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Australian Shepherd Dogs
They Love To Do A Job!

australian shepherd dog Australian Shepherd dogs have no direct connection with Australia. They were developed in America from dogs brought here by Basque sheepherders who migrated to this country in the 1800's.

Affectionately called the Aussie, it is believed that this breed was refined from Pyrenean Shepherd dogs that were cross bred with collie type dogs. The collies thought to be most likely chosen for the Aussie's development were the Border Collie and the Smithfield Collie. The result is undeniably a very handsome dog.

The breed quickly became very popular, as well as an indispensable part of the work force on farms and ranches, where they utilized their natural herding instincts, amazing stamina and remarkable agility.

In the modern world, their skills are very helpful in therapy situations, as assistance dogs to the handicapped, in search and rescue, and also police work.

Australian Shepherd dogs are symmetrical, solid and muscular. They are medium in size with a length slightly more than their height. Their ears are triangular in shape, are set high and have a forward break. Eyes are almond shaped and color is amber, blue or brown, sometimes with flecks. The blue eyes, which are quite striking, are very light sensitive and are in fact actually albino.

Activity Level:

Australian Shepherd dogs adapt well to family life providing they get a considerable amount of exercise. They will thrive with a family that is active and spends a lot of time outdoors. They have a lot of stamina and will enjoy at least 2 hours of vigorous exercise a day.

Involvement in flyball or agility are two ideal activities to take advantage oftheir intelligence, as well as a perfect outlet for their high energy level.

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Personality and Traits:

Australian Shepherd dogs are loyal, attentive, highly intelligent, and very versatile dogs. They make great family companions and like to be involved in everything you do. The Aussie is eager to please and will housetrain easily. He does, however, need strong leadership or he can become too independent and dominant. He also can become loyal to one person, so it is desirable that everyone in the family play a part in his training.

Because of his natural herding instincts and high energy, Aussies are workaholics and enjoy being given jobs to do. They will learn these assignments quickly: fetch the paper, the slippers, protect the house, etc. Being inherintly protective, they make excellent watchdogs.

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Height: 18-23 inches
Weight: 35-70 lbs.
Color variations: Blue merle, red merle, black, liver, red, with possible markings tan markings evenly distributed.

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Coat and Care:

The double coat is weather resistant, of medium length, moderately rough in texture, and can be straight to wavy.

Grooming and coat maintenance is easily handled with regular brushing and bathing only as necessary. Also, for a dog that likes to run around a lot, the paws should be inspected for any foreign matter or cuts. Shedding is about average.


Australian Shepherd dogs that receive good care can live up to thirteen years. The main health issues that may affect the breed - as garnered from a survey of owners, includes eye disorders such as red eye, epiphora, conjunctivitis, and cataracts. Respiratory conditions, skin problems, and hip dysplasia are other issues associated with the breed.

One thing in particular to be aware of concerns puppies resulting from the breeding of two merled parents. In these situations, there is a risk that an extra copy of the dominant merle gene may get passed along. When this happens, a puppy so affected can have hearing and vision problems or even be deaf or blind.

Another genetic disorder related to the breed is the susceptability of acquiring a mutated MDR1 gene. When this mutation is present, the affected dog can have a toxic, even fatal, reaction to certain medications. The good news is that a test is available to determine if the pet does have this mutated gene.

Bottom line: prospective owners of the breed are advised to investigate the various screening tests available for the conditions related to the Aussie.

Dog Toys To Consider

For a dog that loves to play and with a lot of high energy, dog toys are a must - lots of them!!

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Click on any toy for more details.

Space Needs:

Not suitable for apartment style living arrangements. Ideally, this breed needs a securely-fenced yard of considerable size, as well as open space where they can run freely. Although they are always active around the house, they love to play outside.


Although they have a reputation for loving to be around children, they do best with older children unless they are raised with them from a puppy. This is because their high level of energy could overwhelm a small child.

As with any breed of dog, activities between them should always be supervised by an adult.

Seniors Or Less Active Families

Australian Shepherd dogs are generally not recommended for a sedentary family as their exercise needs would be too overwhelming.

Puppy Resource: AKC Breeder Marketplace dog reading book

Book Recommendations:

australian shepherd owner guide bookAustralian Shepherd: A Comprehensive Guide to Owning and Caring for Your Dog

A Comprehensive and up-to-date reference guide to owning and caring for Aussie. Covers breed history, characteristics, how to choose a puppy, care and feeding, coat maintenance and grooming, housebreaking, basic training, health care and preparation for showing. In addition this book presents lots of full color photos.

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  3. Herding Breeds
  4. Australian Shepherd



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