Australian Shepherd breed originally from United States. Also known as Aussie, Little Blue Dog.
|Rank by UKC (2020 year)||12 of 195|
|Other names||Aussie, Little Blue Dog|
|From country||United States|
|Standards||Kennel Club 🔗; FCI 🔗|
|Breed groups||Herding (UKC)|
|Life span||12 - 15 years|
|Height female||18-21 inches (46-53 cm)|
|Height male||20-23 inches (52-58cm)|
|Weight female||40-55 pounds (18-25 kg)|
|Weight male||50-65 pounds (25-29 kg)|
|Colors||black,blue merle,red,red merle|
|Litter Size||6 - 9 puppies|
|Puppy Price||Average $600 - $1000 USD|
Australian Shepherd breed image
High-sensitivity dogs can take some of the owner's actions close to the heart. If you shout too loudly at the dog, ignore the dog or your kid pulls its tail It may take offense. Low sensitivity dogs or "tolerant" dogs take it easier. If you are an emotional person, too busy, sometimes ignore the dog, have young kids, then we don't recommend taking a high-sensitivity dog.
Kid-friendly dogs are tolerant to kid's behavior like hugs and attempts to saddle and other "games". It behaves kindly to kids. A no-kid-friendly dog doesn't tolerate such an attitude. You need to know that it's possible to teach dogs of any breed to be kid-friendly. But anyway You mustn't leave the kid and dog alone!
Dog-friendly characteristics highly depend on dog socialization, breed isn't the only factor. Dogs with high friendliness will play with other dogs or just be calm. Low-friendly dogs will try to fight, bark or run away.
|Friendly Toward Strangers||
The stranger-friendly dog will show nice behavior when your friends or visitors come to you. No stranger-friendly breed can be aggressive and attack them. Others will be shy or even afraid of your guests. But anyway if your dog has got good socialization lessons It will be stranger-friendly no matter what breed. And also if you have found that breed has a five-star rating of Stranger-friendly and you are not going to train this dog It can be aggressive to your visitors.
|Amount Of Shedding||
Dogs tend to shed, and it is completely normal for a certain amount of dog hair to end up either on your clothes or inside your house. Importantly, the amount of shedding differs from breed to breed. For example, some dogs shed throughout the year, others shed at key seasonal times, and some may do a little bit of both. However, some dogs barely shed at all. Depending on your preferences and standards, be sure to pick a dog breed with this in mind.
|Easy To Groom||
It is important to remember that some dog breeds require more maintenance than others. While some can be brushed on the go, other breeds may benefit from regular clipping, grooming, and bathing. Assessing how much time and money you are willing to spend on maintenance needs is certainly something to consider.
Some dogs are victims of irresponsible breeding practices, and this may cause them health problems down the road. One example of this is hip dysplasia, which is a genetic health problem. However, keep in mind that not every dog will develop these issues, although they are more likely to. If you decide to adopt a puppy, it is best to find out about any genetic illness that may be associated with its breed. For more information, you may also wish to consult with a shelter or rescue that can supply you with the knowledge of the physical health of the puppy’s parents or siblings.
|Easy To Train||
Interestingly, some dog breeds are easier to train than others. For example, select breeds may form a greater number of associations between words (“stay”), actions (staying), and outcomes (receiving a reward). Others may take more time and attention to train. Dogs are extremely intelligent but may want to know what is in it for them if they comply with your request. This is where games and rewards may come in handy.
Certain dog breeds are adept at specific jobs. For example, a dog that is bred for its intelligence, concentration, and quick decision-making may be used to successfully herd livestock and need more mental stimulation than a dog that is bred to be a runner and needs more physical exercise. Knowing your dog’s needs helps you know how to keep them properly engaged and out of mischief (such as chewing and digging). Examples include interactive toys and activities, including obedience training for those who need mental engagement, as well as search and rescue activities for those who are meant to be more active and employ their keen senses.
|Tendency To Bark Or Howl||
It is important to note that vocalization differs among dog breeds. Some are more vocal, and all of them bark and howl with different pitches. One example to consider is a hound. Would the pitch of their barking and howling get on your nerves or would you think it was somewhat musical? Is your dog breed notorious for hunting and would constantly chase and howl at nearby wildlife? If your dog is more alert and makes a good watchdog, will it bark at everyone it meets? These are some elements to consider when choosing a dog breed, as well as whether you have neighbors, or any noise restrictions are in place.
Dogs who have a lot of energy may have been bred for certain jobs, including herding livestock or retrieving game for hunters. Therefore, they will need quite a bit of interaction and exercise. They will be more energetic and probably engage in activities like playing, running, tumbling, and checking out new smells and sights. Conversely, other breeds may be low-energy and like to lounge on the couch with you, nap, and watch Netflix. Whichever dog breed you choose, simply consider what your own activity level and lifestyle are like and pick a dog breed that suits it.
Different dog breeds require different levels of exercise. Some may be content with a leisurely stroll in the evening, and other breeds may want to make several vigorous laps around the block. Depending on what they were bred to do, such as hunt or herd, their energy levels will match those activities. Dogs who are high-energy and do not have enough exercise might gain weight and engage in behaviors such as digging, chewing, and barking. High-energy dogs will likely match the best with individuals who are active and love the outdoors or are interested in training their dog for competitions.
|Potential For Playfulness||
Personalities of dog breeds vary widely. Some are always up for playing and stay in a puppy state of mind. Other breeds tend to be more serious and enjoy their downtime. It is best for individuals to consider whether the thought of a playful puppy is exciting or whether they mainly just want a couch companion. Other factors to consider include whether you have children or additional pets. Another option is adopting a dog that is a bit older and less demanding but still enjoys interacting and playing.
- Despite the “speaking” name of the breed, the USA is considered the birthplace of the Australians.
- The dogs are easily trainable and, hence, are often used for duty or as a guide dog.
- Aussies are known for their friendliness, which makes them easily get along with other animals.
- The fact that they look so good-natured does not they’re incapable of fighting back.
- The dogs of this breed require 60 minutes of exercise every day.
- Australian Shepherds are not the best option for keeping indoors, but frequent walks can pretty much compensate for this.
- These animals are hyper-responsible and can look after a child, cat or hamster for several hours.
- An inexperienced owner will not be able to suppress the dominant personality of their pet.
- Aussies need careful grooming (especially for the coat).
The Australian Shepherd is a balanced combination of good looks and great intelligence. These dogs are known all over the world as reliable and loyal companions who will cheer you up with their funny tricks. For Aussies, there is no better entertainment than an active walk with the owner in a city park. These animals truly enjoy the company of their family and don’t like to be alone for a long time. This charming furry will show you by its example what it means to be truly optimistic and having fun all day long!
The History of the Australian Shepherd’s Breed
Despite the fact that more than half a century has been devoted to the study of the Australian Shepherd, experts still haven’t reached a consensus on the issue of its origin. It is thought that the breed was bred in the United States, but the history of the appearance of the Aussie still goes back to Australia and is associated with the name of Eliza Forlong, who was the ancestor of the breeding of merino and the production of high-quality wool on the southern continent.
In the 30s of the 18th century, she and her family settled near Campbell Town, a small town in eastern Tasmania (Australia), where she emigrated from Scotland with her husband and two sons. Here, the family founded the “Winton” farm, where they began to breed sheep that they bought in Germany and brought with them. For a herd caretaker, the family hired Joseph Pubts, who followed the Forlongs with his herding dogs, the Tigers, now called Old German Shepherds. This is a confirmed version of how the ancestors of the Aussies ended up in the "Upside down" country.
According to another theory, the ancestor of the Shepherd is the Australian Koolie, which is most similar to the modern Aussie. Farmers and breeders have attempted to breed the perfect four-legged shepherd by crossing an Australian Kelpie with a cattle dog. In addition, Tigers and Border Collies took part in the creation of the breed. As a result of a selection that surpassed all expectations, they got a perfect shepherd dog. The animal possessed strength and endurance, it was able to independently assess the situation while working and make a decision, without waiting for the instructions of the owner. One of the important positive qualities of the Aussie was the lack of aggression towards cattle.
At the end of the 19th century, the American wool market started rapidly developing. The main focus was on the Australian sheep, which were brought by ships from Australia. Along with them, they brought in a shepherd breed of dogs, which amazed local cattle breeders with their skills. These gifted animals quickly gained popularity in the western states, where sheep breeding was most developed.
America is the official birthplace of the Australian Shepherd. The first officially registered breeder is Juanita Eli, who exported merino dogs from Australia. Along with one batch of sheep, there was a shepherd who arrived with a bluish-colored dog. It was the first Australian shepherd dog acquired by Juanita Eli, who made a huge contribution to the further development of the breed.
Australian Shepherds owe their large popularity among the population to Jay Sisler, a rancher in Idaho. The man was a devoted participant in rodeo competitions. Usually, there were shows between them. Jay Sisler entertained the audience with performances featuring his Australian Shepherds: Queenie, Stubby and Shorty, which delighted his audiences not only in the United States, but also in Canada. The Walt Disney Company invited furry artists to participate in the shooting of two films. All this greatly contributed to the popularization of the Aussie breed, since many wanted to get such a smart and cute four-legged friend.
The history of the breed’s development is associated with three generations of American farmers, the Hartnagles. While breeding sheep, they also looked for a good match for a companion among shepherd dogs. Their choice eventually was the Australian Shepherd, which impressed them with its working qualities. By the way, two puppies, Badger and Goody, purchased from Juanita Eli, were “nephews” of Queenie, the famous dog of Jay Sisler. Goody was a start of such famous lines as Wood and Flintridge. The Hartnagles, along with Juanita Eli and Jay Sisler, are on the list of famous Australian Shepherd breeders.
Finally, Australian Shepherds acquired their current appearance relatively recently, in the first half of the 20th century. In 1957, a shepherd named Panda appeared on the list of the National Registry of Sheep Dogs on official rights. This was the first significant recognition of the Aussie as an independent breed. In 1962, the registration of the American Australian Shepherd Club took place, although in fact it existed five years before the event. In 1970, the first nurseries were organized, they were called Maywood and Las Rocos, and soon their number already reached twenty-six. The breed standard was first registered only in 1977. According to the official version, which has been repeatedly questioned by experts, the Australian Shepherd was bred as a result of crossing the Pyrenean Shepherd, Bernese Mountain Dog and Collie.
In 2017, evidence emerged that the Australian Shepherd is a descendant of a British herding dogs. This was revealed thanks to the Cell Reports study, which examined the canine genome to see how dog breeds are related and how they evolved. Scientists were able to establish that the Australian Shepherd belongs to the UK Rural clade, alongside the Collie, Shetland Sheepdog, and Border Collie. Like many dogs in this clade, the Australian Shepherd carries the MDR1 mutation and the breed can develop Collie eye anomaly – disease sharing that is further testament to its British roots.
The Australian Shepherd belongs to medium-sized breeds with gender differences in size. The height of male dogs ranges from 52-58 cm, in bitches, it usually does not exceed 46-53 cm. The weight of a dog can vary from 18 to 30 kg.
The body is a little bit elongated, but the overall dimensions remain balanced therefore the dog doesn’t look stocky. In comparison with males, bitches look more graceful and elegant, but without a sign of thin bone.
Their head is rather large, but at the same time it seems well-balanced and light. It is proportional to the body, with a slight rounding of the skull. The forehead is slightly rounded or flat. In the occipital zone, there might be a small tubercle. The curve separating the forehead and nose is quite well defined. The line of the cranial vault is parallel to the bridge of the nose.
The conical snout of the Aussie gets narrower from the base to the bridge of the nose. The length is average, corresponding to the length of the back of the skull (or slightly shorter). The tip of the nose is pigmented depending on the main color. Black is found in marbled blue and black dogs, brown – in marbled reds and reds. However, the marble base color allows small blotches of pink, provided that their total area does not exceed 25% of the entire nose in dogs from one year old and older.
The ears are of middle length, have a triangular shape with barely rounded tips. Most often, there can be seen a high position (but not too high), however, a lateral position is also acceptable, provided the following condition is met: the tip of the ear is "broken" and is pointed forward. The ears are semi-erect, they usually rise when dogs are alert. Erect ears or fully floppy ears are considered a serious handicap. Not docked.
The Aussie’s eyes are very expressive and intelligent. They will carefully study the stranger, but alertness in their eyes is almost always accompanied by their friendliness. The eyes are almond-shaped, moderately slanted, not too deep, but not protruding either. There are different colors of the iris: amber, blue, greenish, brown. There might be some marbling in the color mixed with multiple colors. There are even some dogs with different eye colors, which is not a disqualifying drawback. Dogs of black and marble blue color, as a rule, have a black outline around the eyes. Red and marble-red dogs have brown "edging".
The Aussie’s jaws are strong, the bite is scissor-shaped (level bite is also acceptable). Overbite and underbite over 3 mm is considered a disqualifying fault. The teeth are strong, white, presented in a complete set. The complete formula has 42 teeth, of which 20 are located on the upper jaw and 22 on the lower one. All teeth must be present, however, the absence of some due to injury will not be penalized in rating at exhibitions.
The Australian Shepherd’s neck is of moderate length, with a slight curve at the nape. Strong, muscular, well set on the shoulders.
Their strong body has well-developed muscles. The back is wide, in their natural stance, the dog has a straight topline from the withers to the pelvis, turning into a slightly sloping rump. The front of the body is equal in width to the back. The moderately deep chest is distinguished by a pronounced relief. Its lowest point reaches the level of the elbow joint. Long ribs have a regular oval shape. The belly is tucked in, with a moderate curve from the chest to the groin.
The Australian Shepherd has three tail lengths possible: long, naturally short up to 10 cm long (when the puppy is born with a short tail) and docked. When docking the tail (if it’s not against the law of the country) of an adult, it should also not exceed 10 cm.
The flat shoulder blades of the Aussie stand out with their close position to the withers. Their tilt angle is 45 degrees. The length of the humerus corresponds to the scapula and is located at right angles to its axis. Strong paws in cross-sectional shape resemble a shape more of an oval than a circle. The elbow joint occupies a middle position between the ground and the withers of the animal. The forearms are perpendicular to the surface on which the dog is moving. The pasterns are of middle length and slightly sloping. The fifth (dewclaw) fingers are removed at the request of the owner. Oval feet end in curved and compact toes. The paw pads are elastic, with thick skin.
The angle between the femur and the pelvic axis forms a perpendicular. The knee joints are well defined and moderately arched in the hock area. If you look from the back, the Australian Shepherd's shins will be perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other. They turn into short metatarsals. As a rule, there should be no hind dewclaws. Oval feet are compact, with curved toes that end in thick and tight pads.
Aussie's mannerisms are smooth; they stand out with their speed, lightness and freedom. Despite it being sweeping, its stride is well balanced. Both pairs of limbs move parallel to the central axis of the body. The dog's paws approach the projection of its center of gravity as the animal speeds up its stride. The back line remains straight while running. The Australian Shepherd, which has incredible agility, can quickly change its direction and movement mannerisms.
The coat of the Australian Shepherd is coarse, medium-length and moderately dense. It may be straight or slightly wavy. The coat consists of a longer guard coat and a short soft undercoat, which gets fully replaced twice a year. Its density is directly dependent on the climate: the cooler it is, the higher the density of the undercoat. In the periods between undercoat changes, you can observe a moderate molt.
The head, ears, the front sections of forelimbs, and parts under the hocks are covered with short and smooth hair. On the back surfaces of the forelimbs and on the buttocks, the hairline forms the so-called feathers, longer in the area of the hind limbs. Shepherd dogs have a moderately developed mane and collar, which are more pronounced in males.
Despite the fact that among Australian shepherds there are individuals with various colors, and the breed itself is famous for its unique identity, only four types of color are recognized as the official standard: black, marble blue (the Aussie is most often associated with this one), red and marble red. In all cases, having white areas is acceptable, but not overboard. Pay attention to the fact that the eyes should be framed by the color. As the dog grows older, the coat darkens slightly.
There are also sable, graphite, golden and brindle colors, but they are not officially recognized.
Almost any deviation from the above standard can be considered as breed defects. The most serious and common drawbacks include:
- floppy or completely erect ears;
- atypical fur coat.
Disqualifying defects are:
- behavioral deviations expressed by shyness or excessive aggression;
- deviations in the bite manifested by underbite or overbite more than 3 mm (non-closing of the incisors due to their shortness is not regarded as an incorrect bite);
- incomplete dental formula (loss due to trauma is not taken into account);
- white points on the back in the space between the base of the tail and the withers, as well as on the lateral surfaces between the limbs;
- testicles that have not descended into the scrotum (cryptorchidism).
Cheerful, affectionate, clever and agile: all these are words you can describe any Australian Shepherd with. By the way, this is one of the few breeds whose representatives, while in a good mood, know how to "smile" with all their 42 teeth and wiggle their backs at the same time. By nature, these are natural-born shepherds who are destined to watch over the herd and return the strayed animals in time. This feature can be noticed when walking with a pet: he will constantly make sure that no one is left behind, and gather everyone together. Despite the constant desire to obey the owner's commands, the dog can make independent decisions in an emergency situation.
Aussies are very friendly and easily find a common language both with their kin during walks and with other pets, be it a cat or a hamster, a cow or a domestic goose. You might get the impression that the words from the famous song: "He does not bark, does not bite, does not rush at passers-by" are written about the Aussie. The dog behaves perfectly at exhibitions among their barking friends, out and indoors. The Australian Shepherd is never the first to attack, but in case of unfriendly behavior of kindred, as well as in case of a threat to the owner or family members, it will always fight back. The animal has everything to do this: both well-developed muscles and strong teeth.
Aussies just love children and will become their tireless companion for their active games. The dog will be happy to accompany the owner while jogging or cycling, will take an active part in various competitions or hiking trips. Dogs of this breed cannot take sitting all day in a confined space. Physical activity is essential for them to maintain their muscle mass, well-being and mood.
Being natural guards, Aussies can sometimes display excessive aggression when defending their territory with the wrong education. You should pay extra attention to this aspect. Since Australian Shepherds are very friendly by nature, aggression, as well as cowardice, is a behavioral disorder.
From the very first days of having the puppy in the house, you need to explain to it the elementary rules of behavior and highlight its territory, which will help the pup to quickly adapt to the new place. It is important that the dog knows who its owner is. Otherwise, the animal will try to take over a dominant position in the house.
The Australian Shepherd is very smart, talented and easy to train. It is believed that it can execute commands after 30-40 repetitions. It is, of course, worth starting at home from the first days of having a puppy, teaching it simple commands that will ensure its safety during walks: "Stop!", "Heel!", "Come!". Pet motivation is an important aspect in training, so always reward your puppy if it follows the commands. Aussies are foodies, so you don't have to think long about how to do it.
After learning elementary commands at home, you should move on to training outdoors in order to teach new skills and remember the old ones with distractions. You remember that before starting the training, it is recommended to give the dog a little walk and let it do all its "business" so that later nothing can distract the animal. The rewarding-motivational approach should become the fundamental method in command learning. You can’t be rude to the pet or punish it: this can make the dog timid and fearful. The help of an instructor-dog handler allows your dog to digest the course of general training much faster. The Australian Shepherd often only needs a few classes.
The Australian Shepherd is not that kind of dog that likes to stay quietly on the couch. Being very active animals, Aussies need long walks, at least 2-3 hours a day. In the summer, in the heat, it is better to cut them down or use a cooler time of the day, the mornings and evenings. Of course, if you have a country house, this is not a problem: the shepherd dog itself will find something to do on the territory. The owners of a city apartment, however, will have to devote a significant part of their time to walking their dog. The Aussie happily runs after a stick, ball, plastic discs or along the obstacle track.
Of course, you shouldn’t forget about dog training during walks: the Australian Shepherd will gladly follow the owner's commands. During these activities, watch your pet’s behavior. A workaholic by nature, the Australian Shepherd is ready to work until it literally collapses from fatigue, which you of course shouldn’t let happen.
When keeping the Australian Shepherd in an apartment, you need to provide it with a separate place away from drafts and heating appliances, equipping it with a dog bed. The dog must be aware that this is its territory. Buy some toys for your pet to play with. Place a drinker next to it and make sure there is always clean water in it. The room in which the dog is kept must be regularly ventilated. The air must be fresh and humid enough, otherwise the coat will constantly shed.
The Aussie feels great in an apartment, provided that you walk it for a long time and play active games. If you lock your pet in the apartment, it may develop behavioral problems in the form of a depression, barking for no reason or howling, and accumulated energy will be redirected into gnawed shoes and furniture. In a private house, your pet can be kept in an aviary, but this is not a great idea, since the Aussie needs the attention of their owner and constant communication with them. Otherwise, you can get an aggressive or, on the contrary, a timid animal. Keeping this breed on the chain is strongly discouraged.
The Australian Shepherd Dog has a semi-long coat with a thick undercoat and it needs to be combed 2-3 times a week, and during the molting period – daily. If you do not do this procedure, the pet might develop dermatitis, form tangles or get skin parasites. It’s best to comb the coat with a metal brush with large sparse teeth and a slicker brush or a special furminator. It is recommended to bathe the dog no more than once every two months, using special pet shampoos.
The dog's claws wear down naturally, but if it often walks on grass or soft ground, this doesn’t happen. So, you can use a special nail clipper, trim it twice a month, because long claws negatively affect their stride and cause discomfort in the paws. At the same time, you must try not to damage the pulp, which contains the nerve and blood vessels. If this happens, the wound should be treated with an antiseptic solution or iodine.
You also have to monitor the health of the Aussie’s teeth with the help of special tools and devices: brushes, paste, artificial bones to remove plaque. In worst cases, you may need a scaler, which is a dental spatula to remove stones. Before and after the procedure, you must disinfect the instrument and the oral cavity with a solution of peroxide or Furacin.
One of the conditions for the proper care for your pet is rubbing the eyes using special medical solutions, regular tea leaves or chamomile decoction. The dog's ears should be wiped 1-2 times a week using ear sticks and cotton pads. In order to remove excess sulfur, you can drop a 3% peroxide solution into the ear canal and then let the pet shake its head freely. To wipe the auricles with cotton pads, you can use decoctions of different herbs.
Aussies are very straightforward with food. They can be fed with both natural food and various dog food. For an adult pet, you may use porridge (rice, oatmeal, buckwheat) and meat (chicken, turkey, beef and lean fish). It is recommended to add cottage cheese mixed with kefir, as well as quail eggs to a puppy’s diet. If you need to use milk, start with small amounts. Australian Shepherds are happy to eat both raw and boiled vegetables and fruits: apples, carrots, zucchini, pumpkin, turnips. In winter, the diet of the Australian Shepherd must be enriched with vegetable and animal fats, which will help them better survive the cold.
If you want to use dry food, you should choose premium products. Try to buy one that contains less protein.
It is strictly forbidden to give your dog the following products:
- raw eggs (excluding quail ones);
- carbonated and alcoholic drinks, coffee;
- fried food and food “from the table”;
- small tubular bones;
- fruits with seeds;
- raw river fish;
- sweets and chocolate;
- raw meat and bones;
- mushrooms and nuts;
- fatty meat;
- citrus fruits.
Aussies stand out with their good health if there is proper care, proper nutrition and sufficient physical activity. For the prevention of diseases such as rabies, plague of carnivores, Lyme disease and others, you need to vaccinate it according to the vaccination schedule in time.
Like many sheep breeds, Australian Shepherds are at risk of developing juvenile cataracts. Among the most common diseases inherent in this breed, there are:
- autoimmune diseases (thyroiditis, allergies);
- dysplasia of the hip joint;
- dystrophy of the optic nerve;
- oncological diseases;
Merle colored dogs are prone to problems with the organs of sight and hearing. This is due to the recessive gene responsible for the marbled color, hearing and vision. In an effort to avoid such a genetic combination and a multiple increase in the risk of developing the above-mentioned diseases (up to complete deafness and blindness), crossing two merle dogs is completely prohibited.
Before purchasing an Australian Shepherd puppy, visit the exhibitions of this breed, talk with the owners to determine if this dog is suitable for you in temper and activeness. If you’re still confident in your decision, you should visit several nurseries. After deciding with the breeder, find out what examinations were carried out on the dog and the bitch. There must be a conclusion on the absence of pathology of the organs of vision (retinal atrophy, cataracts) and the musculoskeletal system (dysplasia of the hip and elbow joints).
Only after that you can start choosing your future pet. A healthy, plush toy-like puppy will show curiosity without feeling shy. Clean coat should not have tangles or bald spots. Examine the abdomen (there should be no rashes on the skin), make sure there are no hernial protrusions. The nose should be moist and cool. Give the puppy a walk to make sure there is no clubfoot. If everything is good with you, there is only a price question left.
- FCI standard
- Kennel club standard
- Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Shepherd