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The Australian Shepherd: Breed Info, History, and Tricks

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

The History of Australian Shepherds


Australian shepherd playing with herding ball
Herding Ball

The dogs that became what we now know as the Australian Shepherd were chosen for their working ability, not their bloodlines, so little is known about the history of the breed. Despite his name, the Australian Shepherd was developed in the American West, not Australia. Possible ancestors include longhaired, bobtailed, Collie-type dog breeds from Australia; German sheepdogs exported to Australia and known there as German Koolies; and herding dogs brought by Basque shepherds who came to work in the United States both before and after World War II. According to the American Kennel Club, the breed originated near the Pyrenees Mountains, where the Basque people lived and shepherded with an ancient breed of sheepdog now called the Pyrenean Shepherd.



Australian shepherd playing with herding ball
herding ball

The breed was first recognized in 1957 by the American Kennel Club as a member of the Herding Group. However, The Australian Shepherd is not registered in Australia as a native breed. In the 1970s, when the popularity of the herding dog increased, some dissolute people began marketing Australian Shepherds as miniature or toy versions and claiming they were from Australia. Neither The United States Australian Shepherd Association (aka AKC Parent club) nor Australian Shepherd breeders don't recognize these dogs as true Australian Shepherds. The breed is meant to be a functional working dog capable of herding tough stock for miles in rough country or snowdrifts, and it has no smaller size varieties.


Their Pyrenean Shepherds crossbred with other working dogs, including Collies and Border Collies, creating the modern version of the Australian Shepherd.


Physical Characteristics


The Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized breed with a strong, athletic dog. They also are good at herding, as well as dog sports, search-and-rescue, as a police dogs and work as a service dogs. Herding heights are around 18 to 21 inches (female), 20 to 23 inches (male). An adult dog's weight is around 40 to 55 pounds (female), 50 to 65 pounds (male) and Australian shepherds' life expectancy is around 12 to 15 years. The face of an Australian Shepherd is usually oval in shape with alert, almond shaped eyes and drop ears that hang close to its head. Australian shepherds are large enough to give balance support as an assistance dog, and open doors as well.


Australian shepherd playing with herding ball
Herding Ball

Their coat is thick and can be either straight or wavy with colors of blue merle, red merle, black, or red; all colors may have white markings and/or tan (copper) points, but Australian shepherds are best known for their striking merle coat. The Australian Shepherd has a long, full tail that is usually carried low or curled up over its back when the dog is at rest.


Aussies are used as aides to the physically handicapped for their agility, and strength. Law enforcements use them as a narcotic dogs for their sniffing abilities. Also an Australian shepherd dog are used as hearing dog for their extreme hearing capability. After an earthquake, search and rescue dogs can save lives in the debris of a buildings.


Australian Shepherds, after having reached full structural maturity, are great running partners for athletes of any level.

Australian Shepherd Personality Traits


The Australian Shepherd is an intelligent and active breed that loves to work. They are highly trainable, loyal dogs with an eager-to-please attitude that makes them easy to train. They thrive on physical and mental stimulation, making them great companions for people who like to stay active and enjoy outdoor activities such as running or biking. The Australian Shepherd also loves to be around people, making them wonderful family pets. They are very protective of their owners and have been known to bark when strangers approach or when there is an unfamiliar noise.




Health Concerns

The Australian Shepherd are generally healthy dogs, but they can be prone to a few genetic health problems. Some of the common health concerns include hip dysplasia, eye problems, and epilepsy. If you think about getting an Australian Shepherd puppy; you should definitely find a responsible breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents.



Australian shepherd playing with herding ball
HerdingBall

Australian Shepherd Hip Dysplasia Symptoms are usually lameness, troubling in standing up, limping, not wanting to jump up or climb stairs, and a dislike of having the hip area touched or manipulated. In more serious cases, a muscle loss can be seen in the affected area. The hip dysplasia is seen as a genetic malformation and occurs when the hip joint does not properly fit into the hip socket.


The United States Australian Shepherd Association recommends breeders test for cataracts , autoimmune thyroiditis, drug sensitivities, and collie eye anomaly (CEA) to avoid passing on to their litters. Experts who study genetic conditions in Aussies recommend dogs with close relatives who have had hereditary cancer—such as lymphoma.


Preferring to get an aussie puppy from pet store, instead of an adult dog from animal shelters; check for his/her origins come from a reputable breeder or not. Good breeders watch out their breeding dogs for genetic diseases, sell puppies only with a written contract, and guarantee a home for any dog they breed if the owner becomes unable to keep him.



Australian Shepherd Exercise Needs


It is important to make sure your Australian Shepherd is getting regular exercise, healthy food, and plenty of love. By doing this you can help ensure a long and happy life with your pet.


The Australian Shepherd is an active breed that needs a lot of exercise and activity. They love to run, play, and explore, so having a large yard or access to long walks in the park will help keep your pet happy and healthy. This breed is very loyal and loves to be around their owners, so make sure you are providing them with plenty of activity and attention. Aussies typically aren't good apartment dogs due to their high energy level.


Australian shepherds were bred to herd livestock, but if you are not planning to herd sheep with your shepherd dog, you need a herding ball like CollieBall, for it can provide both exercise and mental stimulation by a vigorous exercise and fun.






However, they can excel at other dog sports and jobs as well. Their high energy and constant need to keep busy will most likely suit someone with an active lifestyle, as the Australian Shepherd will not be very fond of spending a lot of time indoors.


Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work–usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.


Australian Shepherd Grooming Needs


The Australian Shepherd has a medium length coat that needs regular brushing and bathing. It is important to brush the coat once or twice a week to keep it free of dirt, debris, and tangles, says Australian shepherd club. Weekly brushing will also keep your Australian shepherd's double layer blue merle coat as waterproof. The more frequent grooming, the better if your family companion is a mud and dirt lover. This breed also needs regular baths, which should be done two to four times a year, depending on their level of activity.

Herding Ball for dogs
Herding Ball

During shedding season, though, more work will be required. During this period an undercoat rake can be used every two or three days to remove the abundant dead hair, followed by a cleanup with the wire brush.


An Australian shepherd dog often wear his nails down naturally, but it is good to check them frequently if they need a trim. Keeping the ears clean, and brushing their teeth can help prevent dental disease and good for overall health.


Nutrition


The Australian Shepherd is an active shepherd dog breed and will need a diet that fit their energy. A high-quality dry dog food should provide them with the necessary proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to meet their daily requirements. It is important to measure out the right amount of food for your Australian shepherd puppy based on their age, size, and activity level to help prevent obesity. In addition to their regular diet, you can provide them with healthy treats such as cooked vegetables or fruits that are low in sugar.


Australian Shepherd Dog Behavior Training


Australian Shepherds are intelligent breeds and respond well to positive reinforcement training. It is important to establish yourself as the leader of your pack early on, so basic obedience training should be done from a young age, like other dogs. Starting with commands such as 'sit' and 'come', you can move onto more difficult commands like 'heel' or 'down'.


If you get an Australian Shepherd puppy, join a group puppy class as soon as they're old enough. The socialization and training foundation will set you up for success. And if you adopt an adult Aussie, group obedience classes are still a great way to work on socialization and nail the basics.



Herding Ball - CollieBall
Herding Ball

Socialization Strategies


Like other dogs socialization is an important part of having a well-behaved family pet. Exposing your Australian Shepherd to a variety of people, animals, and environments can help them have the confidence to behave properly in different situations. Providing regular opportunities for socialization will help keep your pup happy and comfortable with new experiences.


A well-adjusted Australian shepherd is good with cats, other dogs, other pets and children under supervision—though their herding instincts mean they may try to employ those skills on small children or other pets by nipping at ankles. As with any dog, it's important to socialize your Aussie from a young age, and to teach children how to properly interact with dogs.


Like most herding breeds, the Australian Shepherd has an inborn protective streak and can be wary of strangers. He's not a friendly dog with everyone he meets, even with plenty of socialization. Without early and frequent socialization, the Aussie can become shy or aggressive in the presence of people he doesn't know.



Herding BAll for dogs
Herding Ball


Summary of Australian Shepherd Breed Information

The Australian Shepherd is an intelligent, loyal, and active breed. They require consistent training and socialization to help them become well-behaved members of the family. Australian shepherds heritage as a working dog makes him a loyal companion who can be protective of home and family and aloof with strangers. With the right amount of attention and care, they can make wonderful lifelong companions. Their natural herding instinct makes them great at activities such as flyball or herding ball, like collieball. They are also known for their signature coat of black and white markings, but can come in numerous other colors as well. Unlike other dog breeds other animals refers, Australian shepherd is not native to Australia, rather a mixture of some European heritage and American west.



Australian Shepherds are high-energy dogs who need plenty of physical activity like running or playing fetch. They can also benefit from activities like behavior training and agility which will help them learn to focus their energy in the right direction. Socialization is also important, as it helps this breed get along with other dogs and people. An Australian Shepherd need a great amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they do like to spend their time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.



With proper socialization, Australian Shepherds can become well-mannered family members. As always, be sure to provide plenty of love and affection to your Australian Shepherd. They can be devoted, loyal companions when given the right amount of care and attention. With regular exercise, mental stimulation, and lots of love, this breed is sure to bring years of joy to any home.

All in all, Australian Shepherds are a wonderful breed with a lot of potential. The dog breed is highly intelligent, loyal companions that will provide hours of entertainment and companionship for their owners. With the right amount of care and attention, they can become devoted family members who love to spend time with their humans. If you’re interested in owning an Australian Shepherd, be sure to do your research and find out what’s best for you and your pup. The Australian Shepherd may be the perfect breed for you!




According to American Kennel Club, majority of their rescue dogs come from individual owner surrender, with the most common reasons being a change in lifestyle or the breed not being right for the owner. Aussies often end up in rescue because owners become overwhelmed by the amount of exercise and activity they need, but adult Aussies can be an amazing addition if you have a parallel life style for your new family member. If you think an aussie rescue or other dogs, check breed specific rescue groups, national breed club to help you out.


Good luck on your new adventure with your Aussie!

FAQ


Are Australian Shepherds a good house dog?


An Australian Shepherd as his name implies is a herding dog and needs a good plain area to herd. Therefore it is not recommended that they be kept as a house dog. However, with adequate exercise and training an Aussie can make a great family pet.


What 2 breeds make an Australian Shepherd?


Their Pyrenean Shepherds crossbred with other working dogs, including Collies and Border Collies, creating the modern version of the Australian Shepherd. Reputable breeders can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the dog breed and the steps they takes take to avoid those problems in the dog's life.

What are Australian Shepherd dogs known for?


Australian Shepherds are known for their intelligence, loyalty, agility and athleticism. They are also great at herding livestock such as sheep and cattle, making them ideal working dogs. They have an innate sense of direction and understanding of commands which makes them a wonderful companion to farmers and ranchers alike.


Do Aussie shepherds bark a lot?

An Australian Shepherd is generally not considered to be barker. However, like any other shepherd dog breed, they can become vocal if they feel threatened or excited. It is important for an Aussie owner to provide enough mental and physical stimulation to keep their pup from becoming bored and restless; otherwise, excessive barking may occur.




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