Good-natured, Intelligent, Work-oriented, Exuberant
- Height18-23 in
- Weight40-65 lbs
- Lifespan12-15 years
The Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized herding dog bred for their working ability. Contrary to the name, the Australian Shepherd breed is said to have originated from the American West. This breed's history dates back to the 1800s to the Basques that lived in the Pyrenees Mountains along the border of modern-day Spain and France. The Pyrenean Shepherd was the herding dog of choice and ancestor of the modern-day Australian Shepherd. When the Basques first arrived in America during the Gold Rush, many became master shepherds that primarily raised flocks of sheep. The Basques eventually made their way to Australia in pursuit of richer flatlands which were ideal for tending to sheep and cattle. It’s widely thought that the Basque dogs that traveled with their shepherds were bred with other English breeds, giving rise to the Australian Shepherd that we commonly know today.
With their strong herding instinct, exceptional intelligence, and natural strength and agility, Australian Shepherds have been used for many purposes over the years. The Aussie’s innate dispositions are derived from their long history and original purpose as stockdogs. Today, many Australian Shepherds still do the type of work they were bred for, such as working the land and wrangling livestock. They have also become one of the most popular companion dog breeds in North America. Despite their long history, the Australian Shepherd was added to the American Kennel Club Herding Group on January 1, 1993.
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Australian Shepherd Appearance
The Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized dog with a solid, athletic build. Aussies are known for their keen, penetrating gaze. Males typically stand 20-23 inches tall while females measure between 18-21 inches tall. Male Aussies weigh on average 50-65 pounds, and females weigh 40-55 pounds.
Australian Shepherd Temperament
The Australian Shepherd is a highly intelligent and versatile breed. These dogs are happiest when physically and mentally stimulated. Australian Shepherds make great family companions and get along well with children and other pets. They can be somewhat reserved around strangers so early socialization is essential.
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Grooming Your Australian Shepherd
Australian Shepherds have a coat that sheds all year round and even more so in the spring as they discard their heavy winter coat. The consistency of an Aussie’s fur can be slightly wavy or straight. Aussies can also have a range of different coat colours that fit into four categories. Black, Blue Merle, Red, and Red Merle. Weekly brushing is recommended to keep your Australian Shepherd’s waterproof, double-layered coat looking its best. It’s also important to ensure your Aussie is on a well-rounded diet that contains healthy levels of fatty acids, which are essential to a thicker and glossier coat.
Give your dog a shinier coat with fresh food
Training & Exercise for Your Australian Shepherd
It’s best to start training your Australian Shepherds when they’re a puppy. Early socialization and obedience training will help your pup grow into a well-tempered adult. Aussies are intelligent dogs that are eager to please and love having a job to do. They respond well to reward-based training and positive reinforcement.
Australian Shepherds need an ample amount of exercise each day. They enjoy long, brisk walks and benefit from a fenced in yard where they can run around and play. Aussies thrive in homes where they’re physically and mentally stimulated, making them the dog breed of choice for high-energy owners who are familiar with the breed's active lifestyle.
Health Considerations for Australian Shepherd
Australian Shepherds are generally healthy dogs with a lifespan of roughly 12-15 years. Despite their stellar health, Aussies can develop certain health conditions. Some of the more common ones include elbow and hip dysplasia, epilepsy and cataracts.
Canine Hip & Elbow Dysplasia (CHD)
Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is one of the most common canine ailments. It’s a genetic condition that causes an abnormal formation of the hip socket which can eventually lead to lameness and arthritis of the joints. Medium-sized dogs like the Australian Shepherd are commonly affected by this health condition. Elbow dysplasia occurs when an Aussie's elbow does not fuse properly during their development.
Dysplasia is typically hereditary that can be magnified by factors including excessive growth rate, age, types of exercise, and improper weight and nutrition. While mild conditions can be managed with prescription medication and physical therapy, more severe cases could require surgery. To prevent or reduce the severity of elbow and hip dysplasia, it’s important to ensure your Australian Shepherd gets a proper diet and the right amount of exercise.
Australian Shepherds also have a heightened susceptibility to hereditary epilepsy. This means that if either parent was epileptic, their offspring's chances of inheriting epilepsy is greater. Epilepsy occurs when the dog experiences uncontrolled neurological activity within the brain causing seizures. An epileptic episode can typically last between one and several minutes. Australian Shepherds as young as 8 months old have been diagnosed with this condition, making it crucial that your Aussie pup leads a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a healthy diet. Some common signs of seizures to look out for in Australian Shepherds include chewing fits, ear twitching, drooling, loss of consciousness, facial twitching and vocalization. If your Aussie is having a seizure, call an emergency vet and make sure they can’t injure themselves.
Hereditary cataracts are another condition Australian Shepherds are prone to. This happens when the tissues of the eye begin to break down causing clouding of the eye lens. If left untreated this condition can lead to impaired vision or in some cases complete blindness. Signs of cataracts are more likely to appear once the Australian Shepherd has matured making it difficult to predict the onset of this condition.
Although Australian Shepherds are known as one of the healthiest dog breeds, they are still vulnerable to certain health conditions. Adequate exercise and a diet consisting of proper dog food plays a huge role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your Aussie. When selecting dog food for this highly active breed it’s important to consider nutrient-dense meals that are high in protein. The dog food should align with your Aussie's size, age and any dietary requirements they may have.
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What Makes a Australian Shepherd Unique?
The Australian Shepherd is one of the few dog breeds that can have two different coloured eyes, referred to as heterochromia or “wall eye.” This rare condition is caused by a lack of pigment melanin in all or part of one eye. Heterochromia in Australian Shepherds is often a hereditary trait that gets passed down through their genetic makeup.
There are three main types of heterochromia: heterochromia iridis, which is when one eye is a completely different colour than the other; sectoral heterochromia, which occurs when the iris is partially blue or without pigment; and central heterochromia, which happens when the blue colouring radiates out from the pupil, mixing with another colour. Most Australian Shepherds with heterochromia don’t have any related health issues — they just have pawesome coloured eyes that make them unique!
Legend has it that Native Americans viewed Australian Shepherds as sacred dogs. They gave Australian Shepherds the nickname “The Ghost Eye Dog” because of their eye coloration. Natives believed that Aussies were able to see into the spirit world through their lighter coloured eye.
Australian Shepherds grew in popularity with Western culture after WWII. They have often appeared in rodeos, Western films and TV shows where they became an iconic part of the cowboy lifestyle. Sheep ranges and cattle farms of the West were often places Australian Shepherds would call home. There’s no question that Aussies have an undeniable talent for herding; however, the versatility of this breed has allowed them to take on several different roles including therapy and service dogs, drug detectors, search-and-rescue aid, and the ultimate companion for an active family. An Aussie’s loyalty and eager-to-please nature goes without question.
Australian Shepherds are a remarkably intelligent dog breed. Their ability to outsmart and control livestock is one example of their potential to make their intelligence work to their benefit.
An Australian Shepherd’s high levels of obedience and adaptability allow them to prosper in task-oriented environments. Australian Shepherds love to be put to work and are always eager to please their owners. An Aussie’s keen intelligence and energetic nature makes them very easy to train. However, Aussies need an owner who is well-versed in how to handle this lively breed and channel their boundless energy.
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Why NutriCanine Is Great For Australian Shepherds
Best Dog Food for a Australian Shepherd Puppy (1-4 years)
Growing Aussie puppies require a complete and balanced diet to ensure they lead a long and healthy life. Australian Shepherds will typically reach their full adult size at 16 months old, which makes the type of dog food you feed your Aussie during this growth period of utmost importance. It can help to evaluate the Australian Shepherd’s health history when deciding the proper dog food for your Aussie puppy. For example, this particular breed is prone to developing certain health conditions as they reach their adult years, such as cataracts and elbow and hip dysplasia. With this in mind, it's important to consider a nutrient-rich dog food made with real, fresh ingredients such as meat, fruits and vegetables.
When choosing dog food for your Aussie puppy, NutriCanine’s fresh dog food recipes are an ideal pick. Our fresh dog food recipes are made with fresh whole foods including chicken, salmon, turkey, beef and lamb. As you search for the right dog food for your Australian Shepherd, animal protein should be at the top of the ingredient list. In the developing stages, Australian Shepherds need a high-quality, nutrient-dense diet that will work to support their accelerated growth rate and will help prevent the various health issues this breed is susceptible to.
NutriCanine offers a variety of dog food recipes designed to meet the nutritional needs of your Aussie pup. Our raw dog food recipes will help to strengthen your Aussie’s immune system while reducing any allergies and intolerances. But if you’ve got a picky eater, a pup with a sensitive stomach, or an immunocompromised family member at home, NutriCanine’s gently cooked dog food is a great option as well. All NutriCanine dog food recipes are freshly prepared with real, human-edible, locally sourced ingredients. NutriCanine’s dog food is always free of hormones, antibiotics and preservatives.
Best Dog Food for an Adult Australian Shepherd (5-7 years)
For a breed that constantly exerts high amounts of energy, consuming quality dog food that is high in protein is absolutely paramount. NutriCanine’s raw dog food recipes are a great solution as they contain rich animal proteins and natural ingredients which help support the Aussie’s lean muscle mass and thick double coat. NutriCanine’s raw dog food recipes provide your Aussie with a variety of flavour options including chicken, salmon, turkey, beef and lamb. These raw dog food recipes are formulated to be complete and balanced and are specially designed to meet your Aussie’s nutritional needs.
However, if you’ve got a picky eater, a pup with a sensitive stomach, or an immunocompromised family member at home, NutriCanine’s gently cooked dog food is a great option as well. All our dog food recipes are freshly prepared with real, human-edible, locally sourced ingredients. NutriCanine’s dog food is always free of hormones, antibiotics and preservatives. Adult Aussies require a trusted dog food that can fully support their active lifestyle.
Best Dog Food for a Senior Australian Shepherd
As your Australian Shepherd transitions into their senior years, it’s important to ensure they are consuming well-balanced dog food for the best quality of life. With a life expectancy of 12-15 years choosing the right dog food will ensure your Aussie receives the proper amount of nutrients as they age. As a result of the Australian Shepherd’s highly active adult years, their risk of developing certain joint problems such as elbow and hip dysplasia is greater. Keeping an eye on their calorie intake is also crucial to avoid obesity, which if left unmanaged, can put further stress on the joints.
NutriCanine’s fresh dog food recipes are a great option for your senior Australian Shepherd. Our raw dog food recipes are specially formulated to accommodate your senior dog’s nutritional needs; however, our gently cooked line might be easier for an older dog to transition to if they’re not accustomed to fresh dog food. Our fresh dog food comes in a variety of delicious recipes that your Aussie will absolutely love, including high-quality proteins like chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, and chicken and salmon. NutriCanine’s fresh dog food contains human-edible proteins with a unique blend of highly digestible fruits and vegetables.
For your senior Aussie, we recommend you try NutriCanine’s gently cooked beef recipe as it contains a healthy dose of antioxidant-rich berries and highly digestible rice, perfect for your senior Aussie’s aging body. Finding dog food that allows your Australian Shepherd to maintain a full and healthy life is the ultimate goal. NutriCanine’s meals are freshly prepared with real human-edible, locally sourced ingredients. NutriCanine’s dog food is always free of hormones, antibiotics and preservatives.
Best Dog Food for an Overweight Australian Shepherd
If your Aussie is carrying more than a healthy amount of weight, it’s time to feed them dog food that will help get them back on track. Overweight Australian Shepherds need real, fresh dog food that is rich in protein and moderate in fat. NutriCanine’s gently cooked dog food recipes are uniquely designed to increase your Aussie’s energy levels, getting them back to their athletic and energetic nature. With your Aussie’s optimal health in mind, NutriCanine takes the time to get to know your pup to create a customizable meal plan to best suit their nutritional needs. NutriCanine’s gently cooked dog food recipes are safe enough for humans to eat but specially designed to meet your dog's nutritional needs.These recipes are freshly prepared with locally sourced ingredients and are always free of hormones, antibiotics and preservatives.
Best Dog Food for a Australian Shepherd with a Sensitive Stomach
For a breed known for having such optimal health, Aussies don’t tend to develop many stomach problems. However, in the event that they do it’s important to take the necessary steps to ensure your Aussie leads a healthy lifestyle. The first step would be to consult your veterinarian to determine if there are any underlying health issues causing the stomach sensitivity. This is also a good opportunity to consider the type of dog food your Aussie is consuming.
Deciphering which dog food to feed your Australian Shepherd with a sensitive stomach is made easy with NutriCanine. Our gently cooked dog food recipes are specially designed to meet your Aussie’s nutritional needs. With a variety of protein-forward recipes to choose from, a great starting point is our gently cooked beef recipe as it would respond well to your Aussie’s sensitive stomach. This unique blend contains antioxidant-rich berries and highly digestible rice, the perfect formula to strengthen your Aussie’s immune system while reducing any allergies and intolerances. NutriCanine’s meals are freshly prepared with real human-edible, locally sourced ingredients. NutriCanine’s dog food is always free of hormones, antibiotics and preservatives.
Top 10 Facts About Australian Shepherds
Learn more about NutriCanine’s meal plans
NutriCanine raw recipes contain a unique blend of highly digestible fruits and vegetables. Our raw recipes offer complete and balanced nutrition, ideal for all dogs of all ages and sizes. The transition to raw tends to be easier for younger dogs and high energy dogs.Try NutriCanine raw recipes
NutriCanine gently cooked recipes are great for all dogs including picky eaters, sensitive stomachs, or senior dogs with brittle teeth. Our recipes are safe enough for humans to eat but specially designed to meet your dog's nutritional needs.Try NutriCanine gently cooked recipes