When it comes to the herding breeds, I must admit, I’m a little biased… especially when the breed on topic is the Australian Shepherd. However, I would like to introduce you to the breed that has long been my favorite, and hopefully not be too partial! Now, before becoming too excited on finally discovering “the perfect sounding breed”, please realize that finding a suitable dog isn’t a “one size fits all” kind of deal! It all takes time and research.
So, why do I like the Australian Shepherd? For me, I'm drawn to its eager to please nature, guardian instincts, energy level, friendliness, loyalty, and gorgeous physical appearance!
The Aussie, as this breed is often nicknamed, officially became recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1991. The modern Australian Shepherd makes a surprisingly suitable pet for singles, couples and even families. The Aussie is cheerful, and eager to please. Highly Intelligent, the breed is always willing to learn and excels in sports, though herding is always its first go-to. That said, the breed can easily adapt to city and suburban life. The Aussie tends to be wary around strangers, compliant towards indoor pets, and generally friendly towards children. Aussies are natural guardians at heart, continually prepared for the challenge of protecting his or her family. Though a decent family pet, the breed is best suited when in the hands of one primary care-giver and trainer.
This breed is diverse in looks, opposed to most undeviating purebreds. For a shepherd, the Aussie is rather hefty in build. The chest is deep, the neck is broadly arched, the back is relatively strait, and in sizing, the overall dog is slightly longer than it is tall. The head, rounded at the dome, is well-proportioned to the body. The Aussie’s tail is either naturally bobbed or docked, according to standard.
Coat color is assorted. Color variations include black, blue merle, red merle, red tri-color, black tri-color, brown, and white (though white is prohibited from all show rings.). Copper and white markings are generally pronounced. The Aussie’s ears are large and triangular rose, or drop. The breed’s eyes are triangular and/or almond, and range in color. Common colors cover brown (various shades), blue, or marbled brown and blue.
Sizing at a glance:
Height: 18-23 inches
Weight: 45-70 pounds
It is best to use a pin brush and slicker as well as a stripping comb when grooming your Aussie. The breed requires brushing approximately 3-4 times a week. Though a fairly lengthy coat, it is surprisingly durable and does not require a whole lot of care. That said, Aussies do tend to shed heavily year-round. Annual bathing should be spaced no more then once a month. If any dog is bathed too frequently, special oils required to maintain healthy skin and coat may potentially deteriorate.
~EXERCISE & ENERGY~
The Australian Shepherd’s energy level is high, no doubt. In this breed’s case, a mere walk around the block will not suffice. Long walks, jogs, and/or bike rides are always most appreciated. The majority of herding dogs rarely become tired out, and the Aussie is certainly no exception. Due to its energetic side and high-intelligence level (it is said to be the 4th most intelligent breed as of 2013*), the breed requires mental exercise as well as physical. Brain stimulation/exercise includes advanced obedience training, dog tricks, and even sports, if you and your dog can endure. If the Aussie is not given your time in ways to strengthen and exert the brain (in one of the previous games and “jobs” mentioned), your dog will easily go ahead and make up his own job- which usually entails shredded furniture or escape routes dug about your backyard!
The Aussie is a comparatively healthy purebred. That said, no breed is perfect, and most have to face many genetic diseases. Common hereditary health issues can include: eye cataracts and other eye diseases, deafness, dental infirmities, hip dysplasia (where the hip bone is not fully/properly formed), and epilepsy (where the dog endures seizures). Eye diseases are said to be lessened in dogs with blue eyes. Deafness is found more frequently in any merle colored Australian Shepherd.
The Herding Group’s Australian Shepherd is no doubt an attractive-looking dog with a great personality- but does the cost and day-to-day maintenance suit you and your family? You must think about this before making your final decision on whether or not this breed suits you. If you want a calm or lazy dog maybe a Basset Hound, Pug, Bulldog, or even Great Dane would be more your speed!
For Further Information on this breed:
· http://www.asca.org (Australian Shepherd Club of America, Inc.)
· http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/australian-shepherd/ (American Kennel Club)
· http://www.ukcdogs.com/Web.nsf/Breeds/HerdingDog/AustralianShepherd (United Kennel Club)
· http://www.westminsterkennelclub.org/breedinformation/herding/ausshep.html (Westminster Kennel Club)
· Australian Shepherds, written by D. Caroline Coile (book)
· The Australian Shepherd, written by Tracy Libby (book)
*To view test: http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/5-smartest-dog-breeds-chosen-by-veterinary-professionals