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Australian Shepherd

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Life span: 10-15 Years

Height: 51-58cm (Male); 46-54cm (Female)

Weight: 40-65 pounds

Also called “Aussies” these beautiful animals are commonly used for herding sheep. They are extremely smart and loyal family dogs who need to be kept entertained. Contrary to what its name makes you suspect, these dogs are not from Australia, they are from the United States. Regardless of their origins, however, this breed will always protect its family.

Physical Characteristics

Made for agility, the Australian Shepherd’s body tends to be long, with equally wide front and back legs. Its ears are set high on its head, folded down although not quite hanging. Their tails are usually cut or “docked” but can be left normal. Their eyes can be blue, brown or light brown with a black or brown nose. When they have a blue pattern it is common to have a black nose, when they have a red pattern their nose is usually flesh colored. Its dense double-coat helps them guard from the weather. The overcoat is usually straight, but may have a slight curl to it. The undercoat is usually shed during warm weather. Their coats usually have a unique pattern that can have the colors black, brown, red, blue and/or white in it.

History

Unlike what its name implies, this breed is originally from the United States. They were used for herding and guarding livestock, for which some are still used. Its exact ancestors are unknown, but many suspect shepherd dogs imported from Australia in 1840 might be part of them, giving it the Australian Shepherd name. In order to enhance their abilities, they were crossbred multiple times, until they became the dogs we know now. After World War II, when horseback riding rose in popularity, so did this breed. When people saw them working side by side with the competitors on races or rodeos, they fell in love with these dogs. In 1993, the American Kennel Club recognized them.

Personality

Like all herding breeds, this dog needs an owner who takes the roll of pack leader and makes them understand their role in the family. Once achieved, the Aussie will become a fantastic family dog, guarding and giving affection to them. They need to be kept physically and mentally entertained, or they will attempt to look for something to entertain themselves, including engaging in destructive behaviors. They love participating in agility, obedience, or herding competitions and can be kept busy by teaching them new tricks and taking them out on daily walks. If not kept within a fenced area, these dogs might try to herd cars, children and other pets. They need socialization as puppies in order to combat his natural wariness of strangers and other dogs.

Health

Although usually a very healthy breeds, some Aussies can suffer from:

Hip dysplasia, a hereditary disease in which there is an abnormal formation in the hip socket, that may eventually cause painful arthritis. It may also be affected by the environment they reside in.

Ear Infections, which can be prevented by constant cleaning of any debris or excess wax.

Cataracts, in which the lens of the eye clouds, causing partial or complete loss of vision.

Epilepsy, a neurological disorder that can produce seizures.

Cancer, noticeable through unusually swollen bumps, bleeding from any orifices, or sores that do not heal, along with difficulty breathing.

Care

Brushing must be done every two days when shedding, otherwise once a week is enough. Baths should only be given to them when they have gotten extremely dirty, otherwise grooming and cleaning with a wet cloth should be enough, if bathed too much, their skin might become irritated and they might suffer some hair loss. Their nails have to be cut regularly, every two weeks approximately. They need daily and constant exercise as well as to be kept entertained, or they might become destructive. This is usually achieved when they are given a task or if they are competing. They love hiking and walking with their owners, especially if the exercise routine is long. They need to be socialized at an early age and to receive obedience training. Their loyalty makes them both easy to train and protective of its family and territory. They cannot be left alone for long periods of time as they bond tightly with their families and need to be constantly occupied.

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