Australian Shepherd Photo

Australian Shepherd Dog Breed Info & Pictures

If dogs ran businesses, the Australian Shepherd would be on the fast track to becoming CEO. This loyal and hardworking breed makes a loyal companion and can thrive in a variety of environments. The American Kennel Club ranks them as the 17th most popular dog breed with good reason — their good looks, intelligence, and determined nature make them a good match for many types of dog lovers.

The Australian Shepherd Dog, known as an Aussie for short, is most closely related in looks to a Collie. Slightly smaller than a Collie, they have a medium-length coat and dark brown, yellow, blue, green, or amber eyes. Their average weight is 45-60 pounds, and they are typically less than 2 feet tall. This breed has a few variations: the Miniature Australian Shepherd weighs between 17-30 pounds, and the Toy Australian Shepherd refers to Aussies that fall below 17 pounds.

But don’t let that short stature fool you. Aussies can move! They are very agile and have strong instincts for herding and grouping. Like their counterpart the Australian Cattle Dog, Aussies take on either red or blue coloring, depending on the combination of red, black, white, and brown in their coats.

Australian Shepherd Fast Facts

Herding
12 - 15 years
United States
19th century
50 - 65 lb
40 - 55 lb
20 - 23"
18 - 21"
Auzzie Dogs, Ozzie Dogs, australian shepherd
None

Temperament

The take-charge attitude permeates nearly every aspect of an Aussies life....

They will try to assume a dominant role in their household and herd whatever they can, which could be a problem if you have other pets or even young children. Make sure to start training at a young age so that your Aussie can get along with whomever else might be in their family. As great as it might be to herd your children, its probably not the best idea in the long run.

Australian Shepherd Dogs are also very protective of their domain, which makes them great security dogs for a home or business. Their no-nonsense attitude is also well-suited to farm work or even something like search and rescue operations. If they feel threatened, they will respond by barking incessantly and turning destructive. This can also happen if they are not getting enough physical or mental exercise.

Dont let those qualities turn you off, though. Aussies are very loyal and enjoy the company of their family. Their good looks are likely to attract a lot of attention, and they are highly trainable. You can even channel their intelligence and strong work ethic into an extra set of hands around the house: Australian Shepherds have been known to collect dirty laundry, clean floors, and even pick up trash.

Caring For a Australian Shepherd

You dont need a flock of sheep or cattle to keep an Aussie happy, but you do need to commit to their physical activity....

Aussies require at least 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise, preferably in an open environment where they can run and roam. They are not great in apartments or other small spaces and will drive themselves crazy if they are cooped up in one all day long (and likely wreck the place in the process).

One way to keep their busy minds occupied is through dog sports and competitions. Aussies thrive in a competitive environment and are top performers in areas like obedience and agility. They also excel at flyball and Frisbee. Whatever you choose to keep your Aussie active, make sure its consistent. Otherwise, they will develop their own activities, which could include racing around the house or practicing their own brand of home organization, which probably wont be quite in line with yours.

Beyond exercise, Aussies require brushing at least once per week to keep their coats healthy. The most common health problems are eye issues like cataracts and hip dysplasia. Deafness is also prevalent. Their average lifespan is 11-13 years with proper care and exercise.

Australian Shepherd History

Breed History

Contrary to what the name suggests, this breed did not get their start in Australia....

Rather, they were first bred on the US West Coast during the gold rush of the 1800s. Settlers were eager to have help herding sheep and cattle, and the breed evolved from mixing of Spanish dogs that could thrive at the high altitude of the Rocky Mountains. Their aggressive personalities grew out of managing herds spread across large geographic areas.

Australian Shepherd Dogs were originally knows as Spanish Shepherds and California Shepherds, among other names. The Australian name comes from the blue merle coat thats common in other bona fide Australian dogs. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1991. They are frequently seen in movies and on TV, where their obedience and hard-working attitude are a good match for doing multiple scene takes and spending long days on the set.