The Australian Shepherd
came from an area between France and Spain known as
the Pyrenees Mountains. During times of migration in
the 19th century, settlers would travel with herding
dogs, which originated as different breeds such as
the Dorset Blue Shag and Cumberland Sheepdog. These
and other breeds were a huge benefit to the
shepherds in keeping flocks of sheep together.
Temperatures in these mountains were frigid so as
the settlers made their way into western states,
they were faced with completely different climates,
which began to change the shape of the Australian
Shepherd into the breed we know today.
By the era of the California Gold Rush, the numbers
of sheep and herding dogs was massive. To handle the
abundance of herding, dogs from Australia were
chosen due to their ability to handle the California
climate. With intense training, the Australian
Shepherd was magical in its ability to keep
sheep calm and in control regardless of the weather
or terrain. Interestingly, the Australian Shepherd
was not considered a dog breed but a type of herding
dog until the mid-1950s. At that time, this breed
was used for performing stunts, not herding sheep.
However, by 1957, the Australian Shepherd Club of
America was founded, making this dog an official
Today, people still use the
Australian Shepherd as a working dog on farms
and ranches but they are a great family pet as well.
Sometimes, this dog is referred to as an “Aussie”,
which has bloodline ties to Australia, although it
actually originated from the United States. With
incredible drive, energy, and devotion, it is common
to see this dog on the dog sports field as well due
to its amazing agility.
The fascinating aspect of the Australian Shepherd is
that being a split breed, you will see two distinct
personalities emerge, which vary depending on the
dog’s specific bloodline. Regardless, the Australian
Shepherd is again, extremely agile, mentally sharp,
and goes into overdrive when it comes to work.
Typically, this breed is very affectionate and
usually gets along great with children but keep in
mind, the Australian Shepherd focuses intently on
work, meaning it may not have as strong as a drive
to settle in as a family pet than some other breeds
One of the challenges of keeping an Australian
Shepherd only as a family pet is its instinct to nip
or chase after children running. However, if the dog
is socialized and trained young, this behavior can
usually be brought under control. The Australian
Shepherd is also very protective of master, family,
and home, which can seem a little menacing to some.
The funny aspect of this breed’s personality is its
smile. When the Aussie is excited to see family, it
will show its teeth as if smiling and make a
sneeze-like sound. Then without a tail to wag, the
dog will wag the entire backend when happy.
Size and Color
For size, most people look for an Australian
Shepherd that will measure between 20 and 23 inches
from the withers for a male and between 18 and 21
inches for females. As far as weight, the male will
generally range anywhere from 50 to 65 pounds while
the females are slightly smaller, 35 to 50 pounds.
You will also find that as far as appearance, the
male Aussie is typically showier, meaning they have
longer hair, a heavier bone structure, and a
broader, more masculine head with some kind of regal
air. However, the female and male of this breed are
beautiful, usually with medium texture hair that can
be straight or wavy. This double-coated breed allows
it to tolerate a number of different climates,
another reason for its popularity. Additionally, the
Australian Shepherd comes in beautiful color and
color combinations, which include black, blue merle,
red merle, and red with white and/or tan markings.
Not all Australian Shepherds have white around the
neck but if they do, it is perfectly acceptable.
Other parts of the body where white is accepted by
American Kennel Club standards include the legs,
chest, under parts, muzzle, and head. The only
disqualifications according to the American Kennel
Club are white body splashes, which would include
white between the tail and withers, as well as the
back and elbows.
One of the most distinct characteristics of this
breed is eye color, which can be amber, brown,
green, hazel, or blue, as well as two different
colored eyes and bi-colored. Because of the eyes,
the Australian Shepherd was given the nickname
“ghost eye dog”. The other distinguishing feature of
this breed is the docked tail, which makes it appear
as if there is no tail at all. Keep in mind that
some dogs are born naturally with short tails but
most are long.
Feeding and Grooming Requirements
One of the most important things to consider when
buying a dog is that each breed has slightly
different nutritional needs, which is what
contributes to the coloring, coat, size, and even
temperament. To keep the Australian Shepherd healthy
and happy, we recommend you look for food that
offers the same or similar nutrients to that of its
native environment, which will help with
assimilation and digestion. This means the right
balance of fatty acids, protein, carbohydrates,
minerals, and vitamins. With so many options on the
market, you should talk to your breeder or
veterinarian for specific brands.
The Australian Shepherd has long hair but
interestingly, weekly brushing is about all that is
needed. As far as baths, this breed stays relatively
clean so this would be required only as needed. Keep
in mind that the Australian Shepherd does shed.
Therefore, if you do not want to mess with hair,
this might not be the breed for you. Just remember
that taking the dog to have the hair thinned every
four months or so will help tremendously.
Without doubt, the Australian is a smart, playful,
and devoted dog but because they have a built-in
drive to work, it is imperative they be exercised
daily. Otherwise, you would likely end up with a
bored dog that could become hyperactive or
sometimes, destructive. Overall, the Australian
Shepherd is an excellent choice for people with land
or those who want an active breed dog. One last
note, the male Australian Shepherd is not your
typically male dog in that he is very gentle and
non-aggressive so when choosing, both male and
female make great choices.