PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD

Beautiful and easily recognisable, the Australian Shepherd has won the hearts of many; this is a dog with a friendly face and a clever look. Australian Shepherds are medium-sized dogs with a dense, silky coat and a sporty yet delicate physique. There are many different kinds—some are dark-haired, others are light, plain, or spotted—but one thing is for sure: each is more gorgeous than the next!

Physical Appearance

Coat

Australian Shepherds have a medium-length coat that can be straight or slightly wavy. It's a little shorter around the head and ears. They have a very high-quality coat, which allows them to brave bad weather conditions. These sheepdogs are built to live outside, come rain or shine! The density of their undercoat varies with the season. Australian Shepherds moult twice a year: in spring and autumn. As such, they can endure both hot and cold temperatures, so long as they’re not too extreme! Maintaining your Australian Shepherd's shiny coat takes proper care and maintenance! Remember to brush them regularly: once or twice per week normally and at least once a day during moulting periods. Certain natural food supplements, such as brewer's yeast or grapefruit seed extract, are very effective in helping maintain your furry friend's skin and coat.

Colour

The Australian Shepherd's coat comes in four distinct colours: black, red, blue merle, and red merle.

  • Black: A black Australian Shepherd can be tricolour (black, tan, white), bicolour (black and white or black and tan), or solid black.

  • Red: A red Australian Shepherd can also have multiple variations: tricolour (red, tan, white), bicolour (red and white or red and tan), or solid red.

  • Blue merle: The same goes for a blue merle Australian Shepherd: tricolour (blue merle, tan, white), bicolour (blue merle and white or blue merle and tan), or solid blue merle. It's important to note that blue merle Australian Shepherds can be affected by blindness and/or deafness if both parents carry the merle gene. This is known as a double merle. Serious breeders do their best to avoid this type of crossbreeding as it can seriously affect the health of the dog. Nevertheless, the blue merle colour remains one of the Australian Shepherd's most recognisable physical traits.

  • Red merle: A red merle Australian Shepherd can also be tricolour (red merle, tan, white), bicolour (red merle and white or red merle and tan), or solid red merle.

Tricolour coats make up 99% of all Australian Shepherds, with the bicolour and solid colour options being much rarer. Other than those listed above, no other colour is accepted by the breed standard; any variation, such as beige, for example, is considered undesirable.

According to The Kennel Club, white should not dominate the head, and all areas covering and surrounding the ears and eyes should be dominated by a colour other than white. However, white is permitted on the chest, muzzle, and legs.

Head

Australian Shepherds have a square, bushy head with a flat skull. Their face is very well proportioned and the stop is moderate and well defined. The nose and eye rims are black in blue merle and black Australian Shepherds and shades of brown in red merles and reds.

The hairy, triangular ears are set high and fold forward. The eyes are expressive and almond-shaped and can be amber, brown, or blue. Australian Shepherds sometimes have either odd-coloured eyes (eyes of different colours) or particoloured eyes (several colours in one eye).

Body

Overall, the Australian Shepherd's build is muscular and well-proportioned, without being heavy. The body is slightly longer than it is tall, with arched ribs and a sloping rump, resulting in an elegant, agile silhouette.

Tail

Australian Shepherds have a beautiful, long, hairy tail. The length should not exceed ten centimetres. Sometimes the tail is naturally very short. (Previously, it was customarily docked.)

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Size and Weight

The size and weight of an Australian Shepherd will, of course, vary according to its sex and age.

Australian Shepherd Puppy

At birth, Australian Shepherd puppies weigh between 300 and 400 grams. They then grow and gain weight very quickly. At three months old, the Australian Shepherd has already almost doubled in size.

Your Australian Shepherd's growth period can be tricky because you need to understand how to help your pooch channel their energy to prevent them from developing joint problems, and in particular hip dysplasia. As such, avoid intense play sessions and running up and down stairs until your dog has reached adult size.

At what age does an Australian Shepherd stop growing? The Australian Shepherd's growth curve has two main stages. An Australian Shepherd puppy grows fast and gains weight quickly until they are five to six months old. By this age, the pup has already reached two-thirds of its adult height and weight. After a very clear peak, the remaining growth stage is much more linear. The Australian Shepherd reaches adult size around the age of 12 months for females and 15 months for males.

Australian Shepherd Adult

The adult size and weight of the Australian Shepherd vary according to the sex of the animal: males are generally larger than females. Of course, the individual physical characteristics of each Australian Shepherd are also to be taken into account, and it is entirely possible for a male to be smaller than a female.

In adulthood, males reach between 51 and 58cm at the withers, while females are usually between 46 and 53cm. Meanwhile, their weight oscillates between 25 to 34kg for males and 19 to 26kg for females.

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