Australian Shepherds Are Very Smart Dogs
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Australian Shepherds Are 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 so may not true Australians.  Apparently, the Australian Shepherd, sometimes just 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 it’s beginnings, the Aussie is a familiar sight at rodeos.  A cowboy named Jay Sisler is credited with making the Aussie a popular rodeo dog when, in the 1950s and 60s, he trained his dogs Stub, Shortie, and Queenie to do tricks. His dogs starred in a 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 very good herding dog.  They can outsmart a novice owner so if you decide to get an Aussie, be ready for a tireless, intelligent, and highly trainable partner.  They come in different colors but are commonly merle which is a mottled pattern with shades of blue or red.

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 shown 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 bored.

Australian Shepherd have a natural instinct to be be on alert for any threats to its family. They are very good watchdogs. They are not usually aggressive towards strangers, however, so being a guard dog is not something they are good at.

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

Is The Australian Shepherd Healthy?

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

Are Aussies Easy to Train?

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

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 popular 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 in Australia, the Australian Shepherd is a rare breed 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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