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Discover The Australian Shepherd

January 1 2024

Happy New Year! 2024 may have already gone to the dogs. One of our first plans for the year is to honor a very special dog, the Australian Shepherd, who has his very own day on the 9th. A local Calumet City, IL vet chats about the Aussie in this article.

Australian Shepherd 101

The Aussie has earned many trophies … and many nicknames. They are also called Spanish Shepherds, Pastor Dogs, Bob-Tails, New Mexican Shepherds, and California Shepherds.

No matter what you call him, Fido belongs to the AKC’s Herding Group, which also includes German Shepherds and Corgis. Aussies are active, smart, obedient, and very, very cute. They’re also great working dogs. They usually weigh between 40 and 65 pounds, and can reach a height of 22 inches. As far as longevity goes, they can live 12-15 years with good care.

What Is The Aussie’s Personality?

Friendly yet protective, Aussies have a strong desire to please their owners. Fido has a natural inclination for herding. He may even try to herd you! These pretty dogs are known for their intelligence and are often ranked among the smartest breeds. 

Are Australian Shepherds Prone To Health Problems?

Generally speaking, Australian Shepherds are healthy and hardy. However, they are prone to a few conditions, including eye problems. We recommend hip and elbow examinations, as well as eye examinations.

You may also find it interesting to know that researchers have divided our four-legged companions into different groups, or clades, based on their genetic makeup. Aussie belongs to the UK Rural Clade, which also includes the Collie, Shetland Sheepdog, and Border Collie. MDR1 mutations are quite common among dogs in that group. They can cause ivermectin sensitivity and the eye problems outlined above. Ask your Calumet City, IL veterinarian for more information. 

Why Do So Many Aussies Have Short Tails?

We often mention tail wags when speaking of our canine buddies. However, Fido doesn’t always have a tail to wag when we talk about him. About 1 in 5 Aussie pups are born with short tails or no tails at all. This isn’t a coincidence: ranchers chose pups with this abnormality for breeding, since those short tails were safer for herding.

What Is The Australian Shepherd’s History

You would probably assume that Fido is from Australia. There are countless examples of breeders naming pups after the regions they originated in. Some examples of this include the German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, and Bouvier des Flandres, who will celebrate his birthday on the 16th. However, there are many more.

Despite his name, Fido is actually an American pup. His first job was herding sheep, a task he excelled at. This four-legged genius soon became a popular ranch hand in the Wild West.

To understand where this Very Good Boy came from, we must look to the Spanish Conquistadors and Basque shepherds who came to the New World in the 1500s. These settlers brought both sheep and dogs to both Australia and the United States. Meanwhile, back in Europe, Germans combined their sheep with a prized Spanish breed, Merinos. They brought their wooly offspring to the American West, along with additional sheepdogs. While there’s no clear paper trail, Fido’s heritage probably includes Pyrenean Shepherds, Collies, Border Collies, and Carea Leonés, a small and energetic Spanish breed often used for herding. 

What Color Is The Aussie’s Coat?

The main colors for Aussies are black, red, and merle, which is a pretty dappled or mottled pattern. These guys have fluffy fur, and are fairly heavy shedders. You’ll need to brush Fido weekly to remove dead hair from his double-layered coat.

As far as shedding goes, well, your canine pal will probably blow his coat about twice a year. When your pet is shedding, you will need to brush him more frequently, and possibly use an undercoat rake. Ask your vet for more information.

What Is The Aussie’s Famed Death Stare?

Australian Shepherds usually have very striking eyes. These cute canines may also have heterochromia, or different-colored eyes, which further enhances their beautiful and unique appearance. Fido’s peepers may be brown, blue, hazel, amber, or green. He can even have more than one color in each eye.

Some Aussies have pretty pale blue eyes. Native Americans called them “ghost eye dogs” and considered them sacred.

One of the many ways Aussies herd animals is through their intense gazes; they are known for using a fierce look, also known as the “Aussie death stare.” This is actually effective at intimidating cattle and can help bring them into line.

What Is The Australian Shepherd Really Good At?

Fido can do much more than corral wayward sheep. Aussies are highly intelligent, which makes them an awesome choice for many different fields and jobs. They excel at being Seeing Eye dogs, hearing dogs, drug-sniffing dogs, and search-and-rescue dogs, and also do well in agility, obedience, dock diving, and flyball, among other doggy sports.

What Kind Of Training Does The Aussie Need?

Training and socialization are particularly important for dogs with high energy and activity needs, like the Aussie. When Aussies are rehomed, they are often accused of bad behavior. In truth, this is often due to a lack of training, excess energy from a lack of exercise, or a combination of both.

While some dogs only need basic training, this is a dog that often loves learning tricks and complex commands. Fido looks adorably proud of himself when he gets a command right! Keep up with your furry pal’s petucation. This is also great for mental stimulation, which is extremely important to these dogs.

When Did The Australian Shepherd Become Popular In The U.S.?

The Aussie quickly gained popularity among cowboys and ranchers, but he did not gain much traction outside of that world until rodeo star Jay Lister brought his beloved Australian Shepherd onto the rodeo circuit in the nineteenth century. The cute canine’s intelligence and affinity for performing tricks helped him win crowds and win hearts across the nation. 

What Are Some Of The Main Pros And Cons Of Having An Aussie Shepherd?

Like any other dog, the Aussie has both good and bad qualities. It’s really about finding the right dog for you.

These are truly extraordinary canines. Fido is an active pooch, but he still has that exuberant doggy joy we all love. Aussies make good pets. They are good with children, and they can be great with other pets as well.

There isn’t much bad to say about the Aussie. These really are extraordinary dogs. However, Fido isn’t the quietest dog, as barking was essential to his early role as a herding dog. He can be destructive when bored or lonely, so he’ll need lots of activity, exercise, and playtime. There is the shedding, which we already mentioned.

Adoption is forever, so it’s important to find the right match. Do plenty of research before adopting a pup, and ask your Calumet City, IL vet for specific advice.

If you have any questions about caring for an Aussie, contact us, your local Calumet City, IL  pet hospital! We are dedicated to offering great veterinary care in both 2024 and beyond!