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Despite the name, the Australian Shepherd is not from Australia. It is believed to have been
developed between Spain and France in the Pyrenees mountains and was further developed in the
Western United States by cattle ranchers and sheep herders. As a high-prey-drive herding breed,
Aussies are usually extremely visually sensitive and have strong problem solving capabilities. They
also have strong guardian instincts and an authoritative and aggressive personality. Australian
Shepherds never see limits, only opportunities and always loves a challenge.
The ability for Australian Shepherds to control livestock is a trait that has been instilled in breeders for a hundred years or longer, but the Australian Shepherd was skilled at not only herding and guarding all types of livestock but could also handle many other duties on the farm. Although serious, focused and
aggressive at work with livestock, the Australian Shepherd is gentle with human friends. Tail
docking is a controversial issue for some and is illegal in some countries. Docking is done either
for health, safety or cosmetic reasons. For Aussies that are herding dogs, their tails could pick up
burrs and foxtails, causing serious pain and infection. The wagging tail is in danger of abrasion or other injury while traveling through dense brush, woods or thickets. Tails with long fur could collect feces and become a cleanliness problem. Australian Shepherds make excellent family pets as long as you can accommodate their need for an active lifestyle. If left on their own with no mental or physical stimulation, they can be destructive and anxious. Aussies are loyal, loving and protective, however their natural herding instincts can be misunderstood. Aussies may herd family members, other pets and even guests or strangers.
People who are not familiar with the breed may feel they were being attacked aggressive dog, not realizing the dog was simply trying to herd them by nipping at the backs of their legs. There have been several stories in the news of Australian Shepherds being confiscated by animal control and some even being euthanized for biting people which is so upsetting knowing they were just trying to do what they were bred to do. The AKC says Australian Shepherds were the 22nd most popular breed in the U.S. in 2012, up from No. 35 just three years before. It's no wonder because they are so versatile and opening for new adventures. Whether herding,swimming, hiking, disc, agility or just hanging around, Aussies are the best. A common thread with owners of Australian Shepherds is that they are the most intelligent and loving dogs they ever owned, making it difficult to ever have just one.
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