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Australian Shepherd 101 - Dog Breed Info

By Josh Loposer
WebMD Feature from

Dog Breed:

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Australian Shepherd


The Australian shepherd makes for "a delightful and loyal companion and a great family dog," according to the United States Australian Shepherd Association (USASA). The American Kennel Club (AKC) concurs, citing the Aussie's tendency to "want to always be near their families The AKC also describes the Australian shepherd as "energetic" and possessing "strong herding and guarding instincts."


According to the AKC, Aussies have thick coats that require weekly brushing. Their coats are "of moderate length, with a texture that is straight to wavy and weather resistant.”

Common Health Issues:

Potential health issues for Australian shepherds include hip dysplasia, thyroid dysfunction, epilepsy, and allergies. According to the USASA, "Aussies can inherit a number of eye defects which impair vision in varying degrees or cause complete blindness.

Training Tips:

According to Aussie Rescue and Placement Helpline Regional Coordinator Michelle Force, it's important to understand that "Aussies have both herding and guarding instincts, and may perceive visiting children, joggers or vehicles as things that need to be physically controlled." This, Force tells Paw Nation, "can lead to unsafe situations for the dog and others." Force recommends that, keeping the breed's working instincts in mind, trainers should employ "encouraging and consistent leadership," stressing that Aussies don't respond well to harsh treatment.

Best Animal/Owner Match:

The great owner for an Australian shepherd is "someone who is physically active and interested in training and spending a lot of time with their dog," Force tells Paw Nation. Since Aussies are typically high-energy dogs, it's best if they're paired with owners who can match that energy, or at least direct it into a positive outlet. That's why Force recommends activities like "fly ball" and "trick training" for Aussies that have particularly active temperaments. According to the USASA, "One of the most frequent reasons Aussies are turned over to rescue groups is because their owners didn't realize how much energy the breed has, and weren't willing to channel that energy through training."

What Australian Shepherd Owners Say:

Paw Nation Facebook friend Erin Watzek-Valenti says of her Australian shepherds, "I have two Aussie shepherds and love them. I wouldn't give up my two for anything!"



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