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How Healthy Are Australian Shepherds (and What Issues Can They Have)?

Australian Shepherds are generally a healthy dog breed. You can ensure your canine’s overall health by scheduling annual veterinarian consults. Doing this will allow you and your vet to monitor their health. In case of a problem, you are likely to catch and treat it early on.
How Healthy Are Australian Shepherds

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Australian Shepherds have health concerns such as hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and allergies. They can also develop different forms of cancer, lnymphoma is the most common. Fortunately, it can be successfully treated depending on your dog’s health.

What Are Common Health Issues With Australian Shepherds?

Australian Shepherds are generally healthy. However, they can still develop a few health issues. Keep an eye out for diseases, including hip dysplasia, cancer, and epilepsy.

An insurance company’s claim data reveals the top health problems that affect this breed. Allergies, diarrhea, gastrointestinal issues, lameness, and skin irritation are on the list.

Is It Common for Australian Shepherds to Have Seizures?

Any dog can have a seizure, but Australian Shepherds are commonly afflicted. They are prone to have idiopathic epilepsy. Idiopathic means the disease has an unknown cause. In dogs, however, epilepsy is often an inherited condition.

Seizure episodes usually begin between six months and three years of age. Typically, lifelong medication is necessary to control this disease. Subjecting your pet to a diagnostic workup may help identify the cause. Regular blood testing is also done to monitor the efficacy of the meds.

Why Did My Australian Shepherd Have a Seizure?

Your Australian Shepherd may have inherited the disease. A diagnostic test may help identify the root of their epileptic episodes. Sometimes, seizures are also caused by medical and external factors. Medical factors include brain tumors, hypoglycemia, and canine diabetes. Dehydration, overheating, or stress are some of the external causes.

What Does a Seizure Look Like in Australian Shepherds?

You should be aware that there are three stages of a seizure in dogs:

  • Aura: Before the actual seizure, the aura or a period of unusual behavior occurs. It is not easily recognizable. Owners reported these as hiding, seeking attention, whining, or appearing anxious.
  • Ictus: This is the actual seizure. Lasting for only seconds to a few minutes, it’s self-limiting. It can also vary from dog to dog. In some, more prolonged attacks occur.
  • Postictal Phase: After the seizure, most dogs tend to be disoriented. They can get confused. Also, they exhibit behavioral changes, prolonged sleepiness, transient blindness, and voracious eating. This phase lasts from a few minutes to several hours.

During the ictal phase, symptoms include collapsing, chewing, and drooling. They can also exhibit jerking, loss of consciousness, and muscle twitching. Your dog may fall to the side and make paddling motions with its legs. Defecating and urinating are common during a seizure.

How to Stop an Australian Shepherd Seizure

You cannot stop a seizure episode when it starts. Stay calm and keep track of how long it lasts. Ensure that your Australian Shepherd does not fall or get injured while convulsing. Keep them on the floor and far from the stairs for their safety.

Never put your hands or fingers in your Aussie’s mouth during a seizure. Since they tend to chew their tongue, you could accidentally be bitten. Take a video of the event if it’s your pet’s first episode; you can show it to your veterinarian.

At the postictal stage, observe your canine. Approach them slowly until they have recovered. You’ll know they are ready when they have returned to their usual behavior. Report everything to your vet. They can tell you how to address your Shepherd’s seizure.

Are Australian Shepherds Prone to Cancer?

Certain forms of cancer have an increased incidence in Australian Shepherds. According to data, 45% of the breed’s death were due to hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma. Both of these can be inherited.


Lymphoma or lymphosarcoma is a cancer that afflicts Australian Shepherds more than other breeds. It is a disease that makes the body form abnormal white blood cells or lymphocytes. White blood cells are found throughout the body. That is why this cancer can strike almost anywhere.

The good news is lymphoma is treatable. It has an excellent success rate in dogs receiving chemotherapy. The bad news is that treatment can be costly and lifelong. A blood test can detect the onset of this disease. Swollen glands, labored breathing, and weight loss are among its symptoms.


Hemangiosarcoma is a bleeding tumor that affects Aussies more than the average disease incidence. The tumors commonly develop in the spleen. Without warning, the tumor can break open. Then, internal bleeding occurs.

Tumors can be as big as a volleyball or larger before symptoms surface. A definite diagnosis can be given after blood tests and ultrasound. Have these tests performed on your Aussie once a year for prevention.

What Causes Australian Shepherd Cancer?

Lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma are inherited cancers in Australian Shepherds. Both tend to occur in the same families. Breeders have the power to cut the risk of producing dogs that will develop these cancers. They should avoid pairing parents with the same cancer in their family background.

Why Is My Australian Shepherd Scratching So Much?

There are several possible reasons why your Australian Shepherd is scratching so much. Among them are:

Canine Atopic Dermatitis

CAD is a common hereditary skin condition among dogs. Aussies with this type of dermatitis can be very sensitive to many allergens. Identified allergens include pollen, dust, grasses, molds, chicken, dairy, and peas.

Canine Atopic Dermatitis can cause the skin to become red, itchy, and inflamed. If your Shepherd scratches them, it can lead to skin infections. It may also cause ear infections and infected anal glands.

Bring your dog to the veterinarian. He will run allergy tests to determine what your Australian Shepherd is allergic to. Treatment will involve avoiding allergens and modifying your dog’s diet. Anti-itch medications and skin supplements may also be provided.

Bathing Too Often

Australian Shepherds do not need frequent bathing. Despite having a long double coat, they remain clean and odor-free. Bathing them too often causes their skin to dry out. This, in turn, causes itch, irritation, and increased oil production.

Skin Infections

Skin infections such as bacterial and yeast infections are the common root of itch. They can be caused by hygiene issues or secondary reactions to an underlying health concern. Certain diseases are known to cause skin infections. These are Canine Atopic Dermatitis, Cushing’s disease, and hypothyroidism.

Skin infections appear as red, inflamed, and itchy skin. Bacteria causes whitish growth around the paws, underbelly, armpits, or ears. Since these are very itchy, your dog will resort to excessive and constant scratching.


Your Australian Shepherd may also be infested with parasites. It can be fleas, ticks, or mites. These parasites burrow deep and suck blood from your Aussie’s skin. They can cause tremendous discomfort, itch, and bouts of scratching.

Your pet’s soft and warm undercoat provides a suitable environment for fleas and ticks. These parasites feed on your dog’s blood and can cause health problems. They are prevalent during the warmer months.

Microscopic mites are parasites that are not visible to the naked eye. This type of mites causes mange. It leads to extreme itching, scabbing around the elbows and paw pads, and even hair loss.

Unlike microscopic skin mites, harvest mites can be seen without a microscope. They are typically orange and live on the skin of your Aussie’s hairy paws. These mites are common in the Autumn months, depending on your location.

How Do You Stop an Australian Shepherd From Scratching?

If you notice your Shepherd constantly scratching, try to find out what causes the itch. It’s best to seek your vet’s help to identify the cause and get a guided treatment.

Fatty acid supplements like fish oil can decrease the itch by reducing inflammation.

Excessive itching and scratching may not be a severe issue. Nonetheless, you should treat it since it is likely causing your pet discomfort.

Are Australian Shepherds Prone to Fleas?

Fleas are the most common type of parasite that can infest your Aussie. Dark brown in color, they are usually visible. Ranging from 0.039 to 0.079 inches (1 to 2 mm) in length, they can invade your Shepherd’s body for a couple of weeks.

How Do You Get Rid of Fleas on an Australian Shepherd?

Generally, it is easy for dogs to catch fleas. Fleas can jump onto your Aussie from the environment, other dogs, and other animals.

If your Australian Shepherd is infested, make it a point to inspect for fleas or their eggs. Not immediately addressing it may cause exponential multiplication. Female fleas lay around 40 eggs in a day.

Handle the problem by combing and bathing your dog in the steps described below:

You’ll Need a Good Flea Comb.

Flea combs are readily available in pet shops. A flea comb has thinly spaced teeth that allow you to brush out the tiny critters. Other types of comb won’t do the trick.

Get a bucket of warm, soapy water ready. As you catch the fleas in the comb, dip the comb in the water quickly. Never attempt to crush the fleas. They can jump. Make sure to dunk the comb immediately and that they get washed in the water.

Systematically comb out your Aussie. From their head, move downwards. Comb out an area thoroughly before moving on to the next section.

Be extra careful in the parts where your pet has the most fur, such as around the neck. Comb them out several times. Try not to miss even one flea. If you do, it can start an infestation again.

After Combing, Bathe Your Dog.

After carefully combing your Aussie out, bathe it. If your pet’s skin is not sensitive, you may use shampoos for fleas. But be wary, as these can be pretty harsh on the skin. To be safe, use your dog’s regular shampoo.

Thoroughly soak your canine’s hair. For double-coated dogs such as Australian Shepherds, doing this can be tricky. For bathing after flea-combing and regular baths, ensure that you wash them right to the skin. Pay special attention to their neck, stomach, and tail. These are areas with a lot of fur.

Shampoo, rinse, and dry your dog.

To Be Sure, Comb Your Dog Again.

It isn’t necessary, but if you want to be sure, you can comb your dog again. Be as careful as when you searched your dog the first time. Doing this guarantees that there are no fleas left on your Aussie.

You may comb your Aussie again in the next few days but don’t bathe it. Washing them too often can irritate their skin.

Why Does My Australian Shepherd Wheeze?

Constricted airways from allergies or foreign bodies may cause wheezing in your Aussie. Wheezing is a whistling sound as your pet breathes. It occurs when something blocks the normal flow of air in and out of the airway.

Serious diseases such as bronchitis or heart ailments can also cause wheezing. Because of this, bring your Aussie to the vet as soon as you hear it. It doesn’t matter if you think your dog inhaled a foreign object or has severe allergies. Go to the emergency vet at once.

What Are Australian Shepherds Commonly Allergic to?

Australian Shepherds can be highly susceptible to skin allergies and food intolerances. Various elements, such as parasites, pollens, and products, can lead to skin allergies. Your Aussie’s skin might even react negatively to the products that you are using. It can be due to your perfume, laundry soap, or air freshener.

Avoid giving them food that causes adverse reactions. Most dogs are intolerant to dairy products, avocados, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, chocolate, bones, garlic, onions, and artificial sweeteners.

Their allergies typically start at around one to two years of age. Food allergies tend to start earlier. Their allergy symptoms include ear infections, vomiting, and loose stools. Inflamed red skin, hair loss, and others can also be seen. Many Aussies have also been reported to develop these aversions later in life.

What Can I Give My Australian Shepherd for Allergies?

Australian Shepherd owners share the following remedies. Before giving your Aussie any allergy relief, consider consulting with your vet first.

  • Topical Treatments: Certain shampoos and soaks relieve your Aussie’s irritated or itchy skin. Coconut oil and oatmeal baths are popular ways to ease irritation. These types of treatments take effect fast but only offer short-term relief.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: This supplement reduces the effects of chemicals, particularly histamines. A dog’s body is said to release histamines in response to allergies. Your veterinarian will be the one to tell you the suitable dose.
  • Anti-histamines: Veterinarians prescribe antihistamines depending on your Australian Shepherd’s allergy. It is an easy and cheap way to calm your Aussie’s allergy attacks.
  • Cannabidiol: CBD for dogs offers many benefits. Among them is relieving your Australian Shepherds of allergy symptoms. It can also promote healthy skin and coats.
  • Cortisone: For severe allergies, your vet might give you a prescription for cortisone. It can be in the form of topical cream, ointment, tablet, or injection. Since it is a potent medication, it can have side effects. Use it only when necessary and on a short-term basis only.

Are Australian Shepherds Prone to Bladder Problems?

Australian Shepherds are prone to develop stones in the kidney or the bladder. Symptoms to watch out for include straining to urinate and frequent urination. There may also be blood in the urine.

Is It Normal for Australian Shepherds to Lose Hair?

Australian Shepherds need their undercoats in the winter and summer. Because of this, they will likely lose it in the spring and fall. It can be a heavy shedding period for this breed. Called blowing their coat, it is a common occurrence among dog breeds with a double coat.

Why Is My Australian Shepherd Losing Hair on His Back?

Though it’s typical for your canine to shed hair, bald spots on a particular area can be a concern. If you notice your Aussie losing hair, go to the vet. He will rule out possible skin concerns or any other health issues.

Hair loss may indicate ringworm fungus, mange mites, and bacterial infestation. It can also be due to an underlying health condition that makes your Aussie’s skin dry, oily, itchy, or inflamed. Other factors for hair loss are stress, poor nutrition, and allergies.

Why Is My Australian Shepherd Losing Hair on His Ears?

Hair loss on the ears or any other part of your pet’s body may come from a host of different things, including:

  • Change of season
  • Environmental and food allergies
  • Parasites like ticks and mites
  • Skin fungus
  • Stress and hormones
  • Poor nutrition
  • Other medical conditions and genetics

The following factors also aggravate the condition:

  • Itchy skin, which leads to constant scratching, licking, nipping, or biting
  • Dandruff and red skin patches
  • Smelly skin which is caused by a yeast infection

Getting your Shepherd checked to identify and treat the cause is always best.

Why Does My Australian Shepherd Keep Getting Ear Infections?

Canine ear infections root from excess moisture or allergies. Thoroughly dry your Aussie’s ears after bathing and swimming. Work with the veterinarian in identifying underlying causes of allergies. Doing this will prevent chronic and recurring ear infections.

Why Is My Australian Shepherd So Anxious?

There are numerous reasons why your Australian Shepherd is anxious. Your dog’s anxiety may originate from one or a combination of the reasons listed below. Figure out which one by observing your Aussie’s lifestyle and daily routine.

  • Being Frequently Alone: Australian Shepherds do not thrive being left alone. They love having company, especially with their owners. In unavoidable instances, you can leave your pet on its own. But don’t do it too often. A Shepherd that spends a lot of time alone can become bored, frustrated, and anxious.
  • Environmental Bases: Aussies are highly sensitive to their surroundings and environment. They pick up a lot of sensations from the outside, beyond your home or yard. Noises, smells, and changes from outside can leave them unsettled and on the edge.
  • Understimulation: As an Aussie owner, you should remember that they need an excellent physical exercise routine. A healthy dose of mental stimulation should supplement it. Keeping their bodies and minds busy regulates them well and gives them satisfaction.
  • Limited Socialization: A lack of socialization is a common cause of anxiety in dogs. If they weren’t exposed to strangers and other dogs, they wouldn’t know how to interact with them. A simple encounter would be highly stressful and even frightening to them.
  • Trauma: Bad past experiences leave a scar that can affect your Aussie’s mental state for many years. Trauma could impact how they think and feel in different situations. It can be abandonment, maltreatment, or abuse.
  • Health Concerns: In some cases, your Aussie’s anxiety can be caused by underlying health issues. These can affect your canine in a magnitude of ways. That is why regular vet checkups are essential.

What Can You Do for an Anxious Australian Shepherd?

The best thing you can do for your anxious Aussie is to respond to them appropriately. When your pet is anxious, nervous, or worried, you tend to comfort them excessively.

Although your actions branch from pure intentions, they may be causing more harm than good. It’s reinforcing their worries. Also, it makes them believe that there really was something wrong. Over time, they would display these behaviors more often, even if there’s no reason to be anxious.

Respond to your anxious Aussie better by waiting. Step back as they soothe themselves on their own. Around ten minutes of observing them should do it. If they haven’t calmed down, divert their attention to an activity they like.

Responding correctly is the first step. Your veterinarian will help in identifying what is causing your Aussie’s frustrations. This way, you can address the cause and eliminate anxiety.

While doing these, stay on top of their physical exercises and mental stimulation. These help considerably calm them down and reduce the stress brewing inside them.

Why Does My Australian Shepherd Shiver?

Dogs shiver, shake, and tremble for a ton of reasons. It can be pain, excitement, or old age. In severe cases, shivering and trembling can be symptoms of medical concerns. These include poisoning, injury, or kidney disease.

Sometimes, Australian Shepherds can also have involuntary muscle tremors in their legs. It can indicate hypomyelinogenesis. This is a condition with underdeveloped myelin. Myelin is the fatty insulation around the nerves.

You may have noticed that young puppies are clumsy. Some of them even had head tremors. This is because the myelin has yet to develop fully. Once it does, these signs typically resolve. Some dogs, however, will continue to have tremors throughout life. This benign condition is also common in Australian Shepherds.

Why Is My Australian Shepherd Limping?

Your Australian Shepherd limping may be due to arthritis, panosteitis, or hip dysplasia.

  • Arthritis: Bred as a herding dog, Aussies have the natural ability to run long distances. They are an extremely active dog breed. Joint problems and arthritis usually develop. Arthritis is as painful for canines as it is for humans. It slows your pet down and may cause limping as well.
  • Panosteitis: This is sometimes known as pano or “growing pains.” It is a condition that affects the long bones of the legs. Although temporary, it can be excruciating, causing severe limping in your dog. It is another common issue with Australian Shepherds.
  • CHD: Canine hip dysplasia is hip joint malformation. It is one of the most common canine diseases. It is prevalent in large and medium dog breeds, like your Australian Shepherd. It is a painful ailment that can cause limping and lameness in your pet.

When Should Australian Shepherd Puppies Be Vaccinated?

Below is the guideline for the Australian Shepherd puppy’s vaccination schedule as recommended by the AKC:

Puppy’s Age Recommended Vaccinations Optional Vaccinations
6 to 8 weeks Distemper, parvovirus Bordetella
10 to 12 weeks DHPP

distemper, adenovirus or hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus

Influenza, leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease
16 to 18 weeks DHPP, rabies Influenza, leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease
12 to 16 months DHPP, rabies Coronavirus, leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease
Every 1 to 2 years DHPP Influenza, coronavirus, leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease
Every 1 to 3 years Rabies None

What Shots Do Australian Shepherd Puppies Need?

A six- to eight-week puppy needs the distemper and parvovirus vaccines. If they often get together with other dogs, the vet may also advise them to get the Bordetella vaccine.

At 10 to 12 weeks, your Australian Shepherd puppy would need the DHPP inoculation. DHPP stands for distemper, hepatitis (two types of adenovirus), parainfluenza, and parvovirus. Immunizations for Bordetella and Lyme disease are optional. It will depend on your dog’s lifestyle and health status.

From 16 to 18 weeks and 12 to 16 months, your Aussie needs the five-in-one vaccine, DHPP. The rabies vaccine is also given at these times. Immunizations for influenza, leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease, and coronavirus are optional.

Your Shepherd will be given DHPP booster shots every one to two years. At the interval of one to three years, a rabies shot is needed as required by law. Lifestyle vaccines (influenza, coronavirus, leptospirosis, Bordetella, and Lyme disease) are optional.

Is Pet Insurance Worth It for an Australian Shepherd?

Purebred Australian Shepherds suffer from genetic health issues more than mixed-breed dogs. You can expect a veterinary bill of as much as $5,000 from a single medical concern. Whether you can or cannot afford the bill, getting pet insurance is worth it.

Pet insurance is an excellent way to hedge financial risks and dog health costs. Like any other insurance product, it’s something you have but hope never to use. Sometimes, unexpected accidents or illness strikes. Your plan coverage will dictate if you can get a reimbursement of 70% to 90% on the medical bill.

Availing pet insurance buys you peace and security. You ensure that your Australian Shepherd will get the care they need when necessary.

As pet insurance reimburses you, you can use it at any veterinary practice in the United States. You can go vet clinics, animal hospitals, emergency vets, or mobile clinics.

How Much Is It to Insure an Australian Shepherd?

The price of your dog’s insurance depends on your financial standing, zip code, and your dog’s age. Based on the kind of coverage you need for your Aussie, it can be higher or lower. To give you an idea, here are the sample price ranges in three states:

  • New York: $41 to $109
  • Alabama: $22 to $58
  • California: $38 to $66

What Is the Lifespan of an Australian Shepherd?

Australian Shepherd has an average life span of 12 to 15 years.

Do Male or Female Australian Shepherds Live Longer?

Both male and female Australian Shepherds share the same life expectancy range of 12 to 15 years. Regardless of gender, some dogs live shorter lives, and some live longer.

What Do Australian Shepherds Die From?

The top cause of death in the Australian Shepherd breed is cancer.

A 2010 health survey showed the leading cause of the breed’s death. It reported that almost 60% of deaths were from cancer or cancer-related problems. Nonetheless, many things can affect their lifespan. These are diet, lifestyle, and other health issues.

How to Keep an Australian Shepherd Healthy

Aussies are perfect for families with an active lifestyle and a large yard. This medium-sized breed needs tons of exercise and mental stimulation. Bred as working dogs, they get bored, stressed, and anxious if left alone and idle.

Your Aussie would also need constant socialization. They are a highly sensitive breed. Even strangers and unfamiliar dogs could be a cause of their anxiety. Ensure that they get a good dose of interaction with people in your neighborhood and with other dogs.

Overall, Australian Shepherds are a healthy breed. However, they are prone to obesity, allergies, and various health conditions. These can either be improved or exacerbated by the diet you give them. That is why you must provide them with the right portion of healthy food.

Their food should contain chicken, fish, beef, and pork. These are good sources of protein. Include saturated oils, healthy fats, and both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. These supplements promote a healthy coat and skin. Having a healthy coat and skin can prevent allergies and irritation.

Shepherds are prone to have itchy skin and sensitive stomachs. It’s crucial to know precisely what they’re eating. Opting to give them well-portioned, fresh, whole food is a good idea.

Australian Shepherds are prone to several canine diseases. Regular checkups with your veterinarian ensure that your pet is in tip-top shape. Working closely with the vet also allows you to catch diseases early on. You can treat and address them in their early stages.