Australian Shepherds are known for their herding ability. They have a high energy level and are intelligent. Australian Shepherds come in a variety of color combinations: blue merle, black, red merle, and red. Some have white fur markings and others have tan or copper points. Their fur is medium length and can be straight or partially wavy. Males have an average height between 21 and 23 inches and weigh between 50 and 65 pounds; females stand between 18 and 21 inches and weigh between 40 and 55 pounds.
Before selecting an Australian Shepherd puppy, ask the breeder or owner if the parents have had any hip problems. Hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition that affects the hip joints and will cause extreme pain and lameness in dogs. If in doubt, a veterinarian can x-ray the hip socket to determine if the joint is sturdy. You will also want to ask the breeder if the parents had any eye problems. This is another hereditary ailment which can affect these dogs. A few other hereditary conditions to cover with the breeder or owner are: epilepsy, heart problems, elbow dysplasia, cancer, allergies and thyroid problems. Most responsible breeders have bred these hereditary conditions out of their bloodlines, but it is always important to check before making a selection of an Australian Shepherd.
After the above questions have been answered by the breeder or owner, sit down with the litter of Australian Shepherd puppies and see which ones bond with you the most. The puppy that comes up to you when called or offered a treat is usually a good choice. Make sure the puppy is confident and does not run away from you with his tail tucked between his legs. Any puppy may be cautious when approaching new people, but they usually warm up after a few minutes. A puppy that doesn't may be difficult to manage as he grows older.
When selecting your new Australian Shepherd, you'll want to see eyes which show intelligence and friendly alertness. The ears should be triangular and set high upon the head. When they are in alert mode, their ears should perk up, break forward and over.
Also note: when selecting an Australian Shepherd, you should look for straight legs with strong bones. Paws should be an oval shape and compact. Toes should have a noticeable arch with thick paw pads.
When you've found a Australian Shepherd puppy that seems friendly and outgoing, pick up the puppy. It is normal if he squirms a bit at first, but he should settle down and be comfortable in your arms. Check his feet and make sure his teeth are white and not broken or discolored. Give the puppy a massage and rub him on the belly. He should respond to this with obvious enjoyment; if not, there may be a medical problem or he may not have the attention span required for training.
Next, set the puppy down and see if he will follow you. When he is not looking, clap your hands. He should be curious about the noise and look around. Think twice in selecting an Australian Shepherd that runs and hides at the sound.