breed loves to get into the water and is always looking forward to the next bath.

Groom your Aussie at least once every week as it helps in removing the dead hair from its coat and spread the natural oil all over the fur.

Never trim an Aussie’s coat as it helps in insulating its body from both heat and cold and once trimmed, the coat may never grow the same way again.

Australian shepherd shedding is seen throughout the year but more heavily in the spring season as it starts losing its winter coat.

Keep your pooch brushed 2 to 3 times every week to have a minimum mess in your house and keep its coat healthy.

H. Feeding:

australian shepherd eating

Australian shepherd puppy should be given half a cup of dog food 3 times a day.

A full-grown aussie needs around 3 to 4 cups of dog food per day.

These dogs should be fed with high-quality protein food with low grain.

What To Feed What Not To Feed
Carrot Grapes & Raisins
Peanut Butter Chocolates
Salmon Onions
Egg Garlic
Blueberries Coffee & Tea
Chicken Lemon & lime
Pineapple Dough

I. Common Diseases:

Common Diseases

TARGETING THE BONES

  • Panosteitis

It is also known as ‘pano’.

It causes inflammation in the long bone of the dog’s legs and occurs commonly in the dogs of age between 5 months to 2 years old.

It is an inherited disease and pretty painful for the bearer dog.

The dog who has been through this condition shouldn’t be allowed to breed.

It can make the affected leg lame and can also affect more than one limb.

It can cause a loss in appetite and weakness in a dog.

Dogs mostly always recover from it but it is really painful for the time being.

  • Osteochondritis Desicans

Also known as elbow dysplasia, it is caused due to the loosening of the cartilage between the elbow or shoulder joints of a dog.

It can make the affected limb go lame and can be painful to the dog.

The reason for this disease is mostly a heavy trauma to the joint and it has to be surgically repaired.

It is rarely the case where the dog suffers from OCD inherently.

TARGETING THE SKIN

  • Lupus

It is a kind of autoimmune skin disease, making it an inherent disease and so the dog that has it shouldn’t be bred.

Though it has various forms, only 2 are very common.

One is discoid lupus which is less severe and its symptoms include hair loss and dry crusty areas of skin on the face and head.

If left untreated it can turn into a 2nd most common and fatal kind of lupus that is the lupus erythematosus.

  • Vitiligo

It can be inherent or acquired.

Its symptom is loss of pigment in hair, lips, and nose.

Nose and lips of the dog turn pink after losing its pigment.

In the case of inherent vitiligo, the immune system starts attacking the melanocytes or the pigment cells.

It can be acquired due to uveodermatologic syndrome or other causes as well as an injury. It makes the skin and hair turn white or grey.

It doesn’t affect the dog’s health and has no particular treatment for it.

TARGETING THE EYES

  • Distichiasis

It is caused due to the reverse growth of some eyelash hair which comes in contact with the eyes every time the dog blinks causing irritation on the cornea.

It can cause scarring on the eye and pain.

If the distichiasis is severe then the dog has to undergo removal of these eyelashes.

It is an inherited disease but the mode is still not known.

  • Merle Eye Defects

Also known as the Australian shepherd syndrome, this is an eye defect that is caused due to the inheritance of 2 copies of merle genes.

It is also found in double merles of other breeds.

It can affect the iris making it deformed, the lens may get out of place, pupils may get off the center, the optic nerve may not develop properly.

Mostly a combination of these will be found in double merles and they may also turn out to be blind.

Not breeding merle dogs to each other is the best preventive step there is.

TARGETING THE HEART & BLOOD

  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

It is an inherited and rare disorder in aussies.

It occurs when a fetal blood vessel sustains after birth, which is abnormal as it hinders the proper flow of blood in the body and also bypasses the lungs making the blood cells less oxygenated than required.

Low oxygen blood puts a lot of stress on the heart and can lead to congestive heart failure.

It makes the dog lethargic and causes coughing and also exercise-intolerance.

Normally it doesn’t affect a dog very much but it can shorten its lifespan.

In extreme cases, heart surgery may be needed to prevent further damage to the heart or it can be fatal.

  • Persistent Right Aortic Arch (PRAA)

Though its inheritance is complex, it is more common in Australian shepherd than PDA.

It occurs when the aorta vessel grows to the right instead of the left and encircles the esophagus and sometimes the trachea.

It can hinder the air passage and also block the proper passing of food through the esophagus into the stomach.

It causes the dog to vomit or regurgitate after meals and although having a good appetite, your pup will be thin.

PRAA can be tracked down through chest-x-ray.

J. Vaccination And Care:

Vaccination And Care

The Australian shepherd is a generally healthy breed, but like all other dogs, it needs to be taken care of in the right manner.

Give your Aussie a clean and tidy environment to live in and feed it with a good quality dog food or food specific for Australian shepherds that are there in the market.

Also feed it with natural food like chicken, milk, rice, fish, and fruits.

Along with feeding right, you have to also take care that your dog gets enough exercise per its daily requirements.

This prevents obesity or undue weight gain which can be harmful in the long run.

Keep the pooch groomed as it can prevent a lot of infections and keeps the bacteria caught from outdoors from harming the dog.

Vaccines against distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, parainfluenza, leptospirosis, and rabies are a compulsion in America and should not be skipped.

A puppy should not be put back into its regular exercise routine immediately after the last shot.

The owner should wait for at least a week or 10 days before making the dog crawl back to the park.

K. Monthly Expense Estimation:

Monthly Expense Estimation

Australian shepherd price can vary from place to place but it is commonly worth $600 – $1500 in America.

Adoption can cost $300.

The 1st year of bringing a pet home can be expensive which is estimated up to $1300 but after that, each year’s cost is estimated to $500 including health checks, food, and grooming that is $40 to $50 per month.

Due to the fact that Australian shepherd does well in both winters and summers, less stress is put on your pocket in buying products to insulate it from the weather.

L. Behavior With:

  • Children
Behavior With children

Australian shepherds are family dogs and do well with elder kids.

Being a herder breed it can try to herd young kids but this trait can be controlled by training and also by socializing it with kids since puppyhood.

Generally, this dog forms a great companion to kids and can play with them all day long.

  • Dogs
Behavior With Dogs

Australian shepherds vary in their personality and behavior depending on their upbringing and environment.

Some can be very outgoing and playful with other dogs.

Some can be introvert and reserved, barking at other dogs to keep them away from themselves.

Training and socializing can make them better at behaving with other dogs.

  • Cats
Behavior With Cats

Australian shepherds need the training to get along with cats.

They have a strong herding instinct and it comes out on pets that are small in size like cats.

Some Aussies do get along fine with cats but not all do and the reason for them getting along well with other pets is mostly that they have seen them since puppyhood.

M. Overview:

Australian shepherds are furry dogs that are very devout to their family and make great companions to humans.

Their origin is not very clear but they are said to have come to America from Spain via Australia by the emigrant shepherds.

This dog is agile and energetic with a task-oriented attitude.

Due to this, it was used as a herding dog and could work for hours tirelessly in the mountainous rugged terrains.

It can function almost equally in summers and winters as its coat serves as perfect insulation to heat and cold.

It needs a lot of exercises and also needs to be involved in some kind of training like agility training or herding so as to keep it relaxed indoors.

Boredom or being idle can make it anxious and destructive.

It needs to be socialized well or can grow up to be very reserved.

Overall it is a pretty non-aggressive kind which makes it a great breed to keep at home and is the 17th most popular breed in America.

Just be sure to keep it active and trained.

FACT-ILICIOUS: Most Australian Shepherds love swimming. They particularly enjoy playing fetch in the water.”

“An Australian Shepherd/Border Collie cross named Sweet Pea is a world record holder. According to the Guinness World Records, the dog managed to walk 100 m (328 ft) with a soda can be balanced on his head in 2 minutes and 55 seconds.”

Can you tell the difference between an Australian shepherd and Border collie? Comment down below.

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