Australian Shepherd – Breed Information, History & Facts

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Contrary to its name, the Australian Shepherds were bred in the United States with the primary aim of developing an animal for herding cattle in the western part of the country. There are many dogs of this breed that are still used for the same purpose.

There are different theories that suggest the use of different animals for the breeding of the Australian Shepherd. However, the most commonly accepted theory is the use of shepherd dogs and collies for the development of this breed.

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The shepherd dogs used in the breeding process came from sheep shipments from Australia to the United States. This is why they are termed the Australian Shepherd by the Australian Shepherd breeders.

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These dogs were considered the most intelligent and dexterous breed with sharp herding intuition. Later, they were accepted as the superior breed of herding dog when it comes to cattle management and security. However, it was not until 1993 that the Australian Shepherds received recognition from the American Kennel Club.

Types of Australian Shepherds

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Based on their color, Australian Shepherds are classified into four broad categories: the Black Australian Shepherd, the Red Australian Shepherd, the Red Merle Australian Shepherd, and the Blue Merle Australian Shepherd.

Black Australian Shepherd

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The Black Australian Shepherd is sometimes also known as the black tri Australian Shepherd. The name comes from the fact that this type of Aussie dog comes with white markings on the legs, chest, face, and sometimes on the underparts as well. It is sometimes also accompanied by copper-colored markings on the face and legs.

So a Black Australian Shepherd is in fact black, white, and copper in color. When it comes to their eyes, they most commonly have a pair of brown-colored eyes. However, in some cases, these might also be black.

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Red Australian Shepherd

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This type of Aussie dog is light to dark red in color, which can range from dark liver color to cinnamon brown color.

The Red Australian Shepherd is sometimes also known as the red tri Australian Shepherd. The name comes from the fact that this type of Aussie dog comes with white markings on the legs, chest, face, and sometimes on the underparts as well. It is sometimes also accompanied by copper-colored markings on the face and legs.

So a Red Australian Shepherd is in fact red, white, and copper in color. When it comes to their eyes, they most commonly have a pair of amber-colored eyes. However, in some cases, these might also be blue.

Red Merle Australian Shepherd

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This type of Australian Shepherd has red spots on a grey fur coat. The red spots can be tiny dots to huge patches, whereas the grey color can be of any range from light silver to a dark smokey grey. This combination gives an overall red look to the dog, which is why it is named the Red Merle Australian Shepherd.

Like the Black Australian Shepherd, this type also has white markings on the legs, chest, face, and sometimes the underparts. It is also accompanied by copper-colored markings on the face and legs. Hence a Red Merle Australian Shepherd can be solid red merle or with white or copper or both colors as well.

The most common eye color for the Red Merle Australian Shepherd is a solid blue color. However, it might sometimes have marbled eyes that appear to be brown eyes with traces of blue, or blue eyes with traces of brown.

Blue Merle Australian Shepherd

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This type of Australian Shepherd has black spots on a grey fur coat. The black spots can be tiny dots to huge patches, whereas the grey color can be of any range from light silver to a dark smoky grey.

This combination gives an overall blue look to the dog, which is why it is named the Blue Merle Australian Shepherd.

Like the Black Australian Shepherd, this type also has white markings on the legs, chest, face, and sometimes on the underparts. It is also accompanied by copper-colored markings on the face and legs. Hence a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd can be solid blue merle or with white or copper or both colors as well.

The most common eye color for the Blue Merle Australian Shepherd is a solid blue color. However, it might sometimes have marbled eyes that appear to be brown eyes with traces of blue, or blue eyes with traces of brown.

Breed Characteristics

In this section of the article, we will learn about health issues, care requirements, physical needs, and the ideal environment for Australian Shepherds.

Health And Care Needs

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Before actually going out and purchasing an Australian Shepherd dog, it is important to be mindful of the health concerns that come with this breed. Like many dog breeds, Australian Shepherds are also prone to a few health issues that will be discussed in this section.

The first and most common problem is hip dysplasia. This is where there is excessive wear and tear of the bone, which can often result in a situation where one bone rubs on another. This can lead to a very painful experience for the dog and in most cases, leads to limping or crippling.

The second most persistent issue relates to the dog’s skin problems. Australian Shepherds are more likely to contract skin allergies than any other dog.

This problem is mostly genetic, but in some cases, it also depends on the dog’s exposure to an allergen and their general brought-up environment. If not treated immediately, your dog will be seen scratching, biting, or rubbing the affected area on the skin, and this can lead to skin damage or hot spots.

After these, there are other health problems that your pet might go through as well. Progressive retinal atrophy or PRA, is more common than expected. It is a condition where the photoreceptors located at the back of the eye get deteriorated with the passage of time. This can eventually lead to blindness of the eye.

Another issue is that of hypothyroidism. This is when there are fewer hormones produced by the thyroid glands than are required by the body. It is less common for Australian Shepherds to develop hypothyroidism.

Canine epilepsy is an inherited disease for this dog breed. It is a condition in which dogs experience frequent seizures. Canine epilepsy cannot be cured, but if you provide your dog with the right medication, it can be controlled and managed.

Nasal solar dermatitis and cancer are other health issues that Aussies can face.

Despite these health issues, if you provide your pet Australian Shepherd with the right care and medication, it is known to live from 12 to 15 years.

Physical Needs

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Australian Shepherds are very energetic and active dogs, especially in the case of an adult dog. They need constant physical exercise and mental stimulation. You should be providing them with plenty of exercises every day, or they might develop destructive behavior such as biting or chewing.

Playtime can include running, jogging, agility training, obedience training, a game of Frisbee or catch, or even jumping in the air. When they are not playing, it is always a good idea to keep them engaged with dog puzzles and toys. This helps their brain in staying active and simulated.

When it comes to the Australian Shepherd puppy, you should ensure that they do not walk on any hard surface or jump and spring. This is because their skeletal system is still developing, and such activities might lead to problems in the joints.

Ideal Environment for an Australian Shepherd

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Because the Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized dog that sheds all year round and needs a lot of exercises, it is a common misconception that you need a big house with a huge backyard to own this dog.

Contrary to the common belief, these dogs can adapt to any type of environment just as long as they are provided with the physical and mental stimulation that they need. This dog loves staying outdoors, but it would be wrong to consider it a yard dog.

When it is not playtime for this dog, it is important that you keep it indoors and provide it with constant human interaction. If an Australian Shepherd is left alone for a long period of time, it might demonstrate destructive behavior such as chewing furniture or leaving scratch marks everywhere.

If you are considering keeping this dog in an apartment, it is important to keep in mind the restrictions that come with it. An apartment setting is not the ideal environment for a dog that is as active as the Australian Shepherd.

However, you might be able to compensate for the small living space with the right amount of training, physical activity, mental stimulation, and outdoor time.

It is also important to note here that pet owners with a very busy schedule should not consider getting an Australian Shepherd as their pet dog. This is because although this dog simply loves its playtime, it also needs human interaction.

Without a constant show of affection and love from its owner, this dog might develop a condition that is most commonly known as separation anxiety. In addition to this, this dog also needs its owner to take time out and help it socialize with other human beings, adults, and children alike, as well as other pets, including other dogs

Australian Shepherd Appearance

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The Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized dog with its most distinctive characteristic being its tail. The tail is short and docked, and given that it has a very bushy coat, it is barely identifiable. As per the American Kennel Club standards, the typical tail length of an Australian Shepherd should be 4 inches.

The Australian Shepherd is a double-coated breed with a hard outer coat and an inner undercoat. The hard coat acts as a barrier for the undercoat, which keeps the dog protected against extreme weather conditions.

The coat comes in four distinctive colors: black, red, blue merle, and red merle. It is a medium-length coat that is heavier around the neck and on the shoulders and chest area and is most commonly termed as “ruff”.

When it comes to their height and weight, the males are usually taller and heavier than the females. Most Australian Shepherds take 16 months to grow completely, however, some might reach their maximum height by 12 months.

Male Australian Shepherd dogs stand at 20-23 inches and are 50-65 pounds in weight. Females are 18-21 inches tall and weigh between 40-55 pounds.

Australian Shepherd Training

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Aussies are an intelligent breed of dogs. This trait combined with the quality of going to a great extent to please people is undeniably great quality.

Given that these dogs were developed as herding dogs, they can be trained to adopt any kind of behavior. However, they require time and effort to be trained properly.

They can look after children, protect adults, become service dogs for especially-abled people, and perform all kinds of farm work. They are also a great help with various house chores.

Aussies are barking dogs if not trained otherwise. It will bark at anything that it hears or sees that is not common for its senses. Therefore, it is important to train your dog between strange and routine things and sounds, such as a squirrel in the park.

When it comes to the training method, it is not a good idea to punish these dogs when they do not respond well to your instructions. Instead of punishments, positive reinforcement works well for this breed. It is a great idea to reward them with treats or praise them when they adopt any good behavior successfully.

Grooming of an Australian Shepherd

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The Australian Shepherd sheds its coat throughout the year, which is why it requires special grooming and care. The shedding gets intense during the spring season to get rid of the winter coat, as it is no longer required in the summers.

When it comes to their grooming, you should brush your Australian Shepherd dog at least once a month. This frequency should increase in the spring when the shedding gets more intense. This helps avoid the problem of matting or tangling of the coat.

You can try spraying a dog hair conditioner on your Australian Shepherd to get rid of any tangled hair. It also helps if you brush in the direction of the hair growth. You can use any brush, but the slicker brush is recommended.

To get rid of excess hair on the dog’s skin, make use of a rake. These grooming supplies can be easily found at any local pet store.

When brushing, make sure to reach all the way down to the undercoat and not just the outer hard coat.

Australian Shepherds do not need frequent baths, and you should only be doing that when they are dirty. This will not happen very often if you do not have a very naughty or playful dog. It is important that you use dog shampoo and not your own shampoo when bathing the dog. This helps in avoiding the problem of dried skin.

Overall, it is really easy to maintain and care for an Australian Shepherd.

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Australian Shepherd Dog Temperament

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The Australian Shepherd is known for being a very energetic and loving companion. They are very loyal to their owners and their families, especially children. You can trust this breed to bend over backward for the protection of its owners.

When it comes to children, they can sometimes chase and nip and tuck them for their herding. This is because this breed is of a herding nature and assumes that children are a part of their “flock.” However, with the right training, this habit can be tamed, and they can prove to be very devoted and caring in the presence of children.

It is important to provide the Australian Shepherd with appropriate socialization, preferably when they are still puppies. This helps them adapt to different people, pets, noises, and surroundings. They can be shy and timid when meeting strangers, but with the right training, they can learn to be very sociable.

Conclusion

The Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized dog and a double-coated breed with an outer hard coat and an inner undercoat. When it comes to their height and weight, the males are usually taller and heavier than the females.

Contrary to its name, the Australian Shepherds were bred in the United States with the primary aim of developing an animal for herding cattle in the western part of the country.

Based on their color, Australian Shepherds are classified into four broad categories: the Black Australian Shepherd, the Red Australian Shepherd, the Red Merle Australian Shepherd, and the Blue Merle Australian Shepherd.

Aussies are an intelligent breed of dogs. This trait combined with the quality of going to a great extent to please people is undeniably great quality. They are very energetic and active as well and need constant physical exercise and mental stimulation.

Like many dog breeds, Aussies are also prone to a few health issues, such as hip dysplasia, skin allergies, progressive retinal atrophy, hypothyroidism, canine epilepsy, nasal solar dermatitis, and cancer.

When it comes to their grooming, you should brush your Aussie dog at least once a month. They do not need frequent baths, and you should only be doing that when they are dirty.

The Australian Shepherd is known for being a very energetic and loving companion. They are very loyal to their owners and their families, especially children. You can trust this breed to bend over backward for the protection of its owners.

Cody Mitchell
Cody Mitchell is a pet lover and a passionate pet writer. He has worked as a professional writer for over 6 years, with a focus on creating compelling content for pet-related brands. His work has been featured in major publications. When he's not writing, Cody can be found playing with his two dogs (a labradoodle and a cocker spaniel) or cuddling his cat.

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