Australian shepherds, commonly referred to as Aussies, are a medium-sized dog initially brought to American from Australia. Predominantly bred as herding dogs, Australian shepherds today remain an active and loyal breed. When caring for an Aussie as a member of your family, there are certain things you should know about the breed.
On Your Toes
Due to their history of being bred as herding dogs, Australian shepherds require a lot of exercise to prevent boredom and poor behavior, like chewing up items around your home. In addition to daily exercise, such as playing fetch, going for walks or just running around in your fenced-in yard, Australian shepherds should be given "jobs" to do. Such jobs include training for and competing in events, fetching the newspaper or safely herding the kids while they play outside. Jobs provide Aussies with much-needed exercise and something to focus their attention on. Always keep an eye on your Aussie during his play time, especially when outdoors and around children.
Making New Friends
Aussies are friendly dogs, but they should be watched closely when meeting new people and unfamiliar dogs. Never force your pooch to interact with a stranger. Australian shepherds are protective of their family members and may find strangers to be a threat. Although their loyalty is respectable, it can create a bad situation if your pooch isn't properly prepared. Prevent unpleasant interactions with strangers by socializing your Aussie, especially as a puppy, with dogs and other humans by enrolling in socializing and training classes.
Australian shepherds have an average life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. In addition to providing him with enough exercise, he needs to be fed the right nutrients and his coat needs must be kept groomed. Adult male Aussies should weigh between 50 and 65 pounds, while females should weigh 40 to 55 pounds. Your veterinarian will work with you to ensure that your active Aussie is receiving the right amount of nutrients each day. Aussies' medium-length coats are easy to groom since they shed an average amount. Brush your Aussie's fur with a firm bristle brush and give him baths as needed.
Health and Wellness
Australian shepherds have several health concerns. Major health issues include two diseases of the eyes: cataracts and Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA). Cataracts, which typically are progressive, are cloudy patches near the lens of the eyes that make vision blurry. Cataracts occur mainly due to genetics, old age or injury. CEA is a genetic disease that is present in puppies at birth. It causes blindness. This disease does not progress and most puppies who have it behave normally. If you have a health concern about your Aussie, set up and appointment with your veterinarian to discuss treatment options.