shalako australian shepherd graphic 
Shalako Australian Shepherds Gryphon in Dirt attire

Is the Australian Shepherd Right For You?  by Shelly Hollen
    
Personality/Time Commitment
The Australian Shepherd is a very intelligent, easily trainable breed, but they are also a very active breed. The Australian Shepherd's purpose was that of a herding dog bred to share in many aspects of a family's daily life as stockdogs, 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 they usually tolerate being kenneled  or crated for reasonable periods of time by themselves, they need human contact and socialization in order to remain well rounded. Digging dirt at Shalako Australian Shepherds
As a family companion the Australian Shepherd requires obedience training to ensure a well mannered dog at home an  d in public. An Aussie that doesn't receive adequate attention, socialization and exposure to a variety of situations can grow up to become unsociable, fearful or aggressive. They can develop unpleasant behaviors such as digging, chewing and barking as a result of boredom.
Generally, Aussies 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 activities by day, then the Aussie might not be the breed for you. Likewise if your job or other obligations prevent you from spending quality time with your dog, then again, this might not be an appropriate breed for you

Care and Maintenance
The A
ussie should 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 frequency 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 rule, the Australian Shepherd is a clean dog, with any mud or dirt debris falling out of the coat once it dries. They require a bath only when they begin to smell doggy.
Thi
Chasing Duckss is an athletic breed and they need regular, physical exercise to maintain condition and good muscle tone. Throwing a ball, walking, jogging, biking, hiking, and swimming are all good forms of exercise for the Aussie.
Keeping a
n 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 urge to chase and harass such stock. State law almost always gives the livestock 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 instinct on joggers, bicyclists, and automobiles and may be injured or injure someone else. 

Health
Australian Shepherds for the most part are a healthy breed. A healthy, normal Australian Shepherd will only require a yearly health exam and regular health care maintenance. The breed's life expectancy on average is about thirteen years. Pets should be spayed or neutered to decrease the risk of mammary and testicular cancers.
Some Aussies have exhibited sensitivity to certain pharmaceuticals such as Ivermectin (for Heart Worm control), Immodium A-D, Flagyl and certain anesthetics.
Inherited, genetic problems include Hip Dysplasia, Juvenile Cataracts, Epilepsy, and Auto Immune diseases. Reputable breeders screen all breeding stock for genetic problems where there are tests available and offer a contractual guarantee to replace a dog or refund money should your pup develop one of these serious problems.
Deafness and some eye problems are known to occur in association with the lack of pigment. White ears and bodies can occur as the result of a merle to merle cross,  solid to merle, or solid to solid crosses. The gene that creates the trademark merling pattern in the breed (also found in Shelties, Collies, Great Danes, Dachshunds, Corgi's...) also suppresses pigmentation and in a litter where 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 known as, "Lethal Merles". They are often mostly white with areas of merle patches across the body. These pups are subject to a variety of health associated problems due to the lack of pigmentation. Normally colored pups from the same litter will be perfectly healthy and unaffected by this gene. Disreputable 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.

Conclusion
The 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. Poor choices are the most frequent cause of returned or abandoned dogs.
The 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 and training on a regular basis. Ideally, an Aussie owner will provide a job for their dog, whether it's as a helper on a ranch or participating in one of the various dog sports.
Shelly Hollen |
Houston, Texas |
Contact us |
713-686-0341
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