Australian Shepherd Health Problems and Raising an Australian Shepherd Puppy to be Healthy
By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013
The most common health problems in Australian Shepherds:
The Australian Shepherd Club conducted a health survey in which 28% of the breed were reported with allergies, which cause itchy skin and can lead to bacterial skin infections (pyoderma).
19% were reported with tumors and cancers.
The most common eye diseases were cataracts (18%) and coloboma of the iris (18%). Cataracts usually appear at 1-3 years old (but can appear as late as 7 years) and often progress to full blindness. Coloboma of the iris appears primarily in the merle colors.
Other eye diseases in Australian Shepherds include persistent pupillary membranes (15% in the club survey), eyelash abnormalities (8%), collie eye anomaly (3%), retinal dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).
Autoimmune diseases are those in which your dog's defective immune system attacks and damages parts of its own body, often the skin. The most common autoimmune diseases in Australian Shepherds are hypothyroidism (8% in the club survey), demodectic mange (6%), and lupus (3%).
Orthopedic diseases in Aussies are led by hip dysplasia, then osteochondritis and elbow dysplasia, and occasionally luxating patella. The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of 23,000 Australian Shepherds and found 6% dysplastic. That wouldn't be high for this size dog, except that the true rate is higher because most of the obviously bad X-rays were not sent in for official evaluation. And sure enough, the club health survey shows a 22% hip dysplasia rate. That's bad.
Epilepsy (seizures) is a serious problem in Australian Shepherds, with 12% affected, according to the club survey.
Heart disease (patent ductus arteriosus) is increasing in the breed.
Inherited deafness is somewhat common in Aussie puppies, especially if the puppy has a lot of white on his head.
Blood-clotting diseases (von Willebrand's disease and hemophilia) have been reported, along with liver shunt and megaesophagus.
Australian Shepherds and other collie-type breeds often react adversely to certain drugs such as ivermectin (in heartworm prevention products such as Heartguard), Imodium A-D, flagyl, and certain anesthetics. If your dog has a mutant gene called mdr1, he cannot pump these drugs out of his brain, which results in neurological toxicity. Don't give any of these drugs to your Aussie unless he has been tested for this mutant gene. It's a simple DNA test offered by the Washington State University Veterinary School.
Aussies are prone to losing pigment on their nose and muzzle – this can be caused by nasal solar dermatitis, vitiligo, or lupus, but most commonly it's a harmless condition called "snow nose", where the nose only loses pigment in the winter.
Can you prevent health problems from happening to YOUR Australian Shepherd?
Yes, often you can.
- Some health problems are genetic, which means inherited from parents. Genetic health issues are common in Australian Shepherds today because of unwise breeding practices. My book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, shows you how to find an Australian Shepherd puppy who is genetically healthy.
- Other health problems are environmental – caused by the way you raise your dog. My best-selling dog health book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to prevent environmental health problems by raising your Australian Shepherd puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways.
Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy Australian Shepherd puppy or adult dog:
How Long Will Your Dog Live? – Take This Quiz!
Based on your dog's breed and how you're raising him, this personalized quiz will help you understand how long your dog might live – and most importantly, how you can increase his life expectancy.
Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Australian Shepherd lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.
The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your Australian Shepherd
The best diet for feeding your Australian Shepherd is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, bison, venison, fish....This is not "people food" and I'll tell you why.
The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Australian Shepherd
If you can't feed homemade dog food, here are your next-best choices.
Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Australian Shepherd puppy really need? Does your adult Aussie need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed. Find out what many vets aren't telling you.
The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.
Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female Australian Shepherd.
Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.
Copyright © 2000-2013 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
No part of this website may be copied, displayed on another website,
or distributed in any way without the express permission of the author.