Australian Shepherd

Type: Herding Dog

Height: 18 - 23 inches.

Weight: 35 - 75 lbs.

Life Span: 14 - 16 years.

Litter Size: 5 - 8 puppies.

Country of Origin: United States of America

Activity: High

Watch-dog: High. This is a passable watchdog.

Guard-dog: Medium. They usually protect their people.

Description: The Australian Shepherd is an attractive long-haired breed with a bobtail and striking, varied, coat coloration. Each dog's coat and eye color are highly variable, it is not uncommon to have a dog with one blue eye or one that is half blue and half brown. This does not affect their vision or their standings in the show ring. Aussie Sheps have sturdy bodies with medium length fur covering the entire body, with markings and colors of blue merle, black, red, merle, totally red with or without white, with or without tan points. They are compact, medium sized dogs with triangular drop ears. Their eyes can be of several different colors, including brown, blue, amber, or any combination of the three. Friendly, fun loving and hard working, the Australian Shepherd makes an excellent companion and friend. Australian Shepherds have strong herding and sheep guarding instincts. They are used in search and rescue, narcotics detection and as hearing dogs for the deaf. They are reserved with strangers, but are a dependable, tireless worker who is devoted to their owner. An attentive and animated dog who is strong and agile, with great stamina, the Australian Shepherd will make a great family pet. The Australian Shepherd is a well balanced, athletic, and alert breed. The breed is sensitive, easily trained, and a good guardian, being confident and devoted to their families. Australian Shepherds make fine companions and will also enjoy working small stock. They also have a playful side, and love to be around children.

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Colors: Blue merle, black, red merle and all red with or without white markings and/or tan points.

Coat: Double coat is medium length and straight to slightly wavy. It can be moderately harsh, with a dense undercoat.

Temperament: Australian Shepherds are active, intelligent and responsive. Highly trainable, this versatile family dog can be a great companion. They are wary with strangers but never aggressive. Aussie Sheps are very playful and affectionate with their owners, and get along well with children. They have a high prey drive, however, and are not trustworthy with smaller animals. They do, however, get along well with other dogs. They are very intelligent, with a strong instinct to herd and guard. They have high problem solving abilities, and are very obedient when trained. They actually enjoy obedience classes. Australian Shepherds are strong and enthusiastic dogs.

With Children: Yes, most make great family pets, but some lines have been bred to be more aggressive.

With Pets: Yes, they do well with other pets.

Special Skills: Sheepdog

Care and Training: The Australian Shepherd needs minimal grooming of their coat. Bathe them only when necessary and brush coat with a firm brush. This breed is an average shedder. They will need special attention to their coat after an outing to remove burrs and foxtails. Australian Shepherds require daily exercise as this helps to maintain good muscle tone. Obedience training come easy to them and they should receive this training.

Learning Rate: High. Obedience - High. Problem Solving - High. This breed enjoys training and doing a job.

Special Needs: Exercise and a job or activity to do.

Living Environment: Rural or semi-rural areas are good, with lots of outdoor activities such as herding livestock, flyball and obedience trials. This breed is very active and needs mental and physical stimulation. The best owner for this breed would be an active family living in a suburban or rural area.

Health Issues: Hip dysplasia, eye problems such as juvenile cataracts, PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) and Collie eye anomaly, hip dysplasia and deafness.

History: Australian Shepherds are not, in fact, Australian at all! They are believed to have been brought to America by the Basque shepherds in 1875 from Spain and France who, on their routes, stopped by Australia and picked up good herding dogs on their way to America. The Australian Shepherd arrived in the United States by the late 19th century where the dogs’ qualities became recognized by local ranchers, who used the dogs to work cattle, sheep and other livestock. The breed is well-believed to have come from the Berger des Pyréneés, as well as Smithfield, Collie and Border Collie. At that time the breed developed into the Australian Shepherd by farmers in the 1920s. They were recognized by the Canadian and Mexican Kennel Clubs in 1976, and by the United Kennel Club in 1979, but they did not become part of the AKC until 1991 when they were admitted to the Miscellaneous class. The breed has two registries, one for the AKC and one devoted to the working Aussie Shepherd. They are almost unknown outside of the United States.

First Registered by the AKC: 1993

AKC Group: Herding Dog

Class: Herding Dog

Registries: AKC, KC (GB)