The Australian Shepherd or Aussie can be a working sheep or cattle dog as well as a family dog. The Aussie is a solid and muscular member of the herding dog breeds. This dog breed is attractive with a medium to long-haired water resistant overcoat that has varied coloration. This Shepherd’s coat colors can be blue merle, black, red merle, or red – with or without white or tan markings.
Male shepherds range from 19 to 23 inches and female shepherds from 17 to 21 inches at shoulder height. This breed’s weight can vary from 40 to 60 pounds. These dogs often have different colored or multi-colored eyes – e.g. one blue and one half brown and blue.
Australian Shepherds are members of the American Kennel Club (AKC) Herding Dog Group.
Despite the name, Australian Shepherds were fully developed in the United States. Spaniards probably brought these dogs to America in the 19th century, along with Australian sheep and cross-bred them with collies. Later they were further developed from sheep dogs to become cattle dogs and today American cowboys still use them to drive cattle. The dogs are also trained for police work and competitive obedience. Australian Shepherds are ranked 34th out of 154 dog breeds in AKC registrations.
On one hand, Australians are courageous, loyal, attentive and animated dogs that are easy to teach and make wonderful companions On the other hand, the breed requires lots of attention and plenty of exercise so they won’t get bored and get into trouble. Aussies are often turned into rescue organisations because their owners weren’t prepared to provide them with lots of attention and exercise and early obedience training. These Shepherds, when raised with children, make excellent playmates for children and are affectionate and loving towards their immediate family. The Aussies just love to play fetching games. They are easy dogs to train for the highest levels of obedience competition. These Shepherds are somewhat wary of strangers and make good watchdogs as well as pretty good family guard dogs. These dogs require an experienced owner who is prepared to provide them with lots of attention.
These Shepherds are not suited for apartment life. The Aussie can adapt to city life with a fenced yard as long as it receives lots of exercise and mental stimulation. These dogs love to go hiking, jogging, biking and play games with an active family.
Australians require minimal grooming unless they have picked up burrs and other debris on an outing. Bathe only when necessary.
These Shepherds live to 14 or 15 years and occasionally can suffer from hip dysplasia, deafness and epilepsy.