Australian Shepherd Personality Traits
If there was ever an animal that loved work more than play, one should look no further than the Australian Shepherd. As a member of the Herding Group, the Australian Shepherd is notoriously known for its inborn abilities to guard and wrangle. Whether it be cattle, small animals, or even children, these herders are instinctually driven to round up anything that moves.
Due to its sharp mind and intense drive to be active, Australian Shepherd are commonly seen steering cattle on ranches, running rodeo circuits, sprinting around training courses, or strategically navigating police scenes.
These canines may initially come off as independent and standoffish, especially with strangers. This is mostly due to an “all work and no play” mindset. However, despite its intelligence and self-sufficiency, this exuberant pup can make a fantastic family pet. It can be both playful and protective of family members. As long as it’s allowed to exert pent-up energy and engage in plenty of daily physical activity, these dogs can adapt to any lifestyle with ease.
Though this renowned herding animal possesses a strong, resilient body, Australian Shepherds also remain capable of moving with graceful agility and swiftness. These canines possess a feathery tail that is naturally short in length. It may be docked if it is a laboring dog. This is done both to prevent injuries as well as designate its status of being a worker.
One of the Australian Shepherd’s most striking characteristics are its piercing icy-blue eyes. Round in size, the eyes are a highly-coveted feature when it comes to breeding. Its ears are triangular and floppy. Its gorgeous coat most commonly has a red or blue merle pattern. (Merle refers to a genetic pattern that can appear in a dog’s coat. The merle gene creates mottled patches of color in a solid or piebald coat, blue or odd-colored eyes, and might affect skin pigment.)
Body Build and Dimensions
Despite having the ability to move nimbly with precision, Australian Shepherds have a muscular build. The medium-sized bodies are proportional with the length only slightly exceeding the height.
- Height: Males tend to reach a max of 23 inches, while females stay around 21 inches.
- Weight: Males range from 50 to 60 lbs., while females fluctuate between 40 and 55 lbs.
Australian Shepherds normally has a thick double coat that is moderately long. It may have naturally straight or wavy fur. Around its head, it has a lush, wispy mane.
Australian Shepard Colors and Patterns
The beautiful coat will normally feature a red or blue merle design. However, one or more of the following colors and patterns may be present:
- Blue merle
- Red merle
Red or blue merle patterns consist of a diverse array of marks, such as splotches, marbling, and flecks.
Toy and Miniature Australian Shepherds
It would be remiss to move forward without mentioning the significantly smaller but equally popular counterparts of this good-natured breed—the Miniature Australian Shepherd and the Toy Australian Shepherd.
Mini Australian Shepherd
According to the American Kennel Association, the Mini Australian Shepherd is quite popular. Weighing between 20 and 40 pounds and reaching a maximum height of 18 inches, the devoted little dogs hold 34th place in the association’s popularity rankings.
Toy Australian Shepherd
The Toy Australian Shepherd is an even tinier pup than its mini counterpart. These toy-sized puppies are produced by breeding the Mini Australian Shepherd or the standard version of the dog with other smaller breeds, such as the Corgi, Pomeranian, or Shetland Sheepdog. Toy Australian Shepherds may be up to a maximum of 14 inches tall and weigh 17 lbs.
History and Background
Contrary to its name, the Australian Shepherd has its roots in a small region of Europe known as the Basque country. Sitting snugly between France and Spain, the Basque region is located in the western part of the Pyrenees Mountains. These hardy shepherds became world-renowned wranglers in this small mountainous region. The canine’s exceptional herding skills attracted the attention of ranchers and farmers across the country.
Down Under. In order to fully take advantage of the reliable pups, ranchers from the Basque region decided to take groups of Australian Shepherds to Australia, where miles of farmland and pastures remained untouched. After its abilities became known far and wide, these dogs were further bred with Border Collies in order to expand the breed.
On to America. The Basques, having staked a claim in the Australian countryside, set sail to see what America had in store. Arriving in the late 1800s, the dogs quickly became a staple on farms and ranches in the western United States. After erroneously assuming its Australian roots, Americans bestowed the name of Australian Shepherd upon the devoted pups, thereby sealing its fate as a staple in Western culture.
Listed below are some fascinating facts about Australian Shepherds:
- Its coat coloring tends to darken with advancement of age.
- After World War II ended, the canine’s popularity skyrocketed.
- Often appearing in shows and movies, the herding dogs became staples in living rooms across the country.
- Its strong work ethic allows it to effectively aid in law enforcement, narcotics, and rescue departments.
- These pups are known for making excellent running or hiking companions.
Due to its versatile nature and remarkable features, it is commonplace to see the Australian Shepherd mix with one of the following breeds:
- Golden Retriever
- Blue Heeler
- Border Collie
- German Shepherd
- Labrador Retriever
- Great Pyrenees
Its striking blue eyes and beautiful fur contributes to the creation some of the most stunning mixed breeds.
Grooming and Care
Brushing should be done weekly in non-shedding seasons. The thick double coat will be shiny and knot-free if consistently brushed. A wire brush may be used. Baths may be needed more frequently because of all the time spent outdoors.
An Australian Shepherd puppy that grows up with no training whatsoever may turn out to be rambunctious, overprotective, and territorial. Because of this, classes in socialization and obedience are strongly recommended during puppyhood. Mini Australian Shepherds are also highly trainable and would do well with early instruction.
Because of its high energy and exuberance, the need for intensive daily exercise is also high. These little busybodies should not be left alone for long periods. Giving your canines little jobs to do that requires physical activity will leave them happy and mild-natured.
Common Health Conditions
On average, the Australian Shepherd lives between 12 and 15 years. However, the lifespan may slightly differ for Mini or Toy Australian Shepherds. Below are the common health conditions typical to these dogs:
- Hip dysplasia
- Pelger-Huet syndrome
- Patent duct arteriosus
As long as daily exercise and a healthy diet remain a consistent part of its life, this canine can live a long, vigorous life.