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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 heels 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.


The average lifespan of the Australian Shepherd is 12 to 15 years.

While the Australian Shepherd is generally a healthy dog, it is susceptable to certain health problems. These problems include:

  • Hip Dysplasia - Where the thigh bone does not fit snugly into the hip joint. This can lead to severe lameness or arthritis. A dog diagnosed with hip dysplasia should never be bred, as this is an inherited condition.
  • Elbow Dysplasia - A condition involving several developmental anomalies of the elbow joint in the dog. This keeps the three bones that make up the joint to fit together imperfectly, causing irritation and pain.
  • Epilepsy - A brain disorder that causes your dog to have seizures If left untreated the seizures can come more frequently and become more severe. This is typically an inherited disorder.
  • Cataracts - A cloudiness in the lens of the eye, with varying degrees of opacity. Symptoms vary depending on the degree of opacity.
  • Deafness - The inability to hear, either with one or both ears. Some dog breeds are more susceptible to this than others.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) - A group of diseases that progress over time and eventually cause blindness in your dog. The retina either stops developing early or the receptors start degenerating early in life. This is an inherited disorder.
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) - A cartilage disease that can affect various joints. The cartilage that normally cushions the joint is damaged or grows abnormally, removing some of that cushion, and causing pain in your dog.


Like all double coated dogs, the Australian Shepherd will shed. This can be minimized by regular brushing to remove any dead hair and excess undercoat. Don’t succumb to the temptation to shave your Aussie though. Shaving not only exposes her to the risk of sunburn, but the outer coat often will not return in its former texture and look.

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 bicycling while accompanied by your dog), they will do well in any environment.

Australian Shepherd Book

Want to learn more?

All About Aussies: The Australian Shepherd From A To Z is a must have book for anyone who has an Australian Shepherd in their family or is considering it. This 371 page book has all the information you need, including Aussie specific health tips, grooming tips, and much, much more!

Or you can search for other books about the Australian Shepherd.

Visitor Comments

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