The most interesting fact about Australian shepherd is they aren’t Australian at all! These medium-sized dogs are great for herding livestock, watching your home for intruders, and making a lively family companion that you could rarely great. Before you get one of these puppies, let’s know a bit more about the breed.
The Australian Shepherd is a breed that can handle a variety of jobs including narcotics detection, search and rescue, etc. if properly trained. But it will also work fine if you are having it as a house dog provided that you give enough space and time to burn off its energy.
Plenty of exercises and proper attention can turn this agile dog into a happy family member who will always follow the leader. But if you don’t have the experience of leading such a dog, we suggest you go through some leadership training before getting an Australian shepherd.
From the history of the breed to the daily care routine, everything is sorted here for wannabe pet parents. Take a closer look at those and prepare yourself for bringing a bundle of power and happiness to your home. Let’s get started
History Of Australian Shepherd
During cattle drives and round-ups, ranchers and farmers across the western U.S. needed something to herd their cattle. This is when the Australian shepherd was born in most probably the 1840s. But the name Australian shepherd came from Basque shepherds, one of their ancestors that is Australian.
Basque shepherds were brought with shipments of sheep and breeders combined this breed with collie to produce shepherd dogs which are popularly known worldwide today. Though the glory of ranching isn’t like the past now, farmers still use this breed to herd their livestock.
The popularity of the Aussies got a jump start at the rodeos where they got the chance to work with horse riders. People were amazed by their agile activeness, intelligence, and other traits for which we know them today. Their versatility and hardworking nature are something that people always wanted to use from the past to date.
This led us to a breed that is cheerful but careful, friendly but agile, fun-loving yet intelligent and makes a great companion for your whole family. So, this might be a package where you get everything at once. But to handle and care for your Australian shepherd properly is the next struggle you are gonna do.
Overview of The Breed
This general overview of Australian shepherds will show you the basic information about the breed if you are interested.
An adult male Australian shepherd is about 22 inches tall but this turns into 20 inches for a female. Where a male shepherd weighs somewhere between 50-65 lbs, a female can weigh between 40-55 lbs. Regardless of the gender, shepherds have naturally floppy ears that make them more adorable.
As these dogs were bred for herding livestock, they possess high energy under the hood. To refresh their body and mind, they need a rigorous workout session every day to get rid of the extra energy that can make them unnecessarily aggressive.
Aussies have a medium coat throughout the body but features feathering in some spaces that need a moderate amount of grooming. With a low to moderate tendency to drool and a low tendency to dig, Aussies need high attention from either their owners or their social circle.
The socialization of shepherd puppies should be started at a very young age to make them familiar with different situations and how to react to those situations. This makes a better shepherd from the core and leaves you with a companion that is perfect for having fun either at home or a nearby dog park.
Australian shepherds have an unmatched personality that might suit someone but not some others. With a high activity level of energy, this breed is always up for the job you throw to it. But if you aren’t giving it the proper job to do, Aussies get unwantedly aggressive and destructive. This is because they need regular mental and physical stimulation which timid owners forget very often.
So, if you are getting a dog for the first time, a shepherd might not the right choice as they need an experienced and firm hand who will control them all the way around. Once properly trained and led, shepherds are very loyal to their owners and the family they live in.
But the opposite happens when they face off some strangers or intruders and get agile enough to bust them off. This could be annoying if they do the same with your neighbors or relatives so introduce your puppy to everyone they need to know as friends, not foes.
This is why early socialization for shepherds is crucial. If you aren’t experienced enough to train your puppy, you can hire a professional trainer to teach your pet properly. In addition to their regular exercise, they should be brought to the nearby parks to meet other people and dogs so that they get used to making bonds from a young age.
You can also take them to a variety of places where they are allowed to be to sharpen their social skills. It helps the breed to recognize the situation and people better for future incidents and act accordingly. Australian shepherds are very intelligent and learn everything very quickly which makes them good police dogs.
They are widely known for their seeking capability and are commonly used by police to find drugs, bombs, etc. in search and rescue missions. Shepherds always get happy when given a lot of work to do and enough attention to their needs. But it always depends on you that how you want your Aussie to be.
It will contain the genetic traits as it grows but you can make it selective by training properly. No matter whether it becomes a guard or family dog, it will always remain active and persistent, true to its owner, true to its nature that attracted people to this breed for hundreds of years.
Despite being a healthy breed, Aussies face some health issues that can be cured with proper treatment. But it is always better to check before buying the puppy whether its parents have proper health clearances.
A good breeder always takes care of these issues so it is better to buy your puppy from a renowned breeder who has years of experience in breeding such dogs. Buying a puppy directly from unknown sources or a pet store can often lead to serious hassle afterward.
But even if your puppy is healthy and happy, it can get caught by some diseases as it grows. One of the common diseases in Aussies is Hip Dysplasia where the femur bone is displaced from the pelvic socket causing great pain and fewer functionalities for your pet. It is often joined by elbow dysplasia which is also a painful disease.
Apart from these, Aussies face another hereditary disease called Epilepsy which might end in a seizure. Other issues include partial or complete deafness as the dog grows. Deafness can’t be cured so the dog needs special care if that happens.
The same is for partial or complete blindness which is known as Collie Eye Anomaly. It can’t be treated either, but dogs can use their senses to cope with the situation. Allergy is a common problem with dogs where they might have allergies to various substances, be it food, chemical, or inhalant.
To fight food allergies, you need to take a closer look at how the dog reacts after eating different items. Removing the item from the dog’s diet can be effective to fight food allergies. It is better to consult a nutritionist or licensed veterinarian for the perfect and balanced diet chart for your pet.
Chemical allergies can be caused by the substances like dog care items including shampoos, medication, etc. If you see some unusual behavior in the dog after using any particular chemical, be aware. It could be a sign of a potential chemical allergy. Talk to your veterinarian for the solution and act accordingly.
Inhalant allergies are also common where dogs are irritated by particles like pollen or dust. It is often caused by the environment the dog lives in. If the dog bedding or house isn’t cleaned regularly, dust and mildew can affect your cute puppy.
They can also get infected by these allergens so you better create a clean environment for them to help them grow healthy.
When it comes to medication, dogs can also be sensitive to certain medicines. Before you apply any medicine to the dog, it should be tested for any disorder in the gene as it can lead to serious consequences for some medicines.
The last bad thing that can happen to your dog is cancer. Australian shepherds suffer from several types of cancer which can be remedied if diagnosed earlier. It often takes both medication and surgery along with chemotherapy to treat cancers in your dog.
You should always be careful about these diseases and check the dog regularly for any unusual behavior.
An Australian shepherd needs loads of exercise daily plus mental stimulation to keep it happy and healthy. They are generally a breed with high stamina and lots of energy to discharge on herding livestock. This is why you need to take your Aussie through rigorous exercise.
As long as you don’t have your Aussie trained, it is better fencing your yard so that the natural instinct of Aussies can’t take over the mind. If not properly trained, your pet can start herding people and children in the absence of livestock which can be fatal sometimes.
Give them a proper schedule of running, games, and other exercises combined to burn off all the extra energy. But if you aren’t getting at least one hour of time daily, keep it busy with some puzzle toys for mental stimulation.
Also, the necessity of exercise differs in puppies and adults. Your puppy shouldn’t be allowed to jump high as it can cause bone injuries. Dog bones are usually weak during their early growth and should be handled with care.
Aussies should be trained for manners from an early age and they adapt things very quickly. Early socialization helps the dog to be more friendly and affectionate which might absent in case you don’t emphasize early socialization and the dog can become fierce at times.
The more time you spend with your dog, the more it will be used to follow your command and prove its credibility to be the best companion.
As a hardworking breed, Aussies intake an ample amount of food daily but not just any food. For better growth and the healthy life of your pet, you should always go for high-quality foods, be it dry, wet, or a mix of both.
The amount of food your dog needs depends on mostly the size, age, and activity level of the dog. At puppyhood, 1 to 1.5 cups of dry food can work, but the amount will increase as it grows. For an adult Aussie, about 2.5 cups of dry food can be enough, depending on the activity level.
If your dog undergoes elongated exercise sessions, it will need more food than usual. Always try to maintain a balanced diet for your pet. Talk to the nutritionist to make a balanced diet chart and try to follow the chart properly if you want your dog to be healthy.
The daily meal should be divided into two portions, served one at a time. Dividing the food into smaller portions help the dog digest better and returns greater nutrition value. It also reduces the wastage of food. Even if you buy high-quality food, check the ingredients to make sure there is no allergic food item on the list.
Lastly, feed your pet in a clean bowl. Often dogs are caught by bacteria growing on dirty food and water bowls. Clean the food and water bowls daily to keep your affectionate little buddy out of danger.
With moderately long coat, Aussies need regular grooming to be neat and tidy. They usually grow a heavy undercoat during the winter. Your Aussie should be brushed with a slicker brush to remove tangles and mats from the coat. Also, brushing deep down to the skin helps increase blood circulation in your dog making the coat shinier.
Sprinkling the dog coat with a dog conditioner helps to smooth the hair, resulting in an easier brushing. It needs to be done at least once a week to keep the coat healthy. Aussies grow a lot of hair around the ears, toes, etc. so don’t mind trimming those too during the grooming sessions.
Bathing is another necessary grooming for your dog though you don’t need to bathe your pet frequently if it lives in a clean environment. But if it goes out too much for exercise and gets dirty easily, you should bathe the dog using good dog shampoo to keep it clean from dirt and debris.
Trimming the nails to the proper size is mandatory as they grow so fast. Nails can break down if grown too long. Clean the ears with soft cotton balls soaked in ear cleaner. You will find all the necessary grooming tools online or in your nearby pet shops.
But if you aren’t familiar with dog grooming or don’t have the time to spend after your dog, you can hire a professional groomer to take care of your pet. Also, Aussies should be made familiar with the grooming process from an early age so that they get used to it.
Knowing all the necessary information about Australian shepherds is the first step of preparing yourself as a potential dog parent. Then get a well-bred Aussie to take the place of a lifelong companion not only for you but also for your family.
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