About Aussies

The Australian Shepherd (History and Explanation)

The Australian Shepherd is not really an Australian breed, but came to America by way of  Australia.  During the 1800s, the Basque people of  Europe settled in Australia, bringing with them their sheep and  sheepdogs. Shortly thereafter, many of these shepherds again relocated to  the western United States and brought with them their dogs and sheep. American shepherds  naturally dubbed these new herding dogs “Australian Shepherds” because that was their  immediate, past residence. Some legends claim that the dogs offered their masters protection  from some of the Indian tribes, who held a certain reverence for them because of their often blue  eyes.  The rugged area of Australia and western America placed demands on the herding dogs  that they had not faced in Europe, but through various crosses and rigorous selection for working  ability the Basque dog soon adapted and excelled under these harsh conditions.

The breed kept a low profile until the 1950s, when they were featured in a popular trick-dog act  that performed in rodeos and was featured in film.  Many of these dogs, owned by Jay Sisler, can  be found in the pedigrees of today’s Aussies. A club was formed in 1957, and the first Aussies  were registered with the National Stock Dog Registry.  In the midst of some controversy, the  AKC recognized the Australian Shepherd in 1993. It quickly became a successful show dog.   Ironically, a large proportion of this working breed remains unregistered with the AKC.  As a  result, the Australian shepherd’s actual popularity is estimated to be much higher than its  publicized popularity.

Form and Function

The Australian shepherd is an athletic dog of medium size and bone, lithe, agile, and slightly  longer than tall. It is muscular and powerful enough to work all day without sacrificing speed  and agility necessary to cope with bolting sheep. Its gait is free and easy, and it must be able to  change direction or speed instantly. Its coat is weather resistant and double, with the outer coat of  medium texture and length, straight to wavy, and the undercoat varying in quantity according to  climate. Its expression is keen, intelligent, and eager.

Temperament

The Australian Shepherd is bold, alert, confident, independent, smart, and responsive. It has the  stamina to herd all day, and the brains to outsmart a flock of uncooperative sheep.  If it doesn’t  get a chance to exercise and challenge its strongly developed mental and physical activities, it is  apt to become frustrated and difficult to live with. With proper exercise, it is a loyal, utterly   devoted and obedient companion. It is reserved with strangers. It may try to herd children and  small animals. Dogs from working strains are more energetic and more difficult to keep as non- working pets.

Upkeep

This is a breed that is happiest when it has a job to do. It needs a good, strenuous workout every day, preferably combining both physical and mental challenges. Its coat needs brushing or  combing one to two times weekly.

Essential Details

Eyes color is brown, blue, amber, or any combination
Head: moderate well-defined stop
Ears are triangular, set high; at attention they break forward and over, or to the side
Topline straight, strong, level, feet are oval
Tail docked or natural bob
Ht: M: 20-23″; F: 18-21″  /    Wt: 40-75 lbs.
Colors: blue merle, black, red merle, or red, all with or without white and/or tan trim.

Health

Major concerns:  CEA (Collie Eye Anomoly), hip dysplasia  Life span: 12-14 years
Note: Often sensitive to ivermectin (the ingredient in HeartGuard), Intercepter is recommend for  heartworm prevention.  Merles should not be bred to merles because a homozygous merle is  lethal or detrimental to health (deafness, blindness, internal organ problems). Can be indentified  by having excessive white (outside of trim area), especially around ears and eyes.

At a Glance

Energy level: high
Exercise requirements: very high
Playfulness: very high
Affection level: high
Good with children: medium high
Friendliness toward dogs: medium high
Friendliness toward other pets: medium high
Friendliness toward strangers: medium low
Protection ability: medium high
Grooming requirements: medium
Heat tolerance: medium
Cold tolerance: medium high
Ease of training: very high
Watchdog ability: very high

Some of the above information can be located within the “Australian Shepherd  Club of America (ASCA) Australian Shepherd Breed Standard” .Aussie Times  May-June 2009: 76.

FAQ

Don’t get an Aussie just because you heard they’re smart, or you like their looks, or because someone you know said they’re great. All true, but you have to keep other factors in consideration. It is not good enough to get an Aussie just because you want a dog. You must have to want an Aussie and all that entails!

The above is  written not to discourage you from getting an Australian Shepherd but to evaluate if this is the best dog for you. It is better to find about the breed now before another Aussie ends in a rescue shelter and you and your family get disappointed.

If you still honestly feel that an Aussie is the one for you, and that you could fulfill the particular needs of an Aussie, Congratulations and Welcome to the South Texas Aussie Rescue!!