Australian Shepherd dog Merle and tricolor

Australian Shepherd: Very Smart Dogs

Australian Shepherds, like most herding dogs, are very smart dogs. They have ties to Australia but did not originate from that continent. It may be that they are not true Australians. The Australian Shepherd, sometimes called the “Aussie,” descended from a herding dog from Europe. Aussies immigrated to Australia years ago and then found their way to California. Since the California ranchers thought the dog was originally from Australia, they called them the Australian Shepherd.

Whatever its beginnings, the Aussie is a familiar sight at rodeos. A cowboy named Jay Sisler made the Aussie a famous rodeo dog when, in the 1950s and 60s, he trained his dogs, Stub, Shortie, and Queenie, to do tricks. His dogs starred in the Disney movie “Run, Appaloosa, Run.”

As a herding dog, cowboys used the Aussie to help round up the dogies (pun intended).   “Dogies” is probably best known as part of the lyrics from an old cowboy song which goes like this:

Whoopee ti yi yo, git along little dogies
It’s your misfortune and none of my own
Whoopee ti yi yo, git along little dogies
You know that Wyoming will be your new home

The Australian Shepherd is longer than it is tall but is a well-balanced, sturdy, and excellent herding dog. They come in different colors but are commonly merle, a mottled pattern with shades of blue or red. They can outsmart a novice owner so if you decide to get an Aussie, be ready for a tireless, intelligent, and highly trainable partner.

Australian Shepherds Of Different Colors
Australian Shepherds Of Different Colors

Are Australian Shepherds Good With Kids?

The Australian Shepherd stays young at heart throughout its lifetime. It is even-tempered, likes to romp, and play, and does well with children. Aussies have a strong work ethic and may put it to work by being bossy or trying to herd young children.

Aussies are affectionate and like to cuddle with their favorite person or other family members. They may not show the same desire to cuddle with strangers, however.

Aussies love the outdoors and generally will not destroy your backyard by digging holes unless it is very dull.

Australian Shepherd has an instinct to be alert to threats to its family. They are excellent watchdogs. They are not usually aggressive towards strangers, however, so being a guard dog is not something they are good at.

Aussies do well with other family pets but may also try to herd them. They are loyal dogs and tend to bond closely with one family member. They do not have a reputation as quiet dogs and bark at strangers whenever they feel the situation requires them to voice an opinion. They are not constant barkers, but if they suffer from separation anxiety, incessant barking might be one of their reactions to being left alone.

Is The Australian Shepherd Healthy?

Generally, the Australian Shepherd is healthy, but some genetic issues can cause deafness or blindness. They have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years. If both parents of an Aussie puppy are merle, the puppy has a high risk of being blind or deaf.

Are Aussies Easy to Train?

Since Australian Shepherds are very smart dogs, you can quickly train them. They make good watchdogs and are very courageous. However, because they are so bright, the Aussie needs a lot of mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom. They do not like being left alone and can get nervous and destructive.

The trainability and skills of the Aussie make it very successful in dog sporting events such as flyball, dog agility, and as a disc dog. And, of course, they do very well in a sheepdog trial.

Aussies are frequently used as search and rescue dogs, detection dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs.

Are Aussie Expensive Dogs?

Aussies are relatively famous in the United States, ranking 17th on AKC’s list of most popular breeds, so they are not a rare breed. You can probably expect to pay about $1,000 for an Aussie.

Ironically, the Australian Shepherd is a rare breed in Australia, and buyers there can expect to pay twice as much as one would cost in the United States.

You may be able to adopt an Aussie from a rescue organization. A place to start is by visiting the website of the Aussie Rescue and Placement Helpline.

For more information

American Kennel Club
United States Australian Shepherd Association.

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