Australian Shepherd Puppies
Information, Behavior and Training
Australian Shepherd puppies are affectionate, intelligent and good-natured. They are commonly known as Aussies and make great companions for active families.
But this breed was crafted for optimal performance rather than being left in a garage all day. As such, this breed is not for everyone...
Don't blindly fall in love with the cuddly looks of Australian Shepherd puppies without first learning more about this breed; too many of them are adopted without fully understanding exactly what goes into owning this breed.
Whether you are thinking about buying a puppy or adopting an adult dog and want to know if this is the right breed for you or just want to learn more about this breed, I hope this article will help you find the answers to your questions.
Australian Shepherd Information and History
Despite its name, this breed was NOT developed in Australia. Its most likely birthplace lies in the Basque region between Spain and France. But the country that had the biggest impact on this breed's development is the... United States!
The breed as we know it today was developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from collies and other shepherd-type dogs. Like other herding breeds, the Australian Shepherd went through many name changes before it became known by its current name. Some of those names include Pastor Dog, Spanish Shepherd, California Shepherd and Blue Heeler.
So, if the breed was not developed in Australia, how did it get its name? Glad you asked! The dogs from which the breed was developed were brought to the United States in the 19th century. They came with their Basque shepherds and their job was to take care of herds of imported Australian sheep. Who would have thought that a dog breed would be named after a country that exported sheep these dogs were supposed to herd!
Back then, breeders focused more on working abilities than appearance, ultimately leading to the creation of a highly versatile, hard-working dog. Originally known for its legendary herding abilities, the breed became quite popular in the 1950s when it gained wide exposure from performing in rodeos, horse shows and on television.
Today, while this breed remains quite popular on farms and ranches where it's valued for its herding skills, it's also becoming popular as a pet and companion. The Australian Shepherd breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1991 and categorized under the herding group.
The Australian Shepherd is a well-balanced dog with loads of stamina. Its main features include an attentive and animated presence along with intriguing coat colors, often with striking markings.
The body is medium in size and slightly longer than tall. The strong, slightly arched neck smoothly blends into the shoulders. The back is straight, level and strong. The deep chest boasts well-sprung ribs. The straight tail can be docked or kept naturally bobbed without exceeding 4 inches.
The forelegs are strong, perpendicular to the ground and straight. The pasterns are slightly sloped. The hindquarters boast well-defined stifles and moderately bent hocks. The compact feet are oval in shape, with well-arched toes. The paw pads are strong and thick.
The head is well-proportioned. The brown, blue or amber colored eyes are almond-shaped, often with black or liver pigmentation on the eye rims. The ears are triangular and set high on the head. The nose is typically black, with brown or occasionally pink pigmentation. The strong white teeth are allowed to meet in a scissor or level bite according to the standard. The facial expression is attentive and intelligent.
The coat is double. The medium length outer coat is straight to wavy. The length and texture of the undercoat varies depending on climate. Accepted coat colors include the blue merle Australian Shepherd, the red merle Australian Shepherd, the red Aussie with or without white markings and the black and white Australian Shepherd with copper trim.
|Male||21 to 23 inches||45 to 60 pounds|
|Female||18 to 21 inches||35 to 45 pounds|
The Australian Shepherd is a very intelligent dog with an even-tempered personality. It's very loyal to its family. However, as with other herding dogs, this breed can be a bit aloof with strangers. Socializing Australian Shepherd puppies from an early age and polishing their social skills as they grow can help them bloom into well-rounded dogs.
With children, this breed can pose some challenges... Australian Shepherds may be so inclined to herd that they may feel compelled to consider children part of their "flock". Nipping and herding behaviors towards children should not be allowed and should be "nipped in the bud" from an early age.
Similar to other herding breeds, without sufficient mental and physical stimulation, this breed may resort to various destructive behaviors.
They may get along with other pets, but may try to herd them too! Fleeing cats are often a big temptation to chase. Introducing Australian Shepherd puppies to other pets at an early age can help increase the chances for creating amicable bonds.
Australian Shepherd training should revolve around positive reinforcement training. Most Aussies are happy to take commands and follow directions even though some may have a stubborn streak. Rewards and praise for doing an excellent job are much appreciated by this breed.
Best Owner and Living Conditions
This breed does best with an experienced dog owner capable of providing confident leadership. Most of all, they require an owner capable of providing the right dose of persuasion and firmness when training them; basically an iron hand in a velvet glove.
If you have a yard, your pet will love to explore it, but make sure it has a secure fence; these dogs are known for being great escape artists. Even an underground electric fence may leave this breed unfazed! This breed does best on a farm or in a home with plenty of room to romp around.
Activity and Exercise
If you are passionate about doggie sports, this breed is for you. Dog agility, musical canine freestyle, Disc Dog and Flyball are just a few of the many sports this dog excels in. Alternatively, you may engage this breed with regular walks, mentally stimulating games and romps in the park.
Generally, when it comes to exercise, a half hour to an hour a day of vigorous exercise will suffice to keep this breed happy. However, with young Australian Shepherd puppies, you need to hold off strenuous exercise and running on hard surfaces until those delicate joints have fully developed.
Types of Australian Shepherd
If you are intimidated by this breed's exercise needs, you may be interested in learning that some breeders have developed a smaller-sized breed known as the Miniature Australian Shepherd. It ranges in size from 14 inches and up. These dogs may need less exercise compared to full size dogs, but they still need a good dose of daily mental stimulation.
You may find Miniature Australian Shepherd puppies by looking for breeders specializing in breeding smaller specimens or you can try looking in a Miniature Australian Shepherd rescue. The North American Miniature Australian Shepherd Club and the Miniature Australian Shepherd Association were crafted to promote these smaller fellows.
Interested in this breed but don't have much space? For a smaller version, even smaller than Mini Australian Shepherd puppies, look for a Toy Australian Shepherd. These fellows range from 10 to 14 inches in height and make excellent house dogs. However, if you plan on keeping your mini or toy Australian Shepherd in an apartment, you must ensure you can still keep him sufficiently exercised.
At times, Australian Shepherds are crossed with Border Collies. The Australian Shepherd Border Collie mix creates an explosive blend of intelligence and energy, but it requires an owner ready to deal with these traits. This cross is definitively not for couch potatoes!
Australian Shepherd Grooming
This breed sheds year-round but the shedding process will be significantly more intense in the spring when these dogs blow their winter coats. Daily brushing during this time will help reduce the amount of shedding while preventing the coat from matting. Brushing 2 to 3 times per week should be sufficient at other times.
In the health department, this is a bit of a risky breed. While generally healthy, several health disorders can be found in the Australian Shepherd breed. Hip dysplasia, epilepsy, deafness, progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts and hypothyroidism are a few health issues in this breed.
A good portion of health disorders can be prevented by purchasing Australian Shepherd puppies from reputable Australian Shepherd breeders.
Even healthy dogs get sick. While many health problems will require an immediate attention from your Vet, there are many others that you may handle on your own. Learn how to save time and money (and how to prevent small problems from becoming big problems) by diagnosing and treating dog health problems that don't require your Vet's attention.
The average life expectancy for a healthy Australian Shepherd puppy is between 12 and 14 years.
Intelligent, good-natured and seldom quarrelsome, these dogs make great companions for those active, outdoorsy folks. For many good reasons, those who own them would not trade them for any other breed in the world. Not only are Australian Shepherd puppies incredibly cute, they are also incredibly smart and they seem to know that!
Did you ever consider adopting your next pet?
If this is the breed you are interested in, and adoption appeals to you, consider contacting your local Australian Shepherd rescue and adoption center. There are thousands of pets waiting for a loving home and, yes, it's possible to adopt a purebred dog.
Still Have Questions?
You'll find answers to all your questions at the following site dedicated to Australian Shepherds:
All About Your Favorite Breed. Information and resources featuring sections on Australian Shepherd history, health, genetics, temperament, training and agility with directories of rescue organizations and breeders.
You may also wish to explore the following articles:
Want to learn more?
Not happy with your pet's behavior? Need help with training your dog for obedience? Then check this Australian Shepherd Behavior and Obedience Training Guide.
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