Australian Shepherd Breeder Roundup

Australian Shepherd Breeder Roundup

In creating the book The Complete Guide to Australian Shepherds” (written by Kirsten Tardiff of Echolight Australian Shepherds and available on Amazon) we interviewed 16 of the top Australian Shepherd breeders in the country.  We used their advice and expertise to help make the book the best possible guide book for a new Aussie owner.

But… there was so much good advice in those interviews that we couldn’t fit it all into the book.  So we decided we’d compile the best answers to each question and present them here.  If you are thinking of getting a Australian Shepherd, or are a current owner, the advice that follows will be invaluable to you as you proceed on your ownership journey.  Enjoy:

Question #1: What are your top tips for choosing the right Australian Shepherd from either a breeder or rescue?

Consensus:
Try to learn as much as you can about the parents of the dog, including details about health checkups and background on the bloodline. If possible, meet the parents of the dog. Look for a breeder who is open to answering all the questions you may have, including after you adopt the dog. Observe the temperament of any dog you want to adopt—prioritize a good personality over color. Make sure you have done a lot of research about the breed and think about whether your home environment and lifestyle would be a good fit for an Australian Shepherd.

Best Quotes:

Think about what your ideal Aussie would be like. There is a lot of variety within this breed, so it pays to be very specific in what you are looking for—there is much more to consider than color or gender. If choosing to source your Aussie from a breeder, ensure the parent dogs are health tested (hip and eye exams at a minimum) and that they have the type of temperament you are looking for.” Kirsten Tardiff – Echolight Australian Shepherds

Be attune to the lineage history, DNA profile, true coloring and size, and alertness and general manner of the dog.” Ben McCune – HoneyCreek Australian Shepherd

I look for temperament above all else. Then structure, drive, and brains.” Joan Fry – Bella Loma Kennels

The best choice is to get a pup from a breeder that has had the parents tested. Visit the home to see the conditions where the pup was born and raised, and meet the parents if possible. See proof of health checkups from vets and shot and worming dates. See that pups are socialized and friendly.” Mary Kirkpatrick – EastCoast Aussies

I believe it is important to decide beforehand what type of personality would best suit your lifestyle and family. Typically, puppies show you the personality they will have as an adult dog as early as four to six weeks.” Jessica Faber – Red Oak Trail Ranch

Question #2: What are some of the most unique characteristics of the breed?

Consensus:
Australian Shepherds are incredibly loyal. They always want to be close to their owners, both in terms of physical proximity and in terms of affection. They are intelligent, displaying an eagerness to learn and to solve problems. They want to work and to help out their owners. In many cases, they have a desire to please.

Best Quotes:

Intelligence, humor, loyalty, and endurance. When you have an Aussie, you will always have a best friend always willing to stay by your side.” Ashley Bryan – Ashley’s Aussies

Their loyalty to their owner is unique to the breed. They want to be with you over being with other dogs. They are very smart! They can be trained to do almost anything, but training is key!” Joanne Harvell – Canyon Lake Aussies

I call them the tripping-over dogs. They will always be right there with you. Watch out behind you—most likely he or she is there. You’ll never go to the bathroom alone. They will not be left out of anything. This is why many call them ‘Velcro dogs.’ I am always in awe of their extreme loyalty.” Francine Guerra – Alias Aussies

Question #3: What do most people not know about Aussies that would surprise them?

Consensus:
Aussies are full of surprises! With some effort, they can be quickly trained to do many things—although not all of them are good at herding. Some have lost the herding instinct. They do, however, need a job to do, even if that job is simply following the owner around. They carefully track their owners’ moves.

Best Quotes:

Many people that ask me about Aussies come with a preconceived notion that they are high energy and difficult to manage. My experience has been the opposite. I love that they have the energy to go and do all the fun outdoor things my family enjoys without wearing down fast; however, when we are at home they just go lay down and enjoy being in our presence. I do not have to keep them ‘worn down’ with work in order to have nice behavior indoors. They are not destructive and naughty when they haven’t had a lot of attention. We have just thoroughly enjoyed having them around.” Jessica Faber – Red Oak Trail Ranch

How intellectual they can be, following and tracing your every move, contemplating what and how they can be a part of that situation at all times. Very smart—sometimes can be scary smart.” Ben McCune – HoneyCreek Australian Shepherds

Most Aussies want a job in order to keep them happy. They look for ways to help and will create jobs if you don’t give them one.” Allison Lutterman – DreamWinds

Not all Aussies are good at herding! This is sad, but true. Many Aussies are bred to be pets today, which can eventually cause them to lose the herding instinct and drive if it is not selected for. Even Aussies that have good instincts usually need some training and guidance to learn to work with you and to understand what you want. Many people believe you can just stick an Aussie out with your sheep and they magically know what you want them to do—not so!” Kirsten Tardiff – Echolight Australian Shepherds

Their level of intelligence and problem-solving skills. Crate-training, house-training ,and obedience-training only takes a matter of a few days (for owners who are willing to put the intensive work in as soon as they bring their puppy home).” Ashley Bryan – Ashley’s Aussies

Question #4: How would you recommend people prepare their home for the arrival of their new puppy?

Consensus:
Prospective owners should have all the standard puppy supplies on hand: a kennel, food and water bowls, a leash, collar, dog bed, dog toys, and treats. Australian Shepherds are especially active dogs, and a house where they are going to be introduced should be puppy proofed, particularly cords and staircases. They need lots of chew toys due to their fixation on nipping. Training programs should begin right away, and owners should start establishing boundaries as soon as possible. Aussies do better when there is a clear leader and guidance.

Best Quotes:

Prepare just like you would for an infant. Put up things they can get in their mouth, secure cords, and make sure they can’t pull things down.” Gail Claborn – Circle 5 Aussies

First, everyone in the family needs to be on board for a new puppy, and everyone needs to follow the training program and boundaries you choose that help your Aussie to grow into a well-mannered adult. If your puppy isn’t allowed on the couch, that rule should be absolute. Making exceptions just confuses your puppy! Purchase an appropriately sized crate for your puppy. This protects them, gives them a safe place to own, and protects your home from puppy shenanigans. You should also choose safe, well-made toys for your puppy to welcome them home. Get into the habit of picking up items left on the floor that puppy could get ahold of, and select a designated area outside for potty-training.” Kirsten Tardiff – Echolight Australian Shepherds

Ensure you have a good fence, puppy supplies such as a kennel, food and water bowls, leash and collar, a dog bed, dog toys and treats. Be prepared to follow up with all vet appointments to complete the puppy’s vaccination schedule so it is protected against diseases. Also recommended are partition gates (baby gates) to keep the puppy from certain rooms of the house you do not want the puppy in. Always be prepared to either unplug all electronics from the wall or crate-train your puppy when you are not home so that they do not chew electrical cords.” Ashley Bryan – Ashley’s Aussies

Remember, you are getting a ‘new baby’ so whining and chewing are to be expected. Make sure to provide plenty of toys for your Aussie as they are known to get bored.” Valerie Cleave –Australian Collies

Puppies at eight weeks of age enjoy playing tug-of-war. This game actually helps the puppy bond with people. The puppy needs his or her safe space, a place to retreat to when they are tired or just want some space.” Belinda Stonger – LoveMyAussies.com

Question #5: What are some unexpected things a new Australian Shepherd owner might encounter the first few weeks?

Consensus:
Because they are especially pack-focused as herding dogs, many newly adopted Australian Shepherds will experience separation anxiety until they establish new bonds. They will need to go outside to urinate frequently. From the outset, they can be vocal, active dogs, often chewing and nipping. Sometimes, they will try to start herding.

Best Quotes:

Separation anxiety. Australian Shepherds are intensely loyal and social and when they leave their litters they will look to their new owners as the pack leader while they find their place in the world. Leaving them alone for extended periods of time can cause separation anxiety, and they will often cause damage to the home or themselves if not safely confined.” Ashley Bryan – Ashley’s Aussies

Whether you adopt a puppy or an adult Aussie, one must remember these are herding dogs, breed to move sheep, cattle, horses, anything—and that includes you. Be prepared for a tug on the pants or a little nip on the butt; that is their way.” Ben McCune – HoneyCreek Australian Shepherds

Lots of chewing. Anything they can find. Some will want to chew or nip at you, and you must redirect and teach otherwise.” Allison Lutterman – DreamWinds

They may try to ‘herd’ you around your own house. You need to nip this in the bud immediately. As your pup nips at your fingers and ankles, you must immediately teach them that this is not okay. You may think it is cute, but it will not be cute when a full-grown dog thinks they have the right to herd around humans!” Valerie Cleave – Australian Collies

Because the Aussies for strong bonds with those around them, it may take a few weeks for them to adjust being away from their previous bonds whether that be their littermates and mother or kennel mates. Being patient with the whining or crying that might occur when they are being crate-trained or left alone is important. Soon they will be bonded with you and that loneliness for their previous bonds will be replaced with the happiness they get from their new bonds.” Jessica Faber – Red Oak Trail Ranch

Question #6: What house-training advice do you have for a new owner?

Consensus:
When you are house-training your Australian Shepherd, prepare to take him or her out a lot—and do so shortly after he or she wakes up in the morning or after snoozing during the day. Give the dog rewards for going outside. Keep the dog under constant supervision, and do not give him or her free reign over the house. Do crate-training along with house-training.

Best Quotes:

Set a timer to take them outside at regular intervals so that you don’t get distracted and forget, then have to scold them for the accident. Be very consistent but patient. Remember that Aussies want to please, so we just need to help them understand what we want and they will try to do it.”

Jessica Faber – Red Oak Trail Ranch

The best thing for a new pup is frequent trips outside, and verbal rewards for doing their business.” Joan Fry – Bella Loma Kennels

Every few hours, take your newly adopted Aussie out. When they wake up from sleeping, take them out fast—they usually pee within fifteen seconds after waking up.” Mary Kirkpatrick –Eastcoast Aussies

Crate-train and if they do not go when they are out, then they go right back into the crate. No freedom until they go, and freedom means they are still with you where you are watching them 100 percent of the time and never letting them roam the house.” Emily Hess – 1968

It is very important to keep the dog or puppy on a routine (go outside when they first wake up, right after they eat, periodically in between, etc.). Our adults are free in the house, but for puppies, crate-training tends to work well because they try not to use the potty where they sleep.” Cayla Cox – CC Miniature and Toy Australian Shepherds

Question #7: What tips do you have for socializing your Australian Shepherd with other pets?

Consensus:
Once your puppy is vaccinated, take him or her everywhere. It’s important to get the puppy out and about as soon as you can. Give him or her frequent exposure to other pets, but don’t let him or her try to herd other animals. Australian Shepherds are pretty good with other dogs and many cats, but it’s best not to have them around smaller animals. Introduce your new pet slowly to other dogs.

Best Quotes:

Take your Australian Shepherd puppy everywhere with you (once it has received all of its vaccinations!). Keep a leash on your puppy so they feel secure while they are learning social skills. Dog parks, hiking, puppy obedience classes, and therapy dog work are all great things you can involve your puppy in to get socialized.” Ashley Bryan – Ashley’s Aussies

Aussies generally are pack dogs; they do not generally have that inherent alpha characteristic and socialize well. If they have any fault, it would be they desire to run and play with all, which can make other breeds nervous.” Ben McCune – HoneyCreek Australian Shepherds

Start introductions slowly. Safety is extremely important, and greetings should always be controlled and closely supervised. Aussies are generally good with cats, but will chase them in the run. Interactions should never be forced, and your kitty should always have a safe ‘dog-free’ zone to retreat to that your Aussie can’t reach. Interactions with pocket pets are generally not recommended, as they are fragile animals that can easily be harmed accidentally. Aussies must be taught not to mindlessly chase livestock.” Kirsten Tardiff – Echolight Australian Shepherds

Do not force your pet into relationships; let them take their time.” Adriana – Turkey Run Australian Shepherds

Do not take a puppy to pet parks until they are fully vaccinated. After then, they need to be around other people, dogs, and other animals. Aussies are naturally very shy, so don’t be surprised if they never become social butterflies.” Cayla Cox – CC Miniature and Toy Australian Shepherds

Question #8: How much exercise does a Aussie need? What are some good exercise habits to develop?

Consensus:
Compared with some other breeds of dogs, Australian Shepherds need an above-average amount of daily exercise, although it does depend a little bit on which type of Aussie they are. Be creative with the exercise—it doesn’t just have to be walks. Frisbee and fetch are good options. Do around an hour of exercise per day, but there’s no need to do too much. Make sure the Aussie has both physical and mental exercise—some dog toys are great for stimulating their minds.

Best Quotes:

Aussies do require an above-average amount of exercise. Morning walks and evening walks are ideal. Playing frisbee is a great alternative to walks, and Aussies love the challenge of catching the frisbee.” Ashley Bryan – Ashley’s Aussies

Some Aussies are bred to work, cattle, and to herd livestock. They should get a lot of exercise. Aussies come in three sizes; the smaller ones don’t need as much exercise as a working dog.” Mary Kirkpatrick – Eastcoast Aussies

Aussies need both mental and physical exercise. Get them involved in different activities such as agility and obedience.” Gail Claborn – Circle 5 Aussies

Don’t let the exercise intimidate you. Perhaps you aren’t an extreme athlete, but your heart desires an Aussie. This can work! A laser pointer is a great go-to. There were nights my husband and I would both come home from work exhausted. It was dark and cold outside, and nobody wanted to go for a run with the dogs. We pulled out the laser pointer and the dogs got all the exercise they needed.” Valerie Cleave – Australian Collies

They need quite a bit of exercise but not as much as some people fear: two good long walks or play sessions a day as well as mind games they can play when crated. Unlike Border Collies, Aussies have an off switch, and when they have had sufficient exercise, they are very content to sit on the sofa and watch a movie with their humans.” Emily Hess – 1968

Question #9: How easy or hard are they to train? What advice do you have for a new owner?

Consensus:
Aussies are easy to train, but start early before bad habits can be ingrained. They can keep learning more things, as they are quick learners. Training classes are a great resource. Positive reinforcement is a big tool that you can use as you train your Aussie. Training should occur alongside socialization.

Best Quotes:

With a few exceptions, most Aussies are incredibly easy to train. Most people wait until their puppy is older or starts having behavior problems to begin training, which is backward. Training should start the very day you bring your Aussie home! Enroll in a puppy kindergarten or basic obedience class with your Aussie—not only is it fun and a great socialization experience, but you will prevent misbehavior before it starts! Aussies thrive on positive-reinforcement training; most become stressed and crumble under overly firm, correction-based training. They crave your approval, so don’t be afraid to use praise as a reward. Understand that if you do not purposely train your Aussie from the get-go, you are still unconsciously training them every single time you interact with them. Aussies are incredibly intuitive, and are smart enough to get what they want.” Kirsten Tardiff – Echolight Australian Shepherds

Australian Shepherds are extremely easy to train. Predictability and consistency is the key. And start early, as soon as your puppy comes home. Eight-week-old puppies can be house-trained, crate-trained, and obedience-trained. You have to put the work in.” Ashley Bryan – Ashley’s Aussies

If an Aussie is used to being in control, getting their own way, it is hard to overcome that. My Aussies know my voice, they know my mood, and they know there are limits. They try the boundaries sometimes. But in general, they know what to do. If the dog has a relationship with the owner, training is not hard.” Belinda Stonger – LoveMyAussies.com

Super easy. The training is up to you. It needs to be consistent and a group class is best so they socialize more and deal with distractions more.” Emily Hess – 1968

Aussies love to please their humans and have fantastic focus! You will be amazed at how quickly they learn. And the more you teach, the easier it is for them to learn. Being a sensitive breed, they respond well to positive reinforcement training. Harsh methods can cause an Aussie to shut down and appear they are stubborn, but, in actuality, they only want to please. Clickers and treats are an Aussie’s best friend.” Gayle Silberhorn – Big Run Aussies

Question #10: What are some unwanted behaviors that a Australian Shepherd might display, and what advice do you have for dealing with them?

Consensus:
Many of the bad behaviors some Australian Shepherds fall into stem from their impulse to herd: barking, jumping, nipping, biting, being vocal, and chasing things. When an Aussie displays an undesirable behavior, tell him or her a firm no, and then redirect with a toy. Make sure your response is consistent each time. Also make sure that the Aussie is getting sufficient exercise, because Aussies who haven’t exerted themselves enough are prone to misbehaving. Make sure to consult experienced trainers as you work with your Australian Shepherd on behavioral issues.

Best Quotes:

Barking, destructive chewing, leash pulling, inappropriate herding behavior, and jumping up on people are some of the more common behavior problems. If your Aussie isn’t getting enough exercise and mental stimulation, they are far more likely to develop problems like these.” Kirsten Tardiff – Echolight Australian Shepherds

Nipping or herding when they shouldn’t are two of the biggest complaints I’ve seen. Aussies do this out of instinct and fear. Socializing them appropriately and making sure they have a job (even if the job is just being your companion who gets enough exercise) can solve these issues.” Valerie Cleave – Australian Collies

Nipping is always a potential problem for herding dogs. It should be strongly discouraged from Day 1. Dogs do not understand timeouts and long conversations. They are not children. Correct them firmly and use ‘No.’ Never correct with use of or addition of their name.” Francine Guerra – Alias Aussies

Their herding instincts kick in and they will want to chase, grab pant legs, etc. Stop it from the time it starts when you get them at eight weeks. It may seem cute then, but it will not be cute when the dog is full grown. They need a strong leader who tells them what the rules are and maintains the rules. Aussies love structure and thrive on the rules. They hate when they are unsure. Then they take over and that’s when they can become aggressive, because they feel they are in charge and need to control the situation.” Emily Hess – 1968

Question #11: Do Australian Shepherds make good travel companions? Why or why not?

Consensus:
They definitely do. The Australian Shepherd’s desire to be with his or her owner means that the breed is likely to be content while traveling. Watch for carsickness, and be careful when the Aussie is interacting with other dogs during trips. The more you expose your Aussie to travel, the better subsequent trips will go. They are adventurous dogs who should adjust well once they are accustomed to travel.

Best Quotes:

They make excellent traveling companions! Start them early. They may get carsick but grow out of it with more trips. The biggest mistake is not taking them if they are getting sick because then they learn to fear the car and not get over it.” Emily Hess – 1968

Yes, my first Aussie and I traveled over 13,000 miles together, went rafting, hiking, visiting tourist spots and friends. He was fabulous, rarely was leashed, and truly seemed to enjoy even trips to the store. The more you do with them, the better they are.” Joan Fry – Bella Loma Kennels

Yes, they like to be with you and are willing to go where you go.” Joanne Harvell – Canyon Lake Aussies

Aussies can make great traveling companions and absolutely love getting to go places with their people. Care should be taken to carefully socialize your Aussie from a young age to react positively to new people and situations to make traveling more fun for both of you!” Kirsten Tardiff – Echolight Australian Shepherds

Australian Shepherds make great travel companions when they have been appropriately socialized and are used to car rides. They are so loyal and always want to be by your side, whether that is at home or traveling. Make sure you take time to let them out to stretch their legs and go to the bathroom, and they should have no problem traveling with you.” Ashley Bryan – Ashley’s Aussies

Question #12: Do they have any specific diet needs, or differences from other breeds?

Consensus:
Many Australian Shepherds will do well on a high-protein diet due to their high-activity levels and their tendency to get heavy. Do not overfeed them since that can cause hip and elbow issues. Sometimes, they may need joint supplements. High-quality dog food is a good choice, although watch for food allergies. Their diets are not very different from most other dogs. Some Aussies can do a raw diet.

Best Quotes:

A quality large-breed kibble suffices. Many Aussies also do extremely well on a balanced raw diet. Food allergies are becoming more prevalent in this breed, so watch for signs of food allergies or intolerances (diarrhea, rusty paws, inflamed skin around the mouth and anus, poor coat quality), and see your vet if you suspect a problem.” Kirsten Tardiff – Echolight Australian Shepherds

Due to their high activity, give them a good-quality high-protein food as well as some fat content. Ours are fed 32 percent protein along with a 27 percent fat content.” Ben McCune – HoneyCreek Australian Shepherds

They need a high-quality dog food. They gain and lose weight easily so it can be hard to maintain a proper weight for them.” Emily Hess – 1968

In my experience, Aussies do not need a certain diet. A lot tend to get heavy, so portion control is important.” Gail Claborn – Circle 5 Aussies

Question #13: What grooming tips do you have?

Consensus:
Australian Shepherds need to be brushed weekly, partly due to their high levels of shedding. Make sure to get a brush that’s for a double-coated dog and get the dog accustomed to the brush. The brushing should be thorough, including behind the ears as hair can get matted there. Bathe them monthly and blow out their hair afterward. Never shave them—they only need light cuttings.

Best Quotes:

Aussies shed—a lot! Weekly brushing can help keep the hair down to a minimum. Pin brushes and shedding rakes do a great job of making sure you get right down to the skin. Most Aussie coats don’t mat, but they can get tangled behind the ears. Combing this area out once per week can help prevent this.” Kirsten Tardiff – Echolight Australian Shepherds

If the Aussie has a thick coat, get a comb specifically for removing the winter coat, the undercoat. My Aussies love to be combed, and I give them a haircut if they get too hot in the summer.” Belinda Stonger – LoveMyAussies.com

They require frequent grooming. As a double-coated breed, they need to be brushed well. I also trim their feet, their skirts, ears, and back end. Mine love to be blow-dried, and the brushing is a treat. Their coats shed dirt, but they need to be thoroughly brushed to avoid matting.” Joan Fry – Bella Loma Kennels

Question #14: What kind of shedding should an owner expect? Any advice?

Consensus:
Frequent brushing helps to mitigate shedding, although Australian Shepherds do shed more than some other dogs. They have a big shedding both in the spring and in the fall—and some shedding throughout the year. The level of shedding can vary a bit depending on the Aussie—some have finer hair and some have thicker.

Best Quotes:

Depending on whether or not your dog has more of a finer hair type or the curly and coarse, you may or may not have a lot of grooming needs. A dog with finer hair generally requires much less grooming; however, the hair falls out on its own, which makes your vacuuming constant. A dog with coarse and curly hair seems to get a lot more tangles and burrs in their hair, but I find less of it around the house.” Jessica Faber – Red Oak Trail Ranch

Aussies shed lightly year-round, and heavily about twice per year—usually spring and fall. The best way to really reduce the hair dropped in the house is bathing and blow-drying their coats with a forced air dryer every eight weeks. Training for this should start as young as possible, and if you aren’t up to the task, find a trustworthy professional groomer for your Aussie as soon as you bring your puppy home.” Kirsten Tardiff – Echolight Australian Shepherds

As long as the dog is brushed weekly and groomed regularly, shedding should be more manageable. Aussies do shed more than some other breeds, but as long as you take the necessary steps of regular brushing and grooming, your furniture and clothes will be less covered in Aussie hair than they would otherwise.” Ashley Bryan – Ashley’s Aussies

They shed a lot and always. If shedding is a problem, prospective owners may want to rethink an Aussie.” Joan Fry – Bella Loma Kennels

Shedding is part of owning an Aussie. But it tends to gather up in a ball in the corner of a room instead of being short little hairs everywhere like short-haired breeds have. Don’t wear black pants!” Joanne Harvell – Canyon Lake Aussies

Question #15:  Can you speak to some of the genetic health concerns associated with Australian Shepherds?

Consensus:
There are several genetic health concerns associated with Aussies. One is MDR1 drug resistance, which means that many Aussies can react dangerously to certain medications. Merles being bred with merles can lead to offspring with vision or hearing issues. Epilepsy is also relatively common among Aussies, as are food allergies and hip issues. Breeders should have done genetic tests to indicate and to limit the risk that an Aussie purchased from them has any of these issues.

Best Quotes:

The Australian Shepherd is prone to cataracts, collie eye disease, MDR1 (multi drug sensitivity), hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, and cancer. A good breeder tests for diseases and knows where cancer has occurred in their lines.” Francine Guerra – Alias Aussies

Only an irresponsible and careless breeder would mate two merles. This results in the high probability of their litter being born deaf, blind, or with other genetic defects. If you are getting a merle, always check to make sure one of the parents was a solid color (either red or black).” Jessica Faber – Red Oak Trail Ranch

Epilepsy, cataracts and eye disorders, hip dysplasia, and autoimmune diseases and allergies are among the most common and serious diseases affecting this breed. About 50 percent of the breed is also affected by Multi-drug Resistance (a.k.a. “Ivermectin Sensitivity”). Epilepsy is one of the most frightening diseases plaguing this breed, as it has no test. Autoimmune/allergies are becoming increasingly common. These often don’t show up for a few years and also do not have a true screening test for dogs that will be bred. There are several eye disorders that affect Aussies, the most common issue being juvenile cataracts. Hip dysplasia is a painful, hereditary malformation of the hip joints.” Kirsten Tardiff – Echolight Australian Shepherds

Epilepsy is an issue and an ugly disease to deal with. Merle-to-merle bred Aussies can also have many issues such as blindness and deafness. Aussies can also have drug sensitivities, and care must always be taken with any drugs the dog is given. Good breeders should perform some genetic tests of sire and dam prior to breeding.” Joan Fry – Bella Loma Kennels

MDR1 is the most prominent concern that is not in all breeds. The ones that have this genetic mutation cannot process certain drugs. Some of these drugs could kill them. There’s a simple test to test for the mutation, and if your dog has it, you simply avoid all of those drugs. Another is juvenile cataracts. You would want to know that your dog’s parents are clear of this gene if at all possible. It will eliminate the risk of them having early onset cataracts.” Joanne Harvell – Canyon Lake Aussies