Have you ever wondered what makes Australian Shepherds such wonderful pets? The answer is in their physical attributes.
While it may look like there are many different breeds, only three distinct genetic groups exist: the sighthound group, which includes the Aussie and the Border Collie, and two working groups – herding and non-sighthound.
Whether you’re wondering why do Australian shepherds have docked tails or why collies are friendly, here is some insightful information that will answer your questions.
Herding Dogs: German Shepherd, Border Collie, and Australian Shepherds
The heritage of the Australian shepherd dogs can be traced to the shepherds who came to Australia from Europe in the 1800s. Along with them came their herding dogs – a blend of old English sheepdogs and collies, the predecessors of today’s border collies.
Studies have traced the breed’s bloodline to ancient European hounds, Spanish galgos, Italian greyhounds, Welsh corgis, Scottish deerhounds, along almost every other herding dog in existence.
Unique Physical Attributes of Australian Shepherds
Although all dogs come in various colors and sizes, Australian Shepherds are uniquely marked with different spots and coloring patterns.
Large, Intelligent Eyes
One of the most essential things a herding dog needs is its ability to focus on a flock and pinpoint a single animal. The Aussie has been bred for generations to see incredibly well in all directions at once. The deep placement of its eyes provides it with much greater peripheral vision than other breeds; their dark pupils aid in low light conditions and the whites surrounding their eyes reflect sunlight for better visibility.
Long, Straight Ears
Herding dogs use their ears to catch sound from a distance, so they have been bred to be soft, upright, and moving. The Aussie’s distinctive ears have a generally erect posture with a squared-off appearance – so they don’t interfere with its peripheral vision. The top of their ear is held parallel to the ground for flexibility and better sound reception, along with a shaggy fringe on the underside for protection against sun, rain, and debris.
Sturdy, Powerful Legs for Digging
Whether digging out a burrow or chasing an animal to the ends of their endurance, herding dogs need strong legs with hard feet to do all that work. Australian Shepherds have muscular thighs with strong bones and large paws that resemble snowshoes. Heavy fur between their toes helps protect against extreme weather.
If you’re wondering, why do Australian shepherds have docked tails? Well, Aussie’s tails were traditionally docked to avoid injury and prevent the build-up of dirt and debris.
However, unlike most other breeds whose tails are cut long and allowed to heal naturally with minimal scarring, Aussie’s tails are generally severed between two vertebrae leaving a circular wound that does not close completely. The majority of breeders still dock their Aussies’ tails for the sake of tradition, but it is up to the breeder whether or not to leave any length of tail.
The Aussie’s tail is typically docked to avoid injury. It might seem cruel at first, but it protects the breed from injuries caused by other dogs while working on ranches.
The Australian Shepherd is a breed with a bold spirit that makes them intelligent and learns quickly and independently. They are agile and athletic, intelligent with an excellent memory. Aussies generally have a very agreeable temperament that is affectionate, joyful, and curious. They do not bark excessively, nor are they aggressive with other dogs or people.
However, some dogs may be more aggressive due to the original purpose for which they were bred. These dogs must receive a disposition test when they are still young to avoid unnecessary problems in the future.
Generally, Aussies are not the best guard dogs because they prefer to greet visitors with curiosity rather than aggression. They make great family pets and can live happily in an apartment or house. This makes them the perfect pet to have around the house.