Blogue Dog

The Australian Sheperd

History
Despite its name, it is a breed born in America. The Australian shepherd was originally designed to raise herds for ranchers and farmers in western United States, and some are still in that position. There are many theories about breeds that have been used to create the Australian Shepherd. It is likely that its ancestors included collared and shepherd dogs that were imported with shipments of sheep from Australia in the 1840s – hence his name. Breeders have strived to improve their breeding capacity and create a versatile, hardworking and intelligent dog. The breed experienced a boom in popularity in the post-war years, going hand in hand with renewed interest in Western horseback riding. Crowds at rodeos and horse shows, as well as spectators at western movies and television shows, were seduced by the track dogs they saw working alongside the cowboys. Today, the Australian Shepherd remains the same eye-catching, energetic and intelligent dog that has proven so useful to western ranchers and farmers. He is loved by many and loves his life as a family companion, protector and shepherd dog.

Size and Longevity
A little longer than it is large, the Australian shepherd measures between 20 and 23 inches in height at the shoulder for males and between 18 and 21 inches for females. Males average between 50 and 65 pounds and females average between 40 and 55 pounds. The breed considers these dogs to be guardians of herds capable of taking care of all kinds of cattle for miles and in difficult areas, and there are no smaller varieties. The Australian shepherd can live from 12 to 15 years.

Personality
Raised to be demanding with livestock, Australian shepherds can and will play a dominant role at home if you do not give them firm and confident leadership. This makes it a bad choice for beginners or shy owners. Like many shepherd dogs, Australian shepherds are, by nature, loyal to their families, but conservative with foreigners. They need early socialization – exposure to many different people, images, sounds and experiences – when they are young. Socialization helps make your Australian puppy a well-balanced dog. Enrolling him in a kindergarten class for puppies is a good start.

Regularly inviting visitors and taking it to lively parks, dog shops and a leisurely walk to meet neighbours will also help it develop her social skills.

Health
Australian shepherds are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they are prone to certain health problems. Not all Australian shepherds contract these diseases, but it is important to know them if you are considering this breed. If you buy a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you the health certificates for both parents of your puppy. Health permits prove that a dog has been tested and cleared of a particular condition. In Australian shepherds, you should have access to health authorizations from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a fair or higher score), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism and von Willebrand disease; Auburn University for thrombopathy; and the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that the eyes are normal.

Exercise and Games
If you have a yard, make sure you also have a secure fence that will prevent your Australian shepherd from digging under or jumping over it. Underground electric fences will not work for this breed; your Australian shepherd’s desire to go out and gather something will allow him to overcome any concerns he may have about a slight shock. For the same reason, take him on a leash unless you want to train him to resist his desires.

Your Australian shepherd needs half an hour to an hour of stimulating activities every day, such as running, a Frisbee game, obedience or agility exercises. When you’re not playing with your dog, puzzles such as Buster cubes are a great way to keep that active mind busy. Puppies don’t need as much exercise as adults and, in fact, you shouldn’t let them run on hard surfaces, like concrete, or letting them jump before the age of one. This could stress their developing skeletal system and cause future joint problems. Your dog’s habit of pinching and chasing is excellent for sheep farming, but it is very bad when it applies to humans and other domestic animals. The obedience course can help you curb your dog’s sheepdog behavior and satisfy his mental stimulation and work needs. Australian shepherds respond well to training methods that use positive reinforcement – rewards such as praise, play and food – and are generally happy to take control of their coach. They just want to know who’s in charge so they can do a good job for them.

Feeding
Recommended daily amount: 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high quality dry food per day, divided into two meals. NOTE: The amount of food your adult dog eats depends on its size, age, structure, metabolism and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a very active dog will need more than a couch dog. The quality of the dog food you buy also matters a lot: the better the dog food, the more they will fully feed your dog and you will need less. Keep your Australian Shepherd in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day instead of leaving food at his disposal all the time.

If you do not know if he is overweight, do the eye test and the practical test.

First, look down at him. You should be able to see a size. Then, place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with your fingers apart. You should be able to feel, but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can not, he needs less food and more exercise.

Coat Colour and Maintenance
The Australian shepherd has a medium length waterproof coat to keep him comfortable in the rain and snow. Australian shepherds in cold climates have a heavier undercoat than those living in sunny areas. Smooth or wavy hairs cover the body, with short and smooth hairs on the head and ears, on the front of the forelimbs and under the heels (called hocks in terms of dogs). Australian shepherds are available in a variety of colours, including merle blue, merle red, red, tricolour (white, black and tan) and black. A robin coat has a patchwork of black spots on a lighter background, and a blue robin dog has black spots on the grey and a red robin dog has red spots on the beige.

If you are wondering if the Australian shepherd is losing his hair, the answer is yes. The breed loses it throughout the year, but more heavily in the spring, because it loses its winter coat. Brush it weekly, and perhaps more often during the moulting season to avoid accumulation. Before you start brushing, spray the coat with a dog conditioner diluted in water to untangle. Then, with a smooth brush, brush in the direction of the hair’s growth, making sure to go all the way down to the skin – not just over the hair. An undercoat rake is also useful for removing excessive hair. The coat should look shiny, not dull. A dull coat may indicate the need for better feeding or more frequent grooming. Cut nails regularly to avoid painful splinters. If you hear the claws clicking on the floor, they are too long. A professional groomer is always a great option.