Australian Shepherds Dog Breed
|Life Span:||12-15 years|
|Litter Size:||6 - 9 puppies - Average is about 7|
|Group:||Livestock/Herding; The Herding Group.|
|Recognized By:||CKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, APRI, ACR|
|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.|
|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 terrificpets.com. Additional information about this breed can be found on their website.|
|Living Area:||Not recommended for living in the city. They need a large fenced in yard and open country.|
Sometimes referred to as "ghost eye", the eyes can either be green, hazel, amber, brown, or blue. They may also have bi-colored eyes (each eye is a different color), split eyes (eye is half-green, half-brown), or merled eyes (one color is mixed in and swirled with another); any of these colors are accepted. The eyes should be expressive, almond-shaped, and well-defined. Their eye rim color is vital in avoiding flying hooves, as it absorbs sunlight and reflects the suns\' rays away from the eyes; black and liver rims are best.
Blue merles, blacks, and black-tri colored dogs will usually have black noses, while the red merles, reds, and red-tri colored dogs, will have liver noses. Merles are allowed small pink spots on their nose, but must not make up more than 25%. The skull ranges from flat to slightly domed shaped with a well-defined stop. The length and width should be equal, with the overall size in proportion to the rest of the body. The ears should be triangular in shape, and rounded at the tip; they should be long enough for the tips to reach the inside corner of the eye. Teeth are to meet in either a scissors or level bite.
The tail can either be straight, docked, or naturally bobbed; it should be no more than 4 inches long. Since tails are docked anyways, they are not necessarily breed for, which can result in having puppies born with wide varieties of tail length. Breeders will usually dock tails at 2-3 days of age. The shoulders are well laid back, long, and flat, and lay fairly close to the withers. The neck is slightly arched of medium length, well set into the shoulders in proportioned to the body. The chest is long and deep, with well-sprung ribs that help increase lung capacity. The topline is flat and level. The front legs should be strong, straight, and oval-shaped. Removal of dewclaws on the front legs are optional, but must be removed from the rear legs; this is done between 2-3 days of age as well. The feet are oval shaped, compact, with well-arched toes; the pads should be black or liver.
The Australian Shepherd is a double coated breed. The overcoat varies from straight to wavy to curly, and is of medium length and texture; it is also weather proof. Like all other double coated breeds, the undercoat is soft and dense. Most Australian Shepherds will blow their coat once a year in the early summer months, though some may blow twice a year. It is found that Australian Shepherds kept inside shed all year long.
There should be feathering on the backs of forelegs and britches, as well as a moderate mane and frill around the neck. Males usually have a thicker mane than females. The hair on the head and front of the forelegs is shorter than the rest of the coat.
White is acceptable on the neck, chest, legs, muzzle, underparts, and blaze. A white collar must not exceed to the point of the withers.
The Australian Shepherd was developed in the 19th and earlier 20th centuries, in western North America. It is unclear to where the name "Australian" came from, other than the only dogs coming from Australia were merle in color. European settlers immigrating to the United States brought over many herding breeds to take care of the livestock. Breeds thought to be used in the makeup of the breed include the: English Shepherd, Dorset Blue Shag, Cumberland Sheepdog, Scottish Collie, Glenwherry Collie, Bouvier des Flandres, and the Welsh Sheepdog. It is believed that most of the dogs that contributed to the breed came from Great Britain and Scotland. It wasn\'t until later on, that shepherds began to breed dogs that excelled in watching the flock and weathered well in the area; other than at random. Those that worked well in hot and cold climates, as well as being tough enough to work cattle unaccustomed to dogs, were used for breeding.
After World War II, they were used regularly in Western movies, television shows, and in rodeos. They soon became a popular addition to farms and ranches.
The Australian Shepherd is a highly intelligent, active dog. Though somewhat shy around strangers, they are good natured and delightful companions. Because of their love for play, they make great family dogs, always wanting to be in the midst of their family. They are great with children, though some may try to herd them by nipping at their heels; this can be prevented with proper training. These loyal companions are eager to please and never want to leave your side; the term "Velcro dog" comes to mind. They form powerful bonds with their people, which can sometimes lead them to be very protective and territorial of their families\' possessions. Courageous, yet affectionate, this breed is highly versatile in adapting to whatever their family asks of them.
Dogs of strong working lines may be more reserved, protective and territorial than ones bred for a family-oriented environment.
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|
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:
- 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
- von Willebrands
- Patent Ductus Arteriosis
The breed is also very sensitive to ivermectin (used in heartworm medicines).