An Aussie Profile
your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.
You are his life, his love, his leader.
He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.
You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.
-- Author Unknown
There are numerous stories about the
origins of Australian Shepherds. The one that seems most "true" to us is that
the Basque Shepherds developed them over years in the mountainous regions of France and
Spain to help with the sheep herds. One source of information told me that her Grandfather
had Aussies in the Philippines where she grew up
.he had a red merle and a blue
merle, descendants of the dogs he had brought from Spain as a boy moving to the
Philippines. Yes he was the son of a Basque shepherd!
Aussies come in a variety of colours, they are not just "the little
blue dog". The four "accepted" colours are Red with or without copper
and/or white, Red Merle, Blue Merle and Black, again with or without copper and/or white.
For excellent pictures and explanations of the accepted and unaccepted colours please use
this link to A Field Guide
To Coloration of Australian Shepherds at
http://www.ashgi.org/color/index.html where Lisa McDonald has put together a wonderful
site explaining the wide variety of Aussie colours. Please don't forget to use your
brower's BACK button to return here!
The Australian Shepherd dog, by heritage, is a herder and guardian.
Sometimes their instinct to herd can be mistaken as "meanness" when they are
trying to herd other animals and/or children. Nipping at the ankles is not an uncommon
trait in young Aussies with herding instinct, but is easily discouraged with a gentle
shake and an "ah-ah" sound. All of our Aussies have learned not to nip ankles
within a few days but, taught in this manner, it has not destroyed their natural herding
instincts. Aussies, properly trained and socialized make wonderful companions, they are
highly intelligent, loyal, affectionate and protective of their property and their human
family. Their high-spirits and eagerness to please make them an easy to train dog who will
generally show great enthusiasm for learning new things and being challenged on a daily
basis. Aussies excel in the show ring, trial arena, obedience ring, and they can be
wonderfully athletic agility and flyball dogs. Their high energy makes them a serious
candidate for lots of daily exercise and play. Aussies are generally good with children
and other pets, although they usually try to keep the "herd" together! With
strangers, Aussies can be aloof and show reserve but this should not be taken as shyness,
they are generally just keeping an eye on things and making sure that the new person is
acceptable before making them a friend. As a rule if you, as their owner, tell them the
person is acceptable they will accept your word for it. Once an Aussie makes a friend,
they are a friend for life.
The ASCA breed
standard for Aussies is
20-23 inches for males and 18-21 inches for females measured at the wither; and the weight
guidelines are 25 to 65 pounds. The Aussie lifespan is usually 12 to 14 years but there
are Aussies who have lived to be 20+!
Aussies have a double coat (downy undercoat with coarser guard hairs) that
requires moderate grooming, a thorough weekly brushing is usually sufficient. It is said
that it's common for Aussies to shed twice yearly, spring and fall and during these times
brushing more often is recommended. Our dogs live in the house and shed year-round,
so if you're after a dog that doesn't shed much an Aussie isn't for you!
Aussies, in general, do not have many health problems. Reputable breeders
OFA or PennHip (for hip problems) and CERF (for eye problems) they're breeding dogs before allowing
them to be bred. Dogs without good OFA or PennHip and CERF results should never be bred. Generally a
good diet and regular exercise along with regular vet checkups and annual vaccinations,
once past the puppy shots, are all that is necessary to keep your Aussie in good health.
For more information on diseases that have been found in Aussies, please go to our genetics page.
One extremely important thing to remember...
Aussies have shown a very bad reaction to heartworm medication
containing Ivomectin and
also Piperazine is in a LOT of wormers and
Aussie show a sensitivity to this drug in some
studies that were reported
in the AVMA. For this reason no heartworm medication using Ivermectin/Ivomectin should ever be given to an Aussie and if you use worming
Ivermectin/Ivomectin on any other animals (cattle, horses etc.)
your Aussies should not be allowed
anywhere near the area until all
traces of the medication are eradicated.
The ideal owner of an Aussie is someone who not only wants a companion who
desires to be with you all the time if possible, but should be a person who has the
patience and time to ensure their companion gets proper training. As well, lots of regular
exercise and play are necessary to keep your dog in good physical and mental condition.
Aussies who do not get enough exercise and/or play time can tend to make their own fun by
getting into mischief! A rural or suburban lifestyle is best for an Aussie and their
immediate home should include a large fenced yard. Aussies should not be allowed to run
free, their herding instincts make them ideal candidates for chasing cars and livestock if
they are not kept in their own area. We strongly recommend that puppy owners take their
Aussie pup to "kindergarten" for training with a reputable trainer. Your vet or
pet supply store can be good sources to recommend trainers but always be sure to get
references from people who have trained their dogs with them
.most trainers will even
let you go sit in on a session before deciding to train with them.
At Mikatura, our Aussies are our companions first and foremost. They love
to travel in the trucks or van, no matter whether it's a 5 minute drive to the mailbox, a 20
minute drive to town or a 15 hour trip to the coast
..they want to go. They go
visiting our friends, go camping in the Rocky Mountains and keep me company when I'm in
town shopping, it's all the same to them since they're out "seeing the world"
and keeping us company. They don't like being left "home alone" but are well
behaved and we always get the famous "Aussie grin" and dance routine when we
return. It matters not if it's only been 15 minutes, they are always excited to see us and
resume the companionship.
If you are thinking about adding an Aussie pup to your home
please also read
Is An Aussie Right For You?
Recommended Reading, Books & DVDs:
There are many excellent books written on Aussies. Some of
my favorites are listed below.
To start with is a wonderful list of books and DVDs by
various members of the Hartnagle family, owners of Las Rocosa Australian
Shepherds, the Australian Shepherd Club of America #1 Hall of Fame kennel. The
Hartnagle family have been raising Aussies for
over 50 years and most of the family are herding and/or breeder judges with a wealth of knowledge to
share. You can purchase any of the Hartnagles books and/or DVDs directly
from their website at
- This beautiful autographed hardcover book is just that -
all you'd want to know about Aussies and more! By
award-winning author, breeder, trainer, and judge, Jeanne
Joy Hartnagle-Taylor. Known as the "bible" on the breed,
this book is a must for every Aussie enthusiast. I
have all three editions of the book and all are slightly
dog-eared from being read over and over again…each time I
read them I remember or learn something new. Jeanne's book
has more information about Aussies than any other book I've
seen and is packed with wonderful photos. All About Aussies
retails for around $60.00 (including shipping) and is worth
it's weight in gold and I believe is a "must have" for any
All About Aussies
- everything you ever wanted to know about owning, training,
trialing, working or caring for your stockdog including
starting a puppy, training all the basic herding maneuvers,
working stock from a horse, getting ready for and competing
in stockdog and herding trials, selecting and caring for
various types of stock and so much more.
The Spider Web
(Australian Shepherd Genealogy Chart) is one of the most
important documents ever written for the Australian Shepherd
breed. A complete research tracing 40 years of the
foundation dogs of the breed of record. Researched & written
by Ernest Hartnagle, this document is a “must have” for any
The Total Australian
Shepherd: Beyond the Beginning
- this fascinating book is a comprehensive history of the
Australian Shepherd. Ernest Hartnagle & his daughter Carol
Ann Hartnagle-Madsen have collaborated and their work begins
where all the other Aussie books leave off. It illustrates
key dogs in the Spider Web and is a most exciting and
interesting work on the breed. The History Chapter puts the
faces with names as they document the past to the present
with some never before published photographs and information
from early owners of the breed. Instead of telling the
reader about the character of an Aussie, they bring the
personality to life with anecdotes from actual owners of the
foundation bloodlines over the past 50 years…all this and
Selecting and Training the Working Farm Dog
- written by Chris Hartnagle-Renna, this book is full great
information and beautiful full colour photographs!
The Working Australian
Shepherd - outlines
Jim's knowledge of the breed (backed by a lifetime of
experience) and shares the successful training methods he
uses & teaches at his clinics. Coming Spring of 2010!
The Unsung Heros of Rodeo
- a Special Collector's Edition, written by Jeanne-Joy
Hartnagle-Taylor, this wonderful book is numbered and
autographed. This classic work filled with no less than 200
excellent, action packed photographs, compliment the lively
narratives with some of rodeo's greatest clowns and
bullfighters (the founding fathers of the sport) who have
decades of experience in the business. Greasepaint Matadors
is a must-have coffee table book for anybody with even the
slightest interest in rodeo.
- (Overview) This video provides
an overview of stockdog training basics.
- (Young dog work) Deals with introducing the young dogs to
the skills needed for working livestock.
- (Advanced penning & shedding) Details advanced skills.
- All three DVDs from the herding series.
In The Ribbons
- The Dog Show - preparing & competing with your Aussies.
An Evening With Ernie
Hartnagle - Ernie
brings to life the Australian Shepherd’s development from
obscurity to mainstream popularity during the past 50 years.
The Bandit Project
~ The Making of "Down from the Mountain: The story of Bandit and the
Wolf" - this is a great book by Jim MacKrell. Not
only is it a wonderful story but the "hero" is based on one of the
all-time great Aussies "HOF VCH WTCH CH Shopes Goodnight Bandit CDX
RTDsc HAs HXd" who was owned by Steve & Anne Shope of New Mexico.
Jim's blog is at
http://www.thebanditproject.com and there is a link available to
order his wonderful book. A portion of the proceeds from the
book is going to be donated to the National Canine Cancer Foundation
and the Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute to help in their search for a cure for cancer in
There is a widespread variety of books written on training dogs for a wide
variety of venues, far too many to listed them all here. Clicker training, obedience
training, agility training and so on are all interesting reading and I'm sure any good
bookstore will carry a good collection and would be happy to recommend several to you.
There are also wonderful resources available on the
internet. Again a vast amount of information can be had on just about any
topic to do with dogs and we recommend you read everything you can, and
choose what you wish to do once you've you finish your reading. A great site
to start with is Suzanne Clothier's Flying Dog Press...a website full of
Another excellent website page to visit was written by Meredith Lunn of
Tricorn Acres. Meredith has written an excellent article entitled "The Australian Shepherd: A Breed That's Not
For Everyone" at
http://www.johnlunn.com/tricorn/aussied.html in which she points out the pros and cons of owning an Aussie!
My most favorite purchase of canine first aid "books" came
from a Vet in British Columbia. The 'set' has information about
diseases, health issues, first aid, dog food, so much that I can't list it
all here. Within 3 months of purchasing this I saved the cost in vet bills alone! Take charge of your pet's health and check out
Several good books on canine health and/or first aid are:
The Nature of Animal Healing (The Definitive Holistic
Medicine Guide To Caring For Your Dog & Cat), by Martin Goldstein, DVM, ISBN
Pet First Aid by Bobbie Mammato, DVM, published by Mosby -- recommended by the American
Red Cross and HSUS
Dog First Aid-Emergency Care for the Hunting, Working and Outdoor Dog by Randy
First Aid for Dogs by Bruce Fogel, DVM
If you are interested in herding, there are a wide variety of videotapes
available and we highly recommend Herding I, II and III by Jeanne Joy Hartnagle-Taylor (go
to the Las Rocosa site at
to order). Please ask us for more information if you are interested in purchasing these
Another wonderful video, especially for beginning trainers
or people having a few problems training their dogs is "An Introduction To
All Breed Herding" by Lynn Leach of Downriver Farm, and now Lynn has a
second video available as well! You can order the videos
directly from Lynn's website at
Another of our favorite herding books is
Herding Dogs Progressive Training
by Vergil S. Holland
(ISBN #0-87605-644-3)...it's a great book!
There are also a number of e-mail discussion lists available for Aussie
owners. Aussie-L is a list with almost 1,000 Aussie owners, breeders, judges from all over
the world and people discuss their joys, sorrows, ask for help with questions on all sorts
of things and generally just enjoy talking to other Aussie lovers. Herders-L is a list for
people with interests in herding dogs. Hoflin has an Aussie list but it is
primarily a more serious discussion list concerning health, behavior,
©Written by Jeni Gallichan 01-06-99 & updated occasionally!
Regarding 'mini' Aussies...
Recently there has been a rise in the movement to
breed “miniature”, and sadly, even a “toy” version of the Australian
Neither of these are recognized by any of the
official Australian Shepherd clubs/organizations. The Australian Shepherd
Club of America (ASCA), the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), the American
Kennel Club (AKC), nor the United States Australian Shepherd Association,
Inc. (USASA), recognize nor register these dogs. The dogs are only
recognized by their own breed clubs which have been formed since they
were denied recognition by the above clubs. They are NOT a 'variety'
of the true Australian Shepherd, they are a totally separate breed.
We do not breed "mini's", will not allow our males to be
used to breed to a "mini" and will not recommend a breeder to you because
we personally do not support the purposeful breeding of 'miniature” or
“toy” dogs that are then passed off as Australian Shepherds. We breed our Aussies to the ASCA and CKC
recognized standard of excellence. These clubs require all of their
members to abide by their rules and regulations and their Code of Ethics,
and to be ever vigilant in the preservation and protection of the true
If you are looking for a miniature we suggest you try
the following links:
Australian Shepherd Club of America
Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of the USA, Inc.
If you'd like to see a list of titles that can be earned by canines,
click on this link!