Aussie Shepherds, as they’re affectionately called, are easy going, playful, intelligent and protective. This means they’re popular as working dogs and companion dogs.
The breed was developed in the 19th century by Basque shepherds who had spent time in Australia. After this it was used by ranchers for herding and to this day is valued by them.
The Australian Shepherd is highly intelligent and eager to please with boundless energy. Consequently they are easy to train.
Aussie Shepherds are one of the most versatile breeds and can be used in a variety of roles. As a result it is used as a service dog, therapy dog, guide dog, search and rescue dog and a detection dog.
Life With An Australian Shepherd
Would this Australian Sheepdog be a good fit for your lifestyle?
The answer is a resounding yes provided you can offer lots of love, daily exercise (mental and physical) and enough space.
You will find the Australian Shepherd an absolute joy to share your life with provided you meet its needs and never ever leave them alone for long periods.
Australian Shepherds are fiercely loyal and courageous and are very protective of their family. As a result this makes them a good choice for people living in isolated rural locations.
Aussie Shepherds get along with other pets and children. This means they are a safe bet for people who already have children and pets such as dogs or cats.
Many dogs including the Australian Shepherd breed are surrendered to rescue organisations so please consider adopting one from a Rescue Charity. We have listed some below under “Groups.”
The Australian Shepherd hasn’t always been called by that name. At first it was called a host of different names such as Spanish Shepherd, Austrian Shepherd, California Shepherd, Bob-Tail, New Mexican Shepherd and Pastor Dog.
Some claim it has its origins in the Basque region of Spain where it was used by Shepherds. These Shepherds probably travelled to Australia and then America.
During the 19th and 20th centuries it was developed on the west side of North America. It came into its own as sheep herder in the Rocky Mountains because it remained virtually unaffected by the high altitude there. This meant it was able to retain its prowess and reputation as a tireless sheep herder. In Boulder, Colorado Ranchers saw the potential of the Aussie Sheepdog and started to breed the dog. With their legendary reputation for herding sheep there was no shortage of buyers from sheep farmers near and far.
It is commonly believed that their name was derived from the imported Australian sheep they herded.
In 2016 the American Kennel Club (AKC) ranked the Australian Shepherd the 17th most popular breed in the United States.
Many generations of selective breeding have resulted in a dog that has energy, speed, stamina; and is intelligent, obedient and independent with the ability to handle severe weather. The Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) was established as the parent club for the breed in 1957.
An Australian shepherd was featured in the film Flight of the Navigator (1986) and the TV series Flash Forward (1996). More recently, an Australian Shepherd starred in the film Famous Five (2012) and its sequels.
Famous People Who Have Owned Australian Shepherds
Amanda Seyfried and her Australian Shepherd, “Finn.” Both often appear on Instagram and Pinterest and actors such as Susan Sarandon, Bruce Willis, Paul Bettany, Alyssa Milano, Demi Moore, Tim Robbins, Mel Gibson and James Brolin. Steven Spielberg had one too. Novelist, Devin O’Branagan, singer, Trace Adkins, late comedian, Flip Wilson. Steven Jobs, had an Australian Shepherd.
- People who love the outdoor life
- Breed Group: Herding Group
- Coat: Straight and sometimes has curls
- Colors: Blue merle, red (liver) merle, solid black, and solid red (liver) all with or without white markings and/or tan (copper) points with no order of preference
- Height: Male = 50.8-58.4 cm (20-23 inches) Female = 45.7-53.3 cm (18-21 inches)
- Life Span: 12-15 years
- Litter Size: 5-10
- Origin: United States
- Weight: Male = 24.9-31.8 kg (50-65 pounds) Female = 15.9-24.9kg (40-55 pounds)
Australian Shepherd Pictures
More Detailed Information
The Australian Shepherd needs at least an hour’s exercise everyday. It has an athletic build and boundless energy.
The Aussie is a highly intelligent dog, loves to play and is sometimes referred to as a “Velcro dog” because of its desire to be close to their owners and their devotion to family members. This means the breed is ideally suited to joggers, walkers and hikers who can rely on their companion to keep pace with them and to really enjoy their company.
Being playful makes this breed particularly suited to game playing, learning tricks and having fun. They also excel at dog agility and obedience.
Town and City dwellers need to make sure they have access to parks to exercise their dogs and ideally too a big enough garden fro them to enjoy exercise at home.
As is the case with all high energy dogs, if the Australian Shepherd does not get enough exercise or playtime they can invent their own destructive games.
The best form of exercise for this breed is of course what they were originally bred for – herding livestock whether that be cattle, sheep, geese or ducks.
Generally Australian Shepherds enjoy good health. No breed is perfect of course and some can suffer from a genetic disorder that makes them blind or deaf at birth. This can happen from a merle to merle paring when the puppies inherit two copies of the merle gene.
Also the Aussie can suffer from epilepsy. In fact this breed has the highest incidence of epilepsy out of all dog breeds.
Breeders need to regularly check to make sure that all the dogs they use to breed from are free from hip epilepsy, hip dysplasia, cataracts and cancer.
Australian Shepherds have a double-layered waterproof coat that is quite long and curly. The main shedding takes place once a year in the Spring to get rid of the Winter coat. During the main Spring shedding they should be brushed two or three times a week to remove the dead hair. For the rest of the year they need to be brushed once a week to prevent matting and for general maintenance. They also need to have their nails clipped from time to time. Occasionally they may need a bath for those dirty and fun outdoor activities they love to take part in such as jumping into muddy ponds or streams!
Keeping the Australian Shepherd in good shape is a question of providing the right type and amount of food with the right amount of exercise as is the case with all dogs and of course humans too!
You can offer commercially produced dog food or your own home prepared food. In either case it should be of the highest quality and a type and quantity appropriate for the dog’s stage in life – puppy, adult or senior.
It’s very easy for dogs to put on weight as you can see when you visit the local park – there are so many overweight dogs! It’s best to seek the advice of your local vet and have your dog’s weight checked regularly as part of an overall health check.
Giving treats to your Aussie as a reward in training is fine – just remember though too many can lead to obesity!
Make sure that clean, fresh water is available at all times and find out about those human foods that are unsafe or even dangerous to dogs.
Waggly Dogs recommends this dog bed to ensure your Aussie has a good night’s sleep.
- Chuck It! Rubber Ball Dog Toy
- Kong Extreme Goodie Bone
- Kong Extreme Original Chew Toy
- Outward Hound Interactive Puzzle
- Nylabone Pacifier Teething Toy
- Kong Puppy Stages Stick Cleaning Toy
- Zippy Paws Skinny Pelts Three Pack
Australian Shepherds are often surrendered to rescue organisations and some surrenders could have been prevented had the dogs been trained and socialised at the outset.
They are highly intelligent with lots of energy and if this isn’t chanelled correctly they can become destructive.
They also form strong bonds with family members and for that reason are not happy when left alone for long periods.
Aussie Shepherds are easy to train because they are loyal, eager to please and can learn quickly.
- The Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA)
- The American Kennel Club
- Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI-World Canine Organization)
- The Kennel Club
The Australian Shepherd stands at between 46 to 58cm (18 to 23 inches) at the withers and can weigh between 16 to 32 kg (35 to 70 pounds).
Females typically measure from 46 to 56 cm (18 to 22 inches) and males 48 to 58 cm (19 to 23 inches).
On average, Australian Shepherds can reach speeds up to 34-35 mph. However, there are even higher estimations. There are many reports of Australian Shepherds running faster than 40 mph.
The Australian Shepherds colors have the following four main colors:
- Red/liver merle
- Solid black
- Blue merle
- Solid red (liver)
They can also have many different combinations of colors within each of the four main colors.
Some Aussie Shepherds are naturally born with stubby tails whilst others have fully formed long tails. Breeders in non European countries dock the puppies tails whereas this practice has been banned in most European countries.
High levels of energy, intelligence and stamina characterise the Australian Shepherd temperament. Bred as a working dog the Australian Shepherd needs activities to keep it in the best of shape both mentally and physically.
When it is not used as a working dog herding sheep and the like it really needs daily exercise joining its owner on hiking expeditions, jogging or similar. The Aussie also revels and excels in obedience training and dog agility.
They are affectionate and loyal dogs that don’t like being separated from their family so should never be left alone for long periods.
They have a keen aptitude for learning and like nothing better than to play, retaining their puppy exuberance and sense of fun all their lives.
Sometimes known as the “Velcro Dog” because they like to be near their owners at all times they form exceptionally strong bonds with the people they live with.
Children + Pets
Thanks to their easy-going nature the Australian Shepherd gets on well with children and other pets and likes nothing better than to romp around with children.
- Australian Shepherds are high energy dogs that need a minimum of 60 minutes exercise a day. The exercise can be from herding sheep or other animals, agility classes and competitions or dog obedience training.
- Australian Shepherds are protective and will bark if they see something that might be harmful to their family.
- Australian Shepherds cannot be left on their own for long periods because they do not like to be separated from their families and require mental and physical stimulation. If left alone for long periods they can bark continuously and be destructive.
- Generally Australian Shepherds have a warm and friendly disposition especially in relation to their family pack. They can be less keen with strangers they meet so it’s important to socialise them from an early age with other dogs and people.
- Aussies can be kept by city dwellers provided that they are exercised in local parks and gardens. They are not really suitable for inner city flats.
- Australian Shepherds are not suitable for people who have never had a dog before. This is because they have been bred to shepherd cattle and sheep so need a confident, experienced dog owner otherwise they can try to dominate.
- Australian Shepherds are seasonal shredders (shed their coat in the Spring) that for most of time need to be groomed once a week to prevent matting. During their Spring shedding they need to be groomed two or three times a week to remove the dead undercoat hairs. They also need an occasional bath to get rid of the mud they often pick up during outdoor activities.
- If you think the Australian Shepherd would be the perfect dog for you please consider adoption first since many dogs are surrendered to dog rescues. If you must buy an Australian Shepherd puppy only deal with reputable breeders such as the ones we list here. By doing so you are avoiding the risk of future heartache arising from poor breeding practices that can resulting in genetic disorders or temperament issues.