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Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds Dog Breed

Aliases: Aussie

Life Span: 12-15 years
Litter Size: 6 - 9 puppies - Average is about 7
Group: Livestock/Herding; The Herding Group.
Color: Blue merle, red merle, black, and red. Each of these colors may also have tan points on the eyebrows, cheeks, and/or legs; thus also creating a black tri and red tri color variations.
Hair Length: Medium
Size: Large
Shedding: Moderate Shed
Male Height: 20-23 inches at the withers
Male Weight: 50-65 pounds
Female Height: 18-21 inches at the withers
Female Weight: 40-55 pounds
General info courtesy of Additional information about this breed can be found on their website.

Thyroid Disease - Medium Risk

The Australian Shepherd ranks #44 among all breeds for autoimmune thyroiditis prevalence. While this is not a high risk breed, there is still a good chance of disease transmission through breeding. Therefore, all dogs intended for breeding should be tested first. 

 Rank Among Breeds  Number of Dogs Tested  Percent of Dogs With Disease
 #44  2,515  8.6%

You can download the full report (on all breeds) by the Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health. Here

Other Health Problems

Major health concerns for the Australian Shepherd are:

  • Cataracts
  • Collie Eye Anomaly ( CEA )
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is when the bones in the hip joint do not form properly. It causes the thighbone to pop out of the hip socket, resulting in hip pain and in some cases complete lameness.

They are at risk for numerous genetic eye defects as well:

  • Ocular coloboma
  • Iris coloboma
  • Juvenile and senior cataracts
  • Detached retina
  • Persistent pupillary membrane
  • Progressive retinal atrophy

Other health concerns are:

  • Nasal solar dermatitis
  • Pelger-Huet syndrome
  • Lumbar sacral syndrome
  • Epilepsy
  • von Willebrands
  • Distichiasis
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosis

The breed is also very sensitive to ivermectin (used in heartworm medicines).

Mostly all of their health problems are hereditary, such as heart disease, elbow dysplasia, cancer, allergies, and thyroid dysfunction. As early as 6 weeks, they can be checked by a veterinarian to determine whether any eye defects are present; at 2 years of age they can also be checked for hip dysplasia. Those dogs found to have any hereditary defects, should be spayed and neutered, and removed from the breeding program. The gene that creates the merle patterning also carries a blind/deaf factor. Breeding merle-to-merle can result in deaf or blind puppies, as well as other defects; breeding natural bobtails-to-natural bobtails can also result in spinal defects.