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Australian Shepherd

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An Aussie icon that isn’t actually Australian! These super active US imports make themselves at home on the farm or in the city, just make sure they are entertained, exercised and exhausted to stay well-mannered pets.

Choose an Australian Shepherd if you need an agile herding dog or a kooky canine addition to the family.

Where I'm From

Unlike their name suggests Australian Shepherds do not actually originate from Australia. Instead they were developed by ranchmen across western United States to help herd sheep across the difficult terrain of the Rocky Mountains.

However, their true ancestry remains unclear, thought to be a mix between imported shepherding dogs and collies with native dogs. Along with the gold rush and population expansion in western United States in the mid 19th century came the increased need for sheep meant to feed the area’s inhabitants. To fulfil the quickly growing demand, sheep were imported from far off places such as Australia, which is one theory of how Australian Shepherds got their name.

Though popular in the countryside, Australian Shepherds were not recognised as a breed in the United States until 1993 with the dogs finally reaching Australian shores early the same decade. Australian Shepherds are not so common in Australia but are rising in popularity due to their gentle demeanours.

What I Look Like

Australian Shepherds are large dog that look similar to a Border Collie or English Shepherd. They have a medium-length double coat that comes in a variety of colours including black, red, blue merle or red merle with or without tan and white points around the face, legs and chest.

Interestingly they can come with brown or blue eyes or one blue and one brown eye or marbled eyes though any eye colour is acceptable. Australian Shepherds also have a long or bob tail, though in the United Statues the tail can be also docked. In Australia such procedures are illegal.

How I Act

Australian Shepherds have wonderful docile demeanours together with the high-energy stamina of a working dog. They are great herding dogs but also make excellent family pets that are very loyal and good with children. Australian Shepherds also get along well with other pets.

Australian Shepherds are a very intelligent working breed of dog that can be easily trained given the right master. They require a confident and firm owner that is willing to put in the time with their pet to ensure they are well socialised and obedient. They are not a good fit for first time dog owners who they may dominate.

Australian Shepherds need to be put to work. Whether that is mustering sheep on an outback station, taking part in agility trials or learning tricks in the backyard, these dogs need to be challenged. They also require a minimum of 30-60 minutes of daily exercise to stay healthy. If you don’t provide your Australian Shepherd with enough activity they could become bored and destructive.

Looking After Me

Australian Shepherds need to be fed a high-quality, dry dog food meal twice a day as per packaging instructions.

They have a soft, medium-length coat that sheds moderately. To keep their fur in the best condition Australian Shepherds should be brushed weekly, more often during spring when shedding increases. They only need to be bathed every few months or if they get particularly dirty.

Australian Shepherds are not couch potato dogs. They do not suit apartments and need a large, well-fenced backyard area to roam free in if they are living in an urban environment.

They're generally a very healthy and hardy bred of dog but still can suffer from a number of medical ailments, which include hip or elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, and joint and eye issues.

Deafness can also be a common problem, which should be tested for. Dogs with white patches or lack of pigmentation can be prone to skin cancers and should have some form of sun protection during times of high UV in the middle of the day.

It is advisable to check the temperament and medical history of a puppy’s parents and view veterinarian clearance certificates to ensure you get a healthy dog though not every ailment can be predicted. Be very wary of uncertified backyard breeders.

Australian Shepherds have a lifespan of 12-18 years.

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