From the Pyrenees mountains to the ranches of California, Australian shepherds are known for their distinctive looks and high-energy attitudes. These patterned pups are ready to run and learn new tricks with their favourite human.
Known as world-class shepherds for centuries, the Basques used the Pyrenean shepherd breed to help with farming on the border of France and Spain. In the early 1800s, several Basques brought their dogs east to Australia. With the promise of perfect pastures for cattle ranching, they crossbred their dogs with border collies. When they arrived in the US they were greeted by California ranchers who were impressed by the sturdy and energetic breed. However, the ranchers believed these dogs came from Australia, thus, the Australian shepherd name was born.
Australian shepherds are versatile. Though bred for the ranch life, these intelligent dogs have been performers, service dogs, and even drug detectors. Here are some facts you need to know before getting an Australian shepherd puppy:
|Size||Medium. Male Australian shepherds reach a height of 20-23 inches and weigh 50-65 pounds, and females are 18-21 inches and weigh 40-60 pounds.|
|Breed Characteristics||Even from a distance, the Australian shepherd is recognisable. Often multiple colours with a white undercoat, their coats have a moderate coarseness with a docked or bobbed tail. Their coats are a wide variety of patterns with grey, white, brown, red, black spots and more. They have ears that fold over to the front, and their faces are often animated by a look of alertness. Their eyes are often a clear blue, a warm brown, or sometimes both!|
|Temperament||Born and bred for herding, the Australian shepherd is a working dog and loves herding anything and everything. You might find this breed naturally herding other animals in your house, family members, or maybe even yourself! They’re perfect for working and dog sports however, so if you want to play hard, they’ll play hard with you!|
|Grooming and Health Needs||Australian shepherds have a double layer coat that’s waterproof. Due to this, brushing them weekly will help with tangles. They lose their winter coats in the spring, however, and when this occurs, brushing them every couple of days will help remove dead hair from them (and your carpet!). Because of their active lifestyle, Aussies tend to get dirty, though it’s hard to notice with their patterned fur! Giving them occasional baths is helpful to make sure they aren’t bringing dirt and insects into the house from their thick coat.
With an Aussie’s fold-over ears, they can be prone to ear infections. Check regularly for wax build-up or dirt that sometimes likes to hide in there. This breed is also prone to hip dysplasia and epilepsy.
|Training||A trained Aussie is a happy Aussie. Early socialisation and puppy obedience training is essential for this breed, as they have a lot of energy. Aussies have a protective streak, so make sure they understand boundaries for your family and people who visit your home. Due to their high energy, they shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time as they may start destroying your property in protest. Luckily though, due to their high intelligence and worker dog needs, the Aussie is highly trainable and wants to do a good job! If you occasionally can’t be around, you can find a local sitter on Rover.com who offers dog boarding and can give your dog all the mental and physical exercise they deserve while you’re gone.|
|Energy Level||Filled with boundless energy, the Australian shepherd was born to run free and corral a wide variety of animals. Taking an Aussie on long walks or runs is this breeds favourite activity. Make sure they’re on a lead though, as Aussies will want to herd everything that moves. Due to their waterproof coat, Aussies are also known for dock diving.|
|Life Span||Australian shepherds live between 12-15 years on average.|
Australian shepherds are highly intelligent and active dogs. This breed is not for sedentary or novice pet owners, as the Aussie might learn how to trick you without you even knowing it!
Not a great dog if you live in a flat, the Aussie enjoys roaming free and having a job to do.
Whether to adopt or to work with a breeder for your new Australian shepherd puppy is a personal choice that requires research. Thankfully, there are many resources out there to help you find a rescue or breeder that offers healthy, ethically-sourced Australian shepherd puppies.
Knowing what you’re in for when you get an Australian shepherd puppy is an important step in being a responsible pet owner. Whether you find a responsible breeder or are planning on adopting, prepare yourself for an energetic and friendly addition to your household. Don’t just take our word for it, see what Long Haul Trekkers had to say about this fantastic breed.
Finding an Australian shepherd breeder
It may be surprising to know, but adopting an Australian shepherd puppy is possible. Most breed rescues report that a majority of their rescue dogs come from individual owner surrender, with the most common reasons being a change in lifestyle or the breed not being right for them. This means that there may be many dogs and puppies out there who are looking for a new forever home.
The Kennel Club has information on Australian shepherd rescues on their site.
The main difference between a breeder and a rescue is that a rescue may not always have young puppies to choose from. The benefit, however, is that most are mandated to only adopt out dogs who have been microchipped and spayed/neutered. This means you may end up with a dog who’s already been housebroken and doesn’t need these common medical procedures. The Kennel Club also offers resources for finding a breeder, with fairly strict guidelines on who they let participate.
You may also find an Australian shepherd mix that has all the traits you want from the breed, but with a little extra thrown in.
After you find the right Australian shepherd puppy, it’s time to prepare your home! Here are a few resources to get you started.
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