Australian shepherds are medium-sized breeds of dogs who have an interesting appearance. They can be seen with slightly wavy fur or straight, and they are incredibly intelligent breeds, which makes them great companions. Here are ten fascinating facts about these dogs.
They Aren’t Australian!
In spite of the name, these fluffy creatures are not originally from Australia. They are believed to have originated from the Basque region in Spain, where shepherds travelled with their dogs to Australia and then to the United States. Australian shepherds were then bred in America, and they got their name purely from the working relationship that they had with Australian herders.
Sacred To Native Americans
These dogs have been known to have very pale blue eyes, which gained the nickname ‘ghost eye’ by Native Americans. They originally believed that it was a sign that Australian shepherds were sacred animals, and the breed were also known as ‘spirit dogs’ by some communities. However, this could be contested with the fact that they paired well with horses when they were used in rodeos.
Australian shepherds are incredibly agile creatures who love to be part of high-energy sports. They have been known to perform well when they are playing Frisbee and ball games. In 1970, an Australian shepherd named Hyper Hank dominated local canine Frisbee competitions. He became known as a champion, which led to his performance at the Super Bowl, and meeting the Carter family at the White House.
Different Eye Colours
It’s surprisingly common for Australian shepherds to have eyes that are different colours from each other. This characteristic is known as heterochromia, and some owners have even reported seeing multiple colours in one of their Australian shepherds’ eyes. Any combination of green, blue, hazel, amber, and brown is possible, and it could be one of the reasons why some cultures considered this breed to be sacred.
They Can Be Mischievous
If you do not get your Australian shepherd from a puppy and train them well, they can easily become very mischievous. This is because they are highly intelligent breeds who need effective and consistent training. They have very strong instincts to bark more often for seemingly no reason, and it is important that this is also addressed at a young age if possible.
They Need Duties
Because they have high levels of intelligence, it is critical that you give your Australian shepherd jobs to do. This can be something small to do every day, such as collecting the post and placing it on the table, or even completing an obstacle course if you want to set one up for them. This challenges their minds and keeps them focused on something that doesn’t involve destroying your home.
A Breed With Purpose
Thanks to them being incredibly smart breeds, Australian shepherds are used to make many people’s lives easier. They can be useful in the search and rescue process, detecting drugs, hearing dogs for those who need it, and assistance dogs for the visually impaired. When they are trained from a young age, Australian shepherds are highly useful for a range of scenarios, and enjoy having a job to do.
It’s relatively common for these dogs to have favourite people within their ‘pack’. Owning an Australian shepherd can feel a little like having a shadow following you around because they are always close to you. This is especially likely if you live alone, or if you are the person in your household who interacts with your Australian shepherd the most.
Approach With Caution
Australian shepherds are known to shed their coat in extreme quantities. To avoid this, many owners will have them groomed on a regular basis or brush them thoroughly once a week or month. If you encounter an Australian shepherd on your next walk, it could be worth steering clear if you are wearing dark colours that will pick up their fur if you stop to give them a fuss.
Eighteenth Most Popular
While they are relatively recent additions to the Kennel Club, becoming a recognized breed in 1991, Australian shepherds are the eighteenth most popular dog breed. This puts them ahead of both Chihuahuas and Pomeranians, which puts them in very high demand.
Australian shepherds are fascinating breeds which can be the perfect companion in many people’s lives. They are highly intelligent and loyal due to their herding instincts, which can encourage you to form stronger bonds with your canine companion. To find out more, and answer questions like why do Australian shepherds have docked tails, check this out.