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Work-oriented and energetic, Australian Shepherds are medium-sized ranch dogs, known for their unusual markings and piercing eyes. Also known as the “Aussie”, Australian Shepherds rose in popularity for many years, valued for their versatility and trainability.
See the fact file below for more information on the Australian Shepherd or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Australian Shepherd worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
HISTORY AND ORIGIN
- The Australian Shepherd’s name is misleading and its origin may be uncertain, but one thing is for sure: these breeds are not from Australia.
- Records show that Aussies have roots in the Basque region of the Pyrenees Mountains. One version of the tale suggests that these dogs were imported to the United States for work in the latter part of the 1800s.
- Others say Australian Shepherds stayed for some time in Australia, while some think the name originates from their affiliation with the Basque shepherds of Australia.
- Australian Shepherds are American breeds. They were bred to herd livestock for ranchers and farmers on the west coast of the United States.
- In the 1840s, collie and shepherd-type dogs were imported and bred, making them the ancestors of the Aussie.
- Australian Shepherds became popular after World War II. Aside from being herding dogs, they were also trained to perfect the rodeo, alongside with the cowboys.
- In 1993, the Aussie was recognized by the American Kennel Club.
- Aussies are medium-sized lean dogs, slightly longer than tall, with a height of 20 to 23 inches for males, and 18 to 21 inches for females.
- Males weigh 50 to 65 pounds, while females reach 40 to 55 pounds.
- They have sturdy heads, with muzzles which are rounded at the tip and are either equal in length or slightly shorter than the rear skull.
- These dogs have straight and firm backs, deep and narrow chests, oval and compact feet, padded and well-arched toes, and docked tails.
- Australian Shepherds have medium length weather-resistant coats, which may either be straight or wavy. They have short and smooth fur on the head, ears, front of forelegs, and below the joints of their hind legs. The back part of their forelegs and britches is slightly feathered.
- Aussies come in four officially accepted colors: black, blue merle, red, and red merle. Those with other color combinations not mentioned are disqualified as purebred Australian Shepherds.
- Black Australian Shepherds have four versions: they can be tri-color, black bi, black and tan, and solid black. Usually, black Aussies have different shades of brown eyes, ranging from dark brown to hazel brown-colored eyes.
- Blue Merle Aussies have the most distinct and unique color combination. They can be Blue Merle tri color, blue merle and white, blue merle and tan, and solid blue merle. Generally, they have brown or blue eyes but there are times when these breeds have “marble eyes”, or their eyes contain hints of other colors. There are also instances when blue merles have two different colored eyes – one blue and the other brown.
- Red Australian Shepherds come in three versions: red tri, red bi, and solid red. They have amber-colored eyes that match their coats, although it is a rare case to spot red Aussies with blue eyes.
- Just like the exotic-looking blue merles, red merle Australian Shepherds can be in red merle tri color, red merle and white, and solid red merle. Most of them have solid eye colors, but they also have the tendency to be born with “marble eyes”.
- White, dilute (maltese dilution), and yellow are the three non-standard colors of the Australian Shepherds.
- Australian Shepherds are intelligent working dogs and they enjoy learning and practicing tricks, competing in dog agility, and engaging in any other activity that challenges their physical and mental being.
- They are very affectionate and loyal family companions, but tend to be aloof towards strangers. They are sometimes called “velcro dogs” for their strong desire for human companionship. Just like any other herding dog, Aussies are protective and territorial, although they do not bark a lot.
- They are highly active breeds so they need a great deal of exercise and attention. They do well in rural and ranch-like environments where they can run and play freely in the open space, making them not suitable to apartment living. Aussies left for several hours may become bored and destructive.
- Aussies are high-spirited breeds; they love to romp with children and play with other pets.
- Australian Shepherds are generally healthy, and can be expected to live 12 to 14 years, as long as they are handled with care and kept on a good diet.
- Hip and elbow dysplasia. An abnormality in the hip socket, causing crippling lameness and painful joint inflammation, such as arthritis.
- Elbow dysplasia is an inherited condition that resulted from different growth rates of the three bones of the dog’s elbow, causing joint laxity.
- Cataracts. An eye condition which causes difficulty in seeing, usually affecting dogs in old age. This happens when the Australian Shepherd’s eyes have a cloudy appearance on the lens.
- Allergies. Aussies are prone to food allergies (symptoms include dry, itchy skin, too much scratching or licking, bald patches, and a number of hotspots), contact allergies (caused by a reaction to flea powders, dog shampoos, and other chemical substances), and inhalant allergies (brought about by airborne allergens like pollen, dust, and mildew).
- Curing allergies depends on the cause and may include diet restrictions, medications, and change in environment.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). An eye condition that may lead to blindness.
- Epilepsy. A hereditary condition which can cause mild or severe seizures.
- Deafness. This condition is common to the breed. Some forms of hearing loss can be solved with medication and surgery.
- Hypothyroidism. Underactive thyroid glands that are believed to cause epilepsy, hair loss, obesity, lethargy, dark patches on the skin, and other skin disorders.
- Detached Retina. This eye condition might cause visual impairment or blindness, caused by a detached retina from its latent supportive tissues.
- Nasal Solar Dermatitis. Also referred to as the collie-nose, this condition occurs to dogs with little or no pigment on their nose. Breeds plagued by this abnormality are highly-sensitive to sunlight.
- Cancer. Just like humans, dogs can also suffer from cancer, such as tumors, and can be treated with chemotherapy and surgery.
- Drug Sensitivity. Caused by a mutation of the Multidrug Resistance Gene (MDR1), herding dogs like the Australian Shepherds experience drug sensitivity. Signs that Aussies suffer from this condition include tremors, depression, seizures, incoordination, hypersalivation, coma, and even death.
- Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA). This is a hereditary eye condition that results to blindness.
- Distichiasis. An irritating eye condition wherein additional rows of eyelashes (distichia) protrude on the oil gland and along the edge of the eyelids.
- Weekly brushing sessions is required to keep the Aussie’s waterproof coats free from mats and tangles.
- Since they are active breeds, it is advised for owners to engage their Australian Shepherds in a half hour to an hour of stimulating activities.
- Trim their nails regularly to prevent painful splinters.
- Early socialization and obedience training are recommended for these highly-intelligent breeds.
Australian Shepherd Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Australian Shepherd across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Australian Shepherd worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Australian Shepherds which are medium-sized ranch dogs, known for their unusual markings and piercing eyes. Also known as the “Aussie”, Australian Shepherds rose in popularity for many years, valued for their versatility and trainability.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Australian Shepherd Facts
- Meeting Aussie
- Breed Standards for Aussie
- Facts About Aussie
- Aussie’s Coat Colors
- More About Aussie
- Collie and Aussie
- Shepherd Dogs
- Aussie Needs to See Doc
- I Want Aussie Home
- Aussie Origami
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Link will appear as Australian Shepherd Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, January 13, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.