Dog lovers, rejoice! We are going to give you some awesome facts about one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. Yes, we are talking about the Australian Shepherd, the cute, fluffy dog with the stumpy tail and the short legs. These pups just love to run and jump around, making them excellent playmates for both humans and other animals. They can be cat-friendly, but it always depends on the cat, right? Anyway, we hope you enjoy learning all about these lovable creatures with our list of 10 Random Australian Shepherd Facts You Never Knew. You don’t have to be a dog breeder or enthusiast to enjoy this list, because it is chock-full of riveting facts about a dog breed that has captivated humans for years.
For instance, did you know that the origins of the Australian Shepherd are still somewhat shrouded in mystery? Also, this dog breed is so intelligent and energetic that it was used in rodeo shows back during the times of World War I. Nowadays, people are more likely to see these dogs in Dog Shows and maybe on a pet talent show. After all, Australian Shepherds totally rule at agility dog competitions. Thanks to their high level of obedience, as well as their friendliness and adaptability, Aussies make wonderful guard, therapy, and disability dogs, as well as treasured members of the family. Whether you have an Australian Shepherd or not, dig into these 10 random facts to educate yourself a bit more on one of the most beautiful and intriguing dog breeds on the planet.
10 Australian Shepherds Aren’t Australian
Say what? We know, the outrage you’re feeling must be tremendous. Yet the reality is that the Australian Shepherd did not originate down under; instead it came from the western United States of America. This was during the 1840s, when everyone was in full Gold Rush mode. However, if you ask other dog experts, they will tell you that the Australian Shepherd has its main roots in the Great Pyrenees Mountains of the Spanish Basque country. The Australian part might have come in when the dogs passed through Australia, or the more probable story is that Australian breeders took them under their wings.
9 Australian Shepherds Love Rodeo
In fact, it is the rodeo that helped to really put these dogs on the map. We mentioned earlier that Australian Shepherds made their way to the western part of the United States around the time of the Gold Rush, and this was because there was more work for the dogs to do there. While in this region, the dogs began to be used in rodeo shows at the start of World War I (since they could be trained easily.) The doggies would run, jump, and twirl on command, and eve today the Australian Shepherd is lauded for its impeccable intelligence and trainability.
8 Australian Shepherds Are…Ghosts?
If you search through Native American history, you will find that some tribes called Australian Shepherds “Ghost Eye Dogs.” This was due to the glassy blue eyes that some Australian Shepherds have. These features make the dogs extremely attractive, at least to most people, yet the Native Americans (as well as other groups of people) developed the habit of staying away from these “ghostly” dogs, for fear that they were holding other spirits in their bodies or something. The dogs were also considered to be sacred animals that humans should avoid contact with. If your Australian Shepherd doesn’t have glassy blue eyes, it’s okay.
7 Australian Shepherds Aren’t Couch Potatoes
If you do not consider yourself an active person, then you probably want to choose a different dog breed to bring home. That is because the Australian Shepherd is one of the most active and energetic dogs you will find. They were bred to maneuver around cattle and sheep, so they have a tendency to herd just about anything that moves (bikes, cats, people, etc.) Australian Shepherds also get antsy if they are left to idle for too long; they just can’t stand still! You will need to be someone who likes to get outdoors and move it or else your Australian Shepherd won’t like you very much!
6 Australian Shepherds are Dog Athletes
If there were an Olympic Games for dogs, then the Australian Shepherd would certainly be a worthy contender. We said that these dogs have energy to burn, so they make great competitive sporting dogs. For instance, they can leap and bound over obstacles, jump high into the air, and catch frisbees and other objects that you throw their way. Many of the dog owners or breeders who participate in dog agility competitions have Australian Shepherds, as these doggies are obedience, intelligent, and can be trained to do all sorts of things. In fact, they are also a good dog breed to serve as a therapy or disability dog.
5 Australian Shepherds are Extremely Attractive
Sure, who doesn’t love admiring a shiny groomed coat on just about any breed of dog? Even so, the Australian Shepherd consistently receives high marks for its lovely coat, alluring eyes, and its generally fabulous appearance. First of all, Australian Shepherds can have eyes in a variety of colors, such as amber, blue, brown, green, or hazel. Some Aussies even have eyes that are two different colors (this is no cause for alarm.) As for their fur coats, these dogs can be blue merle, red merle, solid black, or solid brown (also called red.) They have a double coat, which means they need to be groomed weekly.
4 Australian Shepherds Prefer to go Tailless
Not that they have much of a choice, but the dog breed is usually featured by its lack of a tail, or it might just have a short stump for a tail. What explains this phenomenon? Well, Australian Shepherds were made to herd cattle and other livestock in the fields. Their owners would find that a long bushy tail was just a nuisance in the fields and on the farm, so many early Australian Shepherds had their tails docked off. Sometimes the ears would be docked off too, in order to avoid injury while the Aussie was working outside. The practice remained and led to some Australian Shepherds being bred this way, so your own pup might be born with a bobbed tail.
3 Hyper Hank was a Famous Australian Shepherd
Plenty of Australian Shepherd dogs have been admired over the years, such as the ones that performed in the rodeos during World War I. One of the most well-known Australian Shepherds was Hyper Hank, who was owned and trained by Eldon McIntire. The man and dog team would perform their Frisbee routine in front and crowds and they steadily gained more fame and attention. Before they knew it, they were appearing on national TV and even performed during the halftime show at Super Bowl XII. Just another testament to the drive, energy, and intelligence of these cute fluffy herding dogs!
2 There is a Miniature Australian Shepherd
If you thought that these dogs were adorable, then just wait until you see a miniature Australian Shepherd. Such a dog exists, and it may actually be a better fit for your home and lifestyle than the standard sized Aussie. The miniature version of this dog breed requires less exercise and physical stimulation than its larger relative, and may be better suited to living with city-dwellers. Even though you might not have to pound the pavement with a miniature Australian Shepherd, you will still have to make sure that its intellectual needs are met. These Aussies are just as smart as the larger ones!
1 Beware of Australian Shepherd In-Breeding
These gorgeous dogs can take a turn for the worst if they are incorrectly bred. For instance, if you have two Australian Shepherds with merle coats, then they could produce a puppy with a double-merle coat, resulting in a stark white coat. It may seem cool at first glance, but these puppies often have vision and hearing problems, as well as microphthalmia (one eye smaller than the other) and they may even be euthanized by breeders. Other breeders will try to sell these pups off as “extremely rare” Aussies, costing buyers thousands of dollars, plus the medical costs that the dog requires.