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12 – 15 years
40 – 65 lbs
18 – 23 inches
Intelligent, athletic, good with kids
Common Health Problems:
Hip dysplasia, eye conditions, drug sensitivity
Australian shepherds, also known as Australian sheepdogs, are medium sized dogs known for their striking eye color combinations and speckled — known as merle — coats. There is also a miniature Australian shepherd with similar characteristics to its full-sized counterpart.
Aussies have a waterproof, double coat. Their coats are medium length but can be straight or wavy with some feathering. The American Kennel Club accepts the following colors and markings as part of the official Australian shepherd breed standard:3
Australian shepherds are moderate shedders that are easy to groom. They require weekly brushing but rarely need full baths. Because they have a double coat, using an undercoat rake every few days is usually recommended.
Their coats are fairly weatherproof, but Aussies may need a bath after harder working days or muddy play sessions. If you notice your Aussie’s coat becoming tangled or matted, you might decide to maintain a shorter coat.
Aussies’ ears are triangular, upright, leather-like, and uncropped. Their tails are straight and traditionally docked if not naturally bobbed.
Although docking is considered part of the breed standard for Australian shepherds, the American Veterinary Medical Association considers docking unnecessary, even for working breeds.3,4
Drooling should generally not be an issue for Australian shepherds.
Aussie: Personality Traits
What My Adoption Bio Would Say:
If you’re someone who’s just as smart and energetic as me, I’m the pup for you! Adventure is out there, and I’m ready to go, go, go anywhere. But let your guard down, and I’ll run circles around you like the playful trickster I am.
Australian shepherds are herding dogs through and through. They are extremely hard-working and intelligent, and they thrive when given tasks to stay busy. Aussies also form strong bonds with their owners.
This super smart working breed requires plenty of physical and mental stimulation. They’re the happiest when there’s a problem to solve or a job to do. If left unstimulated, Aussies can get into mischief. Give your Australian sheepdog new puzzles and tasks to keep them from misbehaving.
Keep in mind that this breed needs an owner who can meet all of their needs. If Aussies lack frequent activity, mental stimulation, or companionship, they can become destructive and territorial among other behavioral problems.
Early socialization and obedience training is a must for Aussies. Luckily, they are extremely intelligent and eager to please their pet parents. This results in successful and relatively easy training.
Australian shepherds need an owner that can meet their very high exercise needs. A short walk a day will not be enough to keep them happy and healthy.
They need at least 1 – 2 hours of daily exercise to satisfy their high energy levels and athletic ability. Luckily, Aussies make the perfect adventure buddy. With an Australian shepherd, you’ll have an excellent companion for long walks, hikes, and runs.
The Australian shepherd is very good with children and quickly becomes part of the family. Don’t be surprised if your Aussie herds the children in your household.
If you’re concerned about meeting the Aussie’s activity needs, there are plenty of other amazing dog breeds for families you can consider.
In general, Australian shepherds should be fine with other pets in the household.
Keep in mind that this breed is a sheepdog. They can be territorial and fiercely protective of their families, so early socialization is key to making them comfortable around pets outside of their flock.
Aussies can be barkers, but it won’t usually be an issue when they’re well-trained and properly stimulated.
According to the AKC, the Australian sheepdog has a rich history.5 Here are a few interesting facts from their research:
Common Aussie Mixes
Australian sheepdogs are a very common breed to mix. Some of the popular Aussie mixes include:
9 Australian Shepherd Health Problems
According to the Australian Shepherd Club of America, Aussies may experience a number of health issues, including:6
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals recommends that Aussies receive early health screenings and eye exams.7
Even the healthiest of pups can come with unexpected vet costs. Pet insurance can help keep your dog and your bank account happy.
Australian shepherd health issues can be very costly. Pet insurance helps millions of pet parents afford the care they need.
Hip dysplasia in dogs is a very painful disease involving a dog’s hip joint. The ball and socket joint does not work properly causing friction. It is most commonly caused by a genetic abnormality and can be passed through a dog’s hereditary line. Treatment may include surgery depending on the severity of the case.
Australian shepherds can develop different forms of cancer. However, they are most likely to experience lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma. Lymphoma may be successfully treatable depending on your dog’s specific case, but unfortunately, hemangiosarcoma is very aggressive with a low survival rate.
Cataracts are an eye condition in dogs that leads to opaque lenses and vision problems. As cataracts develop, your dog may become fully blind in one or both eyes. Treatment for cataracts is surgery performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist.
A policy from MetLife Pet Insurance1 may be able to cover hip dysplasia, eye conditions, and cancers your Aussie could experience within their lifetime.2 But these aren’t the only conditions a pet insurance policy could help with. Learn more about how pet insurance covers your pet’s health and consider covering your Australian shepherd puppy early. That way your coverage isn’t limited by preexisting conditions.
Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.
1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.
2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.
3 “Official Standard of the Australian Shepherd,” American Kennel Club
4 “Canine Tail Docking FAQ,” American Veterinary Medical Association
5 “Australian Shepherd Dog Breed Information,” American Kennel Club
6 “Diseases and Defects,” The Australian Shepherd Club of America
7 “Australian Shepherd Recommended Tests/CHIC Program Requirements,” Orthopedic Foundation for Animals