Water and Aussies usually go hand in hand. If you have a pond, stream, kiddie pool or hose, most Aussies will take advantage of getting wet. Some will chase after the water from the hose or actually lay in the kiddie pool . Aussie coats are wash and wear. A good shake or two after drying and they are all clean. Aussies DO shed and DO require some brushing and keeping the fine hair behind their ears free from mats. A trip to the groomer once every couple of months is helpful along with a daily brushing.
The Aussie is a natural athlete making them excellent hiking partners. They do very well with agility courses, and of course are terrific herders! Aussies are easy to train, very willing to learn, extremely loyal, and known as a Velcro dog. Get ready for a dog that follows you from room to room each time you get up. Without proper training and socialization, some Aussies can become overly protective.
The Aussie, though a silent worker, can be very vocal when playing with other dogs. When greeting their owners or being praised they will often make a singing noise, speaking to you in various tones ranging from a deep howl to a whine. All this "talking" is often done with a toy in their mouth. Some Aussies have the tendency to "grin", (not to be mistaken for baring their teeth) when being silly or playful. They like to give a nudge to get your attention by using their nose to bump you on the back of your leg as you walk, nudging your hand, or pushing their way onto your lap. They like to constantly be touching you, a paw on you, sitting up against you or on your feet. Aussies are quite handy in using their front feet often amazing you with their abilities. Watch as they maneuver a ball or bone or just lay with them crossed.
Please remember that this is a herding breed. These dogs have herding instincts whether they come from strong working lines or show lines! Children, motorized vehicles, and bicycles are all something they might try herding if untrained. Obedience training is a MUST! No exceptions!!
The Aussie is one of the most intelligent dogs in the world. They are loyal, protective, intuitive and willing to please. Because of these traits, I'm seeing more and more of these dogs being used for service dogs and therapy dogs. They love and protect children and family members and with their medium size they make an excellent house companion.
Australian Shepherds are generally a healthy breed. When purchased from a reputable breeder you should expect your puppy will be the offspring of parents who have been examined annually by a certified licensed ophthalmologist for eye defects and rated by O.F.A. for hips and elbows, and to be clear of Hip Dysplasia. You want a well socialized puppy raised in a loving, clean environment.
Discuss with your breeder about health issues such as Epilepsy, Cataracts, and the MDR1 sensitivity gene. If your veterinarian is unaware of the issue, it is up to you to educate them. A simple cheek swab DNA test for the MDR1 gene is now available to determine if your dog is n/n, m/n or m/m. Once you are aware of your dogs status, it is not a problem to live with a positive dog. Alternative medicines and reduced doses are options however, be warned if your vet is not familiar with the possibility of overdoses and toxic reactions as it can be fatal.