The story of the origin of the Australian Shepherd Dog is as confusing as the appearance of its name. Some believe these dogs may have come to the United States with Basque immigrants from Spain, where they herded sheep.
However, scientific research suggests that they are descended from dogs that made their way to the Americas across the Bering Isthmus. It is also clear enough that they were formed in the western states of the United States, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They are working blood, the first breeders chose dogs by their abilities, not by their appearance.
Aussies have become indispensable helpers in herding cattle in the Rocky Mountains, as they are not sensitive to differences in elevation. Farmers in Boulder, Colorado, were the first to breed these dogs, as Australian shepherds’ information about their sheep-handling abilities spread far beyond the borders of the state.
There is also no certainty about the name of the breed; likely, Aussies were named so after the place of origin of the sheep they grazed.
We will never know why it stuck, because in the beginning they were called by different names: Spanish sheepdog, Californian, Mexican, and even Austrian.
What Does an Australian Shepherd Look Like?
Australian shepherd size is similar to other shepherd breeds, but they have a special coat and tail. They are one of the medium-sized dogs, with males reaching 46 to 58 cm.
Characteristics of Australian shepherd in weight ranges from 14 to 25 kg. They are somewhat long but still balanced. Aussies should not appear squat or fat, just strong. And although much of their body is hidden beneath their thick fur, they are athletic and muscular dogs.
Many Aussies are born with a short tail or go through tail docking. If it is not cropped, it remains long enough and covered with a long coat.
Australian Shepherd as Pets
Australian sheepdogs are people-oriented, they need a family, and do not tolerate solitude well. If she is left on her own for a long time, it will result in destructive behavior, chewed objects, and barking.
All Australian Sheepdogs are watchful with strangers and can be good guardians. They are very selective in forming relationships with strangers and do not seek contact or friendship with them.
Most of the time a sheepdog will ignore a person they don’t know, and they seem to be rude, but they are not, it’s just a characteristic of their character. There is no such thing as a trusting shepherd dog, that is not what they are bred for.
With the right socialization, most of their Australian Sheepdogs will be polite, but that doesn’t mean they are comfortable in the company of unknown people.
The coat needs regular grooming, but not as often as other long-haired breeds. They need careful brushing, with the removal of potential tangles. However, it is enough to do it once a week, and they need almost no professional grooming.
The Lifespan of an Australian Shepherd
It is surprisingly long for a dog of their size – they live significantly longer than similar breeds. The survey done in 1998 showed that the average life span of Australian Sheepdogs is 12.5 years.
One of the biggest problems of breeding is a problem with the gene for merle color. This gene is also responsible for many other functions, including eyesight and hearing.
There are several diseases that Australian Shepherds are prone to. Poor eyesight, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, and merle color problems.
Merle colored sheepdogs are prone to serious eye and hearing problems ranging from impaired to total blindness and deafness. It is noticed that the more white the color, the more the animal is prone to problems.
The gene that transmits the color is homozygous, which means both parents must be a merle color. Heterozygous dogs, when one parent is of merle color and the other is not, are much less likely to suffer from these diseases.
Tips for Future Owners
- Australian Sheepdogs need 30-60 minutes of exercise daily, preferably with high activity and exertion. They also need work (ideally shepherding), or obedience training.
- They can become destructive or bark endlessly if they don’t get physical and mental exercise for a long time.
- The Aussie will alert with his voice if he sees or hears something suspicious and will protect the home and family with amazing fearlessness.
- Although it is believed that these dogs should live in the country and outdoors, they are not bad in the city, with good exercise. However, these pets need at least a small yard where she can live.
- This herding dog controls herds, and with an inexperienced owner can take a dominant position in the house. If you’ve never had a dog before, the Aussie is not a good choice.