australian shepherd mix german shepherd

How To Make a Better Life With an Australian Shepherd Mix German Shepherd

If someone mentioned the German Shepherd dog, what are the first five things that would spring to mind? You might think of the police force or drug enforcement. Maybe you would picture the dog next door who so ferociously defends the yard. Or perhaps a show dog pops up.

What if that same person asked you what a GSD and Australian Shepherd had in common? You would probably expand your focus and think of features like agility and intelligence. You might even think of herding.

Finally, what would you imagine if asked what the result of an Aussie German Shepherd cross would be?

According to AKC, A German Shepherd Australian Shepherd mix combines two widely popular herding dogs. Despite their vastly different backgrounds, appearances, and personalities, the Aussie and the Shepherd have quite a lot of similarities as family pets.

Also known as a German Australian Shepherd, the cross between an Australian Shepherd and German Shepherd produces a rather uncommon designer dog who is smart, social, trainable, affectionate, and athletic.

What Is So Great About the Herding Group?

Although not everyone can handle the intensity and energy of dogs from the herding group, most cannot deny their attraction.

Herding dogs as a class are highly intelligent, extremely fast and agile, and appealing in appearance and movement. It is difficult not to be mesmerized by a herding dog at work, whether in the show ring or the field.

According to Leerburg, The German Shepherd, hailing from the hills of Germany, once herded sheep as their main professions, gripping and moving them rather than nipping.

In anticipation of the declining demand for herding dogs, Max von Stephanitz spent 35 years perfecting the breed and instilling in it a remarkable work ethic and versatility.

Based on a few sources, including Las Rocosa Aussie breeders, the United States developed the Australian Shepherd from dogs that originally came from Basque settlers moving from the Pyrenees Mountains of Spain and France and sheepherders from Australia.

Ancestors of the Australian Shepherd presumably included Old German herding dogs or Tiger dogs, English shepherds, Australian Koolies, and the Spanish shepherd or Carea Leone.

Although Border Collies are closely related to Aussies, sources do not agree on their influence on Australian Shepherd lines.

German Shepherds and Aussies contribute high energy, versatility, and efficient and quick movements to their pups from their herding heritage.

What major character traits might your Aussie-Shepherd mix inherit?

Your German Shepherd Aussie will likely range from 20 to 23 inches tall and weigh 50 to 75 pounds in proportion to his height. He will be between the shortest Aussie, who stands about 18 inches at the withers, and a 26-inch tall German Shepherd.

Your hybrid can display several traits from either side. Her muzzle might be a little long like a Shepherd’s, or her head might be round like an Aussie’s. Your dog will likely exhibit a stride between the efficient long ground-covering trot of the GSD and the quick snappy bounce of the Aussie.

German Shepherds have a long powerful tail where an Aussie’s is usually docked in the US and Canada. An Aussie’s natural tail is full and often curled over the back or naturally bob. Any mix of the two breeds usually has a long and plush tail.

Australian German Shepherds may have a moderately long body but will probably be proportionately shorter from shoulders to hips than a pure Alsatian.

Aussie mixes could have eyes from brown to hazel to blue, and their ears will likely be larger than an Aussie’s but less upright than a GSD’s since the Australian Shepherd’s pinnae fold forward.

Note the interesting combination of traits in this dog. You can largely only see the face but if not for the merle coloration and hazel eyes, this friendly-looking dog could pass for a German Shepherd.

The fringes of hair from the ears are common in the German Shepherd mix Australian Shepherd.

What colors will your dog potentially be?

German Shepherd

  • Solid color (tan, red, or blue) and black – black is extensive, classically in a saddle distribution across the back and on the face and muzzle as a mask
  • Sable – an agouti pattern whereby hairs are banded with multiple colors. One of the most common colors in wild animals, like wolves, agouti involves shades of gray, red, and brown.
  • Solid colors – blue, silver, white, black, and liver.

Australian Shepherd

  • Solid colors – red or black
  • Merle – red or blue. Merle dogs have a marbling effect or spots in a stereotypical pattern
  • Bicolor – red and white or black and white
  • Tricolor – red or black; Tricolor dogs will have white and tan in a stereotypical pattern.
  • Black and tan or red and tan

German Australian Shepherd

  • Black and tan or red and tan
  • Solid – black, red, blue, tan, or cream
  • Brindle
  • Bicolor – black and white or red and white
  • Tricolor like an Aussie – Black and white with tan points
  • Merle – usually black
  • White with red or black spots or speckles

The German Shepherd Australian Shepherd hybrid adds colors, like brindle, that are not present in either of the parent breeds. You may also see unusual patches such as gray or silver on a tricolor dog.

This litter of pups demonstrates the variety of colors you can see with the mix and how unpredictable coat patterns can be

If you pay close attention, you can see the mother in the background is a bicolor Aussie. You might expect most puppies would be black and tan, but the predominant colors are black and white. The father’s color remains a mystery.

What should you know about Coat Length and Grooming?

German Australian Shepherds tend to have moderately long thick fur with a substantial undercoat. Some dogs have a short outer coat with fringes of longer hair around the face and tail, reminiscent of an Aussie’s feathering.

You should brush your Shepherd mix at least weekly if not daily. Baths should be infrequent so as not to dry out the coat or irritate the skin. Check the ears regularly for infection and clip the nails monthly to prevent abnormal growth and splintering.

Watch and guard dog potential varies

German Shepherds take their guard duties seriously, especially concerning their families. The likelihood of biting varies between individuals, but a German Shepherd’s intimidating bearing and reputation are generally sufficient to ward off any would-be trespassers.

Australian Shepherds are protective of the home as they would be with their flocks. They warn of intruders by barking but do not have a reputation for aggression.

The German Shepherd mix Australian Shepherd will likely moderate the guarding instinct of the GSD and increase the protectiveness of the Aussie.

More than likely, you will not have an effective guard dog with this particular German Shepherd cross. Their size and appearance probably will not be especially scary, and they may or may not follow up any barking with a snap.

That being said, owning any kind of watchdog who barks is an effective deterrent for most home invasions, according to The Guardian interviews. Aussie mixes should make good alarmists.

Training and intelligence should be exceptional

The German Shepherd excels in obedience and tops the intelligence charts, holding the No. 3 spot, according to Goodhousekeeping.com who quotes studies from psychologist Stanley Coren.

The Australian Shepherd ranks in the lower 40s out of 137 dogs, undoubtedly losing points for her independent thinking.

Your hybrid will also likely be extremely smart, picking up commands and skills with no problem.

The issues with owning an extremely clever dog, especially one from a work background, stem from trying to keep them occupied. Bored dogs are miserable.

If you do not provide enough stimulation through interactive play, training, and strenuous exercise, your Aussie GSD mix can become destructive or start to act out.

A few things to keep in mind are German Shepherds or Aussies can contribute pushiness to your puppy, translating to a young dog who tries to boss you.

Aussies, additionally, counter their eagerness to please with a drive to solve problems on their own. Your hybrid may have lapses in obedience and could be an escape artist.

Early training is essential for a German Australian Shepherd or you will have a nippy, hyperactive, and hard-to-control dynamo on your hands. While not huge, German Shepherd Aussie mixes are fast and strong.

Your dog will need lots of exercises.

Neither the German Shepherd nor the Australian Shepherd is happy lounging on the sofa. The Alsatian’s breeding created an animal cut out to move efficiently for miles, and Aussies seem equally tireless.

Exercise for your German Australian Shepherd should include at least half an hour to 45 minutes of running every day.

For the remainder of the hour to 90 minutes, you should incorporate training and leash walking or other structured activities. Daily exercise is an ideal opportunity to think of joint activities you can enjoy with your dog.

What long-term events should you consider?

German Shepherds still have an excellent ability to herd and guard sheep but have evolved into versatile dogs effective in police enforcement, military duty, narcotics, and bomb detection, therapy, and rehabilitation, search and rescue, guiding the blind, agility, the show ring, and movies.

Not as much of an enforcer as the GSD, the Aussie is versatile in her own right as an exceptional herding dog and quite helpful in contraband detection, search and rescue, disaster recovery, assisting the physically challenged, and therapy. You will see Australian Shepherds occasionally on the police force and in films.

Based on their parents, German Australian Shepherd will be able to do anything as adults. Activities to consider are Frisbee contests, flyball, agility trials, herding competitions, obedience, lure coursing, designer dog shows, and dock diving.

Health and Longevity are good

Because of his compact size, the Aussie lives 13 to 15 years relative to the German Shepherd’s 9 to 12 years. Australian Shepherds also likely benefited from their fanciers’ resistance to joining the AKC. With a delayed entry into the American Kennel Club, the Aussie avoided a plethora of rigid conformational standards.

In contrast, German Shepherds were at first victims of several periods of careless inbreeding and line-breeding. By shrinking the gene pool, breeders left the GSD more susceptible to hereditary problems.

Moreover, the possible misinterpretation of conformation standards has encouraged GSD breeders to propagate the grossly exaggerated sloping back and over angulated joints of show dogs.

What follows is a list of combined problems between Aussies and Shepherds that they may pass to their offspring.

Hip Dysplasia

One of the most common ailments in dogs, hip dysplasia is an irregularity in how the ball and socket joint structurally fits together. Dysplasia occurs as a developmental problem and often leads to arthritis. 

Factors that impede the eradication of hip dysplasia are the failure of scientists to isolate it to a single gene and the effect of environmental factors such as rapid growth, overuse during puppyhood, and overnutrition or obesity.

Elbow Dysplasia

Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is a developmental disorder with a strong genetic component. It affects German Shepherds more so than Aussies.

Collie Eye Anomaly

Both eyes fail to develop normally and, in severe cases, dogs will become blind with Collie Eye.

Hemophilia

A lack of an important clotting factor leads to prolonged and inappropriate bleeding. Hemophilia is more common in German Shepherds. Females are often asymptomatic carriers while males show severe signs according to Merck Manual.

Coloboma

Coloboma is similar to Collie Eye Anomaly, but only part of the eye does not fully develop. It is prevalent with the merle color.

Degenerative Myelopathy

A progressive neurologic disease, degenerative myelopathy is more prevalent in German Shepherds.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a seizure disorder with no known cause that can originate genetically from either parent.

Pancreatic Insufficiency

In German Shepherds, the lack of pancreatic enzymes causes failure to thrive because of an inability to digest food.

Multiple Medication Sensitivity

A phenomenon unique to Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Border Collies, multiple medication sensitivity causes detrimental and potentially life-threatening neurologic reactions to common medications used for deworming and anesthesia.

The Australian Shepherd mix German Shepherd experiences a reduction in the incidence of many of the ailments the two breeds share in common, but top concerns remain dysplasia, hemophilia, and eye anomalies, according to Wag Walking.

Also, approach all medications cautiously when treating a dog with any trace of Collie or Australian Shepherd bloodlines.

Will your Aussie Shepherd mix be a good family dog?

While the German Australian Shepherd may not be a great mix for your lifestyle due to high maintenance, exercise requirements, and energy levels, several great qualities recommend him as a family companion.

Other dogs

German Shepherds can be dog aggressive, especially unneutered males and poorly socialized dogs. They tend to get along better with dogs close to their size. Australian Shepherds are fairly friendly with other dogs and can even get along with cats.

Both breeds have moderately high prey drives, and you should not trust them completely around small animals. Squirrels and birds may distract an Aussie or a German Shepherd during a training session.

German Australian Shepherds are likely to be gregarious, getting along with dogs in your household and playmates at the dog park. You can improve your hybrid’s likelihood of playing nice with others by socializing her as a puppy.

Children

You can train a German Shepherd to act gently around children and to tolerate their antics. Shepherds are naturally protective of children in their households but may inadvertently knock over toddlers in their exuberance.

Aussies are generally friendly with children but may see them as livestock, nipping at their heels and rounding them up to certain locations. You often need to train an Australian Shepherd not to herd children.

Expect your Australian Shepherd mix to be somewhere between the two extremes of the parent breeds. You may have to remind him about unacceptable behaviors like herding people or playing rough with kids.

Guests

German Shepherds are territorial and protective over family members. Early training and frequent social encounters are crucial to teach Shepherds the difference between an intruder to possibly bite and a friend to treat as a guest.

Regardless of how well you socialize your dog, the best you often get from a Shepherd is an aloof and polite demeanor towards strangers. Some are friendlier than others.

Australian Shepherds are typically friendly to guests. They may bark at the outset but quickly warm. Friendliness does not equate to a desire for petting from strangers.

If you expend effort to socialize your Aussie Shepherd mix, getting her used to a large variety of different people and situations, she will be cordial and polite to your visitors. She may be a little more reserved than a purebred Aussie.

Family members

German Shepherds are indeed loyal to all family members, but they often choose one with whom to form a closer bond.

Australian Shepherds seem to share their affections more equally. If your dog shows a mixture of personality traits, he will probably love everyone almost equally, showing slight favoritism perhaps for walks, fetching the ball, or around rest time.

What are a few pros and cons of owning a Shepherd Aussie mix?

Owning any breed takes an active decision to research behavioral traits and other characteristics that will ensure it fits into your life. Not only must you consider whether you can comfortably accommodate a specific breed or hybrid, but you also need to weigh whether your situation can provide happiness for your new pet.

Advantages

  • Delightful and lively companions – Your family will not be bored.
  • Affectionate and loyal friends
  • Someone who will encourage you to be active and participate enthusiastically with you.
  • Attractive with the potential for unusual coloration
  • Aussie mixes live a relatively long life.
  • Good watchdogs.
  • Gets along with children and other dogs.

Disadvantages

  • Aussies have a habit of sticking close to you no matter what you are doing – this can be problematic around toddlers and others who are not steady on their feet. Even those who are surefooted can trip or stumble over their dogs.
  • The coat requires more maintenance than many other breeds, and Shepherd mixes experience heavy shedding.
  • Escape artists and wanderers – some individuals could be snappy when they get out.
  • High exercise requirements – not good apartment dogs.
  • Heavy demand for training, socialization, and attention – If you work long hours every day, this hybrid probably is not the dog for you.
  • Potentially difficult to find or obtain.

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