Whenever you find yourself doing a bit of research about a dog, and you suddenly discover that that particular dog has traveled across three different continents and that in each, he became extremely popular, you can bet you’re researching a pretty awesome dog breed. And this is precisely what we have with the Australian Shepherd breed. But before we spoil the Australian Shepherd’s origin story, we should probably mention why we here at IndulgeYourPet have chosen to write this article.
Here at IndulgeYourPet, we love animals, and we particularly love dogs. This is why we always try to help new “owners” determine which “kind” of dog will be the best for them. And sometimes it’s tough! It’s tough because sometimes people have their heart set on a particular “type” dog regardless of which type will work best for them. This is why we try to write articles like these so that if you are considering adopting an Australian Shepherd puppy, you’ll get a better idea of what it might be like to own one before you do.
The last thing we want to see happen is for you to adopt an Australian Shepherd puppy only to regret your decision six months from now! So, without further ado, let’s look at the Australian Shepherd breed, learn why so many people have fallen in love, and provide some insight into what it would be like to own one yourself.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Australian Shepherd Fast Facts
Country of Origin: United States
Original Purpose: Sheep Herding
Height: 18 to 23 inches tall
Weight: 40 to 65 pounds
Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
Dog Breed Classification: Herding group
Origin of the Australian Shepherd
Nobody could fault you if you thought the Australian Shepherd came from Australia; it would make sense if he did. But the truth is, the “version” that we know and love today was first “created” here in the good old US of A! However, the Australian Shepherd “breed” didn’t just all out of the sky and land in the US. The Australian Shepherd as we know him today comes from a long line of dogs first appearing in the Basque areas of Western Europe.
It was there…
The “ancient” relatives of the modern-day Australian Shepherds were first used as sheep herding dogs within the “Basque” regions of Western Europe during the early 1800s; during this time, these Basque dogs were highly valued, so when folks began migrating to Australia, they chose to bring their cherished animals with them.
These dogs proved equally valuable as they did in Europe and soon became quite popular all over the continent. This is why when some Australian shepherds of the “Human” variety chose to move to the United States, they also brought their cherished shepherd dogs.
Then, once in America…
These dogs began to “flourish” throughout the Western United States. Since many of the “original” dogs came from Australia, it was only natural that folks started calling them all “Australian Shepherds.”
And by 1950…
The “breed” had established itself throughout the Western United States, leading to the development of the first Australian Shepherd dog club in America in 1957. Surprisingly, the American Kennel Club did not officially recognize the breed until 1993, which seems a bit late to us, but what do we know?
The Australian Shepherd has a relatively thick and water-resistant coat that will help them to survive in colder places where cattle dogs like this might work. The skin is longer on the head, body, and upper legs and can be a variety of colors, including blue, red, red, black, or a combination of white, black, and tan, aka ‘tri-color.’ And while in most cases, it’s relatively easy to differentiate an Australian Shepherd from other similar breeds, such as a Collie or a Border Collie, two things about the Australian Shepherd will set them apart immediately.
Australian Shepherds will have a “docked” or naturally bobbed tail. And second, Australian Shepherds will typically have…
That can vary in colors even within the same dog! So, don’t be surprised if you have to pick and choose between several different Australian Shepherd puppies if you see a couple with a wide variety of eye colors, including brown, blue, amber, or any combination of the three!
Personality and Temperament
The first thing you should know about the Australian Shepherd dog breed before you get one is that they require regular, consistent exercise. This is not a dog that is going to want to sit on the couch with you all day long watching TV! So you’ll need to plan for up to an hour of outdoor play daily; we don’t mean a stroll around the block. From puppy to adult, the Australian Shepherd needs and wants a regular “high energy” activity like playing fetch or running with an owner.
You can either choose an activity for him and enjoy participating in it. Or your Australian Shepherd can pick one for him or herself since you didn’t take the lead. The only problem with this idea is that the “activity” your Australian Shepherd might choose may not be exactly what you have in mind… His activity might involve tearing apart your couch, eating your coffee table, or chewing all your shoes. It’s your choice!
Now, if you’re not sure…
You’re “up” to the task; you can also consider a Miniature Australian Shepherd, aka toy Australian, aka mini Aussie. As you’re probably guessing, this is a smaller version of the same dog. This one, however, doesn’t necessarily need to run around as much (but keep in mind, they still need to keep their minds active!).
As an Australian cattle dog, the “traditional” Australian Shepherd dogs are naturally bold and confident, ready to take control of the herd and lead them to wherever their master wants them. That said, they are also eager to receive praise from their owner, which is one reason they are such good students and very easy to train. Incredibly loyal, these dogs make great family pets, provided they receive plenty of socialization early on and are taught not to think of every small child as something that needs to be chased and corralled!
Potential Health Concerns
When discussing the health of different dog breeds, it’s essential to understand the breeders’ role. A good breeder will greatly determine fitness; the American Kennel Club should recognize them because they will be held to a breed standard. You can also look into the Australian Shepherd Club for good breeders. Also, the breeder should be willing to provide you with documentation about the dog’s genealogy.
Regardless of how “responsible” your breeder may be, some medical conditions are prone to affect Australian Shepherds no matter what you do. For this reason, if you decide to purchase an Australian Shepherd or adopt an Australian Shepherd rescue, you will want to be on the lookout for the following conditions, as they may play a role in your dog’s life.
- Hip Dysplasia,
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy,
- Pelger-Huet syndrome,
- And Ivermectin sensitivity.
The last thing that we want to do is “scare” you away from adopting an Australian Shepherd if you honestly feel like this would be a great dog for you because, straight, just about every “purebred” dog out there is going to run the risk of developing some medical condition. But it is good to know what you might run into. It’s also good to be aware that these conditions exist so that you can better understand if purchasing a pet insurance policy might be a good idea for you.
Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?
No, probably not. But until you know what they “will” and “won’t” cover and how much it will cost per month, it’s going to be pretty tough for you to know if a pet insurance policy is “right” for you.
But don’t fret…
Our Best Pet Insurance Companies article lists many of the pros and cons of owning a pet insurance policy so that you can determine if one might be right for you right away!