When researching any breed, it is important to remember there is a lot of misinformation on the internet. I am a bit surprised at some of the incorrect information posted on the internet regarding the Australian Shepherd breed. For instance, this video posted by Animal Planet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuVxNT9ew0Y or simply google “Dogs 101: Australian Shepherds” if you cannot get the link to work. This video has many incorrect statements starting with “Aussie’s come in many color combinations”. That is not correct. The correct statement is there are four recognized colors by AKC & ASCA & only four choices given for the breeders to select from on the registration paperwork: Blue Merle, Black Tri, Red Merle, & Red Tri.
Puppies from two merle parents do not have a 1:4 chance of being born blind & deaf; they have a 1:2 chance of being born blind & deaf as explained on my Colors page because each merle parent has two genes (one tri gene & one merle gene) & gives one gene to each offspring yielding a 1:2 chance of receiving a merle gene from each merle parent. The correct breeding combination should be one merle parent & one tri parent.
Again, only blue merle, black tri, red merle, & red tri colors are acceptable. The video states that Aussie’s are welcome in ALL colors.
The next clip talks about the ghost eye dog & shows a mismarked red tri as the example. Colored hair should surround both eyes, not white hair around that right eye, & colored hair should be present on both ears.
The majority of Aussie’s ARE born with a tail that is docked at a day or two of age. The statement that they are born without tails is incorrect. There are some lines that produce natural bob tails but a natural bob tail (NBT) dog should NEVER be bred to another NBT dog as this may interfere with the formation of the hips and spine in their offspring. In those lines, not all puppies in the litter will be born with a NBT. There may be a few NBT’s but most typically have a long tail or an NBT that is nearly full length & must be docked anyway. If your intentions are to select a dog for breeding, it is important to share this information with the breeder so he/she can tell you if the puppy/dog you have chosen is an NBT or if the tail was docked at birth. If the dog is an NBT, you will want to find a mate that was born with a full length tail. All responsible breeders will keep accurate records to share with you regarding NBT’s in the puppies they produce.
The example for the seeing eye dog, a black tri, is also mismarked & is not a good example of the breed because that dog is lacking color on the right side of his head, ear, & around the eye. You would think that a public video would promote the breed, not show poor examples of the breed. However, every breeder can produce a puppy on occasion that is classified as mismarked.
Australian Shepherds have the same exercise needs of any other medium or large breed of dog such as Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Bernese Mountain Dog, Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler, Bull Mastiff, Great Dane, Cocker Spaniel, Akita, Shiba Inu, Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Boxer, German Shepherd, & the list goes on. Most enjoy hiking, biking, swimming, camping, hunting, fishing, travel, & many types of sports. Australian Shepherds also ADORE a job as a therapy dog. It is important to share your activity level with the breeder you choose to make your selection from so he/she can place a puppy with you that will suit your family best. There are some very hot working lines in this breed that display an activity level greater than the average person can handle but most are even tempered &, again, require the same amount of exercise & play time as the breed's previously mentioned.
I’m afraid they have mistaken the Australian Shepherds herding the children in the video for running & playing with them as any puppy will with their new family. Australian Shepherds can also become very protective of their people & property & are simply displaying a technique called “watching after their family” in this video saying "I want to be with you and guide, guard, & protect you".
As for grooming, there are different types of haircoats. There are lines that breed for a big full show haircoat with a dense undercoat producing a double coat. Those lines have more shedding because it’s the undercoat that is shed off in late spring/early summer. Other lines offer a more sleeker shorter type hair coat with little or no undercoat showing only pink skin when the hair is parted, not more hair. This type of coat offers no more shedding than any other breed of dog & are typically 1-2" in length. Regardless of the type of haircoat, climate & time of year play a big part in shedding. If you bring your dog inside to be part of the family in a climate controlled environment, the dog is less likely to grow the hair to shed unless the bloodline carries heavy for that type of haircoat. Shedding typically occurs late spring or early summer & is not anything that cannot be handled by one good grooming either by the dog owner or a trip to the groomer. You may also opt to have the hair clipped once or twice per year if you find the haircoat bothersome. My buyers also have positive feedback with a tool called the defurminator & non shedding shampoo’s. I recommend the Parents Choice baby wash at Wal-mart. It is $1.83 & comparable to Johnson & Johnson. It is also hypoallergenic for allergy sufferer’s in the home. I also use Showsheen 2 in 1 shampoo plus conditioner and Showsheen Detangler for grooming. People in homes with allergy sufferer's will prefer an Aussie with little or no undercoat & to keep the hair clipped once or twice yearly. Be sure to visit with the breeder you choose about what type of haircoat is best for your family & whether the dog you purchase will be an outside dog only, enduring the elements, or if you prefer the dog to spend time inside with the family. You may be surprised to learn that dogs with continuously growing hair tend to be the most hypoallergenic dogs.
Yes, Australian Shepherds can handle any climate but it is important to make them as comfortable as possible if they are outside in the elements. In colder weather, an igloo dog house will serve as shelter with straw inside for warmth near the house or other structure for a wind block. In summer, you must provide shade for your Aussie, plenty of fresh cool drinking water, & a 20 gallon stock tank or wading pool for them to get in & cool off. Australian Shepherds are known to play in their water & can run out of water quickly in warm or hot weather.
You may also notice that the same narrators on this video are the same as the video’s of other breeds of dogs so they have likely never owned an Australian Shepherd before & are simply reading a script not speaking from personal experience.
More information regarding breed standard can be found by clicking the links above for the “Colors”, “Registration”, & “Size” pages as well as www.akc.org and www.asca.org.
To summarize, Australian Shepherds are a highly intelligent, loyal breed of dog. They just want to be with you & please you. They enjoy learning new tasks & many excel at sports like playing ball, frisbee, & water retrieval with the kids. If these natural abilities & talents are developed they can become professional athletes but most people prefer the dogs to play on an amateur level at home with the family. Australian Shepherds truly enjoy the companionship of another animal, as well as their people, & do well when placed in pairs or with families that already have another dog or cat. They do, however, excel nicely as the only animal in the family to. For exercise they enjoy hiking, biking, swimming, hunting, fishing, camping, & travel, because they just want to be with you. Don't overlook the Australian Shepherd breed for your next hunting dog as well. I find dead birds, rabbits, snakes, & other critters in their yards all the time. They will also bay a coon & fetch a duck from the river as well, or better, than any typical hunting breed. Australian Shepherds can become very protective of their people & property giving your family the added security you may be looking for while at home, out for a walk, or with the children at play. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org & share what you are looking for in a new family member. I'll do my best to help you select a puppy with the activity level appropriate for your family & assist you in providing proper training building on the lessons I have already instilled in them when they go home. Most can walk on a leash, sit, shake, down, rollover, & wait at the gate. My puppies also have a terrific start on potty training & sleeping through the night.