Canine Breed Menu

Australischer Schaferhund

Australischer Schaferhund

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Australischer Schaferhund
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Breed Organization
United States Australian Shepherd Association
Website: http://www.australianshepherds.org
Native Country
United States Of America
Other Names
Australian Shepherd, Aussie
Life Expectancy
Approximately 12-15 Years
Litter Size
Average 6-9 Puppies
Breed Group
AKC Herding
Breed Appearance
For many years, Aussies have been valued by stockmen for their versatility and trainability. They have a similar look to the popular English Shepherd and Border Collie breeds. While they continue to work as stockdogs and compete in herding trials, the breed has earned recognition in other roles due to their trainability and eagerness to please, and are highly regarded for their skills in obedience. Like all working breeds, the Aussie has considerable energy and drive, and usually needs a job to do. It often excels at dog sports such as dog agility, flyball, and frisbee. They are also highly successful search and rescue dogs, disaster dogs, detection dogs, guide, service, and therapy dogs.

Breed Description
General Appearance: This is an athletic dog of medium size and bone; it is lithe, agile, and slightly longer than it is tall.
Head: Moderate well-defined stop; eye color is brown, blue, amber, in any combination or with flecks; triangular, high-set ears; at attention they break forward and over or to the side.
Tail: Docked close or naturally bobbed.
Color: Blue merle, black, red merle, or red, all with or without white markings and/or tan points.
Size: Weight: Male 50 - 65 lb; Female 40 - 55 lb
Height: Male 20 - 23"; Female 18 - 21"


History
Despite its name, the Australian Shepherd is not Australian at all, but was developed most likely in the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France, and refined in the U.S. to work as a herding dog on ranches. The breed's principal forebears were most likely Spanish dogs that accompanied the Basque shepherds and herds of fine Merino sheep exported to both America and Australia in the early days of the colonies. At some point it probably crossed with Collie stock. The dog has had many names in the past including the Pastor Dog, Blue Heeler, Spanish Shepherd, Bob-Tail, New Mexican Shepherd and California Shepherd. Its many talents include retrieving, herding, watchdog, guarding, police work, narcotics detection, search and rescue, agility, competitive obedience and performing tricks.

Development of the breed began in the American West. The breed's foundation bloodlines are depicted in the Australian Shepherd Genealogy Chart showing the relationship between the early families of dogs.

Selective breeding for many generations focused on aspects of the dog that enabled it to function as an effective stockdog in the American west. It had to handle severe weather; have plenty of speed, athleticism, energy, and endurance; and be intelligent, flexible, and independent, while remaining obedient. The actual foundation for the Australian shepherd was established between the 1940s and the early 1970s, when the Australian Shepherd Club of America was formed and the registry was started. They became popular as performing dogs in rodeos. Their stunts and skills earned them places in several Disney films.


Behavior
Australian Shepherds are easy going, perpetual puppies that love to play. Courageous, loyal and affectionate, they are excellent children's companions that are great with active children. A devoted friend and guardian, for they are naturally protective. Very lively, agile and attentive - they are eager to please, with a sixth sense about what the owner wants. Australian Shepherds are highly intelligent and easy to train.

Health
Many diagnostic tests are available for concerned Aussie owners to check the overall health of an Aussie. Also, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) has an extensive database to track results and provide statistics for the following concerns: hips, elbows, heart, patellar luxation (knees), and thyroid (autoimmune) disease. The OFA database also includes the results for eye exams performed by a Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) veterinarian, but only if the owner of the Aussie submits the results. This database is a great resource to investigate the lineage and related health of the progenitors of some dogs, at least regarding hip ratings.

Many tests have been developed by, or are processed at, laboratories to check for the 11 health concerns that plague the Australian shepherd breed. Some of those labs are Optigen, Animal Health Trust, Endocrine Diagnostic Center, Animal Health Laboratory, Washington State University Veterinary Clinic, Vet DNA Center, and HealthGene. These labs might perform one or many of the tests that have been developed.

Tests or evaluations have been developed for:
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Patellar Luxation (knees)
Eyes
Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA)
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Thyroid (Autoimmune)
Congenital Cardiac (heart)
Multi Drug Resistance Gene (MDR1)
Hereditary Cataracts (HSF4)
Pelger Huet Anomaly

Other areas that are currently not health concerns, but tests have been developed for, are:
Coat Color (red carrier/red factored)
Dilute Gene Carrier

DNA testing to either certify parentage (CP) or to verify parentage (VP) for Australian shepherds is also another test that can be performed and as of January 2010 all adults producing a litter will be required to be DNA tested to allow a breeder to register a litter with the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA).


Advice
This breed is not recommended for apartment life. They are moderately active indoors and will do best with at least a large yard. The coat is easy to groom and needs little attention. Brush occasionally with a firm bristle brush and bathe only when necessary. This breed is an average shedder.

Function
Herding, Companion.


Dogs
Horse Herd