Height: 18-23 inches from shoulder
Weight: 40-65 lbs.
Life Span: 12-15 years
Coloring: Black, blue merle, red, and red merle with white or tan markings
Area of Origin: United States
Similar Breeds: Australian Cattle Dog, Belgian Sheepdog, Border Collie, Briard
History and Origin:
Although some people argue that the Australian Shepherd originated in Australia or in parts of Europe, the truth is that the breed actually developed into the modern day dog in the United States. After WWII, the breeds popularity quickly increased along side horse riding, and the dogs were frequently featured in horse shows, rodeo events, and in the media in general. Their adaptability and ease of training also made them favorable farm dogs. Today, the breed is used for all types of work including; search and rescue, drug detection, therapy, guiding, and herding. In 1991, the AKC recognized the breed, and the dogs were then placed in the herding group in January 1993.
Personality and Temperament:
Australian Shepherds have a strong herding instinct, which can become a problem if theyre not properly trained. Without proper training, they may try to herd children or even other pets in the household by nipping or barking at them. They aren’t necessarily aggressive, and usually get along well with kids and other pets, but the nipping and barking can be a bit of a nuisance. For this reason, Aussies aren’t typically recommended for first-time or lenient dog owners, unless theyre willing to put in the time and effort. However, once trained and socialized, these dogs make great family pets, as they are extremely loyal and loving creatures.
Exercise & Training:
Australian Shepherds love being indoors with the rest of the family, but they need their share of exercise and play throughout the day. Otherwise, their energy will build up, leading to unwanted behavior such as chewing and scratching. Some of the sports this breed enjoys include; agility, obedience, herding, fly-ball, stock dog trials, and Frisbee. Additionally, owners should provide their dog with daily mental stimulation activities to help keep their mind at ease. There are many different types of puzzles and strategy dog toys that owners can purchase at a dog store or even online. Obedience training and socialization is important for any dog breed, but it is especially important for Australian Shepherds because they have a tendency to do what they want if not directed otherwise. Training them at a young age will help prevent inappropriate behavior such as excessive barking, nipping, and chewing, as well as help form a well-rounded dog. Aussies do best with the positive reinforcement training technique, where praise, treats, playtime, and other rewards are given in response to good behavior. Once the owner establishes a leadership role and remains consistent, most dogs are happy to obey and learn fairly quickly.
Australian Shepherds shed heavily, but only during shedding season, which comes around about two times a year. Bathing and brushing the coat should be done more frequently during this time to help get rid of all the loose hairs. Otherwise, baths don’t have to be given frequently, as long as the coat is brushed often and kept clean. Basic grooming tasks such as clipping the nails and brushing the teeth should also be performed regularly.
Other dog breeds in the herding group similar to the Australian Shepherd include; Australian Cattle Dog, Bearded Collie, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Tervuren, Border Collie, Bouvier des Flandres, Briard, and Canaan Dog.
4 Interesting Facts about the Australian Shepherd:
1. Thanks to their intelligence and agility, Australian Shepherds became popular in the performance scene. They have even been featured in various films and TV shows such as; Run Appaloosa Run and Stub: The Greatest Cowdog in the West, Flight of the Navigator, Flash Forward, and Famous Five.
2. The oldest dog to win an AKC title is an Aussie named Pockets. He snagged the Rally Novice title when he was 15 years and 5 weeks old.
3. An Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix named Sweet Pea was entered into the Guinness World Records on January 5, 2008 for having taken the most steps while facing forward and keeping a 5 oz glass of water on her head.
4. Although not yet recognized by the AKC or other major organizations, Miniature and Toy Australian Shepherds continue to rise in popularity. The miniature variety measures 14 to 18 inches in height from the shoulder and weighs 17 to 30 lbs., while the Toy Aussie is less than 14 inches tall and weighs 12 to 15 lbs.