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Australian Shepherds

All About Aussies

An Australian Shepherd is not for everyone!  Thank you for taking the time to research the breed and to ensure that this is the puppy that will best match your lifestyle.  Aussies require a great amount of daily exercise and quality time with their families. We hope that throughout these articles you will find a great selection of useful information 'All About Aussies'.  Keep checking back as we periodically add new material.

Breed Overview

Breed Characteristics
For a detailed description of the Australian Shepherd breed, please visit the CKC website, or click here.

The Australian Shepherd was developed to herd livestock and to work farms and ranches.  Many aussies today continue to work as stockdogs, but due to their high intelligence, trainability and eagerness to please, the breed has earned recognition in a variety of other roles such as Search and Rescue dogs, guide dogs, therapy and hearing dogs, and drug-detection dogs. They are also highly-skilled in competitive sports such as obedience, agility, dock diving, Rally-O, freestyle dance and flyball. But most of all, the Australian Shepherd is a beloved family companion.

Aussies are 'people' dogs, often dubbed 'velcro' or 'shadow' dogs since they thrive on human companionship.  They have an intense desire to be near their humans, often following them from room-to-room (you may never have bathroom privacy again!) and staying close by when outside.  The happiest Aussie is one that is kept in the house as a true family member being privy to endless hours of quality time.  Isolation from humans will have a negative impact on your Aussie's mental health.

Australian Shepherds that have been properly socialized and trained make ideal family dogs.  They love children and will become their gentle guardians and enthusiastic playmates.  It is important to note that Aussies can be reserved around strangers and quite protective of their families so it is imperative that puppies and dogs are exposed to new situations and opportunities to develop appropriate social behaviours consistently throughout their lifetimes.  Limits and boundaries must be set by owners who are confident and consistent in their role as master, or they will quickly learn that these smart dogs will soon take control.  You must be the boss!  

Most Aussies are energetic and require daily exercise which includes the opportunity to run.  If you are only able to walk your Aussie for 20 minutes each day, you may find that their excess energy is used in chewing your furniture or getting into other mischief!  Running, playing with other dogs, retrieving a ball or frisbee and swimming are all examples of how your Aussie can get the daily exercise they need. The only times when exercise should be scaled back is during hot weather or if injured or advised by your veterinarian.  If ever in doubt, contact CedarPaws and we will be happy to advise you on the correct amount of activity to suit your dog's circumstances.

To ensure your Aussie's continued safety, it is your responsibility to provide a securely fenced area for your dog to exercise or to keep them on a leash if out in public areas.  When you are leaving your Aussie at home, they should be secured inside the house or within a fenced area that provides shelter.  Never allow your Australian Shepherd to roam free as they could be easily hit by a car or lured away.  Also never leave your dog chained or tethered when unsupervised as injuries could result.

The Australian Shepherd is a double-coated breed and they will shed.  Because of this, your Aussie must be groomed (bathed and blown dry) every 8-9 weeks in order to prevent matting and to keep their coats shiny and and their skin healthy.  This also will help to reduce the amount of excess hair around your home.  A basic grooming kit will include shampoo, conditioner, a shedding rake, a pin brush, nail trimmers, thinning shears, and scissors.

All About Aussies - Grooming
All About Aussies - Grooming
All About Aussies - Grooming
All About Aussies - Grooming
All About Aussies - Grooming
All About Aussies - Grooming

Good health for your Aussie also means regular vet visits for parasite control and vaccinations.  Through conversations with your veterinarian you will learn about the recommended vaccination schedule for the area of the world you live in.  Often vets will advise of 3-year boosters in place of annual vaccinations where possible.  Be careful to never give your Aussie flea medications containing Ivermectin since it is toxic to the breed!

Training and Activities

Including basic obedience as an essential part of your routine will make your Aussie a better companion and will help to establish a stronger relationship.  It is a part of responsible dog ownership!  Your Australian Shepherd is eager to please and learn so training can be a very enjoyable experience when it includes positive training methods along with lots of treats and praise.  Harsh corrections are seldom necessary for this breed.

Most communities offer dog training classes and activities.  Inquire at your vet or ask other dog-owners for recommendations. CedarPaws will also be happy to offer suggestions for appropriate classes.  Most classes begin with the basics and progress to advanced levels for those owners who wish to prepare their Aussie for competition at dog shows, agility trials or flyball events.

The Australian Shepherd is a natural herder, born with varying amounts of herding instinct and ability.  Herding clinics are often offered to help to develop these natural abilities.  Stockdog trials provide opportunities to test your teamwork and skills and also to earn competitive titles.

For more information about competitive and other events offered in Canada, CanuckDogs is a wonderful resource.  

**Note:  In the video it states that Aussies are born with a natural bobbed tail.  While true, not all Aussies have such a tail.  They in fact can be born with any length of tail.