© Anna63 (Anna Utekhina) |

Australian Shepherd

Nickname: Aussie

Breed origin: Pyrenees Mountains (between France and Spain)
Original purpose: Herding cattle, sheep, and other livestock.

AKC recognized: 1991
AKC group: Herding

Size: Height: males 20 to 23 inches; females 18 to 21 inches
© Lovecanines (Gal Ziv) |
Color: Blue merle, black, red merle, red - all with or without white markings and/or tan (copper) points. A special note about the merle gene: Two merle dogs should generally not be bred together. Such a mating will often result in one or more puppies that end up with two copies of the dominant merle gene. Those puppies are called homozygous merles and are often mostly white and can be deaf and/or blind. Sometimes an educated breeder may knowingly breed two merle dogs because of other desirable traits in those dogs, and euthanize any mostly white puppies. Beware of any breeder who tries to sell you a "rare" white Aussie without disclosing the potential health defects.

Life span: 11 to 13 years.

General characteristics/temperament: Australian Shepherds are intelligent, active, adaptable, animated, good natured, attentive, agile, and loyal. They can be somewhat reserved with strangers, but want to always be near their families. An energetic breed with strong herding and guarding instincts, the Aussie requires daily vigorous exercise and a sense of purpose to be truly content. They are still widely used for herding livestock and working as an all-purpose farm and ranch dog. Because of their intelligence and versatility, Aussies also excel in canine sports such as agility, obedience and herding. They are easy to train, easy to housebreak, and eager to please, making them great family dogs provided that they are given an outlet for their high energy levels.

© Tflory (Tom Flory) |
Good with children? Yes

Good watchdog? Yes

Protective? Naturally

OK for inexperienced owners? Yes

OK in apartments? Possible but only if you can provide adequate exercise (at least 3 walks a day).

© Phototerry (Theresa Martinez) |
Intelligent? Yes

Easy to train? Yes

Energy/Activity Level: Extremely High

Good jogging partner? Yes

Suitable canine sports/activities: agility, obedience, herding, flyball, disc, search and rescue, therapy, service or guide dog (for the blind, deaf or disabled)

Exercise requirement: Australian Shepherds have very high energy and require vigorous exercise daily.

Grooming requirement: The Australian Shepherd's thick coat requires weekly brushing.

Known health problems: Hip dysplasia, a number of genetic eye diseases which impair vision in varying degrees or cause complete blindness, epilepsy, thyroid dysfunction, heart disease, elbow dysplasia, allergies, pancreatic problems.

Additional photos of Australian Shepherd

Recommended books for further reading:

Australian Shepherds (A Complete Pet Owner's Manual)
By D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D.
Published in 2009
112 pages

All About Aussies: The Australian Shepherd From A To Z
By Jeanne Joy Hartnagle-Taylor
Published in 2005
366 pages

Australian Shepherd (A Comprehensive Guide to Owning and Caring for Your Dog)
By Charlotte Schwartz
Published in 2003
158 pages

The Australian Shepherd
By Tracy Libby and Wayne Hunthausen
Published in 2007
207 pages

Show more books

Other websites for additional information:

American Kennel Club breed page
United States Australian Shepherd Association
Wikipedia breed information page
United States Australian Shepherd Association Rescue

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Page Last Updated: February 1, 2018

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