|Group classification: Herding||Country of origin: United States||Date of origin: 19th century|
|Weight (M): 50 - 65 lb||Height (M): 20 - 23"||Life expectancy: 12 - 15 years|
|Weight (F): 40 - 55 lb||Height (F): 18 - 21|
General Description of the Australian Shepherd
The Australian Shepherd, also known as the Aussie, is a well-proportioned dog that can come in a variety of colors including black, blue-merle, red and red-merle. The breed is slightly longer than it is tall, has a strong but not bulky body and a coat that is often ornamented with white markings. The Australian Shepherd’s muzzle tapers a bit from the base to the tip and ends with a rounded nose. The color of the nose is dependent on the coat; blue merles and black Aussies have black noses while red and red-merles have liver-colored noses. The ears are medium sized, triangular in shape, and high-set. The breed has as much variation in eye color as it does in its coat with amber, blue, brown, or any mix of the three all commonplace. The tail is naturally very short (usually less than four inches) and often docked.
Australian Shepherd Temperament
The Australian Shepherd is an extremely intelligent breed that is also very active. The breed’s intelligence usually makes for a quick learner that is easy to train and eager to please. Australians are generally good with other pets, very friendly and affectionate towards children and family, but can occasionally be reserved in the presence of strangers. Without proper training, the Australian Shepherd may also instinctively nip at the heels of small children or unfamiliar people and it may bark or run excessively. The Australian Shepherd is not typically aggressive with other dogs, although it can be if not properly socialized at a young age. The breed can make a good watchdog and is also considered to provide a moderate to high level of protection.
Caring for an Australian Shepherd
The Australian Shepherd was bred as a herding animal and needs a lot of exercise on a daily basis. Walks will not be adequate – this breed really needs a free romp in a large yard or field. Without sufficient attention and exercise, the Australian Shepherd can become very hyperactive and bark endlessly. The breed is only a moderate shedder and needs to be brushed once or twice a week. The Australian Shepherd learns quickly but should still begin training at a young age to ensure the best results. The Australian Shepherd is physically capable of living outdoors but this is strongly discouraged, as it will stunt the dog’s mental development. Australian Shepherds are susceptible to cataracts and in very rare cases, Collie eye anomaly. The most common health problems in the breed (and even these are not frequent problems) are canine hip dysplasia, cataracts, epilepsy, iris coloboma, and autoimmune problems such as allergies and hypothyroidism. MDR1 (Multi Drug Reactivity) sensitivity is common in the breed and can result in death for some dogs, if certain drugs are given to them.