Are you in need of a running partner? Want to compete in agility shows? Do you have the time to spend and work with this very intelligent breed? The beautiful and loyal Australian Shepherd could be what you are looking for!
Don't let the name fool you! The Australian Shepherd's origin is the United States. Although it is believed to have originated in the Basque regions of Spain and France, this very beautiful and hard working breed was developed by U.S. farmers. During the 1800's the name of the Australian Shepherd came from herding Australian sheep in the West. The mini was developed by breeding the smaller Aussie's and thus became very popular.
In the 1800's and early 1900's in the rugged terrain of the Rocky Mountains, the Aussie was used to help herd sheep and work beside farmers, the altitude of the mountains had no effect on the breed making it ideal to work with. Ranchers in Colorado began breeding the Aussie for other farmer's around the country wanting a hard working herding breed.
The standard Aussie's height is 18-23 inches and they can weigh between 35-75 pounds. The mini's height is 14-18 inches and they can weigh between 17-30 pounds.The Australian Shepherd is an athletic dog with beautiful coat coloring consisting of, blue merle, red merle, black, or red, with or without white markings and tan points. Their fur is straight or slightly wave, with feathering at the backs of the legs, thighs, and neck. Grooming is a necessity for this breed! Their eye coloring can be a distinct feature of this breed, coming in any shade of brown, blue, two different colored eyes, or bi-colored/split eyes (one eye being half brown/half blue) which seems to be linked to the merle coloration. Their tail is straight but docked, and their ears are of a triangular shape that folds over.
This is one of the most highly intelligent breeds! Australian Shepherds (no matter which size) are NOT for everyone! Even adopting an Aussie mix can be trouble if you are not prepared for their mental and physical needs. They are a loyal and loving dog, but can be reserved around strangers. They are happy to herd whenever and wherever with no consideration to what they are herding, as long as the job gets done. Children, cats, other small animals, vehicles, bikes, scooters, and much more can be in line for this breed to herd. The Aussie is a hardworking breed that needs a job and purpose. They do not do well in homes if left in a crate or by themselves for over 4 hours at a time, due to their high activity level. This breed will make an excellent agility partner, so consider Flyball as one sport to compete in with an Aussie. They are known to out-smart their owners, so proper training and early socialization with other animals and children may help prevent many problems down the road. This is one breed that absolutely requires obedience training, unless you want an out-of-control, highly intelligent breed running the show.
Their activity level is high. They will require three 45 minute walks a day or a daily running partner. When walking an Aussie make sure to put a back pack on them to help drain their energy. If the Australian Shepherd is not properly mentally and physically stimulated, they can be extremely destructive and develop severe behavioral problems such as: chewing (furniture, walls, and carpeting), barking, aggression, digging, counter-surfing, nipping, and much more. This breed requires every-day stimulation up to 2-3 hours a day. They are not an apartment or condo type dog. A fenced in-yard is a must for this breed and do not assume they are happy to drain their own energy by being in the back yard by themselves. The Aussie will quickly self-entertain in the wrong way if they are bored. If their energy level is not properly channeled they can become neurotic making it a very difficult situation to live in.
A typical life span for the Australian Shepherd is 11-13 years. Health concerns are: Collie Eye Anomaly, Eye Defects and Abnormality, Deafness, Hip Dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Luxating Patella's, Thyroid, and Heart Disease.
As you begin looking for an Australian Shepherd, please check with rescue organizations first. Every year there are millions of dogs being euthanized, not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescues. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!
At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.
On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!
Original Dog Bible, 2nd Edition by Kristin Mehus-Roe