Many dogs are named for the area where they were originally bred but that is not the case with the Australian Shepherd. It did not hail from Australia but rather, was originally bred in the Western United States in the 1840s. The original breed was a working dog used to herd livestock and today, it can still be used for that very purpose. More than likely, however, you will find the Australian Shepherd at home with a family. It is an intelligent and high-energy breed that is an excellent choice in almost any household.
Ranchers in the Western United States originally developed the Australian Shepherd for herding livestock. It is not fully known which breeds were used in the development of the Australian Shepherd but it may have included a number of Shepherd-like dogs and the collie. Some of those dogs may have been included in shipments of sheep that came from Australia, which is why the dog may have received such a name.
The breeding of the Australian Shepherd as a herder of livestock means that it tends to be dominant in almost any relationship. They were pushing around animals that were many times their size, so it is often necessary for you to take a dominant role and to lead the dog, rather than having them lead you. They are loyal animals but they also tend to be high-energy and don’t often take well to strangers. In order to ensure that they have a personality that works well with everyone involved, it is often a good idea to give them regular exercise and take part in an ongoing obedience training program.
Hip dysplasia is one of the more common problems that happen in the Australian Shepherd, although there are many of these dogs that never have the difficulty. Other issues that can show in the breed include hypothyroidism, elbow dysplasia, different eye disorders and von Willebrand’s disease. Generally speaking, the Australian Shepherd is a healthy breed but regular visits to the veterinarian can help to rule out any problems that may be occurring before they become too big of an issue.
Most Australian shepherds will appreciate the opportunity to run free in an open area, but if you give them too much space, they may just run and not come back again. If you have them in your backyard, they will appreciate the ability to run but you do need to be sure that it is secure enough that they can’t either jump over the fence or dig under it. Electronic fences don’t tend to work for this breed because they will simply charge through it. Regular exercise on a daily basis is important, as is obedience training. Aussies tend to be nippers, but regular training can teach them to avoid it.
If you have the ability to exercise the dog regularly, an Australian Shepherd can be a loyal and loving companion. It does take some work but the work is well worth it.