Australian Shepherd Description
The Australian Shepherd can come in two sizes: the standard Australian Shepherd is around 18-23 inches in height, and weighs in at around 40-75 pounds. The miniature Australian Shepherd is around 14-18 inches high and around 20-40 pounds in weight. The miniature Australian Shepherd is simply a smaller version of the standard, and has all of the same personality and physical traits.
The coat of the Australian Shepherd is medium in length and can be straight or very slightly wavy. This is a double coat, which can sometimes be feathered and more difficult to manage. The coloring of the Australian Shepherd's coat can vary and includes red, red merle, black, or blue merle, and may have white and tan markings. The eyes of the Australian Shepherd can range from blue to brown or a combination.
Solid, agile, attentive, and responsive, the Australian Shepherd is a dog with bags of personality and versatility. These are very clever and responsive dogs, and can also be very fast and energetic. You will find that the Australian Shepherd loves a variety of activities, such as jogging, chasing balls, herding, biking, and Frisbee. They can be quite demanding with their owners, as they love attention and need to be mentally stimulated and kept busy. Some Australian Shepherds can be calmer and less animated than others depending on the line.
The Australian Shepherd will get along with children that he has been raised with, but can be aloof with strangers. You will also find that whereas some Australian Shepherds get along fine with all other animals, others will chase cats and be dominant around other dogs. Some lines can be more aggressive than others, and they can be fairly protective of their families, making them medium level watchdogs. As part of the herding group the Australian Shepherd can retain his herding instincts and may nip and circle around other animals and people in a bid to 'herd' them.
The grooming requirements of the Australian Shepherd can depend upon his coat, as some have shorter coats and thinner undercoats than others. These dogs shed heavily twice yearly, and the coat will need to be brushed and groomed more regularly during these periods. Depending on the length of the coat, the grooming shouldn't be a problem and the coat can be pretty easy to maintain.
The Australian Shepherd was developed in the 19th and earlier 20th centuries, in western North America. It is unclear to where the name "Australian" came from, other than the only dogs coming from Australia were merle in color. European settlers immigrating to the United States brought over many herding breeds to take care of the livestock. Breeds thought to be used in the makeup of the breed include the: English Shepherd, Dorset Blue Shag, Cumberland Sheepdog, Scottish Collie, Glenwherry Collie, Bouvier des Flandres, and the Welsh Sheepdog. It is believed that most of the dogs that contributed to the breed came from Great Britain and Scotland. It wasn't until later on that shepherds deliberately began to breed dogs that excelled in watching the flock and weathered well in the area. Breeds that worked well in hot and cold climates, as well as being tough enough to work cattle unaccustomed to dogs were used for breeding.
After World War II, they were used regularly in Western movies, television shows, and in rodeos. They soon became a popular addition to farms and ranches.
The key to a well-balanced Australian Shepherd is through training and socialization. Providing enough socialization should include exposure to people and animals, as well as areas with varying levels of distractions. The breed can become very suspicious around unusual people, due to the fact that they are very territorial and protective of their family.
Australian Shepherds were bred to work livestock on daily basis. Because not everyone has a flock of sheep in their backyard, this breed requires a "job". Whether it is given toys focused on mind-stimulation, being engaged in play, or focused on training, this breed needs something to do.
This breed is very intelligent, and learns very quickly. They excel at, and enjoy agility, rally, flyball, frisbee, and obedience. A lot of time, attention, and training is needed to handle such a strong-minded breed. Attending training classes is a must for owners and their Australian Shepherd, especially in their first year.
The life expectancy of the Australian Shepherd is around 12-15 years. Some of the health problems and issues that are associated with this breed include cataracts, glaucoma, epilepsy, heart problems, allergies, skin problems, and cancers. You should ensure that the parents have OFA and CERF certificates.