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Australian Shepherd Lifespan: How Long Do Australian Shepherds Live?

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Last Updated: February 7, 2024 | 9 min read | Leave a Comment

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Australian Shepherds have always been popular in America and have long been the cowboy’s chosen canine. With their increasing popularity, many families are wondering how long they live. Australian Shepherds have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. All Aussies are different, and although some might live much longer than this, some might not.

Australian Shepherds are flamboyant, energetic, and affectionate with their families, and they love to have a job to do or lots of fun to have. To keep them happy, you need to keep them healthy. And to keep them healthy, there are a few things you need to do. These things include understanding what they need from their family and what type of health concerns to look out for. Plus, they need high-quality nutrition and intense daily activity.

We explore all the factors you can control to help keep your Aussie healthy and hopefully keep them with you for as long as possible. There are also some things you cannot control, like their genetics, but we explain how to minimize genetic problems that might decrease their lifespan. Let’s take a closer look.

Australian Shepherd Breed

Australian Shepherd standing outside.
An Australian Shepherd standing outside living his best life.

Australian Shepherds are exuberant, affectionate, and intelligent doggos, and are becoming increasingly popular. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), they are nearing the top 10 most popular dog breeds in America. Australian Shepherds have a long history, but they sailed the world until they arrived in California and became the cowboy’s best friend. They are one of the best herding breeds but also make brilliant family pets for active families.

Australian Shepherds are medium to large-sized dogs that weigh between 40 and 65 pounds and stand between 18 to 23 inches tall. Their lusciously thick and colorful coat is one of the reasons why they are becoming trendy. They need a fair chunk of time to look after their coat that sheds heavily during the shedding seasons. But most of all, they need an active family who can dedicate at least 60 minutes of intense exercise daily. Without this, they become bored, frustrated, destructive, and depressed.

How Long Do Australian Shepherds Live?

Australian Shepherds have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. They are relatively healthy dogs with only a few predisposed health concerns that Aussie owners need to be aware of. All Aussies are different, and some might surpass 15 years, and sadly, some might not make it to 12. How long they live is determined by several factors, some of which you can control and others you cannot.

A 15-year-old Australian Shepherd named Cheyenne was still competing in AKC rally championships in 2021. Her owners state they believe the reason she is still super healthy and nimble, despite her old age, has been to keep her active daily. Plus, she came from healthy working stock and likes to snack on baby carrots.

Health Factors That Impact Australian Shepherd Lifespan

Australian Shepherd in a dog bed.
An Australian Shepherd is cozy in a dog bed, looking curious as can be about how to live a long life.

Australian Shepherds are relatively healthy dogs but are predisposed to specific health conditions. Not all Aussies experience health concerns, and others encounter different conditions altogether. All Aussie owners should be aware of the following health conditions that are more common than others.

Being aware of these and the associated symptoms means you can help keep them as healthy as possible. Regular health checks and staying up to date with vaccinations are simple ways to fight infections and diseases and detect problems early.

Deafness

Australian Shepherds have one of the highest rates of deafness in the canine kingdom. Deafness can occur in one or both ears, and it can be inherited from parents or develop due to an infection or injury. Although deafness doesn’t directly impact lifespan, it can heighten the risk of injuries, and extra caution needs to be taken with deaf dogs.

A brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) test can diagnose hearing problems. A responsible breeder should never breed deaf dogs and always conduct a BAER test before rehoming puppies. However, BAER tests can be performed anytime if you suspect hearing problems.

Eye Conditions

Australian Shepherd owners need to be aware that there are a variety of eye conditions that affect this breed. The most common are progressive retinal atrophy, distichiasis, collie eye anomaly, and cataracts. If left untreated, these conditions can result in poor quality of life and total vision loss. Although poor vision doesn’t directly lower lifespan, it can heighten the risk of injuries impacting their health and years lived.

Joint Dysplasia

Australian Shepherds have an increased risk of elbow and hip dysplasia, one of the most common health concerns in many dog breeds. It occurs when the joints and the bones form abnormally and don’t sit properly. Over time, this causes additional wear, which results in mobility issues and arthritic pain.

Symptoms of joint dysplasia include difficulty standing or climbing, as well as exercise intolerance. The symptoms of joint dysplasia increase the risk of other health concerns, such as obesity and cardiac problems resulting from lack of exercise. Investing in a high-quality orthopedic bed can help with joint pain.

Other Factors That Impact Australian Shepherd Lifespan

Three colors of Australian Shepherd dogs.
Australian Shepherds playing outside with each other can help bring happiness and health to their wellbeing.

Care & Lifestyle

All dogs need to live in a happy and suitable environment to thrive. When dogs are unhappy and their needs are unmet, they experience more stress, which can shorten their lifespan. Aussies are hardworking and have high energy levels, and they need a minimum of one hour a day to stay happy and healthy. Leading an active lifestyle is crucial to the Aussie’s health.

Their activeness, curiosity, and tenacity mean they are forever getting themselves into potentially dangerous situations. Aussie parents must keep them safe by securing their homes and yards and keeping toxic food and harmful items out of their reach. This is particularly important if you have a blind or deaf Aussie.

Genetics

The genes an Aussie Shepherd inherits from their parents are among the most influential factors in their health and lifespan. Unfortunately, this is something that you cannot control. The only thing you can do is to work with a responsible breeder who breeds healthy dogs and does everything they can to improve and maintain their and their puppy’s health. When meeting any breeder, always meet the puppies and their mother in person and ask for the relevant health certificates.

Although buying an Aussie Shepherd puppy from an irresponsible breeder or puppy mill is likely cheaper, they are much more likely to experience health and behavioral problems. Not only does this cost more in the long run, but it’s also likely to lower their lifespan. A great place to start your research for a reputable breeder is on the AKC’s Australian Shepherd breeder page. It’s still important to research any breeder you are thinking about working with.

Health & Vaccinations

Staying up to date with regular vet checkups and vaccinations is essential for your dog’s health. Regular appointments mean that your vet can check for problems that you might not be able to decipher, such as with their heart. And keeping on top of their vaccination schedule is a simple way to protect them against infections and diseases. On top of this, considering pet insurance is crucial as it can help offset often high healthcare costs.

Nutrition

Australian Shepherds have nutritional needs that not all dog food meets, particularly poor quality or cheap food. Select a high-quality diet that meets the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. Food approved by AAFCO should always have their stamp on the food packaging. If Aussies don’t get the nutrients they need, they are more likely to experience health problems, which can lower their lifespan.

As Aussies are medium to large dog breeds, have a predisposition for joint problems, and are super active, they need age-appropriate food as a puppy to help stabilize their joint development. If your Aussie is a working or super active pooch, they might need a diet with a higher energy content and more protein than usual. Some dogs have preferences or food intolerances, and picking food that suits them and their needs is vital for their health.

Spay & Neuter

If you aren’t planning on breeding your Australian Shepherd, it’s essential to consider neutering or spaying them. The University of Georgia found that these procedures can improve life expectancy by 14% to 26%. They also found that not spaying or neutering your pooch can shorten their lifespan by around two years. These procedures can improve their overall health and reduce cancer rates.

How To Help Your Australian Shepherd Live A Long Life

A woman combing an Australian Shepherd on the floor on back.
Grooming your Australian Shepherd is just one of the many things you can do to keep your dog looking (and feeling) good.

Here are some ways to ensure your dog has a long, happy life.

  1. Work With A Responsible Breeder. This is possibly the most important step in finding a healthy Aussie puppy. Ethical breeders want to keep doggy bloodlines healthy and only breed healthy dogs and screen for health issues. Always meet the breeder, puppies, and mother and ask to see the relevant health certificates. Responsible breeders have higher puppy prices, but their pups are likely to cost less in the long run.
  2. Visit Your Vet Regularly. Regular visits to the vet and keeping up to date with vaccinations are crucial steps in fighting infections and diseases. Seeing the vet can also help detect health problems early and increase the chances of recovery, which might lengthen their lifespan.
  3. Spay Or Neuter At The Right Time. These procedures aren’t just about birth control. They also improve health and decrease the risk of diseases like cancer. Doing them at the right time is crucial and can vary between dogs. Speak to your vet at your earliest convenience, as they can advise the best age to do it.
  4. Physical Exercise Is Key To Health. Australian Shepherds are very active dog breeds, and daily physical activity is the key to their happiness and health. They need an equally active family who can commit to their intense exercise schedule. Otherwise, you can expect various problems, including health concerns and behavioral problems.
  5. Mental Stimulation Is Also Crucial. In addition to physical exercise, they also need plenty of mental stimulation and enjoy playing and fooling around with their family. They also benefit from solo playtime, and supplying them with a variety of dog toys can help keep them busy.
  6. Choose A High-Quality Diet. Picking a high-quality diet not only satisfies their tastebuds but also meets their nutritional needs. They can maintain their health much better when their nutritional needs are met.
  7. Dental Health Is Important. Dental hygiene and regular teeth brushing can extend a dog’s lifespan, as their oral health is linked to their overall wellness. Establish weekly teeth cleaning from a young age.
  8. Be Safety Conscious. As their owner, you are responsible for keeping them as safe as possible. Keeping them safe means they might enjoy a few more years with you, too. Although you cannot control everything, being aware of their surroundings and taking simple steps such as home security is crucial to their health.
  9. Provide Proper Training. Aussies are very intelligent, but they are also headstrong and need guidance to help them become obedient and polite Aussie adults. Early training and socialization help them to adapt to their life with you and increase their happiness and health in the long run.
  10. Raise Them With Love And Affection. Last but not least is raising them in a happy and loving home. Aussies are people-oriented and love to be involved with everything you do. A happy dog is a healthy one.

Frequently Asked Questions

We know our readers still have many questions about Australian Shepherds and how long they live. If you don’t see your question below, ask us in the comments, and we’ll find the answer.

How Long Do Australian Shepherds Live?

Healthy Australian Shepherds have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years. How long they live depends on various factors, such as leading an active lifestyle, eating a high-quality diet, and living in a safe and happy environment. Working with a responsible breeder can heighten your chances of adopting a healthy dog who is likely to live longer than a puppy from a puppy mill.

Is There A Difference In Lifespan Between Male And Female Australian Shepherds?

Research into the link between sex and health is inconclusive. Many studies suggest that females are healthier, but just as many studies show males are healthier. The most influential factors that determine a dog’s lifespan are likely to be genetics and lifestyle.

What Is The Life Expectancy Of Australian Shepherd Mixes?

The lifespan of an Australian Shepherd mix depends on the other breed and their expected lifespan. Some mixes might be expected to enjoy longer years, whereas others might have their lifespan lowered. Every dog is different, and lifespan can never be predicted. It is only an average guestimate.

Learn More About Australian Shepherds

Australian Shepherds are all-round, brilliant canines for an active family. How active is active? As Aussies need a minimum of 60 to 90 minutes of exercise daily, much more if you can, we’d say very active. To fuel their athletic bodies, they need a high-quality diet and plenty of games with humans and doggy toys. Aussies are becoming increasingly popular as mixed breeds, too, so why not check out one of our Aussie mix guides?

Why Trust Canine Journal?

Emma is a dog owner with over 20 years of experience. She has also worked as a professional dog walker and sitter for many years, taking care of countless dog breeds with different needs. Emma dedicates countless hours researching the latest pet care, health, food, and training developments to keep her two best buddies and other doggy clients as happy and healthy as possible. She works alongside a professional and experienced team to bring the best, most accurate, and up-to-date information to our readers.

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The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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