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  • Herding breeds: Australian Shepherd

    Australian Shepherd photo The Australian Shepherd probably originated in the Basque region of the Pyrenees, mountains between Spain and France, but was dubbed the Australian Shepherd because of its association with Basque shepherds who came into the United States from Australia in the 1800s. The Australian Shepherd was initially called by many names, including Spanish Shepherds, Pastor Dogs, Bob-Tails, Blues, Heelers, New Mexican Shepherds and California Shepherds.

    General description
    Height: 18-23 inches
    Weight: 45-60 pounds
    Color: Blue merle, black, red merle, and red -- all with or without white markings and/or tan (copper) points.

    Grooming requirements
    This is a breed that requires a lot of brushing. To properly groom this breed you will need to brush them biweekly with a slicker brush, and then comb them through with a metal comb. Matting is very common in under-brushed Australian Shepherds and is most commonly found in the neck and bib and the hind quarters. Since this breed is so intelligent, it is in your best interest to start their grooming regimen early in their lives. Make it part of the routine and they will balk less.
    Health considerations
    This breed is prone to hip dysplasia and eye defects.

    Breed characteristics and personality
    The Aussie is a loyal companion and has the stamina to work all day. Due to the breed's overly active behavior and the constant desire to work, many families are simply burdened by their enthusiasm and misunderstand this dog's needs. This often leads to behavioral problems that are not the dog's fault. The Australian Shepherd should have a house with fenced yard and agility course. This breed needs a lot of mental and physical exercise!

    The Australian Shepherd originally was used for herding. Today, the dog still remains an excellent herder and excels in Obedience and Agility.

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