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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Can a Short-Haired Australian Shepherd Really Be a Purebred Aussie?

By Anton Hout, author of The Guide to Aussie Training & Care

Ashort-haired Australian Shepherd may seem unusual, but if your pup isn't as fluffy as most Aussies there's really no reason for concern. Hair length is just one of many common characteristics of the Australian Shepherd and it can actually vary from the standard medium length to much shorter. It's really no different than eye color or hair color; some dogs just develop one way and some develop another way.

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What doesn't differ are the basics of size and temperament. For an Australian Shepherd, short hair or long hair is secondary to that amazing Aussie personality. These are highly energetic dogs that were bred to work on farms and ranches, tending to herds or flocks and being a protective and loyal companion for their humans.

They are also extremely intelligent and easy to train. In fact, they are eager to please so they will enthusiastically learn new skills and are perfect candidates for things like agility training, dog sports, or games. A short-haired Australian Shepherd is just as bubbly and energetic as his long-haired counterpart and will be just as good a worker or family companion.

Can a Short-Haired Australian Shepherd Really Be a Purebred Aussie? - Photo: Short-haired blue merle Australian Shepherd standing on a field of grass.

vkarlov /

Despite the name, the Australian Shepherd is not from Australia and its progenitors were originally bred in Europe and is believed to be related to the Border Collie and English Shepherd, among other breeds. The Australian Shepherd we know and love so much today was actually developed in the United States. So who's to say that somewhere along that line there wasn't also an Australian Shepherd short hair relative contributing to the gene pool? That is the case and explains the existence of short-haired Aussies, which are more common than you might think.

Is a Short-Haired Australian Shepherd Rare?

Since the breed is most often seen with thicker, fluffier medium length hair, you would think that a short-haired Australian Shepherd would be a rarity, but that's not the case. In many cases, puppies will have short coats at birth that eventually grow out as they mature. For this reason, it can be difficult to spot a true short-haired Aussie at first. Only after it reaches adulthood and still retains its short coat will it become apparent.

Like the longer-haired variety, an Australian Shepherd with short hair will have a double coat, with a thick underlayer and a longer outer layer. This double coat acts as insulation to help regulate body temperature and also provides extra protection for the skin, which is why most experts warn against shaving an Australian Shepherd. It's actually quite important to retain the double coat, even in the warm summer months.

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

This might make you think that having short hair is not healthy, but that's not necessarily true. As mentioned, even a short-haired Australian Shepherd still has a double coat, so it retains that built-in protection, despite the shorter length of the top coat. In and of itself, short hair does not indicate that your dog is not healthy, however, as we will discuss later, there are health conditions that can affect hair growth.

A Short-Haired Australian Shepherd Is Not in Indication of Bad Breeding

Similarly, an Australian Shepherd with short hair is also not a sign of poor breeding. Though organizations like the American Kennel Club (AKC) don't have a separate distinction for a short-haired variety, it doesn't necessarily prevent shorter haired Aussies from being considered purebred. Again, hair length is not a sign of poor breeding practices, but just a simple difference in genetic development. It's no different than having some Aussies with blue eyes, some with brown or some with both, all of which are seen regularly in the breed.

As with many shorter haired breeds, it's not surprising that people would wonder if a short-haired Australian Shepherd is hypoallergenic, but, unfortunately, the answer is no. Since they still have the same double coat as the longer-haired variety, they will still shed in the same way and therefore they are not recommended for individuals with allergies.

Can a Short-Haired Australian Shepherd Really Be a Purebred Aussie? - Photo: Red merle Australian Shepherd with full mane standing in field.

Zuzana Tillerova /

Short-haired Australian Shepherds, who are often working dogs, are every bit the Aussie as their fluffy counterparts who are popular in the the show ring.

Like longer hair on an Australian Shepherd, short hair needs to be properly maintained in order to encourage good health. That means regular brushing to remove dirt and mats and to encourage the production of oil. Ideally, brushing should take place at least 3 to 4 times a week. Conversely, you really only need to bathe your Aussie about once every 3 to 4 months. In fact, over-bathing can be harmful as it can dry out the hair and skin.

Could Short Hair on Your Australian Shepherd Indicate Other Problems?

Of course, not all short hair is completely natural. Sometimes, a dog's hair growth can be affected by his diet or by illness. It's always important to feed your dog a healthy, balanced diet, but that is particularly important for working dogs like the Australian Shepherd, who need a good diet for extra energy and strength. A short-haired Australian Shepherd is no different on this count. Feeding him properly can help to keep his coat shiny and healthy.

If you do suspect that your dog is actually losing hair, you should check with your vet to make sure there isn't some sort of underlying illness that is the cause. But if your dog was simply born with a shorter coat, then there should be no cause for concern. An Australian Shepherd short hair will be no different than his longer-haired counterparts and should be able to live a long and happy life.

While you might expect your Aussie to have a luxurious, fluffy coat, don't despair about having a short-haired Australian Shepherd. He'll still have all the other characteristics that have made so many people fall in love with this breed, just bundled up in a much less hairy package. He may be short on hair but you can rest assured that he'll have just as big a heart!

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A short-haired Australian Shepherd may seem unusual, but there's really no reason for concern. Hair length is just one of many common characteristics of the Australian Shepherd and it can vary greatly. #australianshepherd #aussie #dogshedding #doggrooming #aussielovers icon

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

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