Is your dog an Australian Shepherd Dog
Above all, the Australian Shepherd impresses with its irrepressible temperament, enviable endurance and strong protective instinct. He is a working dog through and through, which, even as a family dog, does not lose his innate instinct for guarding and guarding. Work means passion for the active and eager to learn dog and so he is always 100 percent involved in all tasks entrusted to him. He is very intelligent and docile and is happy about every new challenge.
Friendly working dog with a head of its own
At the same time, the pedigree dog, affectionately known as "Aussie", is also very people-oriented and has a pronounced "will to please". He wants to please his people and enjoys working with them. Its high learning ability paired with its willingness to subordinate itself to humans and to obey, make the former working dog more and more popular as a family dog. His desire to please his “pack leaders” does not mean, however, that he blindly follows all commands and commands of his master. As an original herding dog, the Australian Shepherd has retained its own head and thus a certain independence.
High willingness to learn and the ability to observe
His “will to please” and his high willingness to learn should not be confused with easy training. He learns the wrong things very quickly, but also quickly. His upbringing requires just as much care, patience and empathy as consistency and straightforwardness. The intelligent and attentive dog immediately detects weak points and makes use of them. Many an Australian Shepherd probably knows his owner better than he does himself. With self-confidence, consistency and of course a lot of love and attention, living together with an Aussie is very harmonious and problem-free.
Compatible dog with a pronounced herding instinct
Although he is reserved towards strangers at first, he thaws quickly due to his friendly and good-natured nature. He is also patient and easy to get along with when dealing with children and other pets. However, it can happen that other animals, children, joggers or even cars appeal to his herding business - clear boundaries and an extensive range of activities are accordingly important for the eager and versatile pedigree dog.
His origin as a herding dog and driving dog can be recognized not only by his strong will to work and his high urge to move, but also by his strong and muscular, but very agile and supple body. With a height at the withers of 51 to 58 cm in males and 46 to 53 cm in females and a maximum weight of 22 kg, the Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized but still quite light dog. He moves freely and effortlessly and shows great skill in many dog sports.
Well-proportioned body with a stubby tail
As a working dog, he has a very sturdy build, which, however, never looks rough. The Aussie's slightly arched to flat head with a clearly recognizable stop and a muzzle of roughly the same length is in good proportion to its harmonious body. It has a strong scissor bite and triangular ears that are set high on the head and tilt slightly forwards or to the side when focused and paying close attention. Characteristic for some dogs of this breed is the innate stump tail, also called "natural bobtail" (NBT). Longer rods may be docked up to a maximum of 10 cm in countries without a docking ban.
Weather-resistant fur with a variety of colors
The smooth to slightly wavy coat of the Australian Shepherd is very weather resistant thanks to the strong undercoat. In males, the mane and ruff are slightly more hairy than in females. On the head, on the outside of the ears, on the front of the front legs and below the hocks, the hair is short and smooth in both sexes. The greatest peculiarity of the breed, which among other things explains its great popularity, is certainly the wealth of variations in its coat color. There are basically four basic colors, which, however, offer 16 possible color variants in their combination and the different badges.
The four basic colors are:
- Blue-Merle (marbled black with a gray base color)
- Red-Merle (marbled red / brown with a light red or beige base color)
This results in 16 possible coat colors:
- solid black: solid black, without a mark
- solid red: solid red, without markings
- blue-merle: marbled black with a gray / blue base color, without a mark
- red-merle: marbled red / brown with a light red / beige base color, without a mark
- black-bi (copper): black with copper-colored markings
- black-bi (white): black with white markings
- red-bi (copper): red with copper-colored markings
- red-bi (white): red with white markings
- blue-merle (white): Merle colors (gray / blue) with white markings
- blue-merle (copper): Merle colors (gray / blue) with copper-colored markings
- red-merle (white): Merle colors (red / brown) with white markings
- red-merle (copper): Merle colors (red / brown) with copper-colored markings
- black-tri: black with white and copper colored markings
- red-tri: red with white and copper-colored markings
- blue-merle (white / copper): Merle colors blue / gray with copper-colored and white markings
- red-merle (white / copper): Merle colors red / brown with copper-colored and white markings
Unusual eye colors
With all colors, eyes and ears are predominantly dominated by colors other than white. White markings are allowed, but white should never be the predominant color. The current breed standard accepts neither white areas on the body nor a completely unpigmented nose (Dudley Nose). The eye color of this unusual pedigree dog is just as versatile as the coat: The eye colors blue, brown, amber and any other variation or combination of these colors, including spots and marbling, are permitted.
Contrary to what the name suggests, the home of this versatile pedigree dog is not Australia, but North America. However, the actual origin of the breed has not yet been fully understood, so that only theories about the ancestors of the Australian Shepherd exist. The most common thesis is that Basque shepherds brought the dogs with them from Australia to the USA in the 19th century - especially at the time of the gold rush around 1840. The Basque immigrants brought them with them as herding dogs for their merino sheep, which in North America were given the name "Australian Sheep".
A star of the western shows
The zealous working dog quickly made a name for himself on the farms and ranches of the United States. Enthusiastic about the versatility of its possibilities, which ranged from herding and driving tasks to the use as a watchdog, the farmers began with the targeted breeding of these pedigree dogs. The dogs also impressed their audience at western shows and rodeos and increased their popularity. In 1957 the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) opened the first stud book, but it wasn't until 20 years later that a uniform standard for the breed was established. The American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard came into effect in 1993. Three years later, in 1996, the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) finally recognized the Australian Shepherd as an independent dog breed. The FCI leads the Aussie with the standard number 342 in group 1 of herding dogs and cattle dogs and in section 1 of shepherds.
Breeding and Health
Although some members of the breed still tend and drive sheep and other livestock, the majority of Australian Shepherds are now kept as family and companion dogs. According to their use, two different lines have developed in breeding: A working line in which the original herding properties and the herd instinct are preserved and promoted, as well as a somewhat calmer line, in which more emphasis is placed on balance and a throttled temperament and which is thus better suited to life as a family dog. But even the more balanced line still brings more energy than some football teams. When buying an adorable puppy, this is often forgotten and it is not uncommon for new owners to feel overwhelmed at home.
Steer clear of bargain Aussies
So if you're interested in an Aussie, think twice about setting your life up for such a temperament bolt. Only when you can answer this question with a clear “yes” should you start looking for a suitable breeder. Don't let the low puppy prices tempt you to buy. Such “bargains” are mostly animals from mass breeding farms who want to enrich themselves from the booming business with the new fashion dog and who place no value on the nature or health of their animals. Such paperless Aussies have not undergone adequate health checks and therefore often get sick.
Diseases typical of the breed
Unfortunately, the fact that breed-specific hereditary diseases have increasingly appeared in recent years is also due to the increasing popularity of the breed and the uncontrolled breeding that goes with it. Typical illnesses the Australian Shepherd struggles with include joint problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia (HD and ED), eye conditions such as cataract and PRA (Progressive Retina Atrophy), epilepsy, and dentition and tooth defects. As with Collies, many members of the breed also suffer from the so-called MDR1 defect, which leads to hypersensitivity to various drugs. When two Merle types are mated, the offspring often develop deafness and / or blindness. In some countries, the mating Merle x Merle is therefore prohibited as a torture breed.
Only buy from reputable breeders
With the knowledge of these breed typical diseases, puppy buyers should definitely turn to a competent and reputable breeder. This is the only way you can be sure that your puppy comes from a controlled and healthy breed. You not only ensure a healthy and long life for your dog, but also make an important contribution to the health of the entire breed.
Australian Shepherd diet
Just as essential to your Aussie's physical well-being is their diet. As with most dog breeds, the Australian Shepherd also recommends a food that consists of a lot of meat (at least 70%) as well as vegetables and fruit (approx. 20-30%). Your dog does not need much grain, sugar should be avoided completely. If you give him dry or wet food, you should make sure that it is of high quality. The list of ingredients on the packaging gives you information on whether the composition is right and accordingly all the important nutrients your dog needs are contained in the food. Superfluous fillers, sweeteners, artificial flavor enhancers and chemical preservatives have just as little place in the feed as too much grain and usually indicate poor quality feed. The so-called BARFing (biologically appropriate raw feeding) has also become more and more popular recently. Just like when you cook yourself, you naturally have the greatest control over the quality of the feed.
Also read our article on Australian Shepherd nutrition.
What is good for my Aussie?
Eating an Australian Shepherd with a balanced and healthy diet and thus supplying it with all the important nutrients is basically quite simple. As a rule, Aussies are not prone to obesity or allergies. Nevertheless, you should of course adapt the food individually to the needs of your dog. Puppies that are still growing certainly need a different food than adult dogs. And calmer seniors need different ingredients than an adult dog who moves several hours each day. Aside from age, weight, gender, activity level and state of health also play a role in choosing the right food. Not only the ingredients, but also the amount and frequency of daily feedings should be adapted to these factors. It is advisable to give small amounts to puppies four times a day, while you should only fill an adult Aussie's bowl twice a day. By the way, all dogs need fixed meal times and rest after eating - regardless of their age.
Aside from proper nutrition and routine annual visits to the vet, there is a lot you can do to keep your dog healthy and well-groomed. An important part of caring for an Australian Shepherd is to brush its coat on a daily basis. This is how you can remove loose hair, remove dirt and avoid tangles. You should also check your ears, teeth, paws and claws about once a week and have them cleaned or trimmed. By the way, with this regular grooming program you not only maintain the beautiful appearance and health of your dog, but at the same time strengthen the bond between you and your four-legged friend.
However, the Australian Shepherd undoubtedly places higher demands on its keeping than on nutrition and care. Even animals from a "family dog breed", in which the temperament has been reduced a little, still demand a lot of activity and action.
Not a dog for couch potatoes
An Australian Shepherd is definitely not a dog for couch potatoes and Sunday strollers. Pure fitness training such as walking for hours, running next to the bike or fetching balls is not enough for the demanding pedigree dog. The intelligent, eager to learn, Aussie demands employment that is both physically and mentally beneficial. We recommend participating in various dog sports or training as a rescue, therapy or guide dog.
But treat yourself to some rest!
Physically and mentally exhausted dogs will in any case integrate better into the family than under-challenged and bored animals, which quickly tend to develop bad habits. People whom you promote according to their abilities, they willingly subordinate themselves and will loyally stand by their side. Well socialized, educated and busy Australian Shepherds will also accept when there is nothing to do. Because rest and relaxation are just as important for a harmonious coexistence with your dog as physical exercise and mental activity.
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