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Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd, also known as the Aussie, is a well-proportioned dog that can come in a variety of colors including black, blue-merle, red and red-merle. The breed is slightly longer than it is tall, has a strong but not bulky body and a coat that is often ornamented with white markings. The Australian Shepherd’s muzzle tapers a bit from the base to the tip and ends with a rounded nose. The color of the nose is dependent on the coat; blue merles and black Aussies have black noses while red and red-merles have liver-colored noses. The ears are medium sized, triangular in shape, and high-set. The breed has as much variation in eye color as it does in its coat with amber, blue, brown, or any mix of the three all commonplace. The tail is naturally very short (usually less than four inches) and often docked.

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Fast Facts

12 - 15 years
United States
19th century
50 - 65 lb
40 - 55 lb
20 - 23"
18 - 21"
Auzzie Dogs, Ozzie Dogs, australian shepherd

Australian Shepherd Temperament

The Australian Shepherd is an extremely intelligent breed that is also very active....

The breed’s intelligence usually makes for a quick learner that is easy to train and eager to please. Australians are generally good with other pets, very friendly and affectionate towards children and family, but can occasionally be reserved in the presence of strangers. Without proper training, the Australian Shepherd may also instinctively nip at the heels of small children or unfamiliar people and it may bark or run excessively. The Australian Shepherd is not typically aggressive with other dogs, although it can be if not properly socialized at a young age. The breed can make a good watchdog and is also considered to provide a moderate to high level of protection.

Caring For a Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd was bred as a herding animal and needs a lot of exercise on a daily basis....

Walks will not be adequate – this breed really needs a free romp in a large yard or field. Without sufficient attention and exercise, the Australian Shepherd can become very hyperactive and bark endlessly. The breed is only a moderate shedder and needs to be brushed once or twice a week. The Australian Shepherd learns quickly but should still begin training at a young age to ensure the best results. The Australian Shepherd is physically capable of living outdoors but this is strongly discouraged, as it will stunt the dog’s mental development. Australian Shepherds are susceptible to cataracts and in very rare cases, Collie eye anomaly. The most common health problems in the breed (and even these are not frequent problems) are canine hip dysplasia, cataracts, epilepsy, iris coloboma, and autoimmune problems such as allergies and hypothyroidism. MDR1 (Multi Drug Reactivity) sensitivity is common in the breed and can result in death for some dogs, if certain drugs are given to them.

Australian Shepherd History

A Brief History of the Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd is known to have originated in the United States during the nineteenth century from a mixture of a number of different herding dogs, primarily from Europe, Latin America and to a lesser extent Australia....

Throughout the 19th century, a large number of European herding dogs accompanied their owners to the East Coast of the United States. The East Coast climate was similar to the Spanish, Basque, and French areas many of the dogs had lived in previously, and the various breeds did well without having to make significant adjustments. During the gold rush, the mass migration from East to West revealed that many of the European herding dogs were ill-suited to the hot, dry California climate. On the West Coast these newcomers were met by herding dogs from Latin America and Australia that had been brought to California to help in the gold harvest. European, Latin American and Australian dogs were interbred in an attempt to produce a competent herding dog that would fare well in a warm climate. The result of this interbreeding, was a dog known today as the Australian Shepherd. The name Australian Shepherd, however, is a bit of mystery because the largest influx of Australian herding dogs did not take place until the 20th century, at which time the Australian Shepherd was already a well established type. Many of the Australian herding dogs on the West Coast of the United States were identified by a unique merle coloring, and it has been hypothesized that the term “Australian” may have simply been used to describe all dogs with merle markings. The Australian Shepherd was controversially recognized by the AKC in 1993, with some Australian breeders upset by the AKC’s emphasis on conformation as opposed to field performance.