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The Not So Austrailian, Australian Shepherd Dog Breed

Jun 10, 2008
The Australian Shepherd is NOT one of the several breeds developed in Australia, as one would assume from the name. In actuality it was believed to have sprung out of the dogs which were used by the Basque shepherds of southern Spain. In 1875 Basque shepherds migrating to American shores brought specimens of the breed with them. It was at that time that the original strains of the breed came to be known in this country and later evolved into the breed now known and recognized by the American Kennel Club as the Australian Shepherd.

The Australian Shepherd is somewhat blocky in build, quite square looking, with no tail or docked tail. The coat is dense and double coated, stand off hairs are not part of the standard but many of the dog show exhibitors accentuate the coat by blowing it out to make it appear that coat has more "fluff' than it actually has. The bone is moderate, with round feet and straight legs.

The colors are very specific for the show ring: blue, blue merle, red merle and all red. White may be found on the front and as a "collar": around the neck but should not be found between the withers and the tail nor on the sides between the elbows and the back of the tail. The head of the Australian Shepherd is usually very pretty, as the fold over ears frame the skull beautifully and there is enough coat around the neck to make a "ruff" similar to that of the collie or the Shetland sheepdog.

In appearance this dog can be mistaken for a Shelty except that the observant onlooker will see that the body is blockier and heavier of bone than the Shelty and the head of the Shelty is more refined than that of the Australian Shepherd. Furthermore the "Aussie" has no tail.

The breed quickly became a favorite in the show ring and as a pet. It was not admitted to the American Kennel Club until 1993. Many of the fanciers of the breed have continued to strive to keep this breed true to the purpose for which it was originally bred, that of a sheep herding and guarding dog. The instincts of guarding are part of its nature and it is distrustful of strangers and will bark a warning, but should not attack nor threaten, so he makes a good watchdog. It has made its mark in the field of herding and working as a farm dog, plus agility, obedience, search and rescue and as a therapy dog and assistance dog.

It is a dog of high intelligence and great loyalty. This is a dependable dog, devoted to its owner and willing to work tirelessly on anything that is demanded of it. Because his genetic inheritance includes the desire to herd and guard the flock independently, this is a "thinking" dog. The dog should be alert and eager to follow the commands of its master. Anyone who is not able to give this dog a "job" will find that he can become a nuisance quickly, he needs to have a job to do.

His herding instinct also includes the desire to give chase and he needs to have a fenced in area and plenty of exercise. He makes a great pet and a good farm worker, being happy in urban or country environments.
About the Author
For more information on the Australian Shepherd or a full list of dog breeds take a look at this Dog Training website.
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