Morty the 4-year-old Australian Shepherd is super excited after his owner gets home from work and helps him out by turning on the light, closing the door, taking his socks off one by one and putting them into the laundry basket. Then it gets super crazy! He gets his owner a bag with a burger in it, fetches him a beer, gets the burger package and puts it into the bin. After all of that, Morty comes to his owner to get cuddled. He is just the best dog in the world!
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Who can resist those stunning blue eyes, floppy ears, and spectacular spotted fur? Not many people, which is why the Australian Shepherd is continually one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. Before jumping four paws into owning an Australian Shepherd, here are some fun and informative facts about sharing your life with an Austrian Shepherd.
1. Not Australian at All!
In truth, the Australian Shepherd was originally bred in the Basque region in Spain. As Basque farmers and herders moved to Australia, they took their four-legged companions and working dogs with them. People from the United States then associated this little dog with Australia, but the Australian Shepherd that we know today was bred exclusively for people in the United States.
2. Sacred Breed
Although not all Australian Shepherds have blue eyes, the vast majority do. Native Americans often called this breed of dog “ghost eye” and considered them a sacred animal.
3. Jack of All Trades
The Australian Shepherd is a highly intelligent, athletic, and energetic dog. These characteristics are ideal for a working dog. Australian Shepherds can perform several behaviors and jobs, including working as a Seeing Eye Dog, therapy dog, search and rescue dog, or even a drug-sniffing dog.
4. It’s Natural!
Docked tails in dog breeds is an incredibly controversial practice that is outlawed in many countries. Luckily, the Australian Shepherd doesn’t have to worry about his tail. This breed of dog has a 20% chance of being born with a naturally bobbed tail. Breeders routinely try to breed for this trait because it makes it safer for the dog to work as a herding dog with a shortened tail.
5. It’s All In The Eyes
Australian Shepherds have a genetic trait, called heterochromia, that is prevalent in the breed. This trait can cause the dog to have two different colored eyes. Common eye colors range from the trademark blue to hazel, amber, brown, or green eyes.
6. A Rodeo Dog
As if their fluffy fur and stunning blue eyes weren’t enough to grow their popularity, the Australian Shepherd gained notoriety through the United States working in rodeos. The Australian Shepherds were prized because they could perform tricks, in addition to herding and corralling bulls.
7. Running Mate
Although the Australian Shepherd may be small in stature, he can make a great running partner. The Australian Shepherd has loads of energy and is happy to go on your morning jog with you.
8. A Rainbow of Colors
The most common coat in the Australian Shepherd is the Merle-colored coat, which gives them gray, white, and spotted coloration. Solid colors are also available, including red and black. At one point, breeders attempted to breed the solid colored coats out of the breed completely; however soon found out that two recessive Merle genes can lead to genetic conditions, such as blindness.
9. Instinctive Herding
The Australian Shepherd is a natural herder, and this trait has long been bred into the breed. This dog has plenty of energy, and if left to his own devices, will find ways to entertain his active mind. It is not uncommon to watch this energetic and enthusiastic dog attempt to herd your children together!
10. Hyper Hank
Probably the most famous Australian Shepherds was a dog named Hyper Hank. As his name implies, he had tons of energy, and he liked to display his energy on center stage. Hyper Hank and his owner regularly performed Frisbee acts and even performed at the Superbowl and the White House for the Carters. This little dog performed across the country and regularly won Frisbee trick competitions with his owner.
11. Miss Popularity
Between their loving demeanor, fun personality, and high intelligence, it is no wonder that the Australian Shepherd is a popular dog. When ranked among the American Kennel Club’s available breeds, the Australian Shepherd is firmly ranked as the 18th most popular dog in the country.
12. Choosing Favorites
The Australian Shepherd is a beautiful and loving family dog. This dog is excellent with children and will willingly accept new people into his “herd.” However, don’t be surprised if your Australian Shepherd chooses one family member to be extra close. Many Australian Shepherds have been guilty of having a “favorite” person in their herd.
13. Endless Fur
One feature that routinely draws people to this exciting breed of dog is their striking coat. This coat comes in a variety of colors, with the blue merle coloration the most common. All that beautiful fur comes with a high price, though. Expect endless shedding from this breed. Regular brushing and bathing can help keep some of the fur at bay but expect a hefty shedding session about twice per year with the changing seasons.
14. Busy Mamma
Dogs, in general, usually have more offspring in a litter, but the Australian Shepherd tends to have several puppies in each litter. An Australian Shepherd can have between six and nine puppies in a single litter, but the average number of puppies per litter is seven. That means Mamma Dog is very busy keeping her little ones in line!
15. Constant Thinkers
Not only does the Australian Shepherd have plenty of energy, but he is constantly thinking too. This dog is an intelligent breed that not only needs physical stimulation but mental stimulation too. The Australian Shepherd excels at solving puzzles and learning new behaviors and actions. Always keep training sessions fun and upbeat to ensure your pup has a fun time learning new tricks.
16. Long Life
The Australian Shepherd is a long-lived dog that doesn’t have too many health concerns in the breed. Most Australian Shepherds live between 12 and 15 years, but it is not uncommon for this hearty little dog to live longer. The oldest Australian Shepherd was named Bluey and lived to be 29 years and 5 months before he finally crossed the Rainbow Bridge in 1939.
17. “Don’t Fence Me In”
The Australian Shepherd is not a great dog for apartment life. This breed of dog needs plenty of room to roam, run, and exercise. Keep in mind that the Australian Shepherd is bred to work all day, keeping a herd of animals together and safe. If you are determined to get an Australian Shepherd but lack access to a large backyard for exercise, be sure to give this dog plenty of exercise with long, lively, and entertaining walks every day. A bored Aussie can become destructive in a small house or apartment.
18. What Did You Say?
Compared to other dog breeds, the Australian Shepherd has a higher rate of deafness inherent in the breed. Veterinarians and scientists believe that this is due to the lack of pigmentation in the ears. A BEAR test can be performed at an early age to determine if your puppy can hear. If you have a deaf Australian Shepherd, he will still be able to live a whole and healthy life, living as a completely capable and trainable pup.
19. Can’t Make Me
One of the best characteristics of the Australian Shepherd is his high intelligence. This dog is infinitely trainable and able to learn new behaviors quickly. Of course, high intelligence comes with a price. This breed of dog can have a stubborn streak. Expect the Australian Shepherd to challenge his owner if he thinks he knows better regarding obedience.
20. High Intensity
Owning an Australian Shepherd is a rewarding experience but should only be left to incredibly active families. If you think that just taking a leisurely walk around the block will be enough to keep the Australian Shepherd happy, you may be in for quite a surprise. This dog needs regular, high-intensity exercise every day. Make sure to vary the routine daily to keep your pup engaged.