The Australian Shepherd was bred primarily for working ability rather than looks, which resulted in a breed with a wide variety of different but equally correct types. This is a very intelligent working breed with strong herding and guarding instincts. He is a very easily trained, enthusiastic worker and a friendly, playful companion. Given adequate amount of mental and physical exercise during the day, the Aussie is calm and well-mannered indoors. He makes excellent watchdog and will guard his family's property. Aussies usually get along with other household pets and children. Because of their strong herding instincts, some Aussies will try and herd family pets and children by nipping at their heels or grasping their hands. The Aussie has become known not only for his herding abilities but also for tracking, narcotics detection, search-and-rescue, and hearing dogs for the deaf.
Aussies are generally a healthy and hardy breed commonly reaching the age of 12 or more. Like many collie-type breeds, they have several genetic eye problems including cataracts. Responsible breeders will screen their breeding stock for hereditary diseases. Diseases that are seen in Australian Shepherds include deafness, hip dysplasia (OFA certification of hips after 2 years of age. Preliminary x-rays may be done at an earlier age.), cataracts (CERF certification), microphthalmia, progressive retinal atrophy (CERF certification), retinal dysplasia, Collie eye anomaly, cystine urolithiasis, pannus, and persistent pupillary pembrane. Litters usually consist of 5-8 puppies.
Photo courtesy of "Mott Ranch"
Learn more about other herding dog breeds.