The irony is that they have nothing to do with Australia, save the connection to the Basque shepherds who emigrated to the United States in the 1880s from Spain and Australia. They are credited with creating and popularizing the breed in the expanding sheep industry of the American West. The Australian genealogy is a stew of many races. But there is no doubt, the Australian Shepherd is a totally American dog; that you can proudly proclaim: “MADE IN USA!
Medium build and come in four colors. There are the Blacks, the Blue Merles (black and gray marble), the Reds and the Red Merles (red and gray marble). The outer coat of an Australian can be straight or wavy. The undercoat is smooth and dense. Weekly grooming is essential to prevent entanglement.
One of its most fascinating features is its eyes. They vary from glass eye or “ghost eye” (blue), to hazelnut, amber and every shade of brown imaginable. Red Merles tend to have lighter colored eyes, Black and Blue Merles for the most part, usually having one of the shades of brown. It is not that unusual for an Australian to have one blue eye and one brown eye.
Interestingly, several Australians are born with naturally wavy tails. Others, who were born with a tail, used to be robbed as puppies. However, today, many Australian owners choose not to dock their puppies’ tails. It’s always fun to see a tailless Aussie show his enthusiastic greeting with that ever-moving butt!
Before deciding on an Australian, there are a few things to keep in mind. The breed has certain health problems, which are quite common. They include: hip and back problems, inherited eye defects, vision problems, thyroid and pancreas. Some may also be predisposed to epilepsy, cancer, and breathing difficulties. On average, you can expect to spend 13-15 years with a wonderful partner.
An Australian may not be the most suitable dog for an inexperienced dog owner. Being a working dog, they can be stubborn. Their owner must know how to treat them fairly, firmly and consistently; applying positive reinforcement. Otherwise, they will see the bossy side of your Awesome Aussie. There is no doubt that Australians know they are smart.
Socialize your puppy as soon as possible. Puppy Kindergarten and obedience classes will be time and money well spent. Also plan to dedicate at least 2 hours a day to vigorous physical exercise as well as mental stimulation for the next 10 to 12 years! Even as he gets older, an Australian still expects reasonable challenges. A bored Australian will be in trouble in no time! They love challenges; be it obedience, agility or concentration. Australians are born snooty and clowns! Plan to throw lots of balls and throw Frisbee, because your Australian will love every minute of it. The great part of spending time with your Australian is; it’s time well spent on bonding. His devotion to his owner is legendary.
Be attentive if you have young children and the elderly. Thinking they are helping, your Australian may instinctively herd them. The same goes for cats and other small animals. An Australian cannot rest until he has everything under control. Don’t be surprised when you take your Australian to a dog park, if you don’t think he’s there to surround and contain all the other dogs! They can’t help it … it’s in their genes. It is entertaining to watch!
With their keen senses and keen sensitivity, not to mention Puritan work ethic, Australians have been used successfully as search and rescue dogs, as well as therapy, service, and guard dogs. Australians live to work! An Australian out of work is not a happy dog.
Bottom line: even though Australians make wonderful family pets, they tend to gravitate towards a select person. They are known to create an unbreakable bond with a particular person. However, if you want a dog that is dedicated to its family, that has a lot of energy, an incredible intelligence, a great sense of humor, that likes to socialize and have fun, that has an incredible will to please and yet is instinctive protective, perhaps bossy, Awesome Aussie may be the perfect dog for you.