Affectionately nicknamed the “Aussie,” the Australian Shepherd is an animated and active breed with a great deal of stamina for agility, obedience, and even herding livestock. As a loyal, devoted, and wholeheartedly loving dog breed, Australian Shepherds make for excellent companions for families with older children.
For those looking for an energetic and playful pooch, read on to learn more from the full breed description and find out whether an Australian Shepherd is the perfect match for your household.
|Size Type||Medium Dog Breeds|
|Breed Group||Herding Dog Breeds|
|Life Span||12-15 Years|
|Temperament||Intelligent, affectionate, friendly, protective, active|
|Height||Male: 20-24 inches, Female: 18-21 inches.|
|Weight||Male: 55-70 lbs, Female: 35-55 lbs|
|Colors||Black, Red, Black tricolor, Red tricolor, Red Merle, Merle|
As a medium-sized robust dog breed, the Australian Shepherd possesses a body that is slightly longer than its shoulder height with a deep chest. The front legs are straight and perpendicular to the ground, while the feet are oval and well-arched to the toes. In proportion with the rest of the body, the head has a slightly shorter muzzle with a well-defined stop. The ears of set high on the head, shaped as a triangle, and slightly rounded at the tip.
Since some Australian Shepherds are born with naturally bobbed tails and others have been docked as partial bobs, the American Kennel Club standard indicates the tail should not exceed four inches. While male Australian Shepherds are commonly 20 to 23 inches at shoulder height with a weight between 50 and 65 pounds, females are slightly smaller at 18 to 21 inches and weighing from 40 to 55 pounds.
The coat of Australian Shepherds is usually black, red, liver, blue merle with marbled black, or red merle with marked red and bluff. Each of these colorings may also be accompanies by tan or white markings in various areas of the face, chest, and legs.
There is also great variety in the eye color of the Aussie with shades of blue, green, brown, hazel, and amber being common. Yet, some Australian Shepherds have bi-colored or split eyes, two different colored eyes, or even white eyes that led to the early nickname of “ghost-eyed” dog.
Australian Shepherds have a medium-length water-resistant double coat that is intended to keep them comfortable in either rain or snow. Straight or wavy hair covers the body with shorter and smoother hair covering across the head, ears, forelegs, and down to the heels.
Australian Shepherds should also have light feathering of their coat on the back of the legs, the mane, and the frill around the neck, which is especially thick in males.
|Good with Kids|
The Australian Shepherd is relatively low maintenance with a short-haired coat that is easy to groom and needs very minimal attention. It is recommended that owners simply brush the coat with a firm bristle brush once or twice each week to remove dead hair that will otherwise end up on clothing or the furniture. However, it may sometimes be necessary to remove mats with a quick trim whenever coat problems arise for the comfort of the dog and convenience of the owner.
Since Australian Shepherds tend to have long hair on their legs and feet, some owners prefer to keep this trimmed to make the dog more comfortable as well. The dogs should only be bathed when necessary with gentle hypo-allergenic dog shampoo, but it is essential that owners clean the ears regularly to help prevent odor and infection from developing.
Despite its name that suggests the breed was originally from the Land Down Under, the Australian Shepherd is believed to have been developed in the Pyrenees Mountains on the border between Spain and France. Likely to have accompanied the Basque shepherds and their herds of fine Merino Sheep, the dogs were exported to the colonies of Australia and America.
Since the dogs were seemingly unaffected by high altitudes, the Australian Shepherds were then put to work in the Rocky Mountains of the American West for herding and protection from wild predators on the open range. Although the origin is unclear, many believe the dogs are named Australian Shepherds for the imported flocks of sheep from Australia that they once herded during the migration for the California Gold Rush.
Remaining puppy-like even into their adult life, Australian Shepherds are often described as being affectionate, lively, agile, attentive, devoted, eager, courageous, and highly trainable. Although aggressive with livestock in its past, the breed is gentle with human friends and an excellent choice for children who love to play. As expected, this highly energetic and agile breed requires a great deal of exercise to stay in shape both mentally and physically. Always craving a challenge, the dogs require being taken daily on a brisk, long walk, jog, or run alongside a bicycle. Since the breed becomes restless, hyperactive, and sometimes destructive when under-exercised, the Australian Shepherd is not suitable for apartment living.