The irony is, they have nothing to do with Australia, other than the connection with the Basque shepherds who immigrated to the United States in the 1880s from Spain and Australia. They are credited for creating and popularizing the breed in the expanding sheep industry of the American West. The Aussie’s genealogy is a stew of many breeds. But there is no question, the Australian Shepherd is an All-American dog; that can proudly proclaim, “MADE IN USA!
Of medium build, and they come in four colors. There are the Blacks, the Blue Merles (marble of black and grey), the Reds, and the Red Merles (marble of red and grey). The outer coat of an Aussie may be straight or wavy. The undercoat is soft and dense. Weekly grooming is a must to prevent matting.
One of their most fascinating features are their eyes. They vary from glass eye or “ghost eye” (blue), to hazel, amber and every shade of brown imaginable. The Red Merles usually have the lighter colored eyes, the Blacks and Blue Merles for the most part, usually have one of the shades of brown. It is not that unusual for an Aussie to have one blue eye and one brown eye.
Interestingly, a number of Aussies are born with naturally bobbed tails. Others, born with tails, were commonly docked when pups. However, today, many Aussie owners are choosing not to dock their puppy’s tails. It’s always amusing to watch a tail-less Aussie display their enthusiastic greeting with that ever-wagging wiggle butt!
Before you decide to get an Aussie, there are a few things you should be aware of. The breed has certain health issues, which are fairly common. They include: hip and back problems, hereditary eye defects, vision, thyroid, and pancreas problems. Some may also be predisposed to epilepsy, cancer and respiratory difficulties. On the average, you can look forward to to spending 13-15 years with a wonderful companion.
An Aussie may not be the most suitable dog for an inexperienced dog owner. Being a working dog, they can be willful. Their owner must know how to deal with them in a fair, firm and consistent manner; applying positive reinforcement. Otherwise, they will see the bossy side of their Awesome Aussie. There is no doubt Aussies know they are intelligent.
Socialize your pup as soon as possible. Puppy Kindergarten and obedience classes will be time and money well spent. Also plan to devote at least 2 hours per day to vigorous physical exercise, as well as mental stimulation for the next 10-12 years! Even as they age, an Aussie still looks forward to reasonable challenges. A bored Aussie will get into trouble in the blink of an eye! They love challenges; be it obedience, agility or rally. Aussies are born show-offs and clowns! Plan on lots of ball and Frisbee tossing, because your Aussie will love every minute of it. The fantastic part of investing time with your Aussie is; it is time well spent on bonding. Their devotion to their owner is legendary.
Be watchful if you have small children and with the elderly. Thinking they are helping, your Aussie may instinctively herd them. The same holds true for cats and other small animals. An Aussie cannot rest, until they have everything under control. Don’t be surprised when you take your Aussie to a dog park, if they don’t think they are there to circle and contain all the other dogs! They can’t help it…it’s in their genes. It is entertaining to watch!
With their acute senses and keen sensibilities, not to mention Puritan work ethic, Aussies have been successfully utilized as search and rescue dogs, as well as therapy, service and guard dogs. Aussies live to work! An Aussie without a job is not a happy dog.
Bottom line: Even though Aussies are wonderful family pets, they do tend to gravitate to a select person. They are known to create an unwavering bond with one person in particular. None-the-less, if you want a dog that is devoted to their family, has high energy, incredible intelligence, a terrific sense of humor, loves to socialize and have fun, has an unbelievable willingness to please, and yet is an instinctive protector, perhaps a bossy, Awesome Aussie may be the perfect dog for you.
The Blue Ghost