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Australian Shepherd's are part of the herding group in in AKC and are especially well known for their success herding everything from geese to cattle to children. They weigh anywhere from 40 to 65 pounds and are considered a medium size breed. These gorgeous and agile little canines have amazingly affectionate temperaments with their family and a razor sharp intelligence that earns them a spot on many top ranking intelligence lists. The Aussie needs  several long walks or runs each day and a lot of playtime to work off their relatively high energy, but this is the first place where you may notice some health issues. BREED SPECIFIC ISSUES Being an energetic breed, some joint issues like hip and elbow dysplasia can be common. You'll want to be on the lookout from day one for potential problems and be as gentle on their joints as you can, especially while they are still young. This means that a lot of jumping, intense running, or other high impact exercises early in their life can damage their joints, leading to problems later on. This is easier said and done with their high energy and need to work so make sure you’re not going overboard with the runs and hikes until they are fully grown. Of course, as they get older, even if you keep as much pressure off their joints as possible when they're young, they have a higher possibility of developing joint issues in the latter half of their life because of their high activity level.  Aussies are a generally healthy breed, but they are also susceptible to defects apparent very early on from recessive genes. Some irresponsible breeding has led to the rise of what’s called double merles which are completely white in colour, blind, and deaf. Some Aussies may have more colouring and only experience some deaf or blindness if they don’t have the full expression of the recessive genes. So, if you’re looking into adding this incredibly energetic and capable breed into your home do your research on the breeder to make sure they are responsible. And of course, if you’re experienced and have the proper home environment, look into adopting the special needs dogs of the breed from shelters or rescue groups. They can be prone to digestive upset and obesity since they are very food motivated. One of the best ways to slow down a fast eater is by feeding a raw diet. The nature of feeding a raw diet forces them to chew and eat in a more natural cadence and tempo. You can also leave some of the meat partially frozen, which also encourages them to chew more thoroughly. I have an entire course that walks you through every step of feeding a raw diet if you'd like to learn more about all of its benefits. LIFE EXPECTANCY The breed's life expectancy is good for their size ranging from 12 to 15 years on average. Of course, there are always outliers that can go several years beyond that, but a lot of it depends on their genetics, daily exercise, and the diet they are fed throughout their life. When you get an Australian Shepherd from a breeder, it's always a good idea to ask what the average lifespan is of the canines they've produced, including the parents and siblings to your Australian Shepherd. When researching and interviewing a breeder, you also get a chance to learn about the health problems and energy levels that are more likely from their lines than others. Thoroughly interviewing breeders means that you are less likely to be surprised with health problems, but of course, the risk always exists.  Also, don't forget to consider the training of your Australian Shepherd when you're thinking about their life span and potential health issues. When they are well trained, they are likely to have a longer and happier life when you consider factors like reducing their mental stress and being able to remove them or prevent situations that could result in the dog being put down for aggression. They can be protective and have no fear so ensuing they see you as their leader will prevent many potential situations. WRAP UP Now I know all of that is pretty heavy, and you might be thinking that an Australian Shepherd may not be right for you or wondering if you need to drastically alter everything you're doing with your current Australian Shepherd. I want to make sure everyone knows that they really are an amazing and fantastic breed that does exceptionally well with canine leaders who give them the structure and exercise they need. Many Australian Shepherd owners will not experience any health issues or maybe run into one or two minor ones because, overall, they are a hardy breed and a delightful constant companion that will turn heads all around town.

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