Australian Shepherds, or Aussies, are best known for their hard work and well-earned play. They race around farms and pastures, rallying the sheep-troops. These smart, exuberant dogs are part of the Herding Group, and will never let you forget it.
They are loving, devoted, and protective. So what makes the Red Merle Aussie different? Their unique coat and spunky attitude. Read more to find out!
What is a Red Merle Australian Shepherd?
Red Merle Aussies are part of the standard Australian Shepherd breed. They are descendants of Europe’s finest herding dogs, dating as far back as the 1800s. The Basques built a world-class shepherding reputation with the help of these fine dogs.
This breed started in the European Pyrenees Mountains, then moved to Australia, and shortly after that, came to the United States during the Gold Rush. However, it wasn’t until they’d made it to California that the standard Red Merle Australian Shepherd breed we know and love was born.
There, the breed became desired farmhands, cowboy companions, and rodeo dogs.
You do not need to own a farm or ride a horse to have an Australian Shepherd. Aussies are tough, fast-learning, and strong. They are more than willing to perform any kind of active task, as they are very versatile dogs.
Red Merle Pros and Cons
The Red Merle Shepherd comes with many Pros, some of which have already been discussed. Once they are introduced into their forever home, their protective nature and eagerness to please will shine through.
They are obedient and highly trainable. They also make great car buddies, as Red Merle Shepherds love nothing more than to accompany their owners. They possess a bundle of medium-sized energy, and because of this, can perform difficult and varying tasks without much trouble. They are also easily house-broken.
Unfortunately, the breed does come with some Cons, too. Aussies need plenty of exercise, as they have an abundance of energy that can sometimes be difficult to maintain. If they can’t get out their energy, they become restless and destructive.
They are also highly territorial of their owner’s possessions and need proper training to contain this behavior. Their herding instinct can make Red Merle Shepherds difficult to control, while the unique coloring can cause an array of health problems.
Red Merle Shepherds possess a distinct canine appearance that is often misunderstood. Their “red” coloring appears more as light cinnamon, champagne, or strawberry blonde. Red merle could mean anything from copper and rust to sienna and shades of reddish-brown.
The merle pattern is a spotted coat with patches of differing, base coat colors. Red Merle Shepherds typically have white markings on their face, chest, legs, and belly. They can also have copper patches on their face and legs.
Their coats are long and wavy, needing consistent care. Red Merle Shepherds are double-coated, making them waterproof and more agile.
Aussies tend to have beautiful, striking eyes. Their irises can range from brown, blue, or even heterochromia. In Red Merle Shepherds, their eyes may be “marbled”, or spotted with other colors. For example, they could have blue eyes flecked with brown, or vice versa.
These dogs are often muscular, with lengthier torsos and medium-sized bodies. Their ears are floppy and they have docked tails for better active performance. Males can grow between 20-23 inches tall, while female Aussies can be between 18-21 inches. They typically weigh about 50-65 pounds, for a male, and 40-55 pounds for a female.
Australian Red Merle Temperament
These dogs are best known for their versatile, athletic temperament. They are super smart and sometimes known as the “Velcro dog”, because of the way they bounce back to their owners.
People wonder if the red merle coating influences their temperament in any way, but experts claim that it does not. Either way, our Red Merle Shepherds are certainly fun-loving, energetic, and above all, hardworking.
You must keep Aussies busy. Otherwise, they could act out in bored rebellion – usually by performing nasty hoodwinks around the house. Red Merle Shepherds love to be a part of their owner’s daily life and require a routine themselves.
They respond better when walks, car rides, and bedtime happen at the same time every day. On top of this, your Aussie will only become comfortable once they are active and performing daily tasks.
Red Merle Shepherds love to run, play dog sports, and release their boundless balls of energy. They have an alert, active, and attentive nature. Their protective nature can make them cautious to outsiders of the family.
If something feels off to them, they are sure to alert you at once. They can also be overly protective to their owner’s possessions, which can cause destructive household behavior, if not corrected.
Aussies are highly intelligent and quick to pick up on cues. They are agile, with high amounts of strength and stamina. They are versatile, which allows them to work across all kinds of outdoor terrain. When they perform work, they are confident, careful, and loyal to a fault.
They tend to be high maintenance, so are not the best dogs for first-time dog owners, let alone couples who are not very active. As you can see, Red Merle Australian Shepherds are very energetic and need the right kind of attention to thrive.
Are Red Merle Australian Shepherds Good with Kids?
Because of the Red Merle Shepherd’s undying loyalty, they make for fantastic family dogs! In fact, they’re excellent around kids. These dogs are fantastic at wearing out your little one and are certainly not afraid of a little tumble!
They can sometimes retain their herding habits and wish to wrangle your rambunctious kid into an imaginary pen, which can be good for children who like to run off.
To prevent excessive child herding, introduce the Aussie into your home at a young age. Your Red Merle Shepherd will be sure to keep a close eye on your kiddos and ensure they are having fun, without herding them in the wrong direction. Wouldn’t want your Aussie to chase them too far!
Did you know? The Red Merle Shepherd grew in popularity shortly after WWII, when more people pursued Western horseback riding. Aussies were even featured as companions in many Western movies and TV shows.
Did you know? Native Americans once revered the Aussie as sacred, calling them “Ghost Eye.”
Did you know? This dog has had more than a couple of nicknames, including; Pastor Dogs, Blue Heelers, Bob-Tails, and California Shepherds.
Did you know? Aussies have had all kinds of jobs, such as utility dogs, hearing-aid dogs, police dogs, search and rescue dogs, nursing home volunteers, and even sled dogs.
Did you know? The Red Merle Shepherd has a docked tail to avoid injury. The docked tail also properly identifies them as part of the working stock.
Australian Red Merle Diet
You can feed your adult Red Merle Shepherd a diet of 3-4 cups of kibble a day, 1 cup per meal. If you prefer to feed them wet food, simply replace one serving of dry food with the wet food.
They can also be feed on a frozen diet of commercially made meat and vegetable patties. They should be fed with high-quality product, either commercially manufactured or home-prepared (given your veterinarian’s permission). For puppies and growing Aussies, feed them half the amount of kibble you would usually feed an adult.
All food should come from raw meat ingredients and make up most of their diet. Make sure to feed them appropriately, based on what kind of activities they do during the day. It is best to measure out your Aussie’s food so that they do not overeat, as they are prone to obesity.
The Red Merle Shepherd is bred to be active and has higher exercise requirements than most. As a farmland worker, the Aussie needs at least two walks per day. Roughly, the total amount of exercise needed equals between 60-90 minutes.
This can involve high-level training, simple walks, or better yet, a hike in the woods! Aussies work best if they are given a fenced-in area to run around on their own time, such as a large backyard. That way, they can release some of their pent-up energy for hours at a time. Once grown, they make great running companions and can bond stronger with owners.
It is best to tackle their exercise in manageable increments. An excellent exercise routine should include daily walks and trick training. Puzzle toys, such as Buster Cubes, are also great to keep their intelligent minds active.
These dogs love any kind of outdoor play, especially frisbee catching. They thrive in doggie sports like agility, flyball, and disc games. Taking them to the park for a game of frisbee fetch would really make their day!
Grooming and Shedding
Because of their double-layer coat, Aussies need to be brushed daily. Particularly during the shedding seasons, such as spring and fall. Their short undercoats keep them insulated and their outer later water-resistant.
Their inner layer is the one that sheds more hair and works best if well-groomed. During the off-shedding seasons of winter and summer, weekly brushing should be enough to keep the coat sleek, shiny, and detangled.
Use an undercoat rake every two or three days to remove dead hair. A fine-toothed comb can also remove any extra dirt, mud, or even hidden bugs. Warm baths also work wonders! For added fluff and softness, make sure to blow dry their hair afterward!
A Red Merle Australian Shepherd’s nails should be trimmed regularly. As a working dog, Aussies will likely wear down their own nails from daily work and other activities. If you notice them curling beneath their paws, you should cut them down yourself. Owners should also brush their teeth regularly, if possible.
Health and Lifespan
These dogs have a lifespan between 12-15 years. They can certainly live a long time, but owners should be aware of possible health concerns. Red Merle Shepherds can be susceptible to specific ailments. Here are a few of their most common issues:
- Hip or elbow dysplasia
- Vision problems
As an Aussie owner, you want to make sure your furry friend passes the specific health exams covering these conditions, otherwise, you could be left with high medical bills.
Examples of these tests include; Hip evaluation, elbow evaluation, and ophthalmologist evaluation. On top of this, there are a few other health concerns specific to the Red Merle Australian Shepherd. You will want to keep these in mind before buying:
- Sun Sensitivity: Prone to sunburns or eye damage. Red merles who inherit blue eyes, or have a predominantly white color coat, can be more sensitive to sunlight. This can cause sunburns, skin damage, eye irritation, and even sun exposure cancers.
- Deafness: Double-merle breeding problem. Deafness can occur within red merles who come from two parents with the same merle gene. Deafness is more likely if the Aussie’s head color is predominantly white.
- Microphthalmia: Vision impairment, or an underdeveloped eye. An Aussie’s gorgeous eyes can, unfortunately, come with a variety of disorders. An underdeveloped eye can also cause iris colobomas, which is a black mark on the iris.
- Eye Defects: Abnormal eye developments. Double-merle breeding can also cause eye defects, such as missing eyes or blindness.
Most of these concerns would not affect the Red Merle Shepherd until they reach an older age or would be known as soon as they are born. This list exists purely as a guide to keep in mind before purchasing. It is unlikely your Aussie would develop all or any of them.
Is the Red Merle Australian Shepherd Easy to Train?
The Red Merle Australian Shepherd is super easy to train! Though they certainly require a ton of commitment and time. Aussies need multiple tasks to keep their crafty mind busy and are anxious to please their owners. They must be challenged, and you must show them that you are the boss. Otherwise, they could learn at an early age that they run the household.
Red Merle Shepherds are comfortable on all kinds of terrains, including harsh temperatures. They expect and need training all the time, no matter the conditions. Start training as soon as you bring them home, preferably if they’re still a puppy.
That way, they’ll be sure to pick up on your cues, moods, and mannerisms. Australian Shepherds are capable of learning commands at just eight weeks old. Don’t wait! They are also highly adaptable and can think intelligently for themselves.
So don’t underestimate them, either. If you wait to start training them, they can develop negative habits such as digging, barking, and jumping on counters.
Red Merle Australian Shepherds are highly competitive and can go far in agility, obstacle courses, and even showmanship. They respond best to positive reinforcements. Use treats as tools to get them to listen and follow your lead (though be careful not to overfeed with them).
You can also use play, simple praise, and toys as other methods of positive reinforcement. Likewise, you should also teach them a come-back cue, where they respond to a single whistle or command. This trick is ideal when calling them back from a leash-free walk, roam in the countryside, or a herding spree.
Even if you aren’t a farmer, it is best for the Australian Shepherd to have a place to roam and run. If you don’t have that, then giving your Red Merle Aussie daily tasks is best to keep them active. When playing fetch, you can switch out toys after they return one, or make them search for a hidden and buried toy. You could even set up courses for them to race through and obstacles for them to jump over.
Obedience school is another great way to train your Aussie. If you do this while they are still a puppy, it will not only help with their training but improve their socialization skills. As previously mentioned, Aussies can be cautious and potentially aggressive toward strangers, either human or dog. These classes will ensure your Red Merle pup grows into an adjusted and well-mannered Shepherd!
In conclusion, Red Merle Australian Shepherds (or Aussies), are excellent dogs that will make the most loyal companion. They will protect your home at all costs and work harder than a horse to please you.
They are high maintenance and require a lot of attention and time. The Red Merle Australian Shepherd is popular among many Americans, but it is best to know early whether you think they are right for your family. They certainly do not work well for sedentary apartment types! These dogs work well for aspiring athletes, outdoorsy folks, and workaholics. They thrive in competition and challenges. If you’re one of those people, go out and adopt an Aussie today! They will be sure to express their gratitude, loyalty, and love for you forever.