Australian Shepherds are one of the most intelligent and hardworking dog breeds in the world. Originally bred to be herding dogs, Australian shepherds have nearly boundless energy and are highly disciplined when appropriately trained.
Australian shepherds are also fiercely loyal family pets for anyone willing to expend the time and energy to keep these energetic dogs exercised and engaged. They are also prized for their beautiful, multicolor coats and striking good looks. The Australian shepherd is classified as a working dog in the herding class by the American Kennel Club.
Physical Characteristics of Australian Shepherds
Australian shepherds, sometimes called Aussies, have a thick double coat. The outer layer sheds water to keep the dog dry, while the inner coat provides insulation. This luxurious coat may be wavy or straight, with feathery fur on the rear legs and a full mane of fur around the throat. You’ll find several different color combinations, including merle, red tricolor, and black tricolor. All of these will have some tan and/or white markings.
Australian Shepherds are medium-sized dogs that have relatively short, solid bodies. The typical Aussie weighs between 40 and 60 pounds and is between 18 and 23 inches tall, with males tending to be a bit bigger than females. These dogs can withstand cold temperatures and are quick to adapt to a variety of climates.
Australian shepherds have winning personalities that make them excellent family pets. Aussies are gentle and playful with children of all ages. They are fiercely loyal to their owners and prefer to be around them all the time. Most are a bit more aloof with strangers but warm up quickly to friends and guests. Aussies are eager to please, making them easy to train and enthusiastic when learning new tricks.
Early socialization is crucial with Australian shepherds. Because they are naturally reserved with strangers, they can sometimes be timid in new situations unless they are properly socialized. Be sure to interact with others in a safe and controlled manner when your Aussie puppy is young to ensure they learn to interact appropriately.
Intelligence: Australian Shepherds are Top Notch Thinkers
As one of the most intelligent dog breeds you can find, Australian shepherds are quick learners who excel at learning voice commands and tricks. They can solve complex puzzles and love playing games that require thinking. They thrive on training that incorporates physical activity and skill.
The Aussie’s intelligence needs to be harnessed, or, on occasion, they may try to outwit their owners out of boredom. If you interact daily and direct your dog’s intelligence into learning tricks or becoming a working dog, your Australian shepherd will thrive.
Australian Shepherd Activity Level
If you want a whirlwind of energy, an Aussie is the breed for you. These are dogs who were bred to work, and they work hard. If you’re physically active and love the outdoors, an Australian shepherd will be an excellent fit as long as you are experienced enough to direct their energy and keep it under control.
Bored Australian Shepherds can get into mischief, so keep them busy with activities that are stimulating and tiring. Aussies excel at competitive canine sports like dock diving, herding, and obstacle courses. These dogs love to chew and dig if they don’t have an activity, so be sure to take them on a few long walks each day and entertain them with games and training sessions.
These medium-sized dogs are relatively healthy, usually living 10 or 12 years. Because they’re high-energy and very active dogs, you’ll need to feed your Australian shepherd high-quality, protein-rich dog food. You need to regularly brush an Aussie’s coat to prevent matting and tangles and minimize shedding, which can be excessive in the summer months. While generally healthy, a small segment of Australian shepherds may develop allergies that are treatable with medication.
Although Australian Shepherds can adapt to any environment, they are happiest where they have space to run and exercise. If you don’t live in the country or have a fenced yard, be sure your Aussie buddy gets lots of vigorous exercise and plenty of mental stimulation.