Are you not sure whether Australian shepherd is the right dog breed for you? Don’t worry, this in-depth guide includes everything you need to know about Australian shepherds.
Before adopting a dog of any breed, it is so important to understand the personality traits and temperament of that dog breed. Your focus should be on understanding the personality traits and temperament of the breed so that you can figure out whether dog breed is for you or not.
Depending on your lifestyle, family, your timing, etc., you need to check out whether a particular dog breed will be suitable for you or not. The Australian shepherd is considered as one of the best family dog breeds. If you are not sure this breed will be suitable for you, read this detailed guide.
Here, we have covered everything about Aussies. With this Australian shepherd breed profile, you would be able to figure out whether the Aussie breed is right for you.
Australian Shepherd History
Australian Shepherd is also known as Aussie. From the name of this dog breed, it seems that it is originated from Austria, but this is not the truth. In reality, the Australian shepherd dog breed is originated in the western United States. It was originated around the Gold Rush time period, in the 1840s.
Aussie dog breed was originally bred to herd livestock. Aussie is considered as one of the best herding dog breeds.
Due to the misleading name of this dog breed, its history is quite vague. Earlier, Aussies were known with different names. Those different names are Spanish Shepherd, Pastor Dog, Bob-Tail, New Mexican Shepherd, California Shepherd, and Australian shepherd.
Australian Shepherd Guide
Australian shepherd dog breed is ranked 17th most popular dog breed in the United States. Apart from its history, there are so many interesting things about this breed. Different characteristics of this breed make it interesting.
Aussies are loving, friendly, affectionate, intelligent, and energetic. If you are planning to gift a puppy to your family or kids, Australian shepherd could be a good choice.
Before adopting an Aussie, the important thing you need to keep in mind is that this breed is very work-oriented and it does great when it has something to do. Basically, Aussies are not lazy and they don’t like sitting idle, doing no work.
“The Australian Shepherd, a lean, tough ranch dog, is one of those ‘only in America’ stories: a European breed perfected in California by way of Australia. Fixtures on the rodeo circuit, they are closely associated with the cowboy life,” the AKC (American Kennel Club) reported.
For adopting an Australian shepherd dog, you can find an animal shelter or a reputed breeder. Before adopting the dog, make sure to check out its health records and the genetic health conditions of the puppy. It will give you an idea of whether the Aussie puppy has any health issue.
Australian Shepherd Size & Weight
The Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized dog breed. The weight of an average Australian shepherd dog could range between 35 to 70 pounds (16 to 32 kg). And, the height of an average Australian shepherd could range between 18 to 23 inches (46 to 58 cm).
Talking about life span, the average life span of a normal Australian shepherd dog could range from 12 to 15 years. This may get affected depending on the health issue of the individual Aussie dog. Apart from health conditions, other factors which impact the lifespan of an Australian shepherd dog are dog’s daily food intake, habits, care, etc.
Australian Shepherd Friendliness
The important thing people consider before adopting a dog of any breed is whether the breed is friendly and loving or not. This is something important because selecting the wrong dog breed will lead to problems later on.
As a dog owner, all you expect from your dog is loyalty, affection, love, and friendliness. When a particular dog breed’s temperament is not loving and affectionate, the dog won’t be able to get along with anyone.
Talking about Aussies, they are so much friendly and loving, They love to be around with their owners and their family members. Your Aussie will spend time with you and also play with you all day long. So, if you are looking for a dog who can play with you and your kids for long hours, Aussie is the right one.
Aussies are friendly toward their owners, family members, as well as other dogs. Most Aussies are good with kids and they can get along with them, however, some Aussies may not do well with small kids. Also, their behavior toward strangers is also not predictable.
The reason why not all Aussies are good with kids is because of their high herding instincts. As we have seen, Australian shepherds are herding dogs, hence their herding instincts are very high. With high instinctual needs, Aussies are more likely to chase small animals and even small kids.
If you have a young kid and you are planning to adopt an Aussie, it is so important that you always keep your eye on your Aussie when he is around your child. Also, when you provide enough exercise and fulfil the dog’s physical needs, he is less likely to run behind the animals or kids.
Australian Shepherd Trainability
Before adopting the dog of any breed, the important thing you need to consider is whether the breed is trainable and intelligent or not. Getting a dog with poor intelligence level will lead to so many problems. When you get a dog that is not intelligent enough, you will face difficulty in training and the dog will not follow your commands properly. In short, you need a trainable, obedient, and smart dog.
Talking about Australian shepherds, they have all three significant characteristics – trainability, smartness, and obedience. This is the reason why Aussies are the top choice for so many dog owners. The majority of people adopt Aussies is because the breed is easy to train and obedient.
Though Australian shepherd dogs are relatively easy to train, still you need to put a lot of hard work in providing the training. Patience is also very important when it comes to training any dog. In order to teach your commands and instructions to your Aussie dog properly, you need to spend enough time in training. With regular effort, your dog would learn your commands faster.
Among different types of dog training, one of the important ones is socialization. If you want your Aussie to get along with your family members, kids, other dogs, etc. nicely, providing socialization training is necessary.
The best thing you can do is start providing socialization training at the early age of the Aussie (when he is a puppy).
Australian Shepherd Physical Needs
Depending on the dog breed you select, its requirements for exercising and physical activities will differ. Some breeds have very low physical needs, while some breeds require intense exercise and physical activities on a regular basis.
Now, whether you should choose a dog breed with high physical needs or not is solely based on your lifestyle. If you do not have an active lifestyle and you have a busy schedule, then you should get a dog breed that has less physical needs. However, if you have an active day to day life and you are ready to spend time with your dog providing exercise, then you may consider getting a dog breed with relatively high physical needs.
If we talk about Australian shepherds, their exercising and physical activities needs are very high. Aussies are happy when they have a job to do. They don’t like sitting idle. Basically, if you are finding a couch potato, then this breed is not for you.
In order to keep an Australian shepherd happy, intense regular exercise play a major role. Australian shepherds have a high energy level, and by providing regular exercise to your Aussie, you are helping him to burn off his excess energy the right way. To burn off Aussie’s excess energy, there are different ways you can use. You can provide him with regular intense exercise, physical activities (jogging, walking, running, etc.), play outdoor games, etc.
When a high energy level dog breed like Australian shepherd don’t get enough exercise on a regular basis, it is very likely to become destructive. Some examples of destructive behavior in an Aussie dog are excess chewing, excess barking, and chasing.
Australian Shepherd Nutritional Requirements
Proper food intake is another important thing for any dog breed. No matter which breed’s dog you own, providing nutritious food regularly to your dog will help to keep him healthy and fit. According to ASPCA, A balanced diet is vital to your dog’s growth and health.
You may give your Australian shepherd commercial or handmade dog food. But, before giving the food to your dog, it is so important to talk about this with your veterinarian. The veterinarian will take into account factors such as your Aussie’s age, health conditions, etc. and then suggest the food.
Before giving any commercial dog food, you need to read the label and check out whether the food will meet your dog’s caloric needs.
“Barring any special needs, illness-related deficiencies, or instructions from your vet, your pet should be able to get all the nutrients he or she needs from high-quality commercial pet foods, which are specially formulated with these standards in mind,” the ASPCA reported.
The diet of an Australian shepherd will change as he grows. All you need to do is talk with your veterinarian regarding it.
Australian Shepherd Grooming
The grooming requirements also differ from one dog breed to another. The main factor which affects the grooming needs of different dog breeds is their coat. Different dog breeds have different type of coats. Some breeds are single coated, while many are double coated. Also, some breeds have thick coats, while some have silky coats.
Grooming is something you can’t neglect in a dog. When your dog’s grooming needs are high and you don’t pay much attention to its grooming, your dog’s coat health will be affected.
Talking about Australian shepherds, they have double coats. They have high grooming requirements. As Aussies have double coats, they shed a lot. They shed all round year. Their shedding level gets even high during spring. This is the time when Aussies lose their winter coat. Apart from the spring season, Australian shepherds also shed a lot during the fall season.
“The Aussie sheds, but it’s a major event only twice a year, in the spring and fall. Frequent brushing, warm baths and thorough blow-drying during that time will help keep the handfuls of hair under control. Outside of shedding season, bathe the Aussie only when he gets dirty,” according to Vetstreet.
Now, if you are someone who is allergic to shedding and dogs, then Aussie is not for you. Due to high shedding level, you will find your dog’s fur on your carpet, clothes, and around your house.
Now, the question is, how you can solve the problem of shedding in an Aussie?
For high shedder breeds like Australian shepherd, there are different ways through which you can control the shedding level in a dog. Among different ways, one of the best ways is brushing.
You need to get a good quality slicker brush and an undercoat rake. Using these tools, you can control the shedding level. Make sure to use these two tools regularly.
Australian Shepherd Health
Usually, Australian shepherds are healthy. However, they are also likely to certain health conditions. The thing which plays a significant role in keeping the Aussie dog healthy and fit is proper care. By providing proper care to your dog, the chances are he will not have any health problem.
There is no guarantee that the Aussie dog will not have any health issue. Some Aussies get health issues even after getting high-quality, nutritious food and intense regular physical activities. Aussies are prone to the following health conditions:
- Hip dysplasia
- Collie Eye Anomaly
- Tumors and Cancers
- Osteochondrosis Dissecans
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Persistent Pupillary Membranes
- Nasal Solar Dermatitis
When you find any health concern, the best thing you can do is contact your veterinarian. Your local veterinarian will understand the health issue of your Australian Shepherd dog and provide you with the best solution to deal with the issue.
If you are planning to own an Aussie dog, make sure to pick the reputable breeder. One of the main reasons why reputable breeders charge slightly higher as compared to other breeders is because they have health records of their dogs. Selecting the right breeder will help you find a healthy and fit Australian shepherd.
Australian Shepherd Adaptability
The adaptability of the dog breed also needs to be considered before adopting any dog. This is important to consider because depending on your lifestyle, the dog breed may or may not be able to adapt to your lifestyle.
As we have already seen, Australian shepherds have a high energy level. This is the reason why they are not suitable for apartment living. Your Aussie will not adjust to such living conditions.
Before adopting an Australian shepherd breed dog, keep in mind that Aussies are not good when they are alone. You should not leave your Aussie dog alone for longer periods. The dog breed is very loving and affectionate. It requires its owner to stay around and love him.
When you leave an Aussie dog alone for longer periods, it will get destructive. So, if you are someone who does not have enough time for the dog, Aussie is not for you. Instead of an Australian shepherd, you should get a couch potato breed dog.
Australian Shepherd Colors
Depending on the dog breed you select, you will have different color options available. Talking about Aussies, they come in different colors and coat variations. Note that no matter what Aussie color you select, the temperament and personality traits will be the same in all Australian shepherds. The main four coat colors of Aussies are:
- Blue merle
- Red merle
You need to select the Aussie dog from these four colors. These four colors also come in different variations. The color variation in Aussies will be based on these four primary coat colors.
There are a total of 14 Australian shepherd color variations. These variations are from the four main coat colors listed above. Let’s talk about each of these four Aussie colors one by one:
Black Australian Shepherds
Black color Australian shepherds have four color variations. The four variations of black Australian shepherds are black tri-color, black bi, black & tan, and solid black.
Black Tri Australian Shepherds
This is one of the most common and basic color variations of Black color group Aussie. As the name suggests, the black tri Aussie has a combination of three coat colors. Its three colors are black, white, and tan/copper. Due to these three colors, black tri Aussies look very similar to Bernese Mountain dogs. In a black tri Aussie dog, you will find the dog with a black coat and white markings on its face, chest, belly, and legs. The copper or tan color highlights will be sometimes present on the face as well as legs of the Australian shepherd.
Black & white Australian Shepherds
It is also known as black bi Aussie. As the name suggests, this Aussie coat variation includes two main colors: black and white. Mostly, you will find white markings on the face, chest, belly, and legs of the black & white Australian shepherd. This color variation is much more like a Black tri Aussie, the only difference is it does not has any copper or tan markings on any of the body parts.
Black & tan Australian Shepherds
This one is another coat color variation of a Black Australian shepherd dog. The two colors of this Aussie variations are black and tan/copper. Black and tan Australian shepherds are the second rarest version of black Australian shepherds. If we compare this variation with black & white Aussie, the only difference here is of white markings. This color variation Aussie has copper or tan markings around his face, chest, and legs.
Solid Black Australian Shepherds
This black Australian shepherd has no white or copper or tan markings or patches on its body. The only main color is black. Even if the dog has small white markings, we may still call them solid black Aussies.
Blue Merle Australian Shepherds
The blue merle color in dogs means the dog has a grey coat and the coat has black spots. And, this is what creates a blue effect hence they are classified as blue merles. The main color variations of blue merle Australian shepherds are Blue merle tri-color, blue merle & white, blue merle & tan, and solid blue merle.
Blue Merle Tri-Color Australian Shepherds
The base coat color of a blue merle tri-color Aussie dog is blue merle (as the name suggests). The other two colors here are white and tan. A blue merle tri-color Australian shepherds have white & copper markings around the face, legs, chest, and body.
Blue Merle & white Australian Shepherds
As the name suggests, blue merle & white Aussies have two colors on their body – blue merle and white. This color variation Aussies have blue merle as their base coat and have white markings. There are no copper or tan markings on the body of this color variation Aussies.
Blue Merle & tan Australian Shepherds
This color variation Aussies are quite rare. This color variation Aussies’ body only has blue merle and tan/copper colors, and there are no white markings. Mostly, when there’s a tan or copper color, there is also the white color on the Aussie’s body. But, blue merle & tan Aussies have tan color on their body without white markings.
Solid Blue Merle Australian Shepherds
Solid blue merle Aussies’ body has no white or tan or copper patches or markings on the body. It has a grey color coat with black spots in arbitrary locations. This creates a blue effect, hence, Aussies with this color variation are known as solid blue merle.
Red Australian Shepherds
Red Australian shepherds have three different color variations: red tri, red & white, and solid red Australian shepherds.
Red Tri Australian Shepherds
A red tri Australian shepherd dog’s base coat color is red. It is not the fire red color. The red color could range from light cinnamon to a dark liver color. Apart from red, the other two colors are white and tan. White markings on his chest, face, legs, and belly and tan markings on their face and legs.
Red & white Australian Shepherds
This Aussie variation has red as a base coat color. In a red & white Australian shepherd, you will find white markings on the Aussie’s chest, legs, and face.
Solid Red Australian Shepherds
Solid red Aussies are also very rare. This Aussie color variation dogs have no white or tan or copper markings or patches on their body, nowhere on face, chest, body, belly, legs. Their only main coat color is solid red.
Red Merle Australian Shepherds
Red merle Aussies come in three variations: red merle tri Aussie, red merle & white, and solid red merle.
Red Merle Tri Australian Shepherds
Red merle Tri Aussies have three different coat colors: red merle (base color), white, and tan. They have white markings on their face, chest, belly, and legs. And, you will find copper highlights on their face and legs.
Red merle & white
This variation Aussies have red merle and white coat colors. The base coat color is a red merle. Spotting difference between a red merle tri Aussie and red merle & white Aussie can be a bit difficult, especially for newbies.
Solid Red merle Australian Shepherds
Solid red merle is another variation of this color group. This color variation of red Australian shepherd looks very similar to Red merle Tri and Red merle & white Aussies. A solid red merle Aussie has red patches on its body. These patches could vary in sizes, colors, and shapes.
FAQs on Australian Shepherds
Here are some frequently asked questions on Australian shepherds:
1. How much exercise does an Australian Shepherd need?
As we have seen, Australian shepherds are extremely energetic and due to their high-energy level, they require plenty of exercise and physical activities on a regular basis. By providing regular exercise to your Aussie dog, you can keep him happy and stay fit. On the flip side, when you fail to provide enough exercise to your Aussie, he finds his own way to burn off his excess energy. He may get destructive and start excessive chewing, barking, etc.
Now, the question is, after adopting an Aussie, how much exercise you need to provide?
According to the American Kennel Club, Australian shepherds need to be provided more than 2 hours of exercise on a daily basis.
2. Are Australian Shepherds easy to train?
If you are looking for a dog breed that is easy to train, then Australian shepherd can be a good choice. Aussies are smart, intelligent, active, and easy to train. The Aussie breed is so smart that it got 42nd position in Stanley Coren’s experiment. The experiment was focused on knowing the intelligence of various dog breeds. It was about obedience and working intelligence of the dog breeds. In short, Aussies are easy to train, you can teach them new commands with around 15 to 25 repetitions.
3. Can Australian Shepherds be left alone?
Different dog breeds have different personality traits and temperament. Some breeds don’t require the presence of their owners, while some are very loving and they are happy when their owners are around with them. Also, some breeds don’t mind if you leave them alone for a quite long period, while some dog breeds can’t tolerate being alone.
Australian Shepherds are very loving and sociable. You should never leave your Australian shepherd alone for longer periods because this breed can’t tolerate being alone. To keep your Aussie happy, you need to be around him.
4. Do Aussies bark a lot?
This may differ based on the individual personality of the Aussie dog. On average, Aussies bark a lot, they are considered as a noisy breed. Your Aussie dog may bark at strangers, other animals, etc. But, after providing proper socialization training, they can get along well.
5. Are Australian Shepherds high maintenance?
The answer is Yes. You will need to provide high maintenance to your Aussie dog. One of the major issues you have to deal with an Aussie is shedding. This dog breed sheds all year round. And, its shedding level gets very high in the spring. To keep your Aussie’s coat clean and avoid matting, you have to provide weekly brushing. If you have never owned any dog before, then Australian shepherd may not be a good choice.
6. Is an Aussie a good family dog?
Yes, Aussies are good family dogs. If you are looking for an active, friendly, loving, and affectionate dog, then Aussie is for you. Your Australian shepherd will get along well with your family members, your kids, and other pets. Your Aussie will love to play all day long with you, your kids and family members.
Australian shepherds are for those who have an active lifestyle. If you don’t have enough time daily to spend on the dog, then Aussie is not recommended for you. After adopting an Aussie, you need to provide him with training, regular exercise, physical activities, and also play games. Hence, if you are in search of a couch potato, who sleeps all day long without any activity, then Aussie isn’t for you.
Some positives of Australian shepherds are high intelligence, friendliness, loving nature, trainability, high energy level, and playfulness. And, some negatives of Australian shepherds are high maintenance, high shedding level, high herding instincts, need regular exercise, and excess barking.