The Australian Shepherd has amazing beauty. Its expressive gaze will drive even an avid cat lover crazy.
The Australian Shepherd is a harmonious combination of good-natured appearance and flexible intelligence. These dogs are known all over the world as reliable and loyal companions who will cheer you up with their funny antics. For Aussies, there is no better entertainment than an active walk with the owner in a city park. Animals truly enjoy the company of their family and do not like to be alone for a long time. This charming shaggy will show you by his example what inexhaustible optimism and the ability to have fun all day long!
Aggressiveness: mild (3/5)
Education: above the average (4/5)
Need for care: above the average (4/5)
Health: above the average (4/5)
Attitude to solitude: low (2/5)
Noisiness: above the average (4/5)
Activity: above the average (4/5)
Molting: above the average (4/5)
Friendliness: above the average (4/5)
Owning cost: mild (3/5)
Intellect: excellent (5/5)
Security skill: above the average (4/5)
* The characteristics of the Australian Shepherd breed are based on an assessment by lapkins.ru experts and feedback from dog owners.
Despite the fact that more than 50 years has been devoted to the study of the Australian Shepherd, experts still have not come to a consensus on the issue of its origin. It is believed that the Aussie was bred in the United States, but the history of the appearance of the breed still goes back to Australia and is associated with the name of Eliza Forlonge. She was the ancestor of the breeding of The Merino and the production of high-quality wool on the southern continent.
In the 1830s, she and her family settled near Campbell Town, a small town in eastern Tasmania, where she emigrated from Scotland with her husband and two sons. Here the family founded the Winton farm, where they began to raise sheep, bought in Germany, and brought them with. Joseph Pabts was hired as flock caretaker to follow the Forlonges with his herding dogs, the Tigers, now called Old German Shepherds. This is a confirmed version of how the ancestors of the Aussies ended up in the Australian continent.
According to another theory, the ancestor of the stock dog is the Australian Koolie, which is most similar to today’s Aussie. Farmers and breeders have attempted to breed the perfect four-legged shepherd by crossing the Australian Kelpie and a cattle dog. In addition, the Tiger and the Border Collie took part in the creation of the breed. As a result of a selection that surpassed all expectations, an ideal shepherd dog was obtained. The animal possessed strength and endurance, was able to independently assess the situation and make a decision during its work, without waiting for the owner’s instructions. One of the important positive qualities of the Aussie was the lack of aggression towards livestock.
At the end of the 19th century, intensive development of the American wool market began. The main focus was on the Australian sheep, which were brought by ships from Australia. Together with them, they brought in a shepherd breed of dogs, which amazed local cattle breeders with their abilities. These gifted animals quickly gained popularity in the western states, where sheep breeding was most developed.
It is America that is the birthplace of the Australian Shepherd. The first officially registered breeder is Juanita Eli, who exported the Merino Along with one batch of sheep, a shepherd arrived with a bluish-colored dog. It was the first Australian stock dog acquired by Juanita Eli, who made a huge contribution to the further development of the breed.
It was Jay Sisler, a rancher of Idaho, who developed the popularity of the Australian Shepherd in the population. This man was an avid participant in rodeo competitions. Jay Sisler entertained the audience with performances featuring his Australian Shepherds Queenie, Stubby, and Shorty, which delighted audiences not only in the United States, but also in Canada. The Walt Disney Company has invited furry artists to participate in the filming of two movies. All this greatly contributed to the popularization of the Aussie breed, since many people wanted to get such a smart and cute four-legged friend.
The history of the evolution of the breed is associated with three generations of American farmers – Hartnagles. While rearing sheep, they also looked for a suitable companion among stock dogs. Their choice fell on the Australian Shepherd, which impressed with its working qualities. By the way, two puppies, Badger and Goody, purchased from Juanita Eli, were “nephews” of Queenie, the famous dog of Jay Sisler. Goody gave rise to such famous lines as Wood and Flintridge. The Hartnagles, along with Juanita Eli and Jay Sisler, are on the list of famous Australian Shepherd breeders.
The Australian Shepherds finally acquired their present appearance relatively recently – in the first half of the 20th century. In 1957, a shepherd named Panda appeared on the list of the National Stock Dog Registry on official rights. This was the first significant recognition of the Aussie as an independent breed. In 1962, the registration of the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) took place, although it existed five years earlier. In 1970, the first kennels were organized. It was Maywood and Las Rocos. Soon the number of kennels had already reached twenty-six. The breed standard was first registered only in 1977. According to the official version, which has been repeatedly questioned by experts, the Australian Shepherd was bred as a result of crossing the Pyrenean Shepherd, Bernese Mountain Dog, and Collie.
The Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized breed with gender differences in size. The height of males ranges from 52 to 58 cm, in females, it usually does not exceed 46-53 cm. The weight of a dog can vary from 18 to 30 kg.
The body is elongated, but the overall dimensions remain balanced so that the dog does not appear stocky. In comparison with males, females look more graceful and elegant, however, they are not scrawny at all.
The head is big but at the same time, it seems neat and light. In proportion to the body, it with a slight rounding of the skull. The forehead is slightly rounded or flat. In the occipital, the presence of a small tubercle is permissible. The curve separating the forehead and nose is precisely defined. The line of the cranial is parallel to the nose.
A conical muzzle of the Aussie tapers from the base to the nose. Its length is medium, equal to the length of the back of the skull (or slightly shorter). The nose is pigmented depending on the main color. Black is found in marbled blue and black dogs, brown in marbled reds. At the same time, the marble basic color allows small blotches of pink, provided that their total area does not exceed 25 % of the entire nose area in dogs from one year of age and older.
The ears are of medium length and triangular shape with barely rounded tips. Most often, a high position is noted (but not too far), however, a lateral position is also permissible, but its tips must be facing forward. The ears are slightly erect, at the moment of alertness it rise. Erect ears or fully dandling ears are not acceptable. The Aussie’s ears are not clipping.
The Aussie’s look is very expressive and intelligent. They will carefully consider the stranger, but certain alertness in their gaze is always accompanied by friendliness. The eyes are almond-shaped, set moderately obliquely, not too deep, but not protruding either. There are different colors of the iris: amber, blue, greenish, brown. Some marbling is possible. There are some dogs with different eye colors, which is not a disqualifying disadvantage. Dogs of black and marbled blue color, as a rule, have a black outline around the eyes. Red and marble-red have a brown outlines.
Aussie has strong jaws and scissor bite (pincer bite is also acceptable). An underbite is disqualifying faults. The teeth are strong, white, presented in a complete set. The complete formula has 42 teeth, of which 20 are located on the upper jaw and 22 on the lower. All teeth must be present, however, the absence of some due to injury will not be penalized with a decrease in the rating at exhibitions.
The neck of the Australian Shepherd is of moderate length, with a slight curve at the nape. Strong, muscular, well set on the shoulders.
The strong body has well-developed muscles. The back is wide, in the natural stance of the dog has a straight topline from the withers to the pelvis, passing further into a slightly sloping croup. The front part of the body is equal in width to the back. The moderately deep chest is distinguished by a pronounced relief. Its lowest point reaches the level of the elbow joint. Long ribs have a regular oval shape. The belly is tucked in, with a moderate curve from the chest to the groin.
The Australian Shepherd has three tail lengths: long, naturally short, up to 10 cm long (when the puppy is born with a short tail), and clipping. But clipping tail shall not be longer than 10 cm.
The flat scapulas of the Aussie are distinguished by their close position to the withers. Its tilt angle is 45 degrees. The length of the humerus corresponds to the scapula and is located at right angles to its axis. Strong paws in cross-sectional shape more resemble an oval than a circle. The elbow joint occupies a middle position between the ground and the withers of the animal. The forearms are perpendicular to the surface on which the dog is moving. The pasterns are of medium length and slightly sloping. The fifth fingers are removed at the request of the owner. Oval feet have compact toes. The paw pads are firm, with thick skin.
The angle between the femur and the pelvic axis forms a perpendicular. The knee joints are well defined. Looking at the Australian Shepherd from behind, it can be observed that the Australian Shepherd’s shins will be perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other. They become short metatarsals. Oval feet are compact, with curved toes that end in thick and resilient pads.
Aussie’s movements are smooth, distinguished by speed, lightness, and freedom. Despite its big stride, the Australian Shepherd is well balanced in movement. Both pairs of limbs move parallel to the central axis of the body. The dog’s paws approach the projection of its center of gravity when the animal accelerates its stride. The back remains straight while running. The Australian Shepherd is extremely agile and has the ability to quickly change direction and manner of movement.
The fur of the Australian Shepherd is coarse, of medium length and moderate density. It may be straight or slightly wavy. It consists of a long fur and a short, soft underfur, which is completely replaced twice a year. Its density is directly dependent on climatic conditions: as cool as the weather is, the underfur’s more density.
The head, ears, and forelegs are covered with short and silky fur. On the forelimbs and the buttocks, the fur line forms the so-called feathers that longer in the area of the hind limbs. Aussies have a moderately developed mane and collar, which are more pronounced in males.
Despite the fact that among the Australian Shepherds there are dogs with various, unique colors. However, only four types of color are recognized as the official standard – it is black, marble blue (Aussie is most often associated with it), red, and marble red. In all cases, the presence of white areas is acceptable, but no frills. Pay attention to the fact that the eyes should be framed in color. As the dog grows older, the fur became darker.
There are also sable, graphite, golden, and brindle colors, but they are not officially recognized.
Almost any deviation from the standard can be considered as breed defects. The most serious and common deficiencies include:
Disqualifying faults include:
Every Australian Shepherd is cheerful, affectionate, smart, and agile By the way, this is one of the few breeds whose representatives in a good mood know how to “smile” widely and wag their backside. By their nature, these are natural-born shepherds who are called upon to watch over the flock and return the strayed animals in time. This feature can be noticed when walking with a pet: he will constantly make sure that no one lags behind the company, and gather everyone together. Despite the constant desire to follow the commands of the owner, the dog in an emergency can make independent decisions.
Aussies are very friendly and easily find a common language both with their brethren during walks and with other domestic animals: it may be a cat or a hamster, a cow or a domestic goose. The dog behaves well at exhibitions among the barking brethren, on the street and at home. The Australian Shepherd is never got in a fight first, but in case of unfriendly behavior of relatives, as well as in case of a threat to the owner or family members, it will always be able to give a worthy rebuff. For this, the animal has everything: developed muscles and strong teeth.
The Aussie adores children and will become their tireless companion for outdoor games. The dog will be happy to accompany the owner while jogging or cycling, will take an active part in various competitions or hiking trips. It is unbearable for representatives of this breed to sit all day in a confined space. Physical activity is essential for them to maintain muscle mass, well-being, and mood.
Being naturally born guards, Aussies can sometimes show excessive aggression when defending their territory if they were badly educated. This point needs to be given special attention. As far as Australian Shepherds are very friendly by nature, aggression, as well as cowardice, is a behavioral disorder.
From the very first days of the puppy’s life in the house, it is necessary to explain to him the elementary rules of behavior and highlight the territory, which will help the dog to quickly adapt to the new place. It is important that the dog knows who its owner is. Otherwise, the animal will strive to occupy a dominant position in the house.
The Australian Shepherd is very smart, talented, and trainable. It is believed that the dog of this breed is able to execute commands after 30-40 repetitions. It is, of course, worth starting at home from the first days of the puppy’s moving to it. The owner should train the puppy to simple commands that will ensure his safety during walks. Pet motivation is an important point in training, so always reward your puppy if he or she follows the commands correctly. Aussies are gourmands, so you don’t have to think long about how best to do it.
After the execution of elementary commands has been working out at home, you should move on to outdoor activity in order to learn new and consolidate the acquired skills with distractions. It should be remembered that before starting training, it is recommended to give the dog a little walk and do all his dirty business so that later nothing will distract the animal. Reward and motivation should become the fundamental method in team learning. You cannot be rude to the pet or punish him: this can make the dog timid and fearful. The help of a canine instructor allows you to quickly consolidate the course of general training. The Australian Shepherd often needs very few activities.
The Australian Shepherd is not the kind of dog that likes to lie quietly on the couch. Being very active animals, Aussies need long walks (at least 2-3 hours a day). In the summer, in the heat, it is better to reduce it by one hour or use a cooler time of the day for this – morning and evening. Of course, if the owner has a country house, this is not a problem: the shepherd will find something to do on the site itself. Owners of a city apartment, however, will have to devote a significant part of their time to the dog while walking the pet. Aussie happily runs after a stick, ball, plastic discs, or along the obstacle course.
Of course, the owner must do not forget about dog training during walks: the Australian Shepherd will gladly follow the owner’s commands. During these activities, the owner should keep an eye on the pet’s behavior. A hard worker by nature, the Australian is ready to work until he literally collapses from fatigue, which, of course, is undesirable to gotten.
If the owner keeps the Australian Shepherd in an apartment, it is necessary to give it a separate place away from drafts and heating appliances, equipping it with a couch. The dog must be aware that this is its territory. The owner should buy some toys for his pet, so the dog is able to spend time with joy. There should be a bowl of water near the dog’s bed, the freshness of which should be monitored regularly. The room in which the dog is kept must be periodically ventilated. The air must be fresh and humid enough, otherwise, the fur will constantly molt.
Aussies feel good in a city apartment, provided that the owner walks with a dog for a long time and plays active games. If the owner locks an animal in an apartment, it may develop behavioral problems in the form of blues, barking for no reason or howling, and unspent energy will pour out into gnawed shoes and furniture. In a house, a pet can be kept in an aviary, but this is undesirable since the Aussie needs the attention of the owner and constant communication with him or her. Otherwise, the owner can get an aggressive or, on the contrary, a timid animal. Keeping the representatives of this breed on the chain is strongly discouraged.
The Australian Shepherd has semi-long fur with a thick underfur that needs to be brushed 2-3 times a week and daily during the molting period. In the absence of this procedure, it is possible the development of dermatitis, the formation of tangles, or the appearance of skin parasites. It is best to comb the fur with a metal brush and a special furminator. It is recommended to bathe the dog no more than once every two months, using special zoo shampoos.
A dog’s claws are naturally worn down, but if the pet often walks on grass or soft ground, this does not happen. So, using a special nail, the owner must cut the dog’s claws twice a month, because long claws negatively affect the gait and cause discomfort in the paws. In this case, the owner must try not to damage the nerve and blood vessels in a claw. If this happens, the wound should be treated with an antiseptic solution or iodine.
It is also necessary to monitor the health of the Aussie’s teeth with the help of such special tools and devices as brushes, paste to remove plaque. In the late stages of teeth disease, the owner may need a scaler – a dental spatula to remove calculus. Before and after the procedure, it is necessary to disinfect the instrument and the oral cavity with a solution of Peroxide or Nitrophoral.
One of the terms of proper maintenance of a pet is rubbing the eyes using special medical solutions, tea leaves, or chamomile decoction. The dog’s ears should be wiped 1-2 times a week using ear sticks and cotton pads. To remove excess sulfur, you can drop a 3% peroxide solution into the ear canal and then let the pet shake its head freely. To wipe the auricles with cotton pads, decoctions of various herbs are used.
Aussies are very unpretentious in food. They can be fed with both natural food and various fodders. For an adult pet, porridge (rice, oatmeal, buckwheat) and meat (chicken, turkey, beef, and lean fish) are suitable. It is advisable for the puppy to the diet cottage cheese mixed with kefir, as well as quail eggs. Australian Shepherds are happy to eat both raw and boiled vegetables and fruits: apples, carrots, zucchinis, pumpkins, turnips. In winter, diet of the Australian Shepherd must be enriched with vegetable and animal fats, which will help a pet to better endure the cold.
If you decide to use dry food, you should choose premium products. Try to buy one that contains less protein.
It is strictly forbidden to give the dog such products as:
Aussies are very healthy if they have proper care, nutrition, and sufficient physical activity. For the prevention of diseases such as rabies, a plague of carnivores, Lyme disease, and others, it is necessary to timely vaccinate the pet according to the vaccination schedule.
Like other stock breeds, Australian Shepherds are at risk of developing cataracts. Among the most common diseases inherent in this breed are:
Dogs with marble color are prone to problems with the organs of sight, and hearing. This is due to the recessive gene responsible for the marbled color, hearing and vision. In an effort to avoid such a genetic combination and a multiple increases in the risk of developing the above diseases (up to complete deafness and blindness), interbreeding of two dogs with marble color is prohibited.
Before purchasing an Australian Shepherd puppy, visit the exhibitions of this breed, talk with the owners to determine if such a dog is suitable for you in temperament and activity. If nevertheless, you have made a final decision, it is advisable to visit several kennels. After deciding with the breeder, find out what examinations were carried out on the male and female. It is required a conclusion on the absence of eyes pathology (such as atrophy of the retina or cataract) and the musculoskeletal system (dysplasia of the hip and elbow joints).
Only after that start choosing your future pet. A healthy puppy is similar to a stuffed toy. The dog will show curiosity without feeling timid. Clean fur should not have tangles or bald spots. Future owner should examine the puppy’s tummy (there should be no rashes on the skin), make sure there are no hernia protrusions. The nose should be moist and cool. Give the puppy a walk to make sure there is no limp. If everything suits you, all that remains is to agree on the cost.
The Australian Shepherd is quite rare in Russia: only about fifty dogs have been registered. The parents of almost all of these dogs are breed champions with exceptional working qualities. If you decide to purchase such an Aussie puppy in the kennel, get ready for the fact that the dog’s price is big. It ranges from 800 to 1100 dollars. However, if you are not going to take part in exhibitions or breed dogs, then you can save on purchasing a puppy with disqualifying defects (usually this concerns color). In any case, you will acquire a cute and smart four-legged friend.