In spite of its name, the Australian Shepherd is virtually unknown in Australia. It was developed in the 19th century on ranches in Western United States.
The story of how it came by its name is not known. One theory is that it is descended from dogs brought to the United States via Australia from the Basque region of Spain.
They are exceptional sheep herders and another theory is that their name originated from the type of sheep they were herding.
Temperament And Character.
The Australian Shepherd is closely related to the Border Collie. It is and energetic athletic dog requiring lots of exercise. It enjoys any activity which calls for physical and mental input.
They need around an hour of physical exercise each day and don't adapt well to apartment living
They become devoted to those they know. On the ranches one of their duties was to guard the sheep herd. They will bark when strangers are around but are not prone to excessive barking.
The more attention they get from their owners the more they like it.
The breed standard wasn't written until 1976. Until then they had been bred for their working ability rather than their appearance. They were recognised by the American kennel club as a breed in 1992.
They are classified by the AKC in the herding category.
They are a medium size dog with long hair. The coat colours include black, blue merle and red merle. Merle refers to the pattern on the coat. The variety of this pattern means that no two Australian Shepherds look alike.
A fully-grown male weighs between 50 and 65 pounds and a female lays between 40 and 55 pounds.
They are quite long-lived dogs with an average life span of 12 to 14 years.
They are solidly built dogs with a low centre of gravity.
Australian Shepherds And Families
Australian shepherds are highly intelligent and easy to train. They often compete in obedience trials. At the same time, they make wonderful family pets. They love children and love to play energetic games with them. They get on well with other pets and are not considered aggressive.
They are protective of their families.
Australian shepherds are above average shedders. Their long lush coat will need a weekly brushing. An occasional bath will help keep their hair from matting.
Australian Shepherd Dogs are considered to be a fairly healthy breed. However, they are susceptible do some of the eye diseases which afflict border collies. They can be affected by cataracts, red eye and conjunctivitis.
They are ranked as the number one breed to be affected by epilepsy,
If you can handle an attractive, high energy dog which is extremely loyal then this is the dog for you.