Australian Shepherds, also known as “Aussies”, are medium sized dogs that are excellent with children. Their easy, playful nature suits even active children.They are very intelligent and can be relied upon to do tasks.
They are very loyal and are good guard dogs. While they are aggressive as herd dogs, Aussies are gentle with human owners. However, they require a lot of exercise and attention.
Origin & History
As their name Shepherd implies, the Aussie was initially bred for their sheep herding ability in the landscape and climate of the American West in the 19th century.
There is no concrete basis as to why they are called “Australian”. Australian Shephed is believed to have originated from the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France.
The Spanish dogs that came with Basque shepherds and herds of Merino sheep are probably the forebears of the Australian Shepherds in the US.
Details & Specifications
There are two main classifications for the Aussie, Work Dog, and Show Dog. They both conform to the Aussie’s breeding standards but vary in their coat and bone structure. Those breed for shows usually have a heavier bone structure, longer and fuller coats, in comparison to the “work line”.
Aussies are usually 20 to 23 inches (18 to 21 inches tall) at the withers. They can be black, red, marbled black and gray (termed blue merle), or marbled red and silver (termed red merle). They may or may not have naturally bobbed tails.
The Aussie is very intelligent, loyal and energetic animal. Because of this Aussies, require about 2-3 hours a day of exercise and attention. Their breeding as rural worker herding other animals gives them a strong sense of ownership, hence they are well suited to guard the property and possessions of their owners.
They may bark warnings on the approach of intruders or other unknown people. Their intelligence allows for them to guard odd “herd” animals such as ducks or geese. Aussies are eager to please their owners, affectionate, agile and attentive. They love to play and are very good with children.
Aussies are very trainable. The ordinary reward and punishment techniques apply to them.
Caring & Nurturing (Haircut, Fur treatment, washing…)
Aussies are average shedders, and need weekly brushing, and baths when needed.
They need regular exercise or else they become restless and unpredictable. They are best suited for owners with an active lifestyle. They may be taken on daily walks, jogs, or runs. They would thrive very well in big spaces where they can play and run. They cannot tolerate apartments and cramp living spaces.
Major concerns among Aussies are Collie eye anomaly (CEA) and cataracts, iris coloboma, canine hip dysplasia (CHD), nasal solar dermatitis, hypothyrodism, and Pelger—Huet syndrome. The eye and ear problems are carried by the gene for the merle coloration so it is highly recommended to check the merle puppies before any purchase.
Food, Equipment & Games
Aussies do not require special diets. They thrive on a regular dog food diet. They enjoy playing hide-and-seek, fetching Frisbee, and other physical exercises to channel their boundless energy.