The Australian Shepherd is one of the most popular breeds in both the United States and the rest of the world. This is for good reason as these dogs are highly intelligent as well as having a very engaging personality. I have seen quite a few Aussies over my 20+ year career as a small animal veterinarian and they are definitely one of my favorite breeds of all-time.
The following information is based on what’s generally known about Aussies as well as my experience of meeting hundreds of them over the years.
How Long Do Australian Sherpherds Live?
Based on information provided by the American Kennel Club (AKC), Aussies are expected to live between 12-15 years.
How To Pick The Healthiest Australian Shepherd Puppy
Having a healthy Aussie starts first and foremost with picking the right breeder. There are two ways you can go about finding a quality breeder:
- Use the AKC site to find one
- Go through the United States Australian Shepherd Association to find a reputable breeder
- If you’re lucky enough to already know and love a Aussie, find out who the breeder of the litter was. That’s a great start.
If you’re getting an Aussie from a rescue organization, try to find out the medical history of the dog as completely as possible. Understand that, while problems can emerge at any time, chronic health conditions that have been dealt with (successfully or unsuccessfully) for years are going to be your responsibility going forward.
What Are The Most Common Diseases That Australian Shepherds Can Suffer From?
Aussies are a very hardy breed with few commonly seen diseases. These include:
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is fairly well known but many pet owners don’t realize that the same condition can develop in the elbows as well. Unfortunately Aussies are a breed that seem to be prone to either or both conditions.
Ultimately the disease occurs when the hip or elbow joint isn’t properly developed so that the joint functions as it should. The bones don’t develop properly to provide the normal amount of surface to cushion the joint and make it comfortable.
When dysplasia is present, the bones end up rubbing together excessively and wearing away at the cartilage that is present. Over time this causes the bones to try and stabilize the joint by producing excessive bony tissue/bone spurs. This condition is pretty painful and can range from causing no visible symptoms to a dog that can’t walk at all due to the pain.
Xrays are the only way to definitely diagnose this disease. If caught when a dog is still growing, there may be a surgical treatment that could help mitigate the disease’s severity later in life.
How Can I Get My Australian Shepherd To Live Longer and Healthier?
Exercise And Stimulation
A happy Aussie is an active and mentally stimulated Aussie. These dogs will have far less anxiety and issues and this will naturally result in a healthier and longer life.
Whether you take your dog to the dog park every day, train them to do lots of fun tricks, or enter them in advanced agility competition, giving your Aussie the active life they demand will reward you with many years of a fun and healthy life.
Preventative Medicine/Wellness Exams
I’m a veterinarian so of course I’m going to tell you that regular wellness exams at the vet is extremely important. A good vet can spot conditions sometimes earlier than even the most dedicated owner can.
When your Aussie reaches 5-6 years of age, there are two things that you should consider doing:
- If you haven’t already had it done, have the vet run some bloodwork to check out all the internal organs. Primarily we are screening for kidney and liver disease, but there are literally hundreds of disease conditions that can be picked up by basic lab tests. Start doing this every year to catch issues early.
- If there’s any level of dental disease and you haven’t already had a dental cleaning done, do one now. It will hopefully get ahead of more chronic issues down the road.