So your family has decided to open their home up to a brand new puppy. The only problem is that one of you suffers from an allergy attack whenever you’re around a pooch. Don’t worry – you’re not alone! According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, as much as 10 percent of people in the United States have an allergy to dogs.
While no breed is 100 percent hypoallergenic, there are a large number of dogs that can live well with allergy sufferers. These dog breeds have predictable, non-shedding coats, which don’t produce a lot of dander. Dander, which is attached to your pet’s hair, causes most pet allergies in humans.
Unfortunately, Australian Shepherd dogs are not hypoallergenic and are known to have a lot of hair and grooming needs. Although they are not the best dogs for people with allergies, Aussies have a gorgeous coat, unique eye coloring, and cute perky ears. In addition, their lovable nature and vibrant personality make them terrific family dogs.
A Brief History of the Australian Shepherd Dog Breed
Many folks think that the Aussie, as this breed is commonly referred to, originated in Australia, due to its name. In actuality, this dog came from America’s Old West. Many of the sheep and shepherds came from Australia, so some think that the dog was named after these Australian sheepherders. Others believe that the blue merle coloring inherent to this breed was associated with that country.
The end result of the Aussie was reached through inter-breeding and crossbreeding. The shepherds at that time needed a smart, agile dog to properly guide their herds. Some of the breeds used to create the Australian Shepherd include the Kelpie, the English Shepherd, the Scottish Collie, the Welsh Sheepdog, the Australian Cattle Dog, and the Bouvier des Flandres.
The breed was not standardized until the late 1950’s, when the Aussie caught the attention of many big movie directors due to how easily trainable they are. Australian Shepherds have appeared in many well-known Disney movies, including Appaloosa Run and Stub: The Greatest Cowdog in the West.
Appearance of the Australian Shepherd
The Aussie can be split into two categories in terms of their appearance, including dogs that are bred for work and those that are bred for show. The show dogs will have thicker and longer hair than the working dogs.
Male Aussies tend to weigh between 55 and 70 pounds, while females clock in between 35 and 55 pounds. Both genders stand at about 21 inches at the shoulder in height.
Their hypoallergenic coats come in four different color combinations, including merle, fully black or copper, black tri or red tri, or a solid color with a white trim. The breed also has multi-colored eyes, with colors ranging from blue and green to brown and hazel.
Australian Shepherd Grooming Requirements
Australian Shepherds are known for their long beautiful coats that need regular grooming. Aussies tend to shed a lot, which, in turn, spreads dander around the house and causes allergies.
People who are allergic to dogs are not allergic to the dog hair, but instead the dander that is caught in the dog’s coat. Although Australian Shepherds are great family dogs, they may not be the best choice for a family with dog allergies.
As a dog that sheds year-round, it is important to groom your dog regularly. Your Aussie may tend to shed more during the winter, in which case extra grooming is necessary. Brush your dog’s coat weekly to help prevent matting. If you are diligent with your brushing, your pup will only need a bath when he is dirty. There is a proper way to bathe your dog and make sure you don’t bathe him too often as it can dry out his skin.
Besides brushing and bathing, trim your dog’s nails and trim the hair around his ears. You can always bring your pup to a professional groomer if you don’t feel comfortable with some of the grooming that is necessary to keep your pup’s coat healthy and clean.
Tips for Living with Allergies & An Australian Shepherd
If you have allergies, but still want to adopt an Australian Shepherd, there are steps you can take to help mitigate the allergic reaction. It is important to vacuum your house regularly to ensure that you are getting rid of as much of the pet dander as possible. If you have carpet, think about switching your flooring to hardwood or tile as carpet will carry dander for a longer period of time.
For extra precaution, never allow your pup to climb onto the furniture or your bed. It is important to wash your bedding, your dog’s bedding, and other fabric the dog goes near on a weekly basis. Some people have found that spending more time with their dog has lessened their allergies. This may not work for everyone, so use the tips above if you have more severe allergies.
In addition, it is a good idea to do a test run with an Aussie before you commit to adopting one. Bring an Australian Shepherd home to spend time with your family to see if the allergies are manageable.
Although Australian Shepherds are not the optimal option for families with allergies, there are steps you can take to help lessen your chance of an allergic reaction. But, if your family members have severe allergies, it might be best to choose a different dog breed.