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Designer dogs are the order of the day these days. Admittedly, they offer a host of benefits that purebred dogs lack. The biggest one is the fact that they make it possible to achieve certain qualities and characteristics desired for a pup. For instance, if you love both the Labrador Retriever and the German Shepherd, you can purchase a mix between the two. Although it doesn’t work sometimes, there’s a chance of both genes transferring to the puppy.
When looking for a hybrid puppy, the options can overwhelm you. There are hundreds of designer dogs all with amazing qualities. Whichever mix you can think of, your local breeder probably has it. In this guide, we focus on the Sheltie Aussie mix. If you are considering getting one, read on to know if it is the right breed for you.
What Is A Sheltie Aussie Mix?
From the name, you probably know that the Sheltie Aussie mix or Shel-Aussie is a mix between the Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) and the miniature Australian Shepherd. If you know a thing or two about the parents, you’ll confirm that this is a beautiful colorful dog with lots of fur on his skin. Mom and dad have thick double coats that are perfect for herding livestock in cold climatic conditions.
The Australian Shepherd dogs or the Aussies made their way to the United States from Spain in the company of Spanish shepherds. They passed by Australia where they acquired the name from. This breed used to herd sheep in the Rocky Mountains. Aussies are rarely affected by altitude like a number of other herding breeds.
On the other hand, the miniature Sheltie is yet another herding dog with origins in Scottish Shetland Islands. Its original name was Shetland Collie but Rough Collie breeders weren’t too happy about it. The name was later changed to the Shetland Sheepdog. This is a tiny, rough-coated, longhaired, alert, and sturdy dog. He is compact and strong but agile. The double coat is excellent for protection against harsh weather.
How Does It Look Like?
Although looks are based on the genes passed down, expect a dog of about 30-65 lbs. in weight and 16-23 inches in height. This applies to both males and females. Based on this information, you can tell that a Shel-Aussie falls in the medium-size category. So this is not your typical toy breed neither is he a large dog. He falls somewhere in between. As for his appearance, expect a dog that has features from a Sheltie and some from the Aussie.
The head is long and features a wedge shape with round and narrow muzzles. The nose is black or brown while the teeth exhibit a scissors bite. His eyes are dark, brown, or amber with an almond shape and his ears small and erect. The Aussie’s body is big and horizontal while the Sheltie bears a strong but light body. When the two come together, you end up with a short puppy with a straight double coat. Since the colors of either parent are similar, the mixed breed will look like mom and dad. The color possibilities include black, cream, brown, fawn, brindle, white, blue, and Gray.
What Are The Pros and Cons Of Owning A Sheltie/Aussie Mix?
Now that you have an idea of how the Shel-Aussie mix looks like, let’s look at the pros of owning one.
Intelligence is a big deal in the canine world. It is essentially the measure of how smart or dumb a dog is. An intelligent canine is one that is always longing to get to work and put a smile on your face. He learns faster than his counterparts. If he is a guard dog, he’s not easily distracted by an intruder. The Shetland Sheepdog is among the top 10 most intelligent breeds. The Aussie is not too bad either. This is why the Shel-Aussie scores high in the smarts department. He is good at picking up new commands and does it in record time. What’s more, he tends to remember the commands years after he learns them. When it comes to solving puzzle toys, this designer dog solves them like a pro.
Intelligence goes hand in hand with trainability. Most intelligent dogs make training much more rewarding, effective, and less time-consuming. Sure, all dogs can learn basic command skills but some just pick them up at a faster pace than others. The Shel-Aussie is engaged and curious during training. His curiosity always gets the best of him. He wants to try new things. Good reinforcement works like charm as a motivation tool. Throughout the training period, you will notice that your pup remains attentive and focused for a long time.
As mentioned before, both the Sheltie and the Aussie are herding powerhouses. Whether it is in rocky terrain, an icy cold climate, or the Caribbean Islands, this dog will herd livestock like his life depends on it. There’s little room for complaining here. Similarly, the Sheltie-Aussie mix is a very adaptable dog. He will be just as happy if you put him in the apartment or a huge house with a big yard. It doesn’t matter if you have a huge family or none, he will be simply satisfied. Of course, because of his high-energy demands, he thrives in a spacious house with a yard compared to the apartment.
Not all homeowners enjoy having a pet that loves to play all day. However, if you are on the opposite side of the spectrum, you make the perfect parent for a Sheltie-Aussie. This is one of those dogs that don’t mind running around all day long. He loves to play fetch and Frisbee in the yard or the park for long periods of time. When you are lying down on the sofa, expect him to initiate play. If you have kids at home, this is a good pet to have.
5. Good watchdog
The Sheltie Aussie mix is alert, attentive, and intelligent. This is why he makes for a good guard dog. He can tell when things are not okay and will alert you about it in good time.
And now to the not-so-good part of owning a Shel-Aussie mix.
1. High maintenance
This breed definitely comes with high grooming requirements. The double coat sheds all year long with most of the fur dropping during the shedding season. To keep the coat looking neat, brush your pup at least once a week with a pin brush. As the shedding season comes around, you will need to brush on a daily basis. To ensure the fur remains on the skin, use some water on the skin before brushing. Lucky for you, this breed doesn’t need frequent baths. Other grooming needs such as brushing the teeth, wiping the ears, and trimming the nails are pretty much the same with other breeds.
While the Shel-Aussie is a charming and playful dog, his high-energy requirements can be intimidating. He’s among active dog breeds that can’t function well without plenty of physical and mental stimulation for optimal health. You have to walk him for a minimum of one hour daily. More would be better. During the day, be sure to let him run round to expend some of the energy. Feel free to enroll him in agility training pursuits and things like field trials. When he’s not out running, walking, or playing an agility sport, be sure to accord him enough mental stimulation using toys.
3. Sociability issues
Like all herding breeds, the Sheltie-Aussie mix can present challenges in homes with other pets and small kids. He may be good- and calm around adults but the story is different when it comes to young kids and pets. This breed tends to be bossy and controlling when in their midst. Sometimes, his prey drive can emerge if he is living with small pets like cats. He will want to chase them around for fun. Fortunately, when socialized early, this breed can learn to get along with both kids and pets. Before training is over, keep a close eye on your kids and small pets lest they get in danger. The con might actually work in your favor as he knows how to take care of animals by himself.
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Sure, a Sheltie-Aussie mix is super intelligent but he can also be annoyingly stubborn. If you are not firm and strong during training, he will take advantage of you. Begin training early and be as firm and tough as you can. Also, use positive reinforcement to motivate him.
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Is the Shel-Aussie right for you?
This is a question you will have to answer for yourself. After going through the pros and cons, you should have a clear picture of what to anticipate with this breed. To put things into perspective, this hybrid dog is medium-sized, beautiful, and good-natured. If you like an intelligent dog that loves to play, is trainable, adaptable, and can make a good watchdog, a Shel-Aussie may be great for you. Else, if you can’t handle a pup with extremely high activity levels, one with plenty of maintenance requirements, is stubborn, and doesn’t do well alongside kids and pets (except if socialized early, of course), he may not be a perfect fit for you.