The Australian Shepherd, affectionately known as the “Aussie” is a sheep herding dog that originated in the Pyrenees Mountains, between France and Spain. Yes, you read that correctly, the Australian Shepherd is not an Australian breed at all. These dogs were in fact brought to Australia by Basque immigrants, and when some of their descendants later moved on to America, their dogs went with them.
From then on the breed started to be called the Australian Shepherd, but prior to that, the Aussie went by a number of other names, including Spanish Shepherd, Pastor Dog, Bob-Tail, and Blue Heeler.
These are extremely intelligent dogs who just love being around people, and make great pets for the right owner. Ideally that person will be someone who enjoys outdoor activities and is prepared to meet the dog’s considerable exercise needs. As a working dog, the Aussie needs to be kept busy, and will almost certainly develop behavioral problems if he does not get enough physical and mental stimulation.
You should also be aware that the herding instinct is still very strong in the Aussie Shepherd, so don’t be surprised if the dog tries to herd you and your family.
Australian Shepherds are protective of their home and family and therefore tend to be cautious around strangers. This is sometimes interpreted as timidity, but the breed is actually quite confident and self-assured.
This is not a dog to be left to his own devices in the back yard. The Aussie simply craves attention and wants to be at the center of all the family’s activities. If you’re not able to devote a lot of time to your dog then this may not be the breed for you.
But if you do have time to spend with your dog, you’re in for a real treat. The Aussie Shepherd is a dream to train. These dogs learn quickly and love to please. They excel at a myriad of dog sports, including fly ball, agility trials and advanced dog obedience training. Aussies are willing and capable students, and time spent training serves multiple purposes. It provides your dog with mental and physical stimulation, gives him a job and a purpose, and helps to build the bond between you.
Always use a positive form of training, like clicker training, with your dog. The pay-off will be a happy, balanced and fulfilled dog who can do some truly amazing stuff. Just think how impressed your friends and family will be.
While the Australian Shepherd is generally a healthy robust dog, it is prone to a number of congenital diseases, including hip dysplasia, epilepsy, back problems and eye disorders. These dogs can live 12 to 14 years on average.
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