The Australian Shepherd is a very beautiful, medium sized dog who is used to working on a farm. His working background and great intelligence means that he needs to be challenged by doing obedience training and/or agility training. He has high energy and ideally should have at least two hours exercise every day with opportunities to run free. His thick coat will need regular and frequent grooming.
Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)
The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 3.6% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'
Effective Population Size - EPSTBC
EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.
Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)
- Hip dysplasia (abnormality of the hip joints causing pain and disability): breed mean score 10.4 (ideally parents should be lower)
- Elbow dysplasia (abnormal development of the elbow joint causing pain and disability): score ideally O:O
- Eye disease: Hereditary cataract (HC) (litter screening); Coloboma (litter screening); Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) (annual testing) (leads to blindness)
Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:
DNA Tests Available
- Collie eye anomaly/Choriodal hypoplasia (CEA/CH)
- Hereditary cataract (HC-HSF4)
- Multi-drug resistance (MDR1)
- Progressive retinal atrophy (prcd-PRA)
- Cobalamin Malabsorption (vitamin B12 deficiency)
- Neuronal ceroid lipofusionosis (degeneration of the nervous system)
- Degenerative myelopathy (DM)
- Hyperuricosuria (HUU)
- Multi-focal retinopathy (CMR)
- Cyclic Neutropenia
- Merle gene
Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes
Blood test for Pelger-Huet Anomaly (blood leukocyte development).
Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.
Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)
- Epilepsy (severe in this breed)
- Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushings syndrome) (over production of corticosteroids, causing lethargy, thirst and loss of appetite)
- Keratitis (cloudy eye)
- Multiple ocular defects: most common Persistent hyaloid remnants (PHR); Distichia (double row of eye lashes)
- Urolithiasis (formation of stones in the urinary system – males only)
- Ceroid lipofuscinosis (progressive loss of vision, of co-ordination, and personality changes)
- Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (developmental bone disease causing destruction of the head of the femor) causing severe pain and lameness)
Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.
Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.
You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP): www.puppycontract.org.uk
You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding: