Spotlight On The Australian Shepherd.

Happy New Year! The first thing on our agenda for this year is celebrating a very special dog: the Australian Shepherd. This amazing pup has his very own day to shine: January 9th is Aussie Day! This article from a local Holly Springs, MS vet provides some basic breed information about Fido.


Basics of the Australian Shepherd Breed


Fido belongs to the AKC’s Herding Group, which includes some high-performing working dogs, such as German Shepherd and Corgi. They usually weigh between 40 and 65 pounds and can grow to 22 inches tall. With proper care, they live for 12 to 15 years.


Does The Australian Shepherd Bark A Lot?


Fido isn’t the quietest dog on the block. Barking was an essential part of his early role as a herding dog, and he hasn’t outgrown it yet. However, some pups are louder than others.


What Are The Pros And Cons Of Adopting Australian Shepherds?


Aussies make excellent pets. They are good with children and can be great with other animals. However, it’s important to choose a dog that is going to fit with your household. This probably isn’t the right pooch for someone that wants a calm, laid-back pet. 

If you want an Aussie but aren’t highly active, you could consider a mini. This is basically the smaller model. Same personality, smaller dog. Though the littler Aussies are still very active, they can get a lot of exercise just running around the house on those little legs.


What Are Some Other Names For The Australian Shepherd?


Besides his ribbons and trophies, Fido has also picked up quite a few nicknames! These pups are also known as Spanish Shepherds, Pastor Dogs, Bob-Tails, New Mexican Shepherds, and California Shepherds.


What Color Is The Aussie Shepherd?


Fido’s wardrobe can be black, red, or merle, a pretty spotty or mottled pattern. He may have lighter tips or points. His double coat is thick and fluffy, and does require some attention. 


What Is The Famous Aussie Death Stare?


Australian Shepherds are known for their intense gazes, also called the famous “Aussie death stare.”  They use this to intimidate cattle, and get them back into line. 


That stare isn’t the only unique thing about Fido’s eyes. It is not uncommon for these dogs to display heterochromia, or different-colored eyes. Fido’s peepers can be brown, blue, hazel, amber, or green. Some Aussies even have a mixture of hues within a single eye.


Additionally, the Australian Shepherd sometimes has very striking pale blue eyes. This earned them the nickname “ghost eye” among Native Americans, who considered them to be sacred.


What Kind Of Personalities Do Australian Shepherds Have?


Aussies are often ranked among the smartest breeds. This Very Good Boy is a working dog at heart. Fido has a built-in affinity for herding. He may even attempt to herd his owners!  


While friendly, Aussies are also naturally protective and have a strong desire to please their humans. Fido particularly enjoys going on walks with his owners. Once he’s fully grown, he can also be a great jogging partner.


Because they have such a high level of energy, these guys require frequent physical activity and mental stimulation. This breed is not suited for those seeking a laid-back companion.


How Should An Aussie Shepherd Be Groomed?


Fido falls somewhere in the middle of the beauty care spectrum. A weekly brushing is recommended to remove dead hair from his fur. During shedding season, which occurs twice a year, an undercoat rake will come in handy to manage heavy shedding. Additionally, regular brushing throughout this time may be necessary. It’s important to keep your Aussie’s ears clean to prevent wax buildup. Occasional baths and nail trims are also necessary.


Are Australian Shepherds Healthy?


Aussies are usually healthy and hardy, but are at risk of a few specific conditions, such as eye problems.  We recommend hip and elbow evaluations, as well as ophthalmologist evaluations. Ask your  Holly Springs, MS vet for specific advice.


What Is The Australian Shepherd’s Activity Level?


Fido is no couch potato. These pups are agile, athletic, and always on the go. Unsurprisingly, they often excel in various doggy sports, such as agility, obedience, dock diving, and flyball. Because of their activity level, they do best in homes with room to play.


What Jobs Is The Australian Shepherd Good At?


Fido’s original job was herding, but it’s not his only career option. Aussies can also excel in many fields and jobs. In addition to making great pets, Aussies may also be used for Seeing Eye dogs, hearing dogs, drug-sniffing dogs, and search and rescue dogs.


Australian Shepherd Training Needs


Proper training and socialization is important for all dogs. It’s crucial for these smart dogs, because they are so smart, energetic, and active. When bored or lonely, Fido can be destructive. When Aussies are rehomed it’s usually because of “behavioral issues,” which are often due to a lack of exercise, a lack of training, or both. 


While some dogs only need basic training, this smart pooch often loves learning tricks and complex commands. Fido strives to please his owners, and looks adorably proud of himself for getting a command.


Aussie Shepherd History 


Breeders often name pups after the region where they were born. There are many examples of this, including the German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, and Bouvier des Flandres, who will celebrate their own special day on the 16th. Logically, the Australian Shepherd must be from Australia, right?

Not so much.


It turns out that Fido is actually an American dog. His first job was helping cowboys herd sheep in western states like Colorado, California, and Wyoming.


The background of the Australian Shepherd can be a bit puzzling. To fully understand the breed’s history, we must trace its origins back to the 1500s, when conquistadors arrived in the New World. Among these settlers were shepherds from Basque, a distinctive region between France and Spain. As settlers migrated to Australia and the United States, they brought along both sheep and the dogs that guarded them. 


Interestingly, many of these sheep were Merinos – a highly prized breed whose exportation from Spain was once punishable by death. At some point, Germans mixed their sheep with the Merino breed and brought the resulting lambs to the American West. They also brought more sheep dogs. These dogs were described as yellow, black, or tan with a wolf-like appearance. It’s probable that Fido’s ancestors also included the Carea Leonés, a lively Spanish sheepdog. Although there are no records of Careas being brought to the U.S., their strong resemblance to Australian Shepherds is probably no coincidence. He was officially recognized in 1991 by the American Kennel Club. 


How Did The Aussie Become Popular?


Rodeo star Jay Lister is credited with making the Aussie so popular. In the 1900’s he brought Fido on the rodeo circuit, where the pup’s affinity for performing tricks helped win him hearts across the country. 


Is There A Reason Why Aussies Have Short Tails?


Another interesting thing about Fido? He doesn’t always have much of a tail to wag. Around one in five Aussies are born with short tails. Some are born without tails. Because it was safer for the pups doing herding work, ranchers chose pups with this abnormality to breed.


Contact us here at Willow Bend Animal Clinic, your local Holly Springs, MS pet hospital, if you have any questions about caring for an Aussie.


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