Australian Shepherd: A Breed Guide
The Charming Australian Shepherd: A Breed Guide
Despite the breed’s name, Australian shepherds are not actually from down under. But, they do have strong herding instincts. What can potential owners of an Aussie expect from this energetic and loyal breed?
The Australian shepherd originated in Europe. Basque shepherds, people who lived in an area ranging from northeastern Spain to southwestern France, brought dogs with them to the United States, according to The Spruce Pets. These shepherds may have spent time in Australia, but the breed and name we know today was developed in the United States, beginning in the late 1800s.
Though the breed has been working alongside farmers and ranchers for decades, it was only more recently recognized by the American Kennel Club. The AKC welcomed the breed in 1991, according to The Spruce Pets.
Bob Tails and Big Blues
Some dog breeds have their tails docked shortly after birth. Many Australian shepherds are born with a natural short tail, referred to as a bob tail. The odds are one in five that Aussies, a common moniker for the breed, will be born with a bob tail, according to the AKC.
Blue eyes are a striking feature of this breed, but it might only be one eye that bears this hue. Heterochromia (two differently colored eyes) is common in Australian shepherds. Aussies can have blue, brown, hazel, or green eyes, according to the AKC. You might even spot more than one color in the same eye of your pup.
The Aussie Coat and Build
Near-constant shedding is a running joke among Australian shepherd owners. The breed has a big, fluffy cat with two layers. You can expect to spend time each week brushing that beautiful coat to keep the layer of fur on your belongings to a minimum.
Aussies come in a variety of different colors and patterns. You can expect to see white fur on their chest and tan markings on the legs and face, but the rest of the coat can be black, red, blue merle, or red merle, according to The Spruce Pets.
The breed has a sturdy build that is built for endurance and hard work. Males of the breed weigh up to 65 pounds, while females are smaller at 40 to 55 pounds, according to the AKC. The breed can live up to 15 years.
Taking Care of an Australian Shepherd
In addition to regular grooming and baths, Aussies need plenty of exercise to burn off their boundless energy. Attentive training is also a must for living with this breed. As loyal herding dogs, you may find they try to herd you, other pets, and children around the house. The breed also tends to be very protective of its family. Owners need to make sure to channel those tendencies into healthy, safe outlets.
If you are have your heart set on an Aussie, you can check a local rescue (Speak St. Louis serves the Midwest) or begin a search for a reputable breeder.
Written by Carrie Pallardy