The Australian Shepherd also known as an “Aussie” despite its name, originated in the western United States in the 1840’s and not in Australian as many believe. They were originally bred to herd livestock and are a working dog at heart.
Not only are they a natural working dog and exceptional family companion, they are known for being used for search and rescue, drug detection, bomb detection, alert or assistance service, cancer sniffing, guide dog for the blind, hearing dog for the deaf, therapy, service for people with disabilities, and agility just to name a few.
The Aussie is extremely intelligent, charming, and make a loving addition to any family. Their devotion and loyalty to their families is unsurpassed. They are known for their willingness to please, energetic enthusiasm and train-ability.
They have a herding and guardian instinct which contributes to their natural instinct to keep their family safe. Aussies will warn you if they see or hear something suspicious, and will protect their family and home with a surprising fierceness. Aussies are standoffish by nature with people they don't know and unless they have regular exposure to lots of different people early in life, they can become fearful of strangers. (see PUPPY SOCIALIZATION BELOW)
Aussies love to play. When it comes to play, they never really outgrow the puppy stage but they have a gentle nature that prevents their play from getting rough. In addition, the Aussie has quite the variety of personalities. They will range from being serious, work focused, playful, silly, lazy and at a moments notice to protector. An Aussie is a truly versatile dog that has a sound mind and has the ability to easily adapt to various situations and environments.
Although versatile, Aussies are best suited for active families and thrive in an active environment. The Aussie is happiest when given a job to do. They are an athletic dog that likes a lot of exercise, to play ball and loves the water. Despite the need for activity, when its time to slow down and be quiet they are very content to lay at your feet and/or cuddle.
Aussies have the reputation for needing wide-open space but they do just fine in cities if they get enough stimulation and exercise.
The Aussies active nature supports the breed’s steller health history. They have very little health conditions of a serious nature and are very well known for being healthy dogs. Their average lifespan is 12 to 15 years.
Aussies are family dogs and need to have consistent interaction with their families. They are the type of dog that if not involved in your life they will become miserable. Aussies are considered a “busy” dog that needs something to do and exercise. If confined to a kennel or small back yard with nothing to do they will become bored and in turn become destructive and/or vocal.
Aussies are very sensitive and respond extremely well to positive reinforcement. It takes very little to correct an Aussie. They want to please and will try to do what it takes until they understand what it is that you are asking of them. A stern heavy hand does not work effectively with Aussies and can make them shy, timid or unmanageable.
Aussies are average shedders that shed year-round but more heavily during spring when they lose their winter coat. Their coat needs regular maintenance, including weekly brushing to keep it clean and prevent matting.
This is only a small summary about the Australian Shepherd. There is so much more to learn. We do ask and advise everyone that is interested in this breed to research and educate yourself about this very unique breed prior to making a formal commitment to bring one into your life whether it is for companionship, breeding, or some form of showing or competition. The Australian Shepherd is a magnificent breed and one that we are very honored to be raising.
Australian Shepherds are people focused and generally protective of their families. Proper socialization is important for Aussies.
Australian Shepherds by nature are loyal to their family but standoffish with strangers. They require socialization when they are young which includes exposure to many different people including children, sights, sounds, and experiences.
Socialization helps ensure that your Aussie puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog. Enrolling him in a puppy class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.
You should plan to take your puppy everywhere you can in the first 9 months. It is extremely important to make sure your puppy has been properly vaccinated before you engage in any socialization activity outside of your home. This includes taking your puppy to indoor and outside areas. Examples include: Pet Stores (PetSmart, Petco), Feed Stores, Farm & Ranch Stores (Tractor Supply, Atwoods), dog parks, obedience classes, doggy day care and highly traveled canine traffic areas.
Until your puppy has had a series of vaccinations, they are very susceptible to diseases such as parvo and distemper to name a few. Such diseases are carried by other dogs and wild creatures such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes and even pet ferrets.
Once properly vaccinated, introduce your puppy to as many other animals and people as possible including children. Your puppy should be exposed to all types of situations outside its normal home environment.
NEW BORN PUPPY PHYSICAL CHANGES (just to name a few):
When reviewing the pictures that we post of our puppies its important to know the following:
Aussie puppies are always changing especially during the first few months of their lives. You will notice and see this transition in our adult dog pictures when viewing the new born pictures to adult pictures. Most Aussies are born with pink noses which will darken during its first year and the hair around the nose area will thicken and change color. The “tan” areas known as “copper” in the Aussie world, will become darker and richer in color and may expand. Blue and red merle puppies’ tend to produce more spots, existing spots may expand and will darken as the puppy matures. In addition, the puppies head will change in shape and their coats will get thicker and longer. Eye color in general can be determined between 3 to 4 weeks but can change up into the age of 8 to 10 weeks with the possibly of continued changing into adolescent/pre-adult age.
A few months after bringing your puppy home don't be surprised if all of the sudden your puppy looses its beautiful coat, grows long legs, its head looks too big or narrow and your pup overall becomes gangly, lanky or scrawny looking. In addition, you may notice a strange and wonky placement of your puppies ear or ears that may change daily for a few weeks while your puppy is teething. All of this is normal and part of the beautiful metamorphosis and maturing of this amazing breed.
Aussies are generally a very healthy breed; however, like all breeds, they are prone to certain health conditions. We have listed what we consider the top 4 main conditions of concern. Not all Aussies will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed. We have also included links to various informational sites that will have a more in depth explanation for you to review.
The health conditions below are not intended to be all inclusive and is only a sampling of the full Aussie test panel that is available and that we test for. This is not intended in any way to be all inclusive.
This is a degenerative eye disorder that eventually causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. PRA is detectable years before the dog shows any signs of blindness. Fortunately, dogs can use their other senses to compensate for blindness, and a blind dog can live a full and happy life.
A cataract is an opacity on the lens of the eye that causes difficulty in seeing. The eye(s) of the dog will have a cloudy appearance. Cataracts usually occur in old age and sometimes can be surgically removed to improve the dog's vision.
Sensitivity to certain drugs is commonly seen in herding breeds, including Australian Shepherds and Collies. It is caused by a mutation of the Multidrug Resistance Gene (MDR1), which produces a protein called P-glycoprotein. This protein works as a pump to remove toxic substances from the body to prevent the harmful effects of the toxins. In dogs who show Drug Sensitivity, that gene does not function, resulting in toxicity. Dogs with this mutated gene can be sensitive to Ivermectin, a medicine commonly used in anti-parasitic products such as heartworm preventives, as well as other drugs, including chemotherapy drugs. Signs of this sensitivity range from tremors, depression, seizures, incoordination, hypersalivation, coma, and even death.
Collie Eye Anomaly is an inherited condition that can lead to blindness in some dogs. It usually occurs by the time the dog is 2 years old and is diagnosed by a veterinary ophthalmologist. There is no treatment for CEA, but as noted above, blind dogs can get around very well using their other senses. It is important to remember that this condition is a genetic abnormality, and your breeder should be notified if your puppy has the condition.
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