The Australian shepherd is affectionately known as the “Aussie.” While its name suggests Australian heritage, this breed has its origin in the Mid-West Gold Rush of 1840’s America. Bred to shepherd livestock, the Aussie is a working dog at heart. Energetic and playful, this dog is a fantastic family pet.
A close relation of the Border Collie, the Aussie bears similar physical traits. Its long hair and markings give it a familiar appearance.
This dog is agile, intelligent and obedient, making it the ideal service dog. As the 17th most popular dog breed in the United States, it’s popular throughout the Mid-West. The large open spaces found in North and South Dakota, all the way down to Oklahoma and Texas, make for ideal environments to raise an Aussie. These states are home to some of the most impressive ranches in the world.
Aussie Food and Health
The Australian Shepard has a merle coat. They feature a mottled tri-color effect in a variety of colors including white, blue, black, grey, brown, and tan. The merle gene also affects eye color. It’s common for Aussies to have different color eyes. One eye may be blue and the other brown. Green and blue are also common color combinations.
There is a 25-percent chance that an Aussie pup is born a “double-merle.” This genetic condition creates spectacular colors in coats and marble effects in the eyes. However, double-merle Aussies are predisposed to a wide variety of genetic issues. It’s common for double-merles to be born blind and or deaf.
The double-merle does not come as a result of inbreeding. The condition affects any dog breed where the merle gene is present. The median lifespan of an Aussie is between 11 and 15-years, which is typical for a medium to large size dog.
The Aussie is predisposed to a range of eye disorders. The most common being cataracts, and conjunctivitis (pinkeye.) Aussies may also suffer from skin disorders like eczema, as well as elbow and hip dysplasia as they age. Thyroid disease is also a concern. Before breeding an Aussie, it must undergo DNA tests to determine its genetic viability.
Aussies are well-structured, with a slightly longer tail than other breeds of this size. The docked tail prevents injury to the joint and helps them maintain balance when turning sharply at high-speed. They do well as sports dogs and learn hand signals without much training.
This breed has a friendly personality, and they make wonderful family pets. Aussies take a protective role around children, and they will gravitate toward your kids when left to their own devices.
Leashes and Collars for your Australian Shepherd
Aussies are loyal dogs, and they rarely run away. This characteristic means that they don’t require a dog collar for around the house or yard. It’s a good idea to get your dog chipped, purely for security reasons.
Putting a collar on you Aussie may irritate their skin. They have long hair that can catch under the collar creating irritation and dermatological issues, such as eczema. A collar will also create a separation in the flow of their coat, leaving a bad around the collar area.
If you take your Aussie to the park or public land, make sure they have a flea collar to prevent tick and flea infestation like perozek flea tick prevention dogs. Being that they have long hair, it’s difficult to spot or feel ticks attached to the surface of their skin. If you walk your dog in an area that requires a dog leash, choose a dog harness and a long, retractable lead. This lead lets your Aussie roam around at a distance from you without pulling.
This breed thrives in cold environments. This fact is good news for owners that live in the North-West, such as Oregon (another favorite state for Aussies.) Their long hair and undercoat insulate them from the wind and snow. Therefore, you don’t need a dog-jersey or heating collar.
Another good option for open spaces is a whistle tracker collar. This collar activates when you whistle for the dog, allowing you to pinpoint their location. However, Aussies are remarkably obedient, and they can hear at far distances, so they’ll come running back to you.
The easy-trainable nature of Aussies means that you should focus on visibility collars rather than restrictive collars. There’s no need for a choke chain or shock collar with this breed. Instead, purchase a reflective or high-visibility collar. These options enable you and other people to spot the dog from a distance. The high-visibility collar is a must for public land frequented by hunters.
Aussies have long hair, and they are active dogs that love to run and jump. In the peak of summer, they prefer the cool of shady areas during peak sun hours. Therefore, purchase a cooling collar for the hot summer days.
Best Crates, Beds, and Doghouses for Australian Shepherds
Australian shepherds are outdoor dogs. They prefer sleeping in the yard as opposed to inside the house. When they are puppies, they’re remarkably independent animals. For the first 6 to 8-months, you can keep them indoors in a soft bed or basket. Line the bed with pillows or a blanket and their hair will function as an overcoat.
If you have more than one Aussie, they can share the bed without fighting. The Australian Shepherd is a very social breed, and raising two or three Aussies is as easy as one. Aussies don’t require crating. They rarely exhibit any form of separation anxiety, and they are fine being left alone for the night.
When they reach adolescence, you can put them outside for the night. They prefer this sleeping arrangement. Aussies are light sleepers. They enjoy getting out of bed in the middle of the night and roaming around. They won’t howl, bark, or cry at the moon.
If you live in a warm area, an open basket is best. Baskets are more durable than beds, and they are easier to keep clean. A fabric bed isn’t the best option for outdoors. The fabric can become infested with parasites which are challenging to remove.
Australian shepherds are natural herders. They prefer toys that offer active engagement. While they are perfectly happy chasing sticks and old tennis balls, the more you can do to provide excitement, the better.
Frisbees are an excellent toy for this breed. A Frisbee fly’s far, and it gives the Aussie a chance to reach their full speed. The Aussie is athletic, and they love to jump. A Frisbee offers them the opportunity to launch into the air and grab it. It’s easy to train your Aussie to return the Frisbee. They won’t try and hold onto it or wait for you to come to them to retrieve it.
Kong balls are also an excellent toy for this breed is KONG KS2 stuff a ball medium. Kong comes in a variety of styles. Our favorite is the multi-bounce toy. This odd-shaped ball bounces in different directions. This ball keeps your Aussie guessing, and they will have to shift direction as they chase it. The Kong makes for an ideal toy that brings out their herding nature as they pursue it and change course with breath-taking agility.
The Australian shepherd is relentless. They will never get tired, and they will keep bringing the ball back no matter how many times you throw it. As a bonus, you can fill the inside of the Kong ball its peanut butter, and they will spend hours licking it out. It’s a great way to keep them occupied and give you a break from throwing the ball.
If you don’t have the strength to throw a ball, purchase an automated ball-launcher like interactive ball launchers. This unit launches rubber balls into the air in different directions. It’s the ideal toy for a ball-hound that doesn’t give up.
Aussie puppies are also full of energy, but its best to avoid using toys that require them to jump. They may injure themselves and exasperate any hereditary joint injuries. Similarly, save their joints and stop throwing the ball and Frisbee when they enter their senior years.
At these stages of their life, purchase them chew toys like plushies or rope bones like benebone wishbone durable aggressive chewers. These toys keep them occupied. The Australian Shepherd isn’t a chewer, so you don’t have to worry about them tearing up your furniture when they are teething.
Grooming Insights for Aussie owners
Grooming your Aussie is easy. They are gentle dogs, and they won’t put up a fight. However, its best to introduce them to water at an early age. Purchase an outdoor bath and dog shampoo like natural pet shampoo that has flea and tick resistance. Since Aussies love to be outdoors, they’re prone to picking up ticks and fleas. If you live in an area with dense tick populations, a tick and flea collar is a must.
Bathe your dog at least once a month. This bathing schedule keeps the coat looking healthy with a lustrous shine. It’s best to use a dog conditioner product afterward the dog shampoo to help you untangle any matted hair.
The long hair and undercoat of this breed require reasonably regular maintenance to keep their coat looking top-notch. If you fail to maintain the fur, you can expect it to become matted and tangled. Aussies enjoy brushing. They will sit by your side while you complete the task and they don’t resist at all.
Use a long-bristled brush with stiff nylon bristles. Run the brush through their coat from the back of their neck to the beginning of their tail. After you’ve finished, make them stand and brush their hind legs. Then flip them over and gently take care of their chest and groin. If you strike a sensitive area, they will complain by reaching up to your hand with their mouth.
If you discover matted areas, you may need to cut them out with a pair of scissors. Be careful not to pull their hair as you cut it out. Once done, run over their fur using a brush glove. They will think you’re petting them and enjoy every minute of it.
Be careful brushing the lower back and rear legs of senior dogs. They may be sensitive to stress and pressure in this area due to weak joints.
Due to the sensitivity of Aussies ears, it’s best to let a professional groomer or the vet take care of their wax-build up. You can also use a groomer to trim their nails as dog nail clippers trimmer boshel. Unless you know what you’re doing, you could damage the nail root and hurt your dog.
Australian Shepherd Accessories
Australian Shepard’s love being the center of attention. So, choose accessories that boost their personality and add utility to their life. If it’s your dog’s birthday, make them feel important with a bandana and balloon set. Bake them a special birthday cake and have the whole family gather round and sing happy birthday.
Another fun accessory for your Aussie is the faux lion’s mane. It’s incredible how this costume makes your Aussie look like the king of the jungle. It’s good for laughs, and it will boost the dog’s ego.
Aussies love treats and snacks, regardless of their age. These items are fantastic training aids as well. Teach your dog to sit, give paw, and roll-over. Aussies are intelligent, and they love to please their owners. Rewarding them with a dog treat provides positive reinforcement to their behavior.
If you enjoy camping and hiking on public land, take your Aussie with you. They won’t require a lead as they are obedient and stay close. Instead of a collar and lead, purchase a utility backpack. Use the pack to carry their toys and a collapsible water bowl as collapsible silicone bowl and a hi-visibility vest.
If you live in an area with high rainfall, a slicker is an essential accessory for your dog. It keeps the hair and undercoat from absorbing moisture. The long hair makes it difficult to dry it out when soaked. You will end up using two or three towels, or have to resort to the hairdryer to finish the job. Avoid the musty smell of a wet coat and use the slicker in the rain or snow.