When it comes to “all-around” dogs, Australian Shepherd is probably in the first place. Australian shepherds are a popular dog breed for many reasons, including their intelligence and sociability. They can live in any environment and are also great with children and other pets!
The Australian Shepherd has a story that only a few dog breeds can pride themselves on. There are many centuries of history and mythology behind this dog breed. Their ancestors date back thousands of years to the Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed, German shepherd dog, English collie, and Spanish Catalan sheepdog.
Today you will find people who love him and appreciate his natural agility and ability to herd, as well as those who doubt all the stories of the dog’s incredible origins and want him to be just a simple sheepdog. But they’ve evolved into so much more than just herding dogs – they make excellent companions for all sorts of owners!
So, below, we’ll cover the history of Australian Shepherd as well as the temperament you can expect from them. Then, we’ll go over their most common health concerns and touch on their appearance and grooming needs. We’ll also tell you what to anticipate regarding training, exercise needs, and their feeding and nutrition.
- Group: Herding
- Size: Medium dog-sized breeds
- Height: Males: 20 – 23 inches (51 – 58 cms); Females: 18 – 21 inches (46 – 53 cms)
- Weight: Males: 55 – 70 lb (25 – 32 kg); Females: 40 – 55 lb (18 – 25 cms)
- Exercise Needs: High
- Energy Level: High
- Grooming Needs: Moderate
- Coat: Moderately long double coat
- Color: Blue or red merle, solid black or red, and/or white markings and/or tan points or a mixture of all
- Life span: 12 -15 years
- Origin: United States
- Other Names: Australian Heelers; Aussies
- Best Suited For Families, children, dogs, other pets
#1 – History
The Australian Shepherds are known for their high talent, hard-working, and loyal. However, their name is “Australian Shepherd,” and they are not actually from Australia. Date back to the early 19th century, the Australian Shepherds were developed in America. The ranchers bred this breed to herd sheep in the western regions of the United States.
It is claimed that Australian shepherds were possibly bred from a combination of herding breeds like English and Scottish collies, German and Dutch herding dogs, and some other Australian dog breeds like Basque Shepherd. And this breed is known as the “Australian Shepherd” because they are mainly developed by Basque shepherds imported from Australia. As the breed quickly gained popularity in these regions, a dedicated group of dog lovers in California began breeding them based on their ability to help with cattle herding instead.
They were also previously known as Australian Heelers, but this term is no longer used. Australian shepherds are also sometimes called “Aussies,” for short, but the American Kennel Club does not recognize this term. Some Aussies owners created the registry of the Australian Shepherd Club of America, and the breed gained national recognition in 1957. The Australian National Kennel Council officially recognized the breed in 1960. The Australian Shepherd was first recognized by the American kennel club (AKC) in 1991 after an 18-year campaign to be fully recognized as a dog breed standard and not just a type of herding dog like many people believed.
Today, you will find that most Australian Shepherds are still involved with some herding activities. Their intelligence makes them highly versatile dogs who excel at many types of jobs, so they enjoy everything from flyball to search & rescue to skijoring!
#2 – Temperament
When it comes to the Australian shepherds, the first thing that comes into our mind is their temperament, such as loving, bold, alert, confident, independent, intelligent and responsive. They are not aggressive or shy. They are playful and love to play around with you and your family members, but they also are calm and relaxed at times and like their own space, making them a great apartment dog breed.
The Australian Shepherd is a very loyal dog breed that loves its family. They are very friendly and form tight bonds with family members, including children and other dogs, cats, or pets, and will do anything to protect them. In general, they become very attached to them and can be excellent family dog breeds! They are brilliant dogs that know what they need to do to keep everyone safe, making them excellent watchdogs.
The Australian Shepherd can also be quite stubborn at times. Still, it’s essential not to take this personally, which is just part of their personality. When they believe in something, it can be challenging to change their minds! Australian shepherds become attached to their owners, so these dogs might get destructive if left alone for long periods.
#3 – Appearance
The Australian Shepherd is a medium to large-sized herding dog breed in most cases. Australian shepherd dogs should be at least 18 inches to 23 inches tall and weigh around 40-70 pounds, depending on their gender. Females are usually smaller than males. The Australian Shepherd can be a very muscular breed due to their working backgrounds. Their body structure is solid and firm, with enough room for the heart and lungs to fit inside.
The Australian Shepherd covers the thick double coat of medium texture that protects them from cold weather conditions. Australian shepherd dogs come in four different color coat patterns. They can be blue merle, red merle (with or without white markings), solid red, and black. And the Australian Shepherd puppy may have blue eyes from birth, but their eye color would change as they mature. They usually have brown or dark blue eyes that could tend to lighten as they get older. Some of them have green or hazel colored eyes.
The Australian Shepherd has naturally erect ears as a result of their working background. Their ears are triangular-shaped and wide at the bottom. They usually stand up when the dogs are alert or excited about something. Ears are normally cropped in countries where they are still being used as working dogs, but natural ear carriage is preferred in show rings. The Australian Shepard usually has a long and bushy tail which it will often use to show its emotions. The Australian Shepard can curl its tail, but it will always remain above its backline or down if the dog feels threatened or unsure of something.
Males will also feature long tails and naturally erect ears. At the same time, females will have more rounded-shaped ears and slightly smaller bodies in general. Each Australian Shepherd has a unique look all of its own, making them difficult to reproduce precisely from one generation to the next.
#4 – Health
The average life expectancy is between 12-15 years. Australian shepherds are generally very healthy, but they may suffer from some conditions like some eye diseases that may require treatment or medical care if not taken care of properly.
However, this breed is also known to suffer from a variety of common health conditions such as:
- Lens luxation (dislocation of the crystalline lens in the eye)
- Congenital deafness (hearing loss that is present from birth)
- Hip dysplasia (abnormal formation of the hip joint)
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) (disease of the retina leading to blindness)
- Epilepsy (recurrent seizures, often without any visible signs or symptoms, constantly occurring between 6 and 9 months of age.)
- Canine compulsive disorder (behavioral problem involving repetitive actions)
- Canine herpesvirus (a respiratory disease that is usually mild in dogs but can be fatal to other animals such as cats, rabbits, and ferrets if they catch it from a dog)
- Dental disease (one of the most common chronic issues in pets if they don’t brush their teeth regularly)
Several health issues appear much less frequently in the Australian Shepherd breed but may be seen occasionally:
- Elbow dysplasia (a disease where the joint is malformed and has little or no use)
- Cataracts (when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy and affects vision)
Although the Australian Shepherd breed suffers from several health conditions, these tend to be quite rare. Still, if you’re considering buying an Australian Shepherd puppy, it would be sensible to get a certificate from the parents who show they have been screened for any hereditary conditions. It is recommended to take Australian Shepherds to a reputable dog breeder who will supply this information and give advice on the care that the breed requires, and help you choose between any Australian Shepherd puppies that they have available.
#5 – Grooming
The Australian Shepherd has a double-layered coat. Their outer coat can be straight, wavy, or curly and is often long and flowing. The under layer of the Aussie coat is thick and slightly shorter than the top layer, which reaches the ground.
Their coat sheds moderately all year round but would be slightly heavier during spring and fall shedding seasons. So, Australian shepherd dogs need a moderate amount of regular grooming to keep hair loss to a minimum and reduce hair around the house.
On average, their coat is easy to maintain, as it only has to brush and groomed 5-6 times a week to remove the loose hairs and keep its coat healthy, clean, and shiny. The dead hair that this breed sheds can cause problems within the house unless it is brushed regularly. Grooming the Australian Shepard shouldn’t be difficult as most owners brush them outside with a gentle brush meant for dogs. However, owners should care when brushing around these breeds’ heads, eyes, and ears.
However, Australian Shepherd dogs do not require stripping, plucking, or trimming. They need their nails trimmed every 4-5 weeks and ears cleaned thoroughly once a week.
#6 – Training
The Australian shepherd dog is known for being very intelligent. It’s widely considered to be the most intelligent breed of dog! This intelligence makes them easy to train and learn commands quickly, which means that you can start training your puppy early on.
Although Australian shepherd dogs are said to be excellent with kids and other pets, they have a herding instinct, and they may nip at children’s heels in an attempt to herd them. That is why it is vital to train and socialize your Australian Shepherd when they are still puppies. If they are in the right environment and get enough exercise and socialization, the Aussie would grow up to be obedient and friendly dogs always ready to play.
Australian shepherds are very intelligent dogs that can learn commands surprisingly fast. They are eager to please their owners, which makes them easy to train. However, they tend to get bored quickly, so you need to be consistent with your training and give lots of treats when they obey your command quickly. You must establish yourself as an Alpha dog when you train an Australian shepherd to avoid behavioral problems in the future. They are very affectionate and loving with children. Still, it is essential to teach them the difference between a toy and your child not to hurt your kids during playtime.
Australian shepherds love being outdoors and around people. They would rather spend time in crowded places than stay alone in a backyard all day long. Besides, Australian shepherd puppies can learn what is expected of them. To develop good temperaments, you need to start obedience training and socializing your Australian Shepherd with people and other pets early before they become stubborn and disobedient.
However, the trainer must have a firm hand to maintain control over herding dog breeds like Australian shepherds. If not, they might become too independent and will start to ignore your commands.
#7 – Exercise
Australian shepherds are often called “the working man’s dog.” Because they’re highly active breeds with a high energy level that requires plenty of exercise almost daily to keep their busy minds occupied! They are also very playful dogs that love nothing more than a fun game or some activity. And they are very energetic, and you should provide them with enough space for their physical exercise needs like playing fetch or running around the park every day.
So, Australian shepherd dogs need daily exercise for their physical health and mental stimulation to be happy, healthy dogs and live a long and healthy life. If you don’t have time to take your Australian Shepherd for long walks or runs, you should choose another breed.
As with all dogs, it’s crucial that Australian Shepherds are not over-exercised in hot weather or left outside in cold weather without appropriate clothing, shelter, and care. Dogs can suffer from heatstroke when they’re left out in the sun during the summer, which can be life-threatening, so they should always have access to fresh water and shade when it’s warm. Although the Australian Shepherd breed can cope with cold conditions, they should never be left outside in the winter without a warm coat and shelter.
#8 – Feeding & Nutrition
In a recent study, the researcher found out that overweight Australian Shepherds will have a shorter life expectancy than those healthy weight Australian Shepherds. So, they need moderate daily exercise we mentioned above. Moreover, an Australian Shepherd’s diet should consist of high-quality dog food to help them thrive and avoid feeding too much for your best four-legged friend.
Understanding how to properly feed your Australian Shepherd can not only improve its health. Still, it will also impact the way that your dog looks and feels. Here are some tips on what types of foods Aussie owners should feed their Australian Shepherd, how much to feed them per day, and what to avoid feeding them at all costs.
What should you feed your Australian Shepherd?
A balanced diet for an Australian Shepherd is a high-quality commercial dog food specifically formulated for medium-sized breeds. That means the diet is rich in fatty acids such as Omega 3 and Omega 6, minerals, and vitamins, like Tuna, Salmon, and Flaxseed. If you prefer home-cooked meals or raw diets, talk to your vet about proper nutrition for Australian Shepherds.
How much to feed your Australian Shepherd?
Depending on the activity level of your Australian Shepherd, you should be feeding them between 2-4 cups of food per day. A puppy will typically eat 4-6 cups per day, while an adult dog only needs around 3-4 cups per day. If you’re feeding a puppy, they’ll most likely eat between 3 and 4 meals per day. Adults only need 2-3 meals daily.
What to avoid feeding your Australian Shepherd?
Unfortunately, there are several foods that you should never feed an Australian Shepherd. These include chocolate, macadamia nuts, avocados, grapes/raisins, onions, and caffeine to keep your dog in optimal health.
As you can see, feeding an Australian Shepherd is not too complicated as long as you keep them on a high-quality diet that’s specifically formulated for medium breeds. If you have any further questions about your dog’s specific dietary needs or other foods you should avoid giving your Australian Shepherd, talk to your veterinarian for more information.