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What you'll need to know about the

Australian Shepherds

The Breed Characteristics-

The Australian Shepherds, affectiontely called "Aussies", were developed to herd livestock and work as all-purpose farm and ranch dogs. While many Aussies continue to work as stockdogs, the breed has earned recognition in a variety of other roles because of their high intelligence, trainability and eagerness to please. Australian Shepherds also work as Search and Resue dogs, guide dogs for the blind, therapy and hearing dogs, and drug detection dogs. They have become highly regarded for their skills in the competitive sports of obedience, agility and flyball. Most of all, they are beloved family companions.

Temperament-

Aussies are "people" dogs that thrive on human companionship. They have an intense need to be near their owners, following them from room to room when indoors and staying close by their heels when outdoors. Because of their trait, your Aussie will be happiest when kept in the house as a member of your family. Dogs kept in kennels or fenced yards need a significant amount of "people" time each day in order to remain emotionally healthy. Isolation from humans can quickly ruin an Aussie's personality. 

Australian Shepherds that have been properly socialized and trained are ideal family dogs. They are gentle guardians of small children and enthusiastic playmates of older children and adults. However, Aussies are typically reserved with strangers and can be quite protective of their family and property. Taking your dog to training classes and introducing him to a wide variety of people and places will help him or her to develop appropriate social behaviors.

Care-

Most Aussies are energetic dogs that require vigorous daily exercise to keep them healthy and happy. Running, playing with another dog, retrieving a ball or frisbee, swimming or participating in other activities are some ways your dog can get the exercise he or she needs. If exercise is not provided on a daily basis, your dog may bark or become destructive out of frustration.

Grooming-

A healthy Australian Shepherd coat sheds dirt and does not require a great deal of maintenance. Weekly brushing down to the skin with a pin brush will eliminate mats and tangles and remove dander and dust. A slicker brush will help remove undercoat during the shedding season. Weekly toenail trimming and teeth cleaning should also be part of your dog's grooming routine.

Coat-

The Aussie's coat ranges from medium to long, with a dense undercoat. It can be straight or slightly wavy and is highly weather resistant. The coat is short and soft on the head and legs, with a thick mane around the neck. The Australian Shepherd can be black, red, red merle, blue merle (merles are spoted, showing darker color patches on a light colored background). All colors may contain tan points with white markings.

Herding-

Aussies are born with varying amounts of herding instinct and ability. If you are interested in developing your dog's herding talents, you will need to let him or her work livestock on a regular basis. If you own sheep or cattle, your Aussie will quickly learn to help with chores and can be a tremendous asset in handling the stock. Whether you live in the country or city, herding clinics and instruction by stockdog trainers can help you and your dog learn the techniques of herding livestock. Stockdog trials provide opportunities to test your teamwork and skills.

Size-

The standard Australian Shepherd has a shoulder height of 43-58 cm (18-23 in) and weighs 16-34 kg (35-75 lbs). The Australian Shepherd has highly set triangular ears, a moderately defined stop point at which the muzzle meets the forehead, a scissors bite, eyes maybe brown, green, blue, or amber (or a combination thereof). It has flat back, natural or docked bobtail and oval feet. The Aussie is slightly longer than it is tall.

  

Dental Care-

Aussies and other breeds need dental care. Using a tooth brush and dog toothpaste daily will help prevent gum disease and tartar build up. There are other ways to help with your dog's teeth, chew toys, dental chews and treats, dental diets, dental foam/gels/rinses/sprays, dental wipes. Do not make this into something your dog will dread, turn it into a treat for your dog.

Photo above: This owner did not take care of this dog's teeth, tartar and gum disease developed. 

Callie enjoys me brushing her teeth

What is OFA?

The OFA examines canine hips and elbows to see if the dog has dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is the abnormal development of a dog's hip and is associated with looseness of the hip joint. In dog's hind legs, the head of the femur or thighbone is shaped like a ball and is designed to fit tightly into the acetabulum, or socket. Dogs with hip dysplasia have looser or more movable hip joints.

Signs of Dysplasia-

It can be detected as early as 4 months of age. Symptoms may first appear as a swaying or unsteady gait. As the disease progresses, some dogs may move their hind legs together in what is described as "bunny hopping". Others may exhibit difficulty navigating stairs or rising from a sitting position. A distinct clicking sound can often be heard when the animal is walking or running.

Who is at risk?-

While gender doesn't seem to be a factor, size is. The disease is more common in larger breeds than smaller breeds. Bernese Mountain Dogs, English Setters, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, St. Bernards, Standard Poodles, and Rottweilers are breeds that are commonly afflicted. However, dogs of all breeds and sizes are susceptible to this inherited condition.

A simple X-ray viewing can be performed by any licensed veterinarian. Puppies can receive preliminary evaluations, but must be age 2 or older to be eligible for certification purposes.

Good Girl!!

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