Meet the Aussie! The Australian Shepherd, the cowboy’s herding dog of choice, is a medium sized worker with a keen, penetrating gaze in the eye. Aussie coats offer many different looks, including merle in different color combinations. Aussies exhibit an irresistible impulse to herd, anything: birds, dogs, cattle, children etc. This strong work drive can make Aussies too much dog for a sedentary pet owner. Aussies are remarkably intelligent, quite capable of hoodwinking an unsuspecting novice pet owner. In short, this is not an ideal breed for everyone, but if you’re seeking a brainy, tireless, and trainable partner for work or sport, your search may end here.
The Origin of the Aussie:
The Australian Shepherd is descended from a line of Europe’s finest herders. The Aussie’s world tour began in Europe, near the Pyrenees Mountains. It was here, in the borderlands between France and Spain, where the indigenous people known as the Basques built their centuries old reputation as world class shepherds. Their herding dog of choice was called the Pyrenean Shepherd, progenitor of our modern Aussie.
In the early 1800s, Australia was said to be a wide open paradise for sheep herders. At that time, many Basques with their faithful shepherd dogs in tow, sailed east to try their luck on the virgin Australian continent. During their long sojourn in Australia, the Basque shepherd refined their dogs with judicious crosses to Australia’s British imports. Collies and Border Collies among them. After building up their flocks, the intrepid Basques left Australia for greener pastures, and set sail to California.
California ranchers admired the Basques’ herding dogs and assumed they were an Australian breed- thus the misleading name Australian Shepherd. Aussies, were further refined and perfected in America, have been an iconic part of cowboy culture ever since. Many are still happily herding in the American West, others earn their feed as rodeo performers, and still others of this exuberantly versatile breed work as therapy dogs, drug detectors, service dogs, and search and rescue dogs. The Australian Shepherd entered the AKC Herding Group in 1993 and has remained popular to this day.
Australian Shepherds do require regular grooming and are moderate to heavy shedders. Brushing your dogs coat is the single most important key in maintaining their coat and keeping their skin healthy and the body comfortable. A properly brushed coat insulates from both heat and cold by holding a layer of temperate air close to the body while keeping high heat or cold on the outer surface of the coat. Leaving the undercoat in prevents this process as it eliminates room for temperate air to be held. Weekly brushing is recommended. You will need a slicker brush and a greyhound comb. Some people may opt to use an undercoat rake but be especially careful not to go over the same area with that tool repeatedly as it can give the skin brush burn irritation. Gently brush the dog with the slicker brush, especially in those areas where the coat is fuller. Go over the pet with your greyhound comb, and if you hit resistance, there is likely a mat forming, and you will need to spend more time brushing it out. It is recommended that you take the pet to a professional groomer during the shedding season to be sure the undercoat is removed as well as any mats that may have formed. They will also be able to trim the paw pads, sanitary areas, and tighten up any of the longer parts of the coat like the britches, feathers on the front legs, excess hair behind the ears, and chest. Be sure to clean the ears regularly, especially if your Aussie likes to swim. This breed tends to be active so the nails do wear down some naturally, but nail maintenance is still required.
Those of us who love Aussies can’t imagine a more perfect breed of dog. However, the very characteristics we love in an Aussie make them unsuitable for some home environments or novice pet owners. Consider carefully if your lifestyle can accommodate the exuberance of a typical Aussie. They are generally healthy with an average life expectancy of 12-15 years but some may experience hip dysplasia later in life. They do require grooming and regular coat maintenance and have a higher energy level. However, Aussies are perfect for people wishing to own a highly trainable, versatile, super smart dog that can work/play “til the cows come home”.
Do you have an Aussie who needs a loving grooming? We'd love to make your Aussie (or any breed!) look as awesome on the outside as they are on inside! We love grooming and caring for all kinds of breeds- so call us today! -Lourdes and D'Tails Pet