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Australian Shepherd

Brace yourself friends; we’re introducing the vivacious Australian Shepherd! Aussies are tough ranch dogs, cowboys at heart, and sheepherders by profession. Take one home, and you’ll be part of their pack and protected as such forever.

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Animalia Team
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    Country of Origin

    United States of America

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    Breed Group

    Herding dogs

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    Height

    Male 20-23 In

    Female 18-21 In

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    Weight

    Male 50-65 Ib

    Female 40-55 Ib

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    Life Span

    12-15 years

In a Nutshell

Aussies are super intelligent, alert, confident, responsive, incredibly loving, loyal, protective, and totally devoted to their human pack. They’re fierce watchdogs, and if not trained, their strong work drive will have them herding you all like a pack of sheep. If you’re a couch potato in an apartment or have a small yard but plan to leave your Aussie alone for hours, this is not the dog for you. Aussies are a perfect match if you want a super trainable and energetic sports companion, have the time to play (Frisbee especially), and can offer mental stimulation. Maybe you even own a sheep or two!

Life With a Australian Shepherd

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Energy level

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Trainability Level

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Amount of Shedding

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Tendency of Barking

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Exercise Needs

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    Home Alone

    Consider working from home

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    Living Arrangements

    Definitely a yard

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    Kid Friendly

    Yes

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    Pet Friendly

    Yes

Looks & Personality

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Australian Shepherds are medium-sized, muscular, agile, supple, and fast (take note before you find yourself flapping at the end of their leash). They are bred to be active and pushy work dogs with the exceptional capability of herding livestock for miles through snowdrifts and rough terrain. In fact, they have an overwhelming impulse to herd anything from dogs to birds to kids.

 

Their double coat makes them weather resistant. They are also year-round shedders, especially in spring when they lose their winter coats. Aussies are cautious around strangers, so they need puppy training and young socialization to become well-rounded dogs with good social skills. If they don’t get the mental and physical stimulation they require, they can become frustrated and hard to live with.

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A tip from a vet

While adult Aussies need exercise, puppies should not run on hard surfaces like concrete or do a lot of jumping until they are about a year old. Such activity could strain their still-developing skeletal system and lead to joint problems.
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A tip from a trainer

Australian Shepherds’ habit of chasing and nipping is excellent for sheep herding but rude when applied to people and other pets. Their herding behavior is best curbed with early-on obedience classes. This training can also help satisfy their need for work and mental stimulation. They respond best to training methods using positive reinforcement - offering rewards such as play, food, and praise.
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Did You Know

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    Australian Shepherds were called California Shepherds, Bob-Tails, Spanish Shepherds, New Mexican Shepherds, and Pastor dogs.

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    According to legend, Native Americans called Aussies “ghost eye” and believed they were holy. While not all have blue eyes, pale blue “ghostly” eyes are a standard feature. 

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    The Australian Shepherd are among a few dog breeds that typically have heterochromia – two different colored eyes. For example, they might have blue, green, brown, amber, or hazel eyes. Some even have more than one color in the same eye.

In The News

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In the 1970s, an Australian Shepherd called Hyper Hank became famous for his Frisbee skills. Hank and his owner, Eldon McIntire, conquered dog Frisbee competitions, performed at the Super Bowl, and played at the White House with the Carter family.

Famous Australian Shepherd Owners

Steven Spielberg, Susan Sarandon, Bruce Willis, Paul Bettany, Alyssa Milano, Demi Moore, Tim Robbins, Mel Gibson and James Brolin.

The History Behind the Breed

The Australian Shepherd is a herding dog born and bred in California, United States, in the 19th century. It is said that they originate from herding breeds imported into California in the 1840s with sheep from New Zealand and Australia, with the breed taking its name from the latter. Originally Australian Shepherds were only used to herd livestock for farmers and ranchers in the old West. Still, they have become one of the most popular companion dogs in North USA today. During the post-WW2 boom, there was a revived fascination with Western-style horseback riding, rodeo shows, and film and TV Westerns. Audiences were wowed by the dog working alongside cowboys – the Australian Shepherd. However, their inherent trait of herding remains, as does their work ethic, intelligence, and versatility.

If a Australian Shepherd Could Talk…

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"I wasn’t nipping the child or the cat; I was simply herding them into line”

A Quick Anatomy Lesson

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Besides their genetic tendency for heterochromia (different color eyes), one in five Australian Shepherds are born with a natural bobtail (NBT). An NBT is caused by an incomplete dominant gene, like merle. NBT dogs should not be bred with each other as their puppies can be born with spina bifida or other lower spinal cord defects. Because of the merle trait, Aussies can also be born deaf.

Common Health Problems

What about your Australian Shepherd?