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Australian Shepherd Breed Information

Australian Shepherd

Recognized By: ACR , AKC , APRI , ASCA , CKC , NKC , NZKC , UKC
AKA: Aussie, Australischer Schaferhund
Mispellings: Astralian Sheperd, Austalian Sheperd, Austrailian Sheapherd, Australian Shepard, Australian Shephard, Australian Sheeperd, Australian Shepperd, Ausie

Living with a Australian Shepherd

Temperament: Australian Shepherds are active and intelligent dogs having a good-natured, even disposition. They are very playful but have a tendency to be reserved when meeting a new person. They are courageous, loyal and affectionate companions.

Family Dog: The Australian Shepherd makes a great family pet as they are excellent with children.

Shedding: Australian Shepherds are average shedders.

Grooming: The Australian Shepherd's coat is easy to groom and requires very little maintenance. They should be brushed occasionally using a firm bristle brush and bathed only when necessary.

Training: Australian Shepherds are very eager to please and are sometimes thought to have a sixth sense about what their master wants of them. They are very intelligent and easily trainable dogs. Aussies should be well socialized as puppies as they are naturally suspicious around strangers.

Barking: Aussies are typically not barkers.

Exercise: Australian Shepherds need lots of daily exercise to keep fit both mentally and physically. They are naturally working dogs and do best when they have a job to do. They can become bored and destructive if left alone for too long. They should be taken on a long daily, brisk walk or jog. They even enjoy running beside you on a bicycle ride.

Living Conditions: Australian Shepherds are definitely not recommended for apartment life. They are very active dogs and should have a large yard.

Australian Shepherd Appearance

Appearance: Australian Shepherds are hard working, intelligent, medium-sized herding dogs. They are very loyal companions. They have a well balanced body that is slightly longer than it is tall. Australian Shepherds have a medium built, solid and muscular body yet they are very agile. Their coat is medium length and coarse consisting of unique and individual colorings. They have natural bobbed or docked tails.

Size: Male Australian Shepherds are between 20 to 23 inches tall weighing between 50 to 65 pounds. Females have an average height of 18 to 21 inches and an average weight around 40 to 55 pounds.

Companionship: Australian Shepherds are devoted companions and protective guardians.

Head: The size of an Australian Shepherd's head should proportionate to the overall size of their body, flat on top or slightly domed. It has a strong and clean cut appearance. They have an alert, attentive, intelligent, eager, friendly expression.

Nose: The Blue Merle and Black coated Australian Shepherds have black noses and lips. The Red Merles and Reds coated dogs have liver or brown colored noses and lips. The Merles may have small pink spots not exceeding 25% of the nose.

Eyes: The eyes of the Australian Shepherd can be amber, blue, brown or any combination of them including flecks and marbling. They are almond in shape and should not appear protruding or sunken in. The eye rims are black in the blue merle and black coated dogs. The red merles and reds have liver colored eye rims.

Ears: The Australian Shepherd has moderate sized, triangular shaped ears with rounded tips. They are set high upon the head. When the dog is at attention the ears break forward and over or toward the side as a rose ear.

Muzzle: The Australian Shepherd's muzzle is approximately equal in length or just shorter than the back skull. It tapers slightly toward the rounded tip. The top of the skull and muzzle appear parallel when viewed from above.

Teeth/Bite: The Australian Shepherd has strong white teeth meeting in a scissors bite or level bite.

Neck: The Australian Shepherd's neck is medium in length, strong with a slight arching at the crest. It fits well into the shoulders.

Body: The body of the Australian Shepherd is build solidly with medium bone structure. It measures just slightly longer than it does tall. The top line is level, straight and strong with a moderately sloped croup. The Australian Shepherd's chest is deep but not broad extending down to the elbows at its lowest point. They have long, well sprung ribs that should appear neither barrel chested nor slab-sided. The underline has a moderate amount of tuck-up.

Forequarters: The Australian Shepherd has long, flat shoulder blades that fairly close set and well laid back. The upper arm is approximately the same length as the shoulder blades and attaches perpendicularly to the shoulder line. The forelegs are straight and perpendicular to the ground. The front legs are straight and strong. The pasterns are slightly sloped and medium in length.

Hindquarters: The hindquarters of the Australian Shepherd are approximately the same width as the forequarters at the shoulders. The angle of the upper thigh and pelvis are the same as the angles of the shoulder blades and upper arms. The Australian Shepherd has clearly defined stifles with a moderately bent hock joint. They have short hocks that are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground.

Gait: The gait of the Australian Shepherd should be free and smooth exhibiting the great agility and well-balanced, long-reaching stride. Both the front and rear legs should move in line with the center of the body. The feet may converge toward the center line as their speed increases but the back should remain firm and level. The Australian Shepherd is a very agile dog with the ability to change direction or alter its gait instantly.

Feet: The Australian Shepherd's feet are compact and oval in shape with close, arched toes and strong, thick pads. The front dewclaws may be removed while the rear ones must be removed.

Tail: The Australian Shepherd has a straight naturally bobbed or docked tail that should not exceed four inches in length.

Color: The coat of the Australian Shepherd can be Blue Merle, Red Merle, Black, and Red with or without white markings and/or Tan or Copper points. They may have a White collar around the neck with white on the chest, legs and the underside of the muzzle. They may have a white blaze on the head provided it is not the predominate color and the eyes are fully surrounded by color and pigment. Australian Shepherd's with Merle coats typically become darker as they mature.

Coat: The Australian Shepherd's coat is medium in length and texture, straight to wavy with a weather resistant quality. The thickness of the undercoat varies with weather and climate. The coat on the head, ears, front of forelegs and below the hocks is short and smooth. The back of the front legs are moderately feathered. The Australian Shepherd has a moderately thick mane which is more pronounced in males than females.

Australian Shepherd Facts

Category: Herding, AKC Herding

Life Expectancy: The average life expectance of the Australian Shepherds is about 12 to 15 years.

Characteristics: The Australian Shepherd may be aggressive when herding livestock but they are always gentle with humans. Some of the working lines of Aussies may be too energetic to be kept as pets. Australian Shepherds make great herding, retrieving, search & rescue, police and watch or guard dogs. They are also very competitive in agility and obedience competitions.

Australian Shepherd Health

Health: Australian Shepherds with Merle coats also have a tendency toward blindness and deafness. Australian Shepherds pups resulting from a natural bobtail to natural bobtail mating can have serious spinal defects. They also are prone to cataracts, CEA, CHD, nasal solar dermatitis, Pelger (Huet syndrome) and iris coloboma. There is also some occurrence of lumbar sacral syndrome, epilepsy, PRA, VWD, distichiasis, PDA, PPM, IMHA (Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia) and hip dysplasia. Australian Shepherds are often sensitive to ivermectin an ingredient found in common heartworm preventives but that dosage is not considered harmful to them.

Litter Size: The average litter size of the Australian Shepherds is 7 pups with most litters consisting of between 6 to 9 puppies.

Australian Shepherd History

History: The Australian Shepherd is actually not Australian at all. This breed was developed entirely in the United States as a herding dog to help on ranches. The name may have come from one of this breed's ancestors. It is believed that the Australian Shepherd originated from Spanish dogs that accompanied the Basque shepherds exported to both America and Australia in early colonial days. They are believed to then have been crossed with the Collie at some point.

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