The Australian Shepherd , also known as the Australian Shepherd , is not native to the land of kangaroos, as one might think from the name.
It is in fact a breed developed in the United States and the name of Australian was given for an association with shepherd dogs that arrived in the United States from Australia around 1800.
The physical and character selection has made the Australian Shepherd an intelligent , balanced working dog with innate attitudes to guarding and conducting the flock. Let’s get to know him better.
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The origins of the Australian Shepherd
The Australian Shepherd is a prestigious breed recognized by the FCI ( International Cynological Federation ). It finds its origins towards the end of the nineteenth century, when the predecessors of what is now considered the Basque or Vasco shepherd arrived in America , from whose area of origin it takes its name: the Basque Country.
This dog breed then provided the starting point for the development of the Australian Shepherd and was then further crossed with others, such as the Smithfield , an unrecognized breed, probably introduced in Australia during the colonial period.
The name Australian Shepherd would also derive from this theory, even if in this regard the dog doctrine is not yet uniform.
Thanks to its medium size and innate ability to lead livestock , US breeders began to select this dog until it became the very famous and recognized breed in the United States.
Although today the Australian shepherd is also engaged in other activities, he remains the undisputed protagonist for the management of flocks on the ranches.
Characteristics of the Australian Shepherd breed
The Australian Shepherd is a dog of balanced proportions, slightly longer than tall, of medium size and bones, and with a very varied and specific color coat.
Of solid constitution, the structure body of the male reflected power but not coarseness. Females are a bit more delicate.
In terms of temperament and behavior, the Australian Shepherd is a industrious and intelligent dog, with a strong instinct as a guardian and shepherd of sheep.
Like the Australian Cattle Dog, it is a loyal companion with endurance for all-day work and a caring nature.
Itis rarely quarrelsome and when it meets someone for the first time it can be a bit reserved. Let’s take a closer look at their physical characteristics and character.
Physical characteristics of the Australian Shepherd
One of the reasons for the growing popularity of the Australian Shepherd is undoubtedly its physical appearance. Especially the unique and varied coloration of their eyes, a distinctive sign of the breed, in which the presence of disparate irises is very common, that is, eyes of different color, in a range so wide that it goes from any shade of brown to amber, hazelnut and the characteristic and spectacular ice blue.
The coat of the Australian Shepherd is also a characteristic sign. There are four color varieties: black , blackbird blue , red (ranging from light tan to dark liver), and blackbird red .
It should be noted that the colors called “blackbird” occur when a basic tonality (blue or red) is combined with different gray and silver tones.
- General Appearance: Solid and vigorous build, this dog is slightly longer than tall. With strong volumes, the top line is level and firm from the withers to the hips.
- Size: medium / large.
- Height at the withers: 51-58 cm (Male) and 46-53 cm (Female).
- Weight: 23-27 kg (Male) and 18-23 kg (Female).
- Body: Measured from the sternum to the back of the thigh and from the withers to the ground, it is slightly longer than it is high. On the whole it is a harmonious dog, well proportioned and of solid and robust constitution, but without appearing rough.
- Head: Clean cut, strong and thin, the overall size of the head is well proportioned in relation to the body.
- Skull: It is as wide as it is long and at the top it is flattened or slightly convex. It shows a slight occipital protrusion.
- Muzzle: It is the same length or slightly shorter than the skull; it tapers slightly from the base to the nose and is rounded at the tip.
- Nose: The specimens with a black-blue and black mantle have black nose (and lips). Those with a black and red cloak have liver-colored (brown) noses, and also lips; sometimes small pink spots appear in these blackbird colors.
- Eyes: Almond shaped, neither protruding nor sunken, they are brown, blue, amber, or any variation or combination of these colors, including mottled and marbled. Dogs with a blue blackbird and black coat have black pigmentation on the eyelids, while in those with red and blackbird red it is liver-colored (brown). The expression is attentive and intelligent, alert, enthusiastic, with an inquisitive but friendly look.
- Ears: Triangular, of moderate size and thickness, set high on the head. When the dog is on alert it bends them forward and up or sideways.
- Nose-frontal depression (stop): It is moderate and well defined.
- Jaws: The jaws are strong, with very white teeth and a complete and perfect scissor or pincer bite.
- Neck: Strong, of moderate length, slightly arched at the crest and well set between the shoulders.
- Chest: Not wide, but deep, so that the lowest point reaches the elbow. The ribs are arched and long.
- Back: It is straight and level, with fine loins and a slightly descending croup.
- Forelimbs: Straight and viewed from front are completely parallel and perpendicular to the ground. Shoulders: The shoulder blades are long, flat, very close to each other at the level of the withers, and well positioned backwards. Forearms and arms: Straight and strong, as are the bones that support them, they have an oval rather than rounded shape. The arms are approximately the same as the shoulder blade and form a nearly right angle to the shoulder.
- Hind limbs: The angulation of the pelvis with the thigh corresponds to the angulation of the shoulder blade with the arm, and they form approximately a right angle. Legs: They are strong and proportionate, with well defined knees. Hocks: Short and perpendicular to the ground, they are parallel to each other seen from behind. The dog is born with dewclaws, which are usually removed.
- Feet: Oval and compact, with very close toes and well arched. The pads are thick and tough.
- Tail: Long or short by nature, it is always straight. When it is amputated (in countries where it is allowed) or when it is short, it usually does not exceed 10 cm.
- Skin: It is well adjusted, without forming folds.
- Hair: It is of medium texture, goes from straight to wavy and has a medium length. It has a moderate mane and collar, more pronounced in males than in females, and feathered “pants” are formed on the back of the front and rear legs.
- Color: Blackbird blue, black, red or blackbird red, all with possible white and / or tan markings (copper color). The necklace is usually white. Blackbird specimens characteristically become darker with advancing age. All these colors can be accompanied by spots of varying size and location, white or tan on the face, chest and legs.
- Movement: It has a smooth, free and easy movement. He exhibits great agility, with a well-balanced stride that covers a lot of ground. Both the forelimbs and hindquarters move straight and parallel to a center line of the body, and as speed increases they converge towards the dog’s center of gravity, while the back remains firm and level. You can change direction or alter movement instantly.
Character of the Australian Shepherd
The Australian Shepherd is a dog with a very versatile character. It is very intelligent and has a very strong herding instinct. It is also an extraordinary companion animal and pet, loyal and devoted to the family.
It loves being part of the daily activity of his family, whom he accompanies at all times. As a herding dog, it carries out its work diligently, assuming a variety of responsibilities, from herding and driving livestock to finding stray animals from the herd.
In fact, it is a very easy animal to train due to its infinite desire to please.
But, returning to its usefulness, it is not limited to grazing and farm work. The Australian Shepherd has demonstrated his enormous social value by fulfilling perfectly as a guide dog and assistant to disabled and deaf people, as a narcotics and explosives detector, and as a search and rescue dog for people buried under the rubble in catastrophic situations.
- Energy: very high level. It is a very active shepherd dog that needs regular and varied exercise, as it does not tolerate routine well.
- Temperament: Alert, intelligent, delicate, strong, active and endowed with a great instinct.
- Adaptability: low. Very unsuitable for adapting to an urban environment.
- Sociability: very high. It is a good companion dog that needs constant contact with its master, whom it adores. Although he is of a kind and non-quarrelsome nature, he is reserved with strangers.
- Health: good. It usually suffers from few hereditary diseases, but blackbird varieties must be controlled for possible sight and hearing problems.
- Longevity: high. It can live between 12 and 15 years on average, although there are many older specimens in good health.
- Utility: very versatile. It is a useful animal in many activities; shepherd dog, guide dog, therapy dog, disaster rescue, music obedience or agility.
- Utilization: Grazing.
- Other names: Australian Shepherd / Berger australien / Australischer Scháferhund.
The aussie, the nickname by which the breed is known throughout the world, is a very active dog that requires a great deal of daily exercise as a fundamental means of preventing the development of destructive habits due to frustration and boredom.
The combination of this energy with its great intelligence makes it necessary to provide him with a job to do, as it is not enough to let them run free.
If the animal is not dedicated to its traditional function because it lives in a different environment, these tasks can be as varied, simple and daily as “shepherding” the children of the house, watching over it or competing in any dog sport, where it stands out with excellence.
In many countries, the Australian cattle herder or Australian shepherd, together with the border collie, occupies the first positions in the rankings of agility, obedience or dance with dogs, among others.
Australian Shepherd Education and Training
Any activity in which you have to combine strength with speed, memory and intelligence is absolutely suitable for the Australian Shepherd.
On the other hand, this one is not the best of the contenders in the activities in which it is necessary to show ferocity or an instinct of defense and combativeness that is too direct.
Ultimately, every Australian Shepherd owner must be aware of the high energy level of their dog and the needs to channel it through proper training . In this way, it will be possible to turn a simple dog into a real gem.
Although the aussie is an easy dog, it may not be a suitable animal for everyone; Indeed, it demands a lot of time and attention from its owners, with whom it needs to be in permanent contact; He follows them from one place to another or, if not, he sits next to them at home, in the car or wherever they are.
In addition, as a good shepherd dog, the Australian is extremely territorial and is very possessive of its environment. This overzealousness for its territory and its family can become a problem if adequate training is not provided. In short, it is not the most suitable dog to live in the city.
But these circumstances can be changed if the owner of the Australian Shepherd has as much or more energy than his dog and returns with dedication the devotion that it gives them.
It is also not considered the ideal dog for families who lead too busy lives and therefore need to leave their dog alone for many hours.
A dedicated dedication cannot compensate for the eternal waits, since the race requires its vital reference, its family and its owner or guide, whom it does not settle for just seeing a little a day. And a lonely Australian Shepherd can turn into a melancholic, loud or destructive dog, which would completely degenerate the image of the breed.
This animal is very receptive when it comes to receiving training, in fact, with the Australian Shepherd great advances have been made in the treatment of diseases such as autism or Alzheimer’s, among many others.
In reality, the Australian Shepherd who is dedicated to therapy all it does is provide company to those who need it, it approaches them, allows themselves to be caressed, walked, called.
In such a way that it becomes the link of these people with the world, the recipient of the affections of those who are alone or the motivation to move on, the illusion of doing something new for those who cannot fully dispose of their Liberty.
Animal-assisted therapy is used more and more all over the world, as only benefits are reported, and the Australian Shepherd is gaining more and more whole as an excellent therapist.
Australian Shepherd diet
The Australian Shepherd needs a diet rich in protein not only because of the nature of its coat, but also because of the physical activity it develops.
Its high degree of energy makes long walks in the field, runs and physical exercise routine activities.
Australian Shepherd breed health
When the blackbird color gene occurs in the breed, the possible appearance of vision and hearing problems associated with it must be taken into account , for which it is necessary to extreme veterinary controls, especially if you intend to cross individuals of that color or carriers of said gene.
Likewise, given that this breed is related to collies, which are prone to certain intolerances, it is necessary for the veterinarian to carry out the pertinent tests before proceeding with the mandatory antiparasitic treatments.
To ensure a long and healthy life for this extraordinary and versatile animal, routine visits to the vet should include, in addition to the usual vaccination program , maintenance of oral hygiene, nail trimming and eye care.
Especially in dogs with one or both blue eyes, since gray, disparate or blue eyes can be photosensitive, so it is necessary to be aware of the reaction of the Australian Shepherd to exposure to light and treat it with a product suitable if there is any sign of irritation or discomfort.
The Australian Shepherd is a healthy and long-lived breed, with a life expectancy of between 12 and 15 years, on average, although there are many cases of dogs that exceed this last figure.
Thus, the owner of a copy of this beautiful breed has plenty of time to enjoy this dog with a spectacular coat, sweet and friendly character, and uncompromising fidelity.
Australian Shepherd Care
The coat of the Australian Shepherd is very characteristic. It is a double coat , with a surface pile of moderate length and a strong texture resistant to inclement weather.
This resistance is completed by the presence of a dense and soft undercoat that works as a waterproof and insulator, and which varies in quantity depending on the time of year.
However, essential care of the coat is minimal, and regular brushing is usually enough to keep it in optimal condition.
As with other double-coated breeds, it is necessary to work both separately. The undercoat must be opened for a convenient aeration of the skin and, incidentally, to facilitate the evacuation of dead hair, and it has to be brushed using a rake or king coat to avoid caking.
Remember that the undercoat is the coat that sheds the most, so if you work properly and regularly the animal will lose less hair and uncomfortable knots will be prevented from forming.
As for the covering mantle, it is worked with a brush with long metal bristles and a comb, always acting in the direction of the hairline to prevent breakage.
As for the hygienic needs of the Australian Shepherd, an occasional bath every month and a half or two months is enough . For this, a specific shampoo must be used, with a good moisturizing base that keeps the hair healthy and flexible.
If you bathe regularly, it is not necessary to carry out a deep soaping every time, it is enough to work the covering hair with your hand in the direction of its birth and, in this way, the loss of essential oils that protect the hair is minimized. skin and give life to the hair root.
Also, this breed hardly needs a hairdresser. If the dog is intended for exhibition, it can be shaped with thinning scissors, accentuating its angles or eliminating the hairs that protrude from the general set. It is only necessary to watch the hair that grows on the feet and between the toes, and keep them clean and well rounded.
It is important, however, to pay attention to the hair that grows on the inside of the ears. Being a working dog, the Australian Shepherd tends to accumulate dirt in this area and even to retain small foreign bodies, which can lead to annoying infections and otitis.
The specimens of this breed are traditionally presented without a tail and there is a large percentage of births of anurans. Animals born with tails used to be amputated between the first and second vertebrae, although this practice is now prohibited by the animal protection laws of many countries.
Australian Shepherd Price
As always, we invite you to consider adopting a dog forced into a kennel as the first option . For those who necessarily want a puppy of this breed, some warnings for this too.
Remember that the price of an Australian Shepherd is around $600 to $1200. Be wary of those who offer Australian Shepherd puppies at much lower prices. Often it will not be a healthy puppy and will probably be a dog with genetic anomalies typical of this breed of dogs.