Despite its name, this is an American-born breed. The Australian Shepherd was originally developed to herd cattle for ranchers and farmers in the western US, and some modern-day Aussies still perform this task.
There are many theories about which breeds were used to create the Australian Shepherd. It is likely that the Aussie's ancestors included collie and shepherd-type dogs that were imported with shipments of sheep from Australia during the 1840s - hence the name. Breeders sought to improve their herding ability and create a dog that was versatile, hard-working and intelligent.
The breed experienced a growth in popularity in the years following World War II, which went hand in hand with a renewed interest in Western-style riding. Crowds at rodeos or horse shows, and audiences at Western films or TV shows, were impressed by the athletic dogs they saw working alongside the cowboys.
Today, the Australian Shepherd is still the same eye-catching, energetic, smart dog that proved so useful to ranchers and farmers in the old West. He is loved by many and enjoys his life as a family companion, protector, and sheepdog.
Bred to be intrusive with livestock, Australian Shepherds can and will take on the dominant role in the home if you do not give them firm and confident leadership.
Like many sheepdogs, Australian Shepherds are naturally loyal to their family but aloof to strangers. They need early socialisation - exposure to many different people, sights, sounds and experiences - when they are young.
Socialisation helps ensure that your Aussie puppy grows up to be a versatile dog. Enrolling him in a puppy course is a good start. Regularly inviting visitors and taking him to busy parks, shops where dogs are allowed and on leisurely walks to meet neighbours will also help him hone his social skills.
Hip dysplasia (developmental hip disorder)
Multidrug resistance gene 1 deficiency (hypersensitivity to certain drugs)
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