While you might be enticed by the Australian shepherd breed reputation of smarts and dedication, determining whether you might make a suitable owner for one of these herding pooches goes far beyond that. Since Australian shepherds are particularly energetic and exuberant dogs, it's important to make sure that you can provide a home environment and lifestyle that can comfortably accommodate their needs.
Australian shepherds typically grow to moderate size. Adult males usually grow to between 20 and 23 inches tall. Adult females usually grow to between 18 and 21 inches tall. Males typically weigh between 45 and 65 pounds, while females are generally lighter at between 35 and 65 pounds. Although Australian shepherds aren't big dogs in comparison to many others, they aren't optimal for apartment life. They flourish when they live in roomy homes, according to Tammy Gagne, author of "Australian Shepherds." They appreciate when they have plenty of space to move around freely.
Australian shepherds are usually happy when they reside in houses that have large fenced yards. While these dogs enjoy having yards to run around in, it's important that they don't stay outside in them for extended stretches of time. Australian shepherds require ample attention from the people in their lives. When they're by themselves too much, they often resort to destructive behavior due to frustration and monotony. When Australian shepherds don't receive sufficient quality time with their favorite people, they sometimes turn to persistent barking, for example.
Although Australian shepherds love having a lot of space, they can get used to many types of accommodations as long as they get ample energetic physical activity every day -- think a few hours. Their exercise requirements are higher than those of most of their fellow canine breeds, but they don't always have to live on sprawling rural ranches and farms. Jogging, running, playing, swimming, hiking and participation in agility events all make appropriate forms of exercise for these nimble pooches. Note that youthful Australian shepherd puppies are often even more energetic than older ones, as with other breeds.
Making sure that an Australian shepherd gets enough exercise is a major responsibility, although typically a rewarding and fulfilling one. If you ensure that your Australian shepherd is appropriately trained, gets enough exercise and has plenty of space to move his body around every day, then he'll repay you by being an affectionate, sweet, bright, pleasant and faithful household four-legged friend. Since dogs of this breed have such high physical activity needs, they do well with owners who have ample time and attention to give to them.
- United States Australian Shepherd Association: FAQ's
- Australian Shepherds; Tammy Gagne
- Bad Dog to Good Dog; Quixi Sonntag
- How to Raise the Perfect Dog; Cesar Millan and Melissa Jo Peltier
- 15 Minutes to a Great Puppy; Kevin Michalowski
- Animal Planet: Australian Shepherd Guide
- DogChannel.com: Australian Shepherd Dog Breed Profile
- Vetstreet: Australian Shepherd
- Australian Shepherd Club of America: Is the Australian Shepherd Right for you?
- Australian Shepherds; D. Caroline Coile
- Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images