Getting To Know The Australian Shepherd

January has already gone to the dogs. Several cute pups are celebrating special days this month, including the Lab, Alaskan Malamute, Standard Poodle, and the Australian Shepherd. While these are all Very Good Boys, we’re putting the Aussie in the spotlight for this one. Read on as a local vet discusses this extraordinary pooch.


Breed Basics: Australian Shepherds


The Aussie has many nicknames, such as Spanish Shepherds, Pastor Dogs, Bob-Tails, New Mexican Shepherds, and California Shepherds.


Regardless of what you call him, Fido belongs to the AKC’s Herding Group, which also includes German Shepherds and Corgis. Aussies are strong, loyal, and smart, as well as active, obedient, and adorable. They can live for 12-15 years with good care. With good care, they can survive for 12-15 years. They usually weigh 40 to 65 pounds, and reach a height of 22 inches.


Australian Shepherds: What Makes Them Special?


Aussies are highly intelligent, making them an awesome choice for many different fields. Fido can do many jobs, beyond corralling wayward sheep. In addition to being great Seeing Eye dogs, they can also work as hearing dogs, drug sniffing dogs, and search-and-rescue dogs. They also excel in agility, obedience, dock diving, and flyball, among other dog sports.


Training An Australian Shepherd


Proper training is a must with these guys. When Aussies are rehomed, they are often accused of bad behavior. This is quite unfortunate, as the Aussie really only wants to please his humans. Any behavioral issues are usually due to a lack of training, excessive energy from lack of exercise, or a combination of both.


Although some dogs only need basic training, this cute pup usually loves to learn tricks and complex commands. Fido looks adorable when he gets a command right! Keep up with his petucation! These dogs need mental stimulation, which is extremely important to them.


How Did The Australian Shepherd So Become Popular In The United States?


Fido quickly gained popularity among cowboys and ranchers, but he did not gain much traction outside of that world until rodeo star Jay Lister brought his beloved Australian Shepherd onto the rodeo circuit in the nineteenth century. Lister’s pup won crowds and hearts across the nation with his intelligence and ability to perform tricks. This helped pave the way for Fido’s next career: being a beloved pet.


Is An Aussie Shepherd A Good Pet?


The Aussie is a great dog, and makes a wonderful pet. They are good with children and can get along well with other animals as long as they are properly socialized.


However, Fido isn’t the right match for everyone. All breeds have specific characteristics, as most pups were developed to perform certain tasks or roles. That is true with the Aussie, who was developed as a herding dog. That line of work required careful thinking, lots of endurance and stamina, and teamwork. Those traits are still present in Fido today.


The biggest thing to consider is the fact that the Aussie is a very active and high energy dog. He’ll need lots of exercise, playtime, and activity, and he can be destructive when bored or lonely. These guys may not be the best breed for those looking for an inactive, laid-back pet. They also aren’t the quietest pups.


Adoption is a lifetime commitment, so it’s very important to choose a pooch that is right for your household. Do plenty of research before adopting a pup, and ask your Smyrna, GA vet about specific advice.


What Is The Australian Shepherd’s Character?


Aussies are friendly but protective, and have a natural tendency to herd. Fido may even try to herd you! Often ranked among the smartest breeds, Aussies are known for being hardworking, active, and loyal. These guys need lots of toys and stimulation, and will do best in a home that gives them lots of room to run and play. A fenced yard is ideal.


What Are The Health Problems Associated With Australian Shepherds?


Australian Shepherds are usually pretty hardy. However, they are prone to a few conditions, including eye problems. We recommend hip and elbow examinations, as well as eye exams.


Another thing of note: researchers recently divided our canine companions into different groups, or clades, according to their genetics. Aussie belongs to the UK Rural Clade, along with the Collie, the Shetland Sheepdog, and Border Collie. Among dogs in that group, MDR1 mutations are quite common. They can cause ivermectin sensitivities and the eye problems mentioned above. For more information, please consult your veterinarian in Smyrna, GA.


Why Do So Many Aussies Have Short Tails?


We often mention tail wags when talking about our canine buddies. However, Fido does not always have a tail to wag. Because shorter tails are safer for herding, ranchers deliberately bred pups with this abnormality. Around 1 in 5 Aussie pups are born with a short tail, and some have no tail at all. 


The History of the Australian Shepherd


There are countless examples of breeders naming pups after the regions they originated in. Examples include the German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, and Bouvier des Flandres, who will celebrate his special day on the 16th. So, while it may seem logical to assume that Fido is Australian, that isn’t actually the case. The Australian Shepherd is an American breed, that first leaped onto the scene as a buddy to cowboys and ranchers.


To trace the origin of this Very Good Boy, we must examine the early Spanish Conquistadors and Basque shepherds who arrived in the New World during the 1500s. Along with their sheep, they also brought dogs to both Australia and the United States. Meanwhile, Germans were busy crossbreeding their own sheep with a prized Spanish breed, Merinos. As they migrated to the American West, they also brought along both sheep and additional sheepdogs. 


It is likely that Fido’s ancestry includes Pyrenean Shepherds, Collies, Border Collies, and Carea Leonés, a small and lively Spanish breed often utilized for herding duties. There are no records of the Careas coming to the U.S., but their remarkable resemblance to the Aussie probably isn’t coincidental.


What Color Are Australian Shepherds?


Aussies can wear black, red, or merle, which is a pretty dappled or mottled pattern. They have fluffy fur and shed a lot, especially in spring and fall. Fido should be brushed weekly to remove dead hair.


When your dog is shedding, you will need to brush him more frequently, using an undercoat rake. Ask your vet for more information.


What Is The Aussie’s Famed Death Stare?


The eyes of Australian Shepherds are usually very striking. They can have brown, blue, hazel, amber, or green eyes. Fido also may have heterochromia, or different-colored eyes, which further enhances his unique and beautiful appearance. He can even have different colors in one eye!


Native Americans considered some Aussies “ghost eye dogs” because of their pale blue eyes and intense stares. Fido was even considered sacred! 


Fido has also earned a reputation for his intense gaze. This fierce look, also known as the “Aussie death stare,” is very effective at intimidating cattle. It also provides his humans with some great photo opps!


Happy New Year! Please feel free to call us, your local Smyrna, GA pet hospital, if you have questions about caring for an Aussie. We’re here to help!


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