The Australian Shepherd is a breed originating in the United States bred to guard and guide livestock. However, its great versatility has allowed it to perform other types of activities such as search and rescue. The breed is characterized by its intelligence, energy and affectionate character.
Dogs of the breed are of medium size with a well-proportioned body and striking appearance. The weight ranges between 25 and 32 kilograms in males, and between 16 and 25 kilograms in females. Regarding height, males measure between 51 and 58 centimeters, while females measure between 46 and 53 centimeters. The life expectancy of this breed is 13 to 15 years. They belong to Group 1 of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), which groups shepherd dogs and cattle dogs (except Swiss Cattle Dogs).
Breed history in brief
Despite the name of the breed, it is not originally from Australia, but from the western United States where it was bred in the late 19th century as a working dog for ranchers and farmers. The breed's ancestry is not known in detail, it is believed to derive from the crossing of sheepdogs, such as Border Collie or Collie, and breeds from the Basque region of Europe.
In the 20th century, the Australian Shepherd became very popular when it became known to the public through shows, movies or competitions. As the breed's qualities became known, many farmers and ranchers considered it a valuable working dog. Today, its popularity continues not only as a working dog, but also as a companion dog because of its intelligence, affectionate nature with children and versatility.
The Australian Shepherd is characterized by a proportionate body, robust and slightly longer than tall. The head is slender, although proportionate to the body, with almond-shaped eyes, whose color can be brown, blue or amber, or a combination of these. The ears are medium sized and triangular, they should not be erect or pendulous. The tail may be naturally short, otherwise it is usually docked for work purposes.
The coat can range from straight to wavy, and of medium length. It has a double coat, the undercoat can be thicker depending on the climate. The back of the limbs and thighs are covered with feathers. In the neck area they may show longer hair, and this characteristic is more evident in males than in females. There is a variety of coat colors including blue merle, red merle, black and red. In addition, white and/or tan markings may be present.
The Australian Shepherd is an intelligent, easy to train and loyal dog. It is characterized by a good relationship with children and a good-natured and enthusiastic nature, making it a suitable family companion. The Australian Shepherd is a very energetic dog that requires regular mental stimulation to avoid unwanted behavior.
Common health problems
The breed is generally shown to be healthy, although some diseases or disorders such as multiple colobomas, cataracts, congenital deafness, hip and elbow dysplasia, microphthalmia, retinal dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, Collie eye anomaly, chronic superficial keratitis and persistent pupillary membrane have been associated with the breed.
In addition, the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) recommends screening for autoimmune thyroiditis and multidrug sensitivity testing.
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