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The Australian Shepherd has a history of a working dog. They are an energetic and reliable dog breed that has an impulse for herding everything- children, birds, dogs, and other animals. It is also an intelligent breed that can be too much for a sedimentary dog owner occasionally.
Australian Shepherds are loyal and like close contact with its people. It will stray on your legs and the lap if you let it. They are friendly, easy to train, entertaining, and excellent assistant dogs. You will also love its variation of long colorful coats.
When you feel like getting a dog, there are many things you look out for in a breed. The Australian Shepherd has so many great qualities, but it is not the best for everyone. You should be devoted and willing to match your dog’s personality. The criteria it fits are people looking for a trainable, tireless partner that is intelligent for most work and sporting activities.
What to Know When Buying an Australian Shepherd
The Origin of the Australian Shepherd
The name is misleading as the Australian Shepherd is not from Australia. The breed developed first from the Western United States during the Gold Rush period of 1840. It was useful as a working dog because of its high energy and as an entertainer dog for its playfulness and intelligence.
Its bloodline and possible ancestors are the bobtailed, longhaired, or the collie-type German Shepard. The Basque workers from Spain that worked in Australia and later the United States moved with this dog breed.
It is a famous dog in most farms to date and one of the happiest dog breeds when it has work to do. In farms, it is responsible for rounding cattle, guiding horses to their chutes, and herding sheep, geese, and ducks. In modern times people find it useful as search and rescue dogs.
What Is the Size of an Australian Shepard?
The puppies are cute and adorable, misleading to how sizable the adult can grow to become. The Australian Shepard is a mid sized dog that has the males getting slightly bigger and heavier than females.
The male can grow up to 20-23-inches tall while the females reach 18-21-inches tall. When fully grown, an adult male Australian shepherd can weigh up to 51-64 pounds while the female will weigh around 31-44 pounds.
If you go by these specifications, the female dog Australian shepherd is midsize while the male is large. If you want to know how big your puppy will get, you look at its parents. Most puppies take after their parents in size and personality.
How Much Grooming Does an Australian Shepherd Need?
It is not the easiest dog breed for grooming, and much is expected from you if you want to keep your dog looking well-kempt. Because the underfur of the Australian Shepherd varies in thickness, regular grooming is required. It will keep your dog’s hairs from entangling and becoming matted.
If you get this dog, expect it to shed a lot. Some molt at least twice a year, during fall and spring, while some other breeds can shed continuously throughout the year.
The Australian Shepherd has a double coat to keep it warm during winter and cool when summer arrives. The undercoat is thicker, while the outer layer is straight, silky, and long. You should groom your dog at least once a week to keep your pet’s body comfortable and the skin healthy.
During the shedding season, you should groom your dog at least once a day to keep the loose fur away and to avoid matting and entangling. By brushing regularly, you will insulate your dog from both heat and cold temperature conditions.
One observation is that Australian Shephards that stay indoors during the shedding season do not shed a lot. The warmth and central heat of your house keep the dog warm, and it will not need to grow an underfur to counter the outside environment.
What Are the Australian Shepherds Dog’s Characteristics?
Most lines of the Australian Shephards are quite energetic, hyperactive, tireless, and quick moving. However, some lines are milder, calmer, and more relaxed. But to keep your Australian dog happy, you must stimulate them physically and mentally.
Boredom leads to negative behavior, and it will bark or get destructive by chewing on things. An Australian Shepherd will demand lots of your time and attention. You will need to stay with it regularly to make sure it is occupied and that it expends most of its energy in gainful activities.
It is friendly, and you should start the socialization process when it is still a pup. Some breeds can be timid and not readily sociable, but early socialization will reduce shyness and hostility. Dominant breeds will chase after cats and other animals. If you introduce them to other animals early, they might just learn to co-exist together peacefully.
Australian Shepherds excel in most competitions at the highest level. They are intelligent and take to training favorably. But, some lines can be challenging to train because of their high energy. When training pups, ensure you get their attention before giving commands.
One of the popular breeds is the miniature Australian Shepherd. As the name suggests, the mini Australian Shepard is a small Aussie that can be less physical than full-size breeds. Despite its size, it will still need just as much mental stimulation as the full-size breeds.
How Intelligent Is My Australian Shepherd?
Some owners consider it a highly intelligent dog breed that gets commands with fewer repetitions than most dog breeds. According to Stanley Coren’s list of dog intelligence, it ranks 66 from the 138 qualified dog breeds. Such a statistic makes the Australian Shepard an average intelligent dog.
Most people argue against Coren’s criteria of dog intelligence because it measures only the ability to learn and obedience of the dog breed. Yet, it is the only standard way of measuring dog intelligence.
Coren’s criteria include
How many repetitions a dog breed needs to understand a new command. The lines that need fewer repetitions are more intelligent than the ones that need more.
How successful a dog breed obeys a command they know within the first attempt. A high success means the dog is highly intelligent and obedient.
In comparison, Australian Shepherds were able to learn a new command after 25-40 attempts and only obeyed a known command 50 percent of the time.
According to Coren’s criteria, the most intelligent dogs are the Labrador retriever, Golden retriever, German Shepard, poodle, and Doberman. They can learn new commands with less than five attempts and are obedient to known commands 95 percent on the first attempt.
There is no way of getting a standardized test. Colin’s criteria evaluate intelligence based on obedience. When using this method, different dogs respond to different motivations. While some will respond actively to their owners, others prefer food or their toys as motivators.
Training Australian Shepherds
There are many things you should know when starting to train your Australian Shepherd puppy. The best training should take place when it is still young, and immediately it settles in its new environment. When training your Aussie dog, you should be aware of its traits to make you understand its strengths and weaknesses.
For starters, the Australian Shepherd is highly energetic and playful. If you do not train it, it will find other ways to keep itself busy, and you may not like the results. Keep in mind that it is a breed that needs as much mental training as it does physical. If you lean on physical exercise too much, your dog may grow up on a permanent high of energy, barking, and overhyped.
Health-Related Concerns of an Australian Shepherd
All dog breeds have the potential to acquire genetic diseases. Different dogs have different genetic disorders based on the traits and each dog behavior.
The Australian Shepherd is not so much different. Among its common illnesses are;
It is inherited and known to cause lameness on both or one of the rear legs. Hip dysplasia can sometimes exist without showing any critical symptoms. You should be observant and take your dog for regular veterinary checkups.
Hip dysplasia occurs when the femur does not fit well into the pelvic socket of the dog’s hip joint. As your dog ages, it may develop arthritis as well.
You should never breed dogs that have a history of hip dysplasia, and you should ask for proof of hip dysplasia testing when buying an Australian Shepherd.
It is a hereditary disorder, and it causes pain or lameness if left untreated. It is common in large dog breeds and is a result of different bones’ growth rates on your dog’s elbow. Common remedies include correctional surgery or pain medication.
Epilepsy causes seizures in Australian Shepherds and is a disease that has no cure. You can treat it with medication, and your dog can live a healthy life with proper care and management.
It is common for the Australian Shepherd to develop this complication. It is not curable; hence the loss of hearing poses lots of challenges to dog owners. To train a deaf dog is not what people want but have to at times. If this happens to you, consider hiring a professional to train your dog’s behavioral and mental attitude.
Blindness and Eye Disease
There are many forms of eye complications that can affect your pet, and some can lead to permanent blindness. They include Collie Eye Anomaly (genetic), and persistent pupillary membrane memory can be corrected.
Allergies in dogs take place in many forms, just like in humans. Your dog can be allergic to certain types of foods. You can treat such kinds of allergy by identifying and changing the diet.
Other allergies are nasal and airborne, which will make your dog may react to allergens such as dust and pollen. Contact allergens are also typical for most Australian Shepherd dogs. When your dog gets in contact with allergens, they come through their skin or paws like shampoo, bedding, fleas, and other chemicals.
Sensitivity to Particular Drugs
It is often as a result of the mutation of the Multidrug Resistance Gene (MDR1), which forms a protein known as P-glycoprotein. It is this protein that pumps out toxic substances from your Australian Shepherd. If your dog shows signs of drug sensitivity, it means the active protein P-glycoprotein is absent.
Similar to humans, dogs can get cancer too. All cancer cases are individual and should be treated differently. You can eliminate some forms of cancer through chemotherapy, while others like tumors are through surgery.
Ensure that you give your dog all the shots it needs for good health. It will make it safe when it is around other dogs and protect it from prone health complications.
What Are the Various Types of Australian Shepherd Dogs?
The most noticeable features of the Australian Shepherd are the color of the eyes and the variations of the skin coat. There are only four fur coat colors available.
Blue Merle Australian Shepherd
The name suggests the blue effect you will find on the coat of the dog. There can be shades of gray spots that range from dark to silver. The spots can be widespread large patches or some tiny specs in different places. It is common for blue merle and mini Australian shepherds to have white markings on the chest, face, legs, and underbelly.
The color intonations include
- solid blue merle,
- blue merle, copper, and white
- blue merle, and white
Black Tri Australian Shepherd
It is among the basic color coats of most Australian Shepherds and Mini Australian Shepherds. In most cases, the black coat comes with white or copper markings on the face, legs, chest, or underbelly. You can find some with copper points on the legs and tail as well.
Color variations include
- Black and white with copper markings. Also called Black tri
- Black and white. Also called Black bicolor
- Solid Black.
Red Tri Australian Shepherd
The same variations also apply for the Red Tri Mini Australian Shepherd. The red color intonation may vary, ranging from light, dark, cinnamon, and dark liver aspects. It is common for them to have white markings on the chest, face, underbelly, and legs. Some have copper markings on the legs and face.
Color variations include;
- Red Tri.
- Red and White with Copper
- Red Bicolor
- . Red and White
- Solid Red
Red Merle Australian Shepherd
It means your dog will have a combination of red spots and patches all over the body. The size of the patches will vary, as well as the color intonations and range. It can have white spots on the face, chest, legs, and underbelly. Some have copper markings on the face and legs.
The same applies to the mini Australian Shepherd as well. The color variations include
- Solid Red merle
- Red and white merle
- Red merle, copper, and white
How Many Australian Shepherd Dog breeds are Available?
Australian Shepherd Mix
There are many ways to think of an Australian shepherd mix dog. When you breed a purebred Australian shepherd with another brilliant pure breed dog, you get an Australian Shepherd mix. There are many other successful breeds you can find today.
Australian Shepherd Border Collie
It is a combination of two highly intelligent and energetic breeds into one package. It is a smart crossbreed that works successfully to give you a complete working dog. The secret to a successful breed mix is understanding the individual traits of both parents. To get the best breed, you should consider breeding only pure breeds.
The Australian Shepherd Border Collie mix has good personality traits. Both have a herding background and will, therefore, make excellent workaholics. Everything can be worked on, including cleaning up their toys when well trained.
Both parents are work breeds, so before getting this Australian Shepherd Border Collie mix, make sure you can give them daily exercises. The occasional walk in the park is not enough for this super energetic dog breed mix.
Both breeds are eager to please their owners. Training will be easy, but it does not mean you should skip training as it impacts their future behavior. They will grow to medium size, with males weighing between 45-50 pounds and females weighing between 35-45 pounds. The size of males is 21-23-inches, while the female is 18-21-inches.
Australian Shepherd Lab Mix
If you mix the Australian Shepherd with the Labrador Retriever, you will get a medium to large breed result. It will weigh between 40-80 pounds. They can stand between 18-24-inches tall.
Its most impressive quality is its loyalty, energetic, fun-loving, and intelligent breeds. These two breeds have a working background and will be active and playful. Labrador retrievers are useful in getting fowl, and fish that the owner has hunted down. Aussies are herd dogs.
Their current working roles may include entertainers and rescue dogs as they have amazing talents and excellent temperament. Both breeds have double coats and will shed a lot, and grooming should be regular to maintain their coat and prevent them from matting and entangling.
Training is an essential part that determines the behavior of your Australian Shepherd Lab mix. They must not get bored as it impacts negatively on their overall behavior as well. You should give them regular exercise and walks in the park daily.
They have a life expectancy of between 12- 15 years and will be active for most years. You must check its nutrition to ensure you give it healthy meals to impact its growth.
Toy Australian Shepherd
The Toy Australian Shepherd is the smallest of all Aussies. Its original size is between 10-14-inches tall and can weigh up to 12 to 17 pounds. It has a background in herding, and like its standard Australian Shepherd, it is highly energetic.
Training is easy as it is eager to learn and to please, but you must ensure eye contact to make them learn commands. They are intelligent as well and will learn and remember tricks and commands. If you want a friendly companion, the Toy Australian Shepherd is loving and will be around you all the time.
They do not know how to get bored. If you do not work them, they will find other ways of keeping busy. When training them, it is crucial to teach both mental and physical awareness to get plenty of stimulation. They are small but still have the work ethics of the standard Aussies. They are confident and friendly to herd both small and big animals.
Toy Australian Shepherds can live up to 12 t0 13 years and litter from 5-8 puppies.
Mini Australian Shepherd
They also have double coat fur to keep them warm and cool during winter and summer. They are smaller than standard Australian Shepherds but slightly massive than the Toy Australian Shepherd.
It weighs up to 25-40 pounds, and its size is between 15-18-inches tall. Males are often larger than females. Besides the size, everything else is similar to the standard Australian Shepherd, including personality and temperament. They are friendly and workaholic dogs that have lots of energy that they must expend every day.
Miniature Australian Shepherd is a result of breeding short standard Aussie until the puppies remain true to mini size and type.
What Temperaments Do Australian Shepherds Have?
The Australian Shepherd Personality
The personality will vary from dog to dog as the bloodline of the parents determines this. Most are standard for every Australian Shepherd, and they include intelligence and companionship. Almost all Australian Shepherds are friendly and outgoing, but some lines are calm and restrained.
Aussies are easy to keep happy as long as they are well-fed, have constant human company, and get enough stimulation and activities. It is vital to trace the bloodline of the pup you intend to buy. From the parents, you can almost determine what kind of personality your puppy will have.
Are They Friendly?
Australian Shepherds is not one of the dog breeds that enjoy some alone time. They are most happy when you give them attention and companionship every day. They also enjoy spending time with their owners.
As a family pet, everybody should contribute to keeping this dog busy. It is energetic and does need to blow out some steam. Taking it for a walk is not enough; you need to keep it active by regular runs and training to keep it smart.
Even though they enjoy lots of physical activities, they like it when it is with their owner. Aussies are excellent swimmers and suitable for sporting activities like jumping and jogging.
They are excellent with children, but no matter how friendly a dog is, you should never leave it unsupervised with your child.
How Do Australian Shepherds Relate with Other Dogs?
Most are friendly with other dog breeds, but some can be bossy and intimidating, making them have disagreements. Despite their overt friendliness, Australian Shepherds are not readily close to dogs that are strangers to them. But if you raise them together with other dogs, Aussies will grow up befriending them.
To reduce aggression between Australian Shepherds and other dogs, you must socialize them. They are highly alert dogs, and strange creatures and animals may invoke aggression in some lines.
What is Their Body Language?
Australian Shepherds are generally happy dogs. What you will get from their body language is mostly tail wagging and curious head movements. But when your dog faces adversity or is in pain, you must also be able to note the difference.
It is rare to find a shy and laid back Australian Shepherd and very odd if your happy and fun-loving dog becomes dull and bored. This can mean they are sick or depressed. Either way, you must resolve and get them back to their energetic state.
You should also check for signs of aggression when you meet with strangers and other animals like dogs and cats. They can be aggressive when they do not know a place or other animals. Because of their energy, they can chase cats and other animals. Early socialization to places, items, and other animals makes them aware of their environment.
What Natural Instincts Do They Possess?
Australian Shepherds are best for herding and work dogs. When growing up around other animals, they tend to be bossy and show their herding background. Sometimes this does not fair well with other animals and engages in minor confrontations.
However, Aussies are friendly and will not be quick to engage in attacks. But if the parents are trained as hunters and guard dogs, your Australian Shepherd pup can develop aggressive tendencies. It is easy to identify your dog’s triggers and prevent it from engaging other animals in confrontations.
Australian Shepherds might not show aggression to their owners or even other dogs but might become aggressive to strangers. Sometimes dogs want just to protect their owners and are also territorial. They will back off when strangers approach, and you should not read much from this passive aggression.
What Is the Best Nutrition for Your Australian Shepherd?
Australian Shepherds are energetic and will need more food that is low in calories and rich in nutrients. The meals should not only satisfy your dog’s cravings but add value to their growth and health.
Finding the best food for your Aussie can be challenging, as it must support the high energy without promoting obesity in your dog. The diet should be rich in animal protein and an adequate balance of fatty acids to support the growth of a healthy coat.
Carbohydrates are essential for digestion, fiber, and supplemental energy. Keep in mind that dogs cannot easily digest plant materials. Hence, the best source of carbohydrates is fresh vegetables and whole grains.
The success of healthy feeding is giving your dog a nutritious and balanced meal every time.
How to Train Your Australian Shepherd Puppy
Teach it its Name
It is essential that when you bring your puppy home, make sure to socialize with the rest of the family members. Let it know all the strange voices of people and other animals so that it can get used to its environment.
When teaching your dog its name, ensure that you make it known you are calling it. One way to know this is to see if it responds with eye contact when you call its name repetitively. It is also important to teach it its name before teaching it other commands.
Teaching an Australian Shepherd is challenging because they easily get distracted by other fun things taking place in their environment. Obedience lessons should establish authority.
How to Housebreak Your Australian Shepherd?
Housebreaking your dog means teaching it to poop and urinate outside and not in the house. This kind of training is more of a habit and consistency. You should make sure that you take your dog outside after every 2-3 hours of feeding.
Australian Shepherds are so energetic; hence their metabolism will grind food much faster than other dogs. You should ensure the intervals between feeding times and potty training are convenient for your dog.
Committing to the Training of Your Australian Shepherd
Their kind of behavior your dog will adopt when it is fully grown depends on your commitment. Australian shepherds are overly friendly, and this makes them needy. You should make time to give it regular exercise and training to grow with the right mental and physical stimulation.
How to Crate Train Your Australian Shepherd?
Crate training helps your puppy learn to housebreak as well. Because dogs do not like to mess where they lie, they will not defecate or urinate until when they can no longer hold it anymore. Crate training is not a punishment to lock your dog in when you do not want to play with it.
Crate training is also essential when your dog is still young, so that it gets used to it. When in the vets or during transportation, pets have to be inside cages. It is not cruel; it is a form of protecting them.
When crate training, ensure that your dog has enough room to run around and keep energetic. For larger dogs, it is best to lock them in crates with enough legroom and headroom to make them comfortable.
The crate location in your house is also essential. The pup should not feel isolated but rather out of the way. You can place it under a table or somewhere the puppy can see people walk in and out of the room.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Groom an Australian Shepherd?
An Australian Shepherd has long and double fur coats, which make them shed a lot. They will need constant grooming to keep their skin breathable and healthy. Grooming is every day, and you should use a brush with long bristles and a long tooth rake for the undercoat.
Gentle brushing along the fur lines is helpful, and when you reach places with some entanglement, you should comb slowly to avoid opening the coat. Grooming your dog’s coat well makes it have insulation against both cold and warm temperatures.
Which Is Better, Border Collie or Australian Shepherd?
They are both energetic breeds that have a background in herding and as work dogs. The better of the two lines is perhaps the Australian Shepherd Border Collie mix. With both sets of genes, the litters can get the best of both breeds.
Both breeds are caring and intelligent dogs. You should keep them engaged and regular training to keep their behavior in check.
When Will My Australian Puppy Stop Growing?
Australian Shepherds are mid-sized dogs, and like other dogs, there is no difference in growth time. To reach its full height, it will take between 16-18 months. Most Australian Shepherds reach their maximum weight by the time they reach two years of age.
Should I Shave My Australian Shepherds Coat?
You should avoid shaving your Australian Shepherds coat since by doing so, you make it susceptible to bugs and skin diseases. When it is hot, the coating protects your dog from the hot sun and acts as a natural sunscreen for your dog. Regular grooming is vital to keep the shed fur from falling off everywhere.
You can also wash it at least once every week with dog shampoo. While others can shave their Australian Shepherd, the idea is to trim the excess coat in specific areas. You should cut the hair around the eyes for better vision and also around its legs and tail. A close shave is not ideal.
Is an Australian Shepherd Good for Hunting?
They are intelligent dogs that love running and chasing after things and other animals. When well trained, your Australian Shepherd can become a good hunting dog. However, you should mix it with other hunting dogs that are fast and have the power to hold down the game.
Before you buy an Australian Shepherd, you must be willing to commit to a lifelong companionship. It is a loving and caring breed that has family values and loyalty above all else. You will enjoy having it around for many years as it has a long life span as well.
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36 years old, been hunting and fishing my entire life – love the outdoors, family, and all kinds of hunting and fishing! I have spent thousands of hours hunting hogs and training hunting dogs, but I’m always learning new stuff and really happy to be sharing them with you! hit me up with an email in the contact form if you have any questions.