Our gorgeous Australian Shepherds are often our best friends. If you asked any Australian Shepherd owner about how old their Aussie lived to be they will tell you that they wish they could have lived forever.
Thinking about the passing of your Aussie can be heartbreaking so instead, it feels much better to think about how to help your Australian Shepherd live a long full healthy life. But it’s also important to know what to expect as your Aussie ages as well.
Australian Shepherds and Mini Australian Shepherds have an average life expectancy of 12–15 years. Some owners have reported their Aussies living up to 18 years old. In human years that’s a range of 65-90+. The leading cause of premature death in Australian Shepherds is Cancer.
In general the smaller the dog the longer its lifespan. Studies have shown that small breeds tend to have longer lifespans than large breed dogs because large dogs age more quickly.
Some people also like to say that cattle dogs or herding breeds also tend to live longer than the average large breed dog. Aussies that tend to keep physically and mentally active can live on average 14-17 years.
The aging process for dogs is quite interesting. It was thought in years past that dog’s age 7 human years for every year that they are alive. That has since proven to be false.
For the first year of life, a dog will age 15 human years. The second year, 9 years, then 4 or 5 years for every year after that.
According to the AKC dog age calculator because Australian Shepherds generally weigh on average between 40-65 lbs they would be in the medium to Large breed groups. Close to 60 Aussies owners shared with us how old their dogs lived to be and here are the results.
Age when deceased
In Human Years
Number of dogs who lived to that age
Results are taken from the Australian Shepherd Lovers Facebook group.
What is the Longest Living Australian Shepherd?
Some say that Bluey is the longest living Australian Shepherd ever recorded. She lived to be 29 years old, however, Bluey was an Australian Cattle dog, not an Australian Shepherd and yes there is a difference.
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A few owners have said their Aussie has lived to be 18 years old, but it may be impossible to know for sure how old the oldest Australian Shepherd has lived to be.
Recently in 2021, There was a 15-year-old Australian Shepherd named Cheyenne that competed in the AKC Rally Nationals. She is on record for being the oldest Australian Shepherd to ever compete in this specific competition.
Her owner says that she credits their getting up and always moving and doing things as well as her great breeding lines to her youthful condition.
You can read the full article here on AKC 15-Year-Old Australian Shepherd Competes as Oldest Dog in AKC Rally Nationals.
Life Span for Australian Shepherd Mixes.
You may wonder how this changes for Australian Shepherd mixes. Generally, mixes are thought to live slightly longer. This is because they have a more diverse genetic pool to draw from which makes them less likely to get breed-specific diseases and ailments.
Most Australian Shepherd Mixes will have a similar lifespan to Australian Shepherds which is 12-15 years. It may vary a year or two depending on the size of the dog that the Australian Shepherd was bred with, with large dogs having slightly shorter lifespans. The biggest determining factor is genetic health.
There are not any conclusive studies to show that mixes live longer but vets and vet techs across the country have seen that mix-breed dogs tend to be healthier and more resilient. The exception to this is if you have a purebred Australian Shepherd from a very responsible breeder that does extensive genetic testing and only breeds from healthy lines.
A good breeder will by trial and error learn what genetic characteristics her dogs have and will stop breeding any that may produce a negative outcome.
This is especially important for Australian Shepherds that will be trained to be working dogs. Whether it’s working on a ranch, or working as a therapy or service dog.
If you get your Australian Shepherd from a puppy mill this will not be the case. Puppy mills are only concerned with pumping out puppies as quickly as possible in order to increase their profit.
Here is a chart of the general lifespan for different Australian Shepherd Mixes:
Weight in Lbs
Mini Australian Shepherd
Pomeranian Aussie (Paussie)
Beagle Aussie (Sheagle)
Boston Terrier Aussie (Baussie)
Poodle Aussie (Aussiedoodle)
Chow Chow Aussie (Aussie Chow)
Blue Heeler Aussie (Texas Heeler)
Rotweiler Aussie (Aussie Rottie)
German Shepherd Aussie (German Australian Shepherd)
Border Collie Aussie (Aussie Collie)
Corgi Aussie (Auggie)
Husky Aussie (Aussie Siberian)
Labrador Retriever Aussie (Aussiedor)
What is the Mini Australian Shepherd Lifespan
The teacup or mini Australian Shepherd lifespan is 12-15 years which is similar to regular size Aussies. The biggest determining factor is the genetics and the health of the parents of the mini Aussie which can be influenced by the experience and planning of the breeder.
Miniature Australian Shepherds are a relatively new breed coming into popularity during the 1960s. Mini Aussies are created by breeding the smallest full-bred Australian Shepherds with each other in order to try and get their offspring to be even smaller.
This can be dangerous and often considered unethical as runts tend to be the smallest and weakest of litters and may develop more health problems. It may also cause some breeders to ignore other genetic health issues the may be continuing by breeding small Aussies because smaller Aussies are rarer and there is a smaller genetic pool to choose from.
In rare cases, mini Australian Shepherds may be the result of a dwarfism gene. This gene limits the skeletal and cartilage growth of the dog making it impossible for them to grow to their normal size. If this is the case the dog will most likely have a lot of health problems and a much shorter lifespan.
Puppy mills and unethical breeders may use this tactic to breed very small Australian Shepherds but the dogs will be very unhealthy. Please always try to do your research to make sure you are getting your puppy from an ethical breeder.
An ethical breeder takes good care of their puppies making sure that they are healthy, well socialized, and that they have enough space to learn and grow.
Factors that Can Influence How Long Your Australian Shepherd Lives
If you are like me and most owners we want to do all that we can to help our furry friends live the longest healthiest lives possible. There are some things that are in our control and some that are out of our control.
Here is a list of things that may influence the lifespan of your Aussie and what you can do to help them have a long healthy life!
We already discussed how size can play a role in lifespan. Generally, the smaller the dog the longer its life expectancy will be unless there are genetic diseases or issues inherited because of poor breeding.
There’s not much we can do about the size of our pup. So this factor I would mark out of our control to influence.
Breeding and Genetics
Besides size, genetics and breeding may be the other most important factor. This isn’t something you can directly influence, but when you are choosing an Australian Shepherd Puppy you will have the opportunity to find a breeder that is experienced, ethical, and understands how to breed puppies that are healthy and free of genetic abnormalities and problems.
Nutrition & Proper Weight Management
Nutrition can play a big roll in how healthy our dog is and how long they live. The ingredients in our dog’s food can have a significant impact on whether they develop chronic diseases or terminal illnesses like cancer.
Obesity in Australian Shepherds is very dangerous. It is often a risk factor for many diseases and ailments. Keeping your dog at a proper weight by feeding them on a schedule as well as avoiding table scraps and other empty calories or junk food will go a long way in helping your Australian Shepherd to be healthy.
Exercise can help your dog live longer as it will increase flexibility and endurance, strengthens muscles around the joints, and can help stave off health problems caused by obesity. Exercise also aids bowel function, which is especially important in older dogs.
Australian Shepherds are herding breeds and need plenty of exercise and stimulation. You should strive for a minimum of 2 hours of exercise a day. Here is an article all about the best ways to exercise your Australian Shepherd.
Making sure your Australian Shepherd gets proper healthcare treatment can go a long way in preventing and early death. Dogs who have been neglected tend to have an increased mortality rate.
Your adult Australian Shepherd should see a vet at least once a year, your Australian Shepherd puppy starting when you bring it home once every 3–4 weeks until they’re 16 weeks old, following a basic vaccine schedule.
Vaccinating your Australian Shepherd at the proper times will help to prevent diseases like Parvo and Kennel cough that if caught could drastically shorten your dog’s life.
Keep their coat brushed and washed properly. Brushing them at least twice a week will help keep the mats away and it gives you an opportunity to keep an eye out for parasites such as fleas and ticks. Brushing often will also be a huge benefit in controlling your Aussies Shedding.
Never Shave an Australian Shepherd even if you think it’s helping them to stay cool. Shaving your Australian Shepherd could cause several health problems. You can find out more by reading our Article Shaving Your Australian Shepherd Is it Ever Ok?.
By the age of two 80% of dogs have some form of dental disease. As your dog gets older this can progress to lead them down an unhealthy path and could potentially cause a gum infection bad enough to cause organ failure which would decrease their lifespan.
Tips to keep your Australian Shepherds Teeth Healthy:
- Brush their teeth (ideally daily, but weekly is still better than nothing)
- Dental Chews
- High Quality Dry Kibble
More Tips for Healthy Teeth: Australian Shepherd Teeth Complete Guide (Cleaning, Problems, and More)
You can work towards creating a healthy environment for your dog by:
- Keeping toxic chemicals out of reach
- Be aware of toxic foods and plants
- Don’t let them chew on or eat Harmful things (If your Australian Shepherd eats things it shouldn’t READ THIS!)
- Consider getting a Friend for your Australian Shepherd
- Don’t yell at or scold your dog
- Spend time training your dog. You never know when having good recall could save their life!
- Microchip your Australian Shepherd
- Provide a comfortable and safe place for your dog to sleep and rest
If you are wondering how much sleep is normal for your Australian Shepherd sure to read our article all about Australian Shepherd sleep.
Keeping them young and Healthy requires a fit and active brain as well. Providing your dog with adequate mental stimulation is important. Especially for Australian Shepherds since they are a working breed and have an instinctual desire to herd. They need to be kept busy with good things to do.
Lots of Love
This one is the coolest! Love and affection from an owner have the potential to counteract other negative effects on their dog.
There was an experiment done in the 1970s to study the effect of diet on heart health.
Over several months, they fed a control group of rabbits a high-fat diet and monitored their blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol.
As expected, many of the rabbits showed a buildup of fatty deposits on the inside of their arteries, but the curious thing was although all of the rabbits had a buildup, one group surprisingly had as much as 60 percent less than the others. It appeared as though they were looking at two different groups of rabbits.
After spending a lot of time trying to figure out why the results were different even though the rabbits had been fed the exact same diet they discovered that one of the research staff members had been in charge of the group that that was significantly healthier.
She had been giving them affection cuddles and lots of pets. She had been giving them love and this made the rabbits healthier despite their diet!
Australian Shepherd Health Problems and What They Die From
The most common cause of pre-mature death for Australian Shepherds is cancer followed by epilepsy. The two most common cancers that Aussies get are lymphoma and Hemangiosarcoma (HSA). Young Australian Shepherds have higher rates of accidents causing death than other breeds.
Australian Shepherds are very smart and curious. This can be great when it comes to training them because they catch on fast, but it can also put them more at risk for getting into trouble and getting hurt or dying at a young age.
When Aussie owners talk about how old their dogs live to be there are always a handful of comments discussing how stupid or silly the younger Aussies can be and how it tends to get them into trouble. This fact is also backed by research.
The Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute (ASHGI) has done extensive research into finding out what the biggest causes of mortality are with this smart and curious breed.
The most common cause of death in young Aussies are accidents and being euthanized for behavioral issues.
#1 Cause of Premature Death from ASHGI Survey Results
– Cancer –
With lymphoma and Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) counting for over half of all cancer deaths.
HSA in Australian Shepherds is a highly aggressive malignant tumor of the cells that line blood vessels. It is much more common in large breed dogs. The primary site is usually the spleen but can include other sites such as the liver, heart, kidneys, bladder, muscle, and subcutaneous tissues.
The cause of HSA is unknown but ASHGI states that breeding dogs which develop HSA are extremely likely to have offspring with HSA.
If a breeder is aware of any offspring or any dog connected to the bloodline of the dogs that they breed that has developed HSA they should stop breeding those dogs immediately. HSA in this breed is on the rise and with the exact cause being unknown it’s hard to know how to prevent it.
Other Causes of Cancer in Dogs
- Exposure to secondhand smoke
- Ultraviolet exposure (Too much sunlight)
- Toxic chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides around your dog
- Internal factors of gene mutations
#2 Cause Of Premature Death.
– Epilepsy –
Inherited epilepsy is the most common neurological disease in dogs. It is seen in both purebred and mix-breed dogs. Australian Shepherd, unfortunately, has a much higher occurrence than is seen in dogs as a whole. This is because of the restricted gene pool for pure-bred Aussies.
Epilepsy is a condition that causes your dog to have frequent seizures.
A seizure is when your dog’s brain misfires and it causes involuntary movement and jerking of their body. This can be a very traumatic and scary thing to witness. If your Aussie has a seizure make an appointment with your vet immediately.
Your vet will do tests to rule out other conditions that can cause seizures, but a diagnosis of epilepsy is possible. Unfortunately, there is no cure. Your dog can take medication to help control the seizures, but this disease will progress and tends to shorten a dog’s lifespan by up to 4 years.
An Australian Shepherd with epilepsy should never be bred. Also, any other dogs from their bloodline, mother, father, siblings aunts, and uncles should not be bred as well.
It is helpful to keep in contact with the owners of your dog’s parents or siblings as they are able to warn you of other dogs in the family having these issues. If you are aware that this might be a problem you can ask your vet to do a yearly check.
For more information about epilepsy in Australian Shepherds, you can read this article by the ASHGI
Other Health Issues Australian Shepherds Face
Besides cancer and epilepsy Here are some other diseases that an Australian Shepherd could face.
– Hip and Elbow Dysplasia –
Another inherited disease, this one causes arthritis in the elbows and hips of our precious pooches. This disease will show up more as your dog matures and ages.
Watch for stiffness in your dog as he gets up and moves or walks. Obesity can cause this disease to be a lot worse and have an earlier onset.
This is another reason why it’s important to get your dog from a good breeder. A responsible breeder will check their dog for genetic conditions to make sure they don’t have them before they breed puppies.
What to do: Talk to your vet about getting medication to help alleviate the pain. They will take an x-ray to check for problems. Sometimes surgery will be recommended if it’s causing your dog severe limitations.
– Cataracts –
Cataracts are an opacity in the lens of the eye, and when mature can lead to loss of vision. These usually don’t develop until later in life.
How to tell: If you notice your dog having a difficult time seeing. You may notice your dog bumping into things like furniture, or developing a cloudy appearance to their eyes.
What to do: Your vet may prescribe a medicated eye drop (typically a topical anti-inflammatory or a steroid) to reduce inflammation of the eye. Surgery is usually the most effective way to help restore your dog’s vision.
– Heart Disease –
Another genetic condition that can affect Aussies is called Patent Ductus Arteriosis
This is detected in puppies when the vet listens to its heart she will detect a heart murmur. This tells them that a small vessel that carries blood between two parts of the heart didn’t close properly.
This will make the blood travel to parts of the body that it should be and puts extra strain on the heart.
How to tell: Heart murmur, coughing, tired during exercise, shortness of breath, weak legs.
What to do: Your vet will likely recommend surgery to close the blood vessel.