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» Australian Shepherd
Even though its name suggests otherwise, the Australian Shepherd does not in fact originate from Australia. Itís thought that instead it was first developed in the Pyrenees Mountains in between France and Spain. Having shared an association with Basque shepherds who arrived in America from Australia in the 1800s, it was decided to call this breed the Australian Shepherd. The breed has many talents and has worked with the police in various lines including narcotics detection and search and rescue. The Aussie, as itís commonly known as, also possesses other impressive attributes including the ability to perform tricks and act as both a watchdog and guard dog.
The Australian Shepherd is classed as a medium sized dog which stands between twenty and twenty three inches tall, with Bitches obviously standing a few inches shorter. It can weigh between fifty and sixty five pounds and while they donít look athletic, they are an extremely active breed that loves to be kept busy. They possess a coat of moderate length which also contains an undercoat, although the length and type of this depends completely on the environment the breed occupies. The coat of an Aussie can come in a variety of different colors including blue merle, red merle, tan, solid red or black. The breed is renowned as having a short tail with the AKC standard in fact stating that it should be no longer than four inches. The head is in proportion to the rest of the body and the muzzle is similarly relative in size. The ears are triangular and sit high, breaking forward if the dog is paying particular attention to something.
The Aussie could be classed as the perfect family pet Ė although only for those families who are prepared to offer plenty of play and exercise. A daily walk will not suffice for this breed and any potential owner needs to be prepared to offer their Australian Shepherd hours and hours of exercise every day. Their playful and loyal nature means they get along brilliantly with children. Some owners tend to use them as a watchdog as well with their high level of intelligence meaning that itís easy for them to adapt to this role. While the breed is not regarded as aggressive, its herding nature means that they have to be trained strictly in the beginning as they do have a tendency to try and herd humans as well.
Some Australian Shepherds, most notably those originating from merle crosses, can experience blindness or deafness at birth. Other health issues that affect this breed include cataracts, urinary problems, epilepsy and glaucoma. Like most dog breeds, hip dysplasia is another possibility and any owner should always be wary about this. Despite numerous health problems, an Australian Shepherd has a relatively long life expectancy and most live between twelve and fifteen years.
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