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Australian Shepherd

Quick facts

Australian Shepherd AKC Group: Herding
Height: Male: 21-23 Inches, Female: 18-21 Inches
Weight: Male: 45-60 pounds, Female: 35-45 pounds
Colors: Blue merle, black, red merle, red-all with or without white markings and/or tan (copper) points
AKC recognized in: 1991

Despite the name, the Australian Shepherd, also lovingly called the "Aussie", is definitely not from Australia. Although there are many theories about the origin of the Australian Shepherd, the breed as we know it today developed exclusively in the United States. It is generally believed that the breed originated in the Basque region of the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France, but was dubbed the Australian Shepherd because of its association with Basque shepherds who came to the United States from Australia in the 1800's.

The Australian Shepherd has been called many other names, including Spanish Shepherd, Pastor Dog, Bob-Tail, Blue Heeler, New Mexican Shepherd, and California Shepherd. Some of these names persist today, so you may have heard of one of them.

The Australian Shepherd is a loose to medium-eyed herder. ("eye" being a general term referring to the way a dog controls stock via gaze)


Australian Shepherd Summary
Affection four paws
Cold Tolerance three paws
Ease of Training five paws
Energy level four paws
Exercise Requirements five paws
Friendliness : Children two paws
Friendliness: Other Animals three paws
Friendliness: Other Pets three paws
Grooming Requirements three paws
Heat Tolerance three paws
Playfulness five paws
Protection Ability four paws
Watchdog Ability five paws

Australian Shepherds are easy going pets that love to play. They make great children's companions and excel with active children. Aussies make a devoted friend and guardian, being naturally protective.

Australian Shepherds are extremely lively, agile and attentive. They are eager to please, and have a sixth sense about what the owner wants. Australian Shepherds are highly intelligent and easy to train.

Though aggressive when at work with livestock, the Aussie is gentle with human friends. Australian Shepherds needs lots of exercise and a job to do, as the breed is very intelligent, active and easily bored. They can become nervous and destructive if left alone too much without exercise. They are naturally suspicious of strangers, so they should be well socialized as puppies. Working lines of Australian Shepherds may be too energetic to be suitable pets. Some like to nip people's heals in an attempt to herd them. They are quiet workers, unlike some breeds, which are bred to bark constantly at livestock. This breed is not usually dog aggressive.

Health and Exercise

Australian Shepherds have an average life span of 12 to 15 years. In general, they will enjoy an active and healthy life, but some are prone to certain hereditary illnesses/diseases, including:

  • Merles in particular have a subsceptability for blindness or deafness. If you are considering a merle, make sure you have it tested for either of these traits.
  • hip dysplasia
  • epilepsy
  • cataracts

Since Australian Shepherds are so active, they are not recommended in an apartment environment. At a minimum they should have a large yard to expend that energy. However, if you are willing to take the time to exercise your dog regularly (brisk walk, jogging or bicicling while accompanied by your dog), they will do well in any environment.

Visitor Comments

This is your chance to add your feedback. Do you have a Australian Shepherd in your family, or know one in someone elses? Do you have a story to tell related to that Australian Shepherd? Or maybe you have more questions that either or another of our visitors might be able to help you with? Feel free to add your comment or question below.


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