Happy 2011!  This year we are going to feature a different breed of dog each month. A Typical Australian Shepherd

 We will start out January with the Australian Shepherd!  This first breed was an easy choice for me since I have two at home!

Australian Shepherds aren’t actually from Australia.  This American breed first showed up in the 1800s in the western United States.  It was originally bred for herding sheep brought in from Australia, which is where the breed got its name.  Today this intelligent and versatile breed is used for a variety of tasks including herding livestock, competing in agility trials, search-and-rescue, therapy and just about anything else you can imagine.   They also make great companions!

Aussies come in several color combinations, but the most common forms are blue merle and tri-color.  Less commonly there are red-merles and solids of every color.  Other physical characteristics of this breed are bobbed tails, long coats, especially on the chest and rear, and sometimes blue or marbled eyes. 

WesleyI love this breed, but they definitely aren’t for everybody.  I love how loyal my dogs are.  Aussies are happiest when they are “attached to your hip!”  This means following you from room to room and riding next to you in the car on daily errands.

Undesirable traits that all prospective Aussie owners should be aware of may include: a strong herding instinct (ankle nipping), protective nature and extreme hyper activity if not given enough exercise.

If you are not sure whether or not you are a dog person, then this is not the breed for you.  Many people take home Aussie puppies because they Merlinare so irresistably cute, but soon find that this breed is too much to handle.   As a result, many perfectly wonderful dogs end up being abandoned or left at shelters.  The lucky dogs end up with rescue groups like A Life Choice, an Australian Shepherd Rescue Group just outside of Knoxville.  My second Aussie, Merlin, came from the Sevier County Humane Society and he is truly marvelous!  Another great resource is the Aussie Rescue and Placement Helpline – they have lots of beautiful dogs looking for a second chance!

If you have an active lifestyle and are willing to be patient and spend plenty of time with training and exercise, an Australian Shepherd may be a great addition to your life!

Learn more about Australian Shepherd through the United States Australian Shepherd Association.

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