About Australian Shepherds
*Intro: We Adore Aussies! (BUT please read this page before getting one.)
Unique Personality Traits of the Australian Shepherd
*Aussie Facts & Fun
*Brief History of the Breed
*Common Aussie Genetic Disorders
*Conclusion: Should You Get an Aussie?
Intro: We Adore Aussies!
(BUT please read this page before getting one.)
We personally feel that Australian Shepherds are the most fun, interesting and beautiful dog breed on the planet! But you need to understand, as you consider whether to adopt one or not, that they are very HIGH MAINTENANCE animals.
An Aussie is NOT a house dog. He will NOT thrive being confined in a crate, spare bedroom or (horrors, never!) tied up all day. An evening walk on a leash when you get home from work won’t be near enough for these energetic work dogs.
Unless you have at the minimum a large fenced yard and an hour or two a day to exercise and work the dog, then PLEASE don’t adopt one. By work, we also mean play, like ball or frisbee catching or running him around the property with a golf cart or four-wheeler (they will follow and herd the vehicle until thoroughly tired).
Because of their nature, depriving Aussies of plenty of rigorous exercise and sweet human interaction is CRUEL. It also makes them bored, restless, resentful and destructive. So off they go to the Animal Shelter. And who’s fault is that?
Unique Personality Traits of the Australian Shepherd
Australian shepherds are pure entertainment! They are funny, smart, curious, super-charged and positively quirky. We have enjoyed many hours training, playing with and loving our Aussies and highly recommend them to anyone with the time and resolve to address their unique and essential needs (as explained above).
These are some of the most endearing traits common to most Aussies:
-Australian shepherds are highly intelligent. They have piercing, expressive eyes which will lock onto your eyes. Sometimes it feels like they’re trying to read your thoughts or look into your soul. Very unique sensation.
-Aussies are control freaks. They were bred to control and herd sheep and cattle, so this is an ingrained and irresistable personality trait. If you don’t have livestock, they will simply attempt to herd and control YOU, other dogs, cats, chickens, children, and motorized vehicles. And they sometimes herd with gentle nips on the backs of childrens legs, which can be misinterpreted as aggression and cause problems.
-Aussies adore their humans and get very attached. They want to be with you and will follow you around all day long so they don’t miss any of the action.
-Aussies make excellent guard dogs/watchdogs, but NOT attack dogs. They stake out their territory and make rounds often to check on it. This is THEIR turf and they will let you know loud and clear when your property is being breached (or even visited). But they do not have the temperament and muscle to attack and bring down an intruder. Which is not to say that mistreated Aussies haven’t been known to attack aggressively. But most Australian shepherds have gentle dispositions and they are not considered an aggressive breed.
-Aussies are highly affectionate with their human family. Every morning, Mini greets us by standing up full-length on her hind legs. She then gazes lovingly into your eyes, waiting for her daily hug and kiss. For real. And all of our Aussies give you hugs by wrapping their bodies around your legs, kinda like a “U”. Also quirky and unique. In fact, most of the pups around here will even present to you all excited, tails wagging, with their bodies folded in half, butt first! You’ve got to see this to understand. I’ll catch this on tape one day soon and post it for you here!
-Australian Shepherds thrive on physical and mental challenges. We call this “high-maintenance”. You have been warned.
Australian Shepherd Facts & Fun
Weight: Male 50–65 lb
Female: 40–55 lb
Colors: Tri-colored (black/red/blue), Bi-colored (black/red/blue), blue merle, red merle
Litter size: 6 -10
Life span: 13–16 years
Brief History of the Breed
The Australian Shepherd is descended from a line of herding dogs of the Basque people in the European Pyrenees Mountains. Their ancestor breed was called the Pyrenean Shepherd.
In the early 1800s, many Basques emigrated to the virgin Australian continent, a wide-open paradise for these world-class shepherds. And they brought along their faithful shepherd dogs.
While in Australia, the Basques refined their dogs by crossing them with Collies and English Border Collies. The Basques eventually emigrated to California, again with their tough, wiry shepherd dogs in tow.
California ranchers admired the Basques’ tireless herding dogs and named them Australian Shepherds.
Aussies have been an iconic part of cowboy culture ever since. Many are still happily herding in the American West, others perform in rodeos. Aussies are highly intelligent and train easily as service dogs and police drug detection dogs.
Aussie Genetic Disorders- Rare but Devastating
The most often detected genetic Aussie diseases include elbow and hip dysplasia*, Hereditary Eye Defects*, MDR1 (Multi-drug sensitivity), and Thyroid disease.
* Dysplasia= A genetic abnormal formation of the hip or elbow socket which can result in crippling lameness and painful arthritis of the joints
* Hereditary Eye Defects= The most commonly found in Aussies are Cataracts and Rod Cone Degeneration
Conclusion: Should You Get an Aussie?
We hope we have presented here a good argument for careful consideration before deciding if this is the best choice of dog breed for you. We don’t want to discourage you from getting an Australian Shepherd if you are up to the challenge.
Just know that Aussies are high-maintenance, and come with their own unique “learning curve”. But if you make the committment, and follow through, they are the most loving, loyal, protective, hard-working and affectionate dogs you will ever know. Once you have had an Australian Shepherd, you will never go back to ordinary dogs!
Australian Shepherds- Ocala, Florida