Is the Australian Shepherd Right For You?
by Shelly Hollen
Shepherd is a very intelligent, easily trainable breed, but they are
a very active breed. The Australian Shepherd's purpose was that of a
dog bred to share in many aspects of a family's daily life as
guardians of family and property, and as companions. This breed is not
one to be content to sit quietly in a backyard for days on end. While
usually tolerate being kenneled or crated for reasonable periods
of time by themselves, they need human contact and socialization in
to remain well rounded.
As a family companion
the Australian Shepherd requires obedience training to ensure a well
dog at home an d in public. An Aussie that doesn't receive adequate
socialization and exposure to a variety of situations can grow up
unsociable, fearful or aggressive. They can develop unpleasant
such as digging, chewing and barking as a result of boredom.
do well when raised with children and other pets. Many adult dogs, such
as those found in the rescue programs, can be evaluated to see how they
are with children, dogs and other species. Avoid any dog, regardless of
the breed, that exhibits extreme shyness or displays aggression.
If you don't
strongly prefer to have your dog's companionship as much as possible as
part of your family household, allowing him to share in many of your
by day, then the Aussie might not be the breed for you. Likewise if
job or other obligations prevent you from spending quality time with
dog, then again, this might not be an appropriate breed for you
Care and Maintenance
have a moderate coat that doesn't mat or tangle easily, but they
still require regular brushing about once a week with special attention
paid to the fine hair behind the ears and at the britches. They do shed
once or twice a year, with intact females shedding much more profusely
than males. Neutering or spaying your dog will greatly decrease the
and amount of hair shed, but it
will still occur. If you are allergic to
dog hair and dander then this is not the breed for you. As a general
the Australian Shepherd is a clean dog, with any mud or dirt debris
out of the coat once it dries. They require a bath only when they begin
to smell doggy.
This is an athletic
breed and they need regular, physical exercise to maintain condition
good muscle tone. Throwing a ball, walking, jogging,
biking, hiking, and
swimming are all good forms of exercise for the Aussie.
in a fenced area is always a good idea. The Australian Shepherd living
in the country without a fence will soon discover the neighbor's
livestock and respond to his genetic
to chase and harass such stock. State law almost always gives the
owner the legal right to kill any dog chasing his stock and livestock
owners are quick to protect their stock! An Aussie roaming
loose in suburban areas is likely to exercise his inherited herding
on joggers, bicyclists, and automobiles and may be injured or injure
Shepherds for the most part are a healthy breed. A healthy, normal
Shepherd will only require a yearly health exam and regular health care
maintenance. The breed's life expectancy on average is about thirteen
Pets should be spayed or neutered to decrease the risk of mammary and
have exhibited sensitivity to certain pharmaceuticals such as
(for Heart Worm control), Immodium A-D, Flagyl and certain anesthetics.
problems include Hip Dysplasia, Juvenile Cataracts, Epilepsy, and Auto
Immune diseases. Reputable breeders screen all breeding stock for
problems where there are tests available and offer a contractual
to replace a dog or refund money should your pup develop one of these
some eye problems are known to occur in association with the lack of
White ears and bodies can occur as the result of a merle to merle
solid to merle, or solid to solid crosses. The gene that creates the
merling pattern in the breed (also found in Shelties, Collies, Great
Dachshunds, Corgi's...) also suppresses pigmentation and in a litter
both parents are of the merle pattern, either red or blue, a percentage
of the litter may be homozygous merles or as they are more commonly
as, "Lethal Merles". They are often mostly white with areas of merle
across the body. These pups are subject to a variety of health
problems due to the lack of pigmentation. Normally colored pups from
same litter will be perfectly healthy and unaffected by this gene.
and uneducated breeders sell these white Aussies as "rare" and
"unusual" and the unsuspecting buyer takes home a dog with a
handicap.For more information regarding
"White Aussies" please read the following article, What
is Wrong With White Aussies, by CA Sharp.
decision to get a dog, and in
particular an Australian Shepherd, is not to be taken lightly. This is
a breed that will reside with you for the better part fifteen years.
choices are the most frequent cause of returned or abandoned dogs.
people best suited to living
with an Australian Shepherds are those who enjoy spending a lot of time
with their dogs and are able to commit the time to providing exercise
training on a regular basis. Ideally, an Aussie owner will provide a
for their dog, whether it's as a helper on a ranch or participating in
one of the various dog sports.
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