|So what Is an Australian Shepherd?
Content taken and modified from the ASCA website, and other printed sources
The four most common colorings of Aussies are blue Merle, red Merle, black TRI(-color), black bi(-color), red bi(-color) and red TRI(-color). Aussies can come in
many other colorings as well, such as solid red, or solid black (called self black or self red); all can occur with or without white markings, tan (called "copper")
points, or both. Dogs with tan and white along with the primary color are called tricolor. Dogs with white or copper only along with the primary color are called bi-
color. Too much white around the eyes and ears on any Aussie is frequently accompanied by deafness and/or blindness. Responsible breeders try to avoid too
much white in their breeding program, and if pups with too much white are born place them as pets and not for breeding. If there is a lot of white around the ears
may also have the pups hearing tested.
Deafness and/or blindness does occur when two merles are bred together (a double Merle breeding, producing an Aussie called a 'lethal white'). Be aware
although breeding two merles together does not cause defects in pups that are not double merles, IT does potentially produce some "pups in a litter that are
double merles" These pups WILL have varying amounts of hearing or eye issues ranging from full to partial deafness and eyesight problems. "White" Aussies sold
as rare or unique are often a result of this type of breeding. Responsible breeders do not often breed merles to merles together unless the cross offers some
exceptional potential. When and if they do they have to make some serious decisions about these double Merle pups as all may have some serious health issues,
and can be difficult or not suitable for placement. As such a Responsible breeder will not offer these pups up for placement. Unfortunately because of the
popularity of merles and some breeders with a primary goal of profit, or complete lack of understanding of basic color, may breed a litter to get more merles, or sell
these defective pups into unknowing homes. Be aware.
All Aussies can have various eye colors including flecks and marbling, There is NO preference for eye color as long as they are healthy. There is NO rare eye
color gene. How one knows a dogs eyes are healthy is having the adult eyes Checked by a ophthalmologist (every year), and puppies should be checked by an
ophthalmologist before sale.
The breeds general appearance also varies greatly depending on the particular line's emphasis. As with many working breeds that are also shown in the ring,
there are differences of opinion among breeders over what makes an ideal Australian Shepherd. There is some size and coat type variety in this breed, this offers
dogs suited for several different working situations.
Keep in mind both ASCA and USASA and the general Aussie community does not recognise a size variety in Aussie. There is NO AKC or ASCA Mini or Toy Aussie.
Aussies do not come in size or varieties. This is a Medium sized breed. Recently there has been a rise in the movement to breed a so called miniature and even
now, toy versions of the "Australian Shepherd" Some of these dogs do have Aussie in stock in them, but as there has been some crossing with other breeds to fix
a smaller size, and also selection for smaller size within its own separate group of dogs, They are now considered a separate breed. They may or may not have the
personality temperament or abilities Aussies are known for, and just because they are smaller does not mean that they make better pets. These dogs have their
OWN registry separate from ASCA and AKC, and are now may be accepted into the AKC as a new breed in the future with a NEW name, to reflect their own breed.
The Miniature Australian Shepherd and the Toy Australian Shepherd are not recognized or considered varieties of the Australian Shepherd by this organization,
the United States Australian Shepherd Association, Inc. (USASA), or by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Since these dogs are not AKC registered, they cannot
be verified by USASA as purebred, and therefore are not considered Australian Shepherds by this organization.
A Aussie can stand between 18 and 23 inches (46 to 58 cm) at the withers and weigh between 35 and 70 pounds (16 to 32 kg). For show dogs, females should fall
in the lower heights and males in the higher ranges.
A hallmark of the breed is a short bobbed or docked tail in countries where docking is permitted. A LOT OF Aussies are born with naturally short bobbed tails,
others with full long tails, and others with natural partial bobs, where the tail is mid length and appears stubby. Most breeders dock the tails if over 4" when the
puppies are born.
The Australian Shepherd is unique with regard to its temperament.
Aussies have long been popular with small farmers who need a dog to help them, but don't have enough work to keep the dog continually busy. The Aussies' bond
with his owner is a part of his heritage. Early day Aussies were often depended upon to guard the children while both parents were in the field. Valuable equipment
and livestock were safe when the family Aussie was there.
Many Aussies are friendly with everyone, but the Australian Shepherd generally tends to be reserved and cautious with strangers. Reserved dogs can be
encouraged to accept people with some success, but some never accept strangers. Aussies tend to form a stronger bond with their family and owners than some
other breeds. This trait causes some dogs to become protective against what they perceive as a threat. Remember that dogs of any breed may become
aggressive if they are poorly socialized and untrained.
Because these dogs were developed to manage livestock, their intelligence and energy needs to be used elsewhere if they are not to be worked. Obedience
training is a requirement at a minimum, and Aussies will learn quickly. When raised with children, Aussies love kids and quickly become a playmate. Aussies don't
necessarily need a farm to exercise on, but they do need daily exercise and attention. Young dogs of any breed will require more exercise the first year of their life
than an older dog. Most Aussies love to play ball and Frisbee, and many love water and swimming. They require owners with the time and interest to be involved.
Dogs with strong working instinct may show more reserved, guarding behaviors along with a tendency to chase or nip at running children or strangers if not
properly trained. Its protective instinct and behaviors can be frightening to children, strangers, and small animals. Because the breed was developed to serve on
the ranch, a job which includes being protective of its property, it sometimes can be annoying with its inclination to bark warnings about neighborhood activity, but it
is not generally an obsessively barking dog. These traits MUST be addressed early on to Ensure proper behavior.
Aussies may often greet you with a smile, snorting, and 'butt wagging' (earning them the name "wiggle-butt"s). The Aussie has its own unique smile by showing all
the teeth, and often by snorting in a fashion that resembles sneezing. Since most Aussies don't have tails, they wag their butts instead. The Aussie is intelligent,
learns quickly, and loves to play. This means that a bored, neglected, under exercised Aussie will invent its own games, activities, and jobs, which to a busy owner
might appear to be hyperactivity in the house around fragile furnishings or involve the destruction of yard and property. Without something to amuse them, Aussies
often turn destructive. Aussies also do best with plenty of human companionship: they are often called "Velcro" for their strong desire to always be near their
owners and for their tendency to form intense, devoted bonds with select people.
The Australian Shepherd has a reputation as a highly intelligent and versatile stock dog with a range of working styles. While improperly trained or frustrated
Aussies may exhibit excessive running and barking, a good working Aussie is quick, thoughtful, and easy with its stock. The ability for the breed to adapt to the
situation and think for itself makes it an excellent all-around worker. For this reason the Aussie is often chosen to work unusual livestock such as ducks (e.g.,
Indian Runners), geese and commercially raised rabbits
Generally the breed is an energetic dog that requires exercise and enjoys working, whether it is learning and practicing tricks, competing in dog agility, or any
other physically and mentally involving activity. Many need to run, full out, regularly. It is usually a sweet and affectionate dog who is faithful to its owners and may
be good with children, although its overwhelming instinct to work may subvert its ability to function as a family dog. You should be aware of his territorial instincts
and that he may be naturally possessive and protective of his owners and home. You and your environment will greatly determine the dog you end up with.
Aussies are a breed known for its health, but like any dog can be affected by several health issues. Pure or Mix can have health concerns. Pedigree research,
Health testing and careful selection of breeding stock is vital in order to ensure the best chances of producing a healthy dog.
No breeder can guarantee 100% that there dogs will never be affected by genetic health problems, or truthfully claim that there dogs are 100% free and clear for
most of the health issues of concern, But, when considering buying a dog they should be able to offer you proof of testing, information offer a warranty if any dog
they sell be affected. Most offer partial refund and in some cases a replacement to assist with any finical and emotional cost involved. All dogs used for breeding
MUST BE Certified Free of Hip Dysplasia by either the OFA (orthopedic foundation for animals) or PennHip and have there eyes checked Every year until over 8
years old. Eyes exams must be by a ophthalmologist and certified by CERF (Canine Eye Registry). Just saying I never had a problem or my vet says the dog is
healthy is not good enough. Along with Hip and Eye certification it is also common for breeders to test and have there breeding dogs certified for Patellas, Elbows,
Cardiac, and Thyroid and MRD1 (Multi drug sensitivity gene) and Cataracts Mutation.
Most common problems in order of frequency *
•Cataracts,may be more than one type • Epilepsy • Dental Faults • Autoimmune Disease •Hip Dysplasia • Iris colomboma •Allergies •Cancer- not all Hereditary
•Persistent Pupilary Membrane •Distichaisis •Retained Testicles •Collie Eye Anomaly
The following are less common but occur often enough to cause concern *
• Corneal Dystrophy • Elbow Dysplasia •Hemophilia A & B • Muscular Dystrophy • Osteochondritis Desicans •Patellar Luxation • Patent Ductus Arteriiosus •Pelger-
Huet Anomaly •Porto-systemic (Liver) Shunt •Progressive Retinal Atrophy •Rage Syndrome
* FromAussie Genetics Fact Sheet: Australian Shepherd Genetic Disease Prevalence by C.A. Sharp
MALE OR FEMALE
The choice of whether to buy a male or female is often just a personal preference. However, there are some differences you should be aware of.
Females are usually smaller than males with preferred size for females between 18" and 21" at the shoulder while males will stand between 20" and 23". Intact (not
spayed) females will come into season approximately every six months and must be completely confined for three weeks during that time. Intact (not neutered)
males tend to wander, especially if there are females in the neighborhood who are in season. If you spay or neuter your pet, these things will not be a factor.
Neutering will also prevent some health problems that can develop later in your dog's life.
A responsible breeder will ONLY place their pet dogs with a requirement to spay or neuter your pet.
Keep in mind that male or female when altered differ very little in temperament.
PET, SHOW, OR WORKING QUALITY
What is a pet puppy? This is a puppy that is healthy with a good personality but may lack desirable qualities when compared to the breed standard. The breed
standard is the written description of the ideal of the breed. Often the imperfections of the pet puppy are minimal and are things that the person looking for a pet
would never notice. A pet puppy should not have any serious health or temperament problems! Some typical faults that may cause a breeder to consider a happy,
healthy puppy as pet quality are teeth imperfections (breed standard calls for a full compliment of teeth which meet in a scissors bite), color that is not rich and
clear, faults of toplines, legs, or ear sets.
Australian shepherd can be registered with The Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) The founding Registry of the Australian shepherd and with recent
AKC recognition now the American Kennel Club (AKC). It is normal for Aussies to be Dual registered with BOTH ASCA and AKC on occasion one or the other. You
should also advise the breeder as to your plans for the puppy. A show quality puppy should come as close as possible to the breed standard. No one can
guarantee just what the puppy will grow up to look like, but a knowledgeable breeder can see potential and should be honest with you in evaluating their puppies.
If you are looking for a stock dog, it is extremely important that both parents are working stock dogs. If at all possible, see the dogs work or see video or pictures of
the dogs working. No one can look at the puppy and see the inherited ability to work stock, as these traits cannot be tested until much older. Working ability can
quickly be lost by breeding individuals who may not have the intense instinct required of a working dog. Ask for a written guarantee that the puppy will work
livestock if buying the puppy for that purpose.
PUPPY, OLDER PUP, OR ADULT
Not all Aussies that are for sale are eight-week old puppies. Breeders and rescue often have older puppies and adults for sale/adoption. Various factors play into
the sale of puppies and why a breeder has kept one or more for a longer time. Many breeders elect to wait for the right home to come along, rather than risk
placing a pup in the wrong situation. Or, they may be considering keeping the pup for themselves, but later change their minds. Please be aware, if a breeder has
a older dog or puppy for sale ensure that dog Has received the training and attention needs during this critical time. Rescues often get dogs because the original
owner made the wrong decision in the breed, and found the Aussie to much for them, sometimes they no longer want the dog because of lack of time, costs of
owning a dog, change in housing, jobs or family situation. Although a puppy is usually cutest at eight weeks, it won't stay that way very long. They soon progress
to the leggy, awkward age and go through all the stages of young animals growing up. There are some advantages to buying an older puppy. Because they do not
need to go outside as often, they are often easier to Housebreak. The temperament in a older dog is more stable and known and may be easier for the average
family home to add to the family. Aussie as puppies require a lot of training and socialization for the first year compared to other breeds in order to shape the
breeds characteristics into a positive manor.
With a breed like the Aussie, it would seem like an older puppy or adult dog would not adjust to a new owner. Given love and attention, Aussies will bond to a new
owner even if they were previously part of another family. These dogs relate to those who love, train and interact with them. So don't overlook the older dog if the
work of a little puppy seems like to much for you.
The Australian Shepherd's history is vague, as is the origin of its misleading name. The majority of the breeds antecedents most likely originated in the Basque
region near the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France.
Early European settlers took many of their herding dogs with them as they emigrated to the eastern United States in the 19th century. Breeds included some that
are now extinct or that have merged into other breeds. These probably included the English Shepherd, Dorset Blue Shag, Cumberland Sheepdog, Scottish Collie,
Glenwherry Collie, and Bouvier des Flandres, as well as dogs from Germany and Spain. For many centuries, shepherds had more interest in dogs who performed
well when helping to manage flocks of sheep than they had in the specific appearance of the dogs. As a result, over time, shepherds interbred dogs that they
believed would produce better workers for the given climate and landscape. Terrain and weather conditions in the eastern U.S. Were similar to that of Europe,
however, so the existing imported breeds and their offspring worked well there.
In the western states, conditions were quite different. In the primarily arid and semiarid areas inhabited sparsely by early Spanish settlers, temperatures reached
extremes of hot and cold, and fields varied in altitude from sea level into the higher, rougher Sierra Nevada and similar mountain ranges. A few Spanish and
Basque shepherds, their flocks, and their herding dogs came to California with the Spanish missionaries and other settlers in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
With the 1849 California gold rush, a massive migration occurred from the east coast to the west coast, and along with the people came flocks of sheep and the
eastern herding dogs. But it was just as effective to bring sheep in by ship, and in they came, including flocks from Latin America and other regions. Shepherds
came along with the flocks and also independently, from Latin America, Europe, and Australia, along with their own herding breeds.
Dogs from Australia had already begun to be selected and bred for climates and terrains that were often similar to California. As shepherds worked to develop
dogs who could handle stock in harsh storms, high arid heat, and chilling cold, and who could think on their own in challenging terrain, reacting instantly to the
movement of sheep and to their handlers' commands, the type that became the Australian Shepherd was born.
The name remains somewhat of a mystery, however; the largest influx of shepherds from Australia arrived in the early 20th century, well after the breed had been
established as a distinct type. It is possible that many of the imported Australian herding dogs had Merle coloring, which was also common in the American
Australian Shepherd breed, and so all Merle herding dogs were simply referred to as Australian. This remains conjecture.
Selective breeding for many generations focused on aspects of the dog that enabled it to function as an effective stock dog in the American west. It had to handle
severe weather; have plenty of speed, athleticism, energy, and endurance; and be intelligent, flexible, and independent while remaining obedient. The Australian
Shepherd remained more of a type than a breed until the 1950s, when they became popular as performing dogs in rodeos. Their stunts and skills earned them
places in several Disney films, including Run Appaloosa Run and Stub: The Greatest Cow dog in the West.
The Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) was founded in 1957 to promote the breed, and the National Stock Dog Registry became its official breed
registry the same year, which it continued until ASCA took over in the 1970s. In the late 1970s, ASCA created a breed standard, which described exactly how a
dog should look and be constructed (its conformation). This was the first step in becoming a breed rather than a type.
In the United States, the AKC is the primary breed registry for purebred dogs. However, many Aussie breeders felt that AKC put too much emphasis on
conformation and not enough on performance, so ASCA declined to join the AKC. Those breeders who felt that AKC membership had its advantages split off from
ASCA to form their own Australian Shepherd club, the United States Australian Shepherd Association, created their own breed standard, and joined the AKC in
1993. The decision about affiliation with the AKC remains controversial, as it does with many performance breeds.
These dogs excel at many dog sports, especially herding, dog agility, Frisbee, and fly ball.
Content taken and modified from the ASCA website, and other printed sources
|Beyond what the books, Internet and even what some breeders will tell you
ALL Aussies do best and NEED homes that are involved with their dogs. This is BECAUSE AUSSIES are a ACTIVE breed they ARE A
WORKING BREED and this is something often not considered by a family before purchase.
Although not all Aussies will be serving the roll as a ranch or farm hand, this was what they where bred to do. They are wired to want
to work and be with their People. They are only suited for homes with the time and interest to fulfill both the physical and mental
needs of what is a very active, intelligent breed of dog. Aussies are NOT good yard dogs, they are not a breed that will be happy
sitting on the couch all day. The are extremely active puppies so can be a challenge to homes with small children.
Keeping a dog like a Aussie happy is more than just taking it for runs, throwing the Frisbee or having a big area (fenced) to run.
Aussies, like many working breeds where bred to work WITH their owners 10-12hrs a day- you should expect to put in a couple
hours of good time and interaction daily with your Aussie.
Because they are "smart" does not make things really easy..
Despite their good looks and intelligence they are not for every home looking for a pet or family dog.
Failure to commit to the work involved with raising a Aussie and dog ownership, not only makes you the owner less happy, it is a
uncomfortable situation for the dog.. In FAR to many cases results in the dog being no longer wanted, or having to be surrendered.
This is where RESCUE dogs come from.. There is nothing wrong with them other than not being a good fit for the home that decided
to get a Aussie.
So are Aussies "great" family dogs? Yes, and no.. It all comes down to what that families expectations are and the dog in question.
Keep in mind Aussies bond very strongly with their families, have strong instinct to chase and nip at fast moving objects, can be
protective. They are very active, intelligent dogs. This can mean that your dog will bark an alert, chase children, cars, see horseplay
between your kids and their friends as a threat or something that they need to step in and stop. They can and do get creative
(destructive) if bored!.
All puppies are very mouthy and require lessons on what is or not appropriate to chew, how not to mouth you, how to act respectful.
This equals a LOT of work managing both kids and dogs. The truth is a Aussie more "dog" than that home may want or can handle.
REALLY GOOD BREEDERS CARE!. Not only should be experienced in training and raising dogs in general (work and train their
dogs vs just breeding them) Having lots of litters does not equal experience or care. You should expect any breeder to interview you
and discuss the positive aspects but explain and not down play or claim there is not some negitive aspects to Aussies and dog
ownership. If you have chosen this breed and decided to go to a breeder you must go directly to a RESPONSIBLE breeder with time
and experience to be there and willing to provide guidance and support. Impulse or ease should not be how you select your dogs
breeder! A good breeder would NEVER allow someone else to place their puppies. They care, and care where their puppies and
dogs are living for their lifetime, not to mention if they are a match for you and that each placement IS a good fit.
They do NOT sell to pet stores, brokers. No Exception..
Keep this in mind. Only buy a dog directly from a quality responsible caring breeder!
Consider all the aspects of a breed. Consider what the dog was developed for. Take time to consider what your ideal dog is.. As a
potential buyer one must do some research, look beyond the physical traits, Take into account all aspects of a breed, and consider if
this dog or breed will fit with your family. Take time to interview and examine your dogs breeder.
Keep in mind your dog is a product of the breeders effort and care.
It does matter what you dogs breeder does or does not do.
More tips on finding a Responsible breeder and selecting your next dog HERE