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Health & Genetics

Of course, I love MY dogs, but this breed in general, is pretty amazing! It does, however, like so many others, have a few genetic and hereditary weaknesses. Some, we (and they) can live with if managed or addressed early in life. But others can be painful and debilitating for your dog and heart breaking and expensive for you. As a serious breeder, I have acquired and produced the clearest and cleanest lines possible, but also as a breeder, I know it is impossible to prevent every possibility of defects, genetic or otherwise.  I want to assure you, I have mine and your prospective best friend's well being always in mind. So please, don't hesitate to ask me all the questions you may have and spend some time checking into the backgrounds and history of any of the dogs you may be considering, mine or others. Genetic and hereditary tests are continually being upgraded and new ones are becoming available all the time. I promise to keep abreast of them and to keep this breed's best interests always front and center.





The australian shepherd is a breed with a propensity for hip dysplasia. It's a debilitating and progressive disease that is most often a genetic occurance, with high instances in some lines. It is so important to ask, prior to purchasing a puppy, if both parents have been x-rayed and certified at least with a "fair" rating. Any breeder should be happy to show you those certifications. I include copies of my parent dog's OFA, in your puppy package. 


Orthopedic Foundation for Animals    (OFA)

Canine Eye Registration    (CERF)

 Many breeds, have inherited eye diseases that can be blinding or affect eye health.  In an effort to limit or eradicate genetic ocular diseases, the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) collects data on breeding dogs and issues certificates determining a dog's fitness for breeding. This is another important rating you should ask for in the parents of any puppy you may be considering. The CERF test results for each of my parent dogs, is included in their puppy's packet.

Hereditary Cataracts

Cataracts are one of the Australian Shepherd's most common hereditary problems. In March of 2008, Britain's Animal Health Trust (AHT), a foundation dedicated to improving diagnosis and treatment of animal diseases announced a new DNA test for early onset hereditary cataract (HC) in the Australian Shepherd.  In time, the use of this and other important hereditary tests will only improve and advance the health and longevity of the breed. I will not use as a stud, a  carrier of even one copy of HC. However, since the discovery of the HC gene in australian shepherds in 2008, it has be found that a carrier (+/-) does not develope the anticipated sever type of cataract of the +/+ affected dog does. Therefore there has been a change in thinking among some, that eliminating these carrier females is maybe not imparitive or even wise.  You may click on the associated link here to read the current opinion.Copies of each parent dog's HC tests will be included in every puppy packet. 

Multi Drug Resistance    (MDR1)

Multi-drug sensitivity testing is done right here in Washington state, at WSU. Many herding breed dogs have a genetic predisposition to adverse drug reactions involving several drugs. These adverse drug reactions involve antiparasitic agents ivermectin, milbemycin and related drugs, the antidiarrheal agent loperamide (Imodium), and several anticancer drugs (vincristine, doxorubicin, others). These drug sensitivities result from a mutation in the multidrug resistance gene (MDR1 gene).  This is such a common malady that I do not exclude a breeding prospect having this predisposition because it is so easily managed. I advocate care with all medications, especially worming products. I do not use any ivermectin based wormer since there are many others of equal or better effectiveness.  Rest assured that most vet care professionals are aware of MDR1 in herding breeds, but do voice a concern if drugs are being prescribed for your dog. 

Color and Red Factor

In the gene pair that controls color, the black is dominant and is denoted by B. The recessive red is denoted by  b.

This means that there are three possible combinations that an Australian Shepherd could inherit. They could be BB, Bb or bb.

When the inherited gene pairs are the same such as BB or bb this is referred to as homozygous as they have the same gene on each chromosome. In a case where Bb is inherited and we have a different gene on each chromosome it is called heterozygous.

So, a dog with BB has two genes that are dominant for black. They will be black and will only produce puppies that are also black. Since it only has dominant genes to give its puppies would all inherit the dominant B gene and would be black even if mated to a bb.

An Australian Shepherd with the Bb gene pair is a black dog but it carries the recessive b gene for the red color. These dogs are called red carriers or red factored. If bred with a BB this dog would produce puppies that were all black. Some of the puppies would be BB while some could be Bb and also carry the recessive red gene.

If a Bb were crossed with another Bb they could have BB (black), Bb (black) and bb (red) puppies. If bred with a bb (red) there could be either Bb (black) or bb (red) puppies born.

So, if a bb were crossed with another bb then only red bb puppies would result.

Diet & Nutrition

This is the area that I feel truely makes my dogs stand apart. For better or for worse, our dogs are completely at their owner's mercy when it comes to how they will be fed and whether that feed program is just adequate or actually meets every nutritional need each animal requires to be it's best and most vibrant and healthy. Since the major pet food recall several years ago, I believe the pet food industry has improved it's standards and oversight  and there are a few brands I can recommend if your choice is to feed a prepared, dry kibble. I though, have chosen to feed my own dogs a freshly prepared recipe that includes a daily portion of raw meat protein. I have fed this diet for nearly 10 years now with great results and success, as have many of my puppy owners. To date and to the best of my knowledge, none of my dog owners have reported any cases of cancer or tumors, allergies, hot spots or structural problems due to nutrition.  My puppies are started on a puppy form of this diet and remain on it to about 4 months, and then are started on my adult program. Click here to read and print if you like. My  Longshadow Puppy Diet. My Longshadow Adult Diet.

The Bio Sensor Program

I found this program years ago by accident and found it intriging.  I have used it with every litter and  I do feel it has helped create the calm and confident dogs you all tell me you love. Here's an explanation of the process.


The Bio Sensor Program


The U.S. Military in their canine program developed a method that serves as a guide for assisting development in dogs. In an effort to improve the performance of canines used for military purposes, a program called “Bio Sensor” was developed. Later, it became known to the public as the “Super Dog” Program.

Based on years of research, the military learned that early neurological stimulation exercises could have important and lasting effects. Their studies confirmed that there are specific time periods early in life when neurological stimulation has optimum results. The first period involves a window of time that begins at the third day of life and lasts until the sixteenth day. It is believed that because this interval of time is a period of rapid neurological growth and development, and therefore is of great importance to the individual.

The “Bio Sensor” program was also concerned with early neurological stimulation in order to give the dog a superior advantage. Its development utilized five exercises which were designed to stimulate the neurological system. Each workout involved handling puppies once each day. The workouts required handling them one at a time while performing a series of five exercises. Listed in order of preferencethe handler starts with one pup and stimulates it using each of the five exercises, each for only 5 seconds. The handler completes the series from beginning to end before starting with the next pup.


The handling of each pup once per day involves the following exercises:


+ Tactical stimulation (between toes)

+ Head held erect

+ Head pointed down

+ Supine position

+ Thermal stimulation


These five exercises will produce neurological stimulations, none of which naturally occur during this early period of life. Experience shows that sometimes pups will resist these exercises, others will appear unconcerned. In either case a caution is offered to those who plan to use them. Do not repeat them more than once per day and do not extend the time beyond that recommended for each exercise. Over stimulation of the neurological system can have adverse and detrimental results. These exercises impact the neurological system by kicking it into action earlier than would be normally expected. The result being an increased capacity that later will help to make the difference in its performance. Those who play with their pups and routinely handle them should continue to do so because the neurological exercises are not substitutions for routine handling, play, socialization or bonding. 


The Benefits of Stimulation:


Five benefits have been observed in canines that were exposed to the Bio Sensor stimulation exercises. The benefits noted were:


+ Improved cardio vascular performance (heart rate)

+ Stronger heart beats

+ Stronger adrenal glands

+ More tolerance to stress and

+ Greater resistance to disease


In tests of learning, stimulated pups were found to be more active and were more exploratory than their non-­‐ stimulated littermates over which they were dominant in competitive situations.Secondary effects were also noted regarding test performance. In simple problem solving tests using detours in a maze, the non-­‐stimulated pups became extremely aroused, whined a great deal, and made many errors. Their stimulated littermates were less disturbed or upset by test conditions and when comparisons were made, the stimulated littermates were calmer in the test environment, made fewer errors and gave only an occasional distress when stressed.


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