Australian Shepherd – History, Facts, Appearance, Health, and Care

australian sheperd

There’s no doubt that the Australian Shepherd is a lovable dog, and we’d get it if you thought they are an Australian native breed, but that’s not the case! These loveable dogs are actually from Spain originally!

You may have heard of them a good bit because they’re one of the popular breeds currently, especially for owners who are after family dogs and working dogs. 

However an Aussie may not be the best choice if you’re a first-time dog owner. These dogs are not only tough but have an energy level that is off the charts!

If you are still considering an Australian Shepherd, remember they need to be kept pretty busy to keep that energy under control!

If these dogs aren’t trained properly, you may find that they become much more stubborn and dominant, making them much harder to handle. However, when trained properly, the Australian Shepherd is a beautiful addition to any household, and their cute, lovable nature shines through.

About the Breed

australian shepherd puppy

This breed has had a rough past, which we’ll take a look at in a second, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t be the pet for you! 

They can be super high energy and have a good bit of strength to them too! This medium-sized dog has so many different coat colors to choose from; the Red Merles are definitely our favorite because of their unique look.

Something you might not know about this dog breed is that they are the Cowboy’s herding dog. They are super intelligent, so don’t get too offended if they manage to outsmart you; it happens to the best of us!

Unfortunately, this means that they might not be the best pet for everyone. Aussies require a certain level of time and willingness from you for them to thrive.

Another great thing about them is how much time you get to spend with them, thanks to their 13-year life expectancy. Isn’t that brilliant!

History of the Australian Shepherd

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As we’ve covered briefly in our overview,  the Australian Sheperd originated from Spain and was most commonly used as shepherd dog. However, the breed was mainly developed here in the US! 

Australian shepherds started using these dogs in the 19th century and were originally called “blue dogs.” They were then moved to America and renamed the Australian Shepherd – for obvious reasons!

Despite this, many people think that Australian Shepherds were first seen in America and were taken care of by European immigrants. So – there is a bit of confusion about their ancestry!

But there is no doubt they would’ve been crossed with Australian dogs at some point in their history! 

The breed only went to the United Kingdom in the 1980s, so they haven’t been blessed with the cuteness of this dog for that long! They’ve kept increasing in popularity, and there’s no doubt behind the reasons why – just look at them! 

American Kennel Club finally introduced them as part of their herding group in 1993. However, the Australian Shepherd Association has represented them since 1990.

More recently, these dogs have been trained to be guide dogs as well as search and rescue dogs, making them a really good companion for anyone! A few of them are also used in nursing homes, proving how brilliant they are while also being super kind and caring! 

Types of Australian Shepherds

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Aussies can also be split into four categories based on the four fabulous colors of the dog’s fur. These categories are Black Australian Shepherd, Red Australian Shepherd, Red Merle Australian Shepherd, and Blue Merle Australian Shepherd.

But is there actually any difference between them, or is it simply just the color? Well, let’s take a look.

Black Australian Shepherd

australian shepard

Black Australian Shepherds can also be called the Black Tri Australian Shepherds thanks to the white markings on their legs, chest, and face.

The white and black are also sometimes accompanied by copper markings which help give the Aussie a separate look from the Border Collie.

This particular type of Australian Shepherd doesn’t have very distinctive eyes like the Blue Merles, for example, as they tend to be brown or black and blend in better with their coats.

Red Australian Shepherd

australian shepherd puppies

Red Australian Shepherds have an absolutely beautiful color that can range from a deep red color to a light cinnamon brown. These pups can also be called Tri Red Australian Shepherds because of the white markings that give them that gorgeous face we’ve all seen.

If this is the color you go for, then you can expect either amber or blue eyes, which create an amazing contrast to their fur.

Red Merle Australian Shepherd

red merle australian shepherd

Instead of a solid base color with white marks, this Aussie type is grey with red spots covering its back. You might have also noticed copper markings around their eyes and white marks on their legs and chest. All of these add to that iconic Merle coat.

Their eyes can also be extremely interesting, as you might notice they are marbled with brown and blue colors.

Blue Merle Australian Shepherd

australian shepherds

Blue Merles have a unique combination of colors when it comes to their coat. Black spots on a grey base make the coat look blue, and the white markings on their chest and face give them the same Collie-like face as the other types of Aussies.

You’ll usually find this particular colored Australian Shepherd with solid blue eyes, but marbled blue and brown eyes are also quite common.

Australian Shepherd Facts

There are so many interesting facts about this dog breed that you might not know, so let’s look at some of the best!

australian sheepdog
  1. We mentioned earlier that despite their name, the Australian Shepherd didn’t actually come from Australia but rather from the Basque region of Spain. So you might be wondering how they got their name.
    The shepherds and their dogs traveled from the Basque region, where they were originally bred, to Australia and later to the Western United States of America. This was when America coined them “Australian Shepherds”.
  2. Aussies are brilliant herding dogs, thanks to their history, which helped them gain popularity in herding bulls and performing tricks in rodeos.
  3. Even though Australian Shepherd isn’t the most accurate name, they’ve also had many more before this. These include Spanish Shepherds, Pastor dogs, Bob Tails, Blue Heelers, New Mexican Shepherds, and California Shepherds.
  4. Native Americans thought the breed was sacred because many Aussies have pale blue eyes that they call ‘ghost eyes.’
  5. This dog breed is a jack of all trades if we’ve ever seen one. Not only can they herd livestock, but they can also work as a guide dog, sniffer dogs, or search and rescue dogs.
  6. Like other breeds, Aussies used to get a portion of their tail surgically removed, but through certain breeding tactics, most are now born with short tails.

Australian Shepherd Appearance

There’s no doubt that Australian Shepherds are absolutely adorable, dare we say, even in comparison to other dogs – they are gorgeous! But what type of appearance does this Aussie puppy have?

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Size

As we’ve briefly touched on, the Australian Shepherd is a mid-sized dog and very athletic breed due to their past. Their height is between 46 and 58 centimeters (18 and 23 inches). If that’s not a medium-sized dog, then what is?

Weight

This dog also tends to weigh between 16 and 32 kilograms (between 35 and 70 pounds). Typically 25-32 kg for males and 16-25 kg for females.

Coat

Their coat is fairly long, and there’s no doubt about that when looking at those adorable furry friends. It’s also a super wavy double coat, which means there’s a dense undercoat and a coarse topcoat – making sure your dog is staying nice and warm in those colder temperatures! 

On this dog’s gorgeous face, the coat is fairly short and thin but is definitely well-feathered towards the back of its legs. Its coat is also waterproof, which is a brilliant factor for them! 

But what about their coat colors? Trust us; there’s plenty!

aussie puppies

Color 

There’s a massive selection of Australian Shepherd colors and patterns available, which is why these dogs are so popular! They say that no two snowflakes are the same, but it’s most definitely true with the Australian Shepherd breed – no two coats are the same! 

What are the breed’s standard colors, you ask? Well, there’s an abundance! These include; blue or red merle, solid red, or solid black, and those with or without any tan points or white marks! The world truly is your oyster in this respect!

Australian Shepherd Temperament and Personality

pastor australiano

You won’t have to worry too much about training this breed as they are insanely intelligent, which makes training them as easy as anything.

Another thing that makes this dog breed easy to train is their eagerness to please. Australian Shepherds will stick with you until the end and are known to be very protective of their families.

They certainly aren’t aggressive, but you’ll know if there’s ever anyone new approaching you.

We all love a cuddle with our dogs, and you’ll be happy to know that Australian Shepherds are looking forward to that just as much as you. They are affectionate and lovable and will love spending the day curled up on the sofa with you.

However, they will also need a lot of time outside, running around and going on adventures, so get those walking shoes ready!

Australian Shepherd Health and Care

pastor autraliano

Just like any dog, they’ll need a good bit of care; this is both healthcare and grooming! 

Trust us, we know that grooming your dog can be a massive pain, especially during a busy week, but it has to be done!

We recommend that you brush your Aussie every week depending on their shedding level, as it can be quite therapeutic brushing your dog’s gorgeous coat, so make some time to care for your dog in this way! 

If you think that once a week is a lot, then you better prepare yourself for shedding season! More work will be needed to look after your dog’s luxurious coat. Grooming needs to happen every two to three days with an undercoat rake – we know! 

After you’ve done this to remove any dead hair, you’ll want to use a wire brush for a good cleanup! 

It’s no doubt that your Australian Shepherd will love love love playing outside and so they’ll almost definitely be much dirtier when they’re done!

However, they will only need a bath occasionally unless they’ve been rolling in the mud like a pig! Keep an eye on those nails, though – they’ll need trimming regularly! 

In terms of health conditions, Aussies are a healthy breed, and good Australian Shepherd breeders will test breeding stock to ensure that there aren’t any health concerns.

Some of the diseases they may check for are elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia in the hip joint, cataracts, iris coloboma, epilepsy, and nasal solar dermatitis.

Hip dysplasia is a heritable orthopedic condition and genetic abnormality which causes problems with the pelvic socket, causing your adult dog a lot of pain and discomfort if not diagnosed and treated early on. This issue can exist with or without any clinical signs.

Eye problems are super common in Collies and other sheepdogs, so it’s always important to keep a close eye on these things. Conditions like progressive retinal atrophy are ones to look out for, although not all Australian Shepherds inherit these illnesses.

Make sure to check your pup’s ears regularly to get rid of anything that shouldn’t be in there and get rid of any earwax! Just like humans, ensure those teeth are brushed regularly to keep them nice and strong!

Australian Shepherd Food and Diet

australian shepherd dog

Aussies are a big dog breed, meaning they need a good bit of high-quality dog food to keep up with all the running around they’re going to be doing. It’s estimated that a dog of this size will need anywhere from 300g-600g a day but let’s take a closer look at this.

You might know that the main ingredient in most dog foods you buy off the shelf is carbohydrates but did you know that the dog’s digestive system isn’t designed to digest carbohydrates? This can lead to health problems later on, so let’s fix it before it starts!

If your dog has an imbalanced gut microbiome, then this can lead to a whole host of health issues like diabetes, arthritis, asthma, and digestive disorders. This is a working breed that thrives off work, which is why they need to be healthy enough to do it.

If your Australian Shepherd puppy doesn’t stay active,, it can gain weight quickly. Because of this, their diet needs to include a good balance of proteins, healthy fats, and veg.

Keep an eye on how much exercise they are doing, as this could mean a change in the amount you’re feeding them.

Physical Needs

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These dogs are more on the active and high-energy side, so they will need a decent bit of exercise on a daily basis. They’d love a big backyard so they can run around for at least one to two hours a day! It seems a lot, but it’s what they need! 

They truly do love their owners once they get close to them, so they’d love any walk with you or even hikes – you may not love them as much as they do, especially running with you! This dog is a great excuse for the physical aspect of “new year, new me”! 

Australian Shepherds also adore jobs, yes, any type of physical job – they’ll love it. This could be shepherding your children, competing in agility trials or other dog sports, and herding livestock.

Herding breeds love an excuse to test their strong herding instinct, so why not give them a chance?

Give them a job to do, any active job, and they’ll do it! That certainly takes the pressure off you a little bit!

Australian Shepherd Training

black australian shepherd

Training can be a fuss for any dog, but Aussies have got this, and so do you! You’ll definitely want to encourage obedience training and early socialization to ensure that the steps for training are put in place early on. 

Australian Shepherd puppies are eager to please you; use this to your advantage!

Contrary to popular belief, they really do love their families, and you may find that they could become a bit protective or territorial, and that’s okay! However, if you do leave them for long periods and too often, then they could become destructive without you there. 

But, with their loyalty and intelligence, as well as having a great deal of energy, they will be pretty straightforward to train – perfect! They’re adorable and easily trained!

Compatibility with Family

austrailian shepard

Australian Shepherds are a very active breed, making them the perfect pet if you have older kids. Bike rides and trips down the beach or simply going on a walk down the park with you is all these pups want.

They are a loyal companion and want to protect you as much as they can, but they certainly aren’t aggressive in any way, which means they can work with younger kids just as well as older kids. They’re massively friendly, so if you have kids, they’ll love them, trust us! 

They’re also herding dogs, so you know what that means; they can round up the kids just as well as they can round up other dogs! This is a great breed to help teach children just how much outside time an athletic dog needs!

The Aussie breed is super duper obedient which is amazing, and they also get along really well with other dogs. So, if you have other pets in your household, you don’t have to worry too much – they’ll get along perfectly! 

If they don’t have much companionship, they can get quite lonely in your house, which is why it isn’t a terrible idea to have other dogs! Even when you’re away for a little bit, your dogs will be able to entertain each other and keep each other company!

Ideal Living Conditions for an Australian Shepherd

australian shepherd colors

Undoubtedly, your Australian Shepherd will want a large fenced-in yard and plenty of space to run around and exercise. So, if you don’t have one of these, then it’s certainly worth considering at some point! 

However, you won’t need to live on a ranch to be able to provide this for your pup! To be completely honest, a lot of them live in apartments! If you have a small environment, just make sure they have plenty to do! 

These could be things like puzzle toys or different toys; they’ll be happy as long as they get some mental stimulation and positive reinforcement. They’ll also want relative access to the outside so they can stretch, run around and burn off that never-ending energy!

Conclusion

So, if you’re wondering if you should get an Australian Shepherd then the answer is clearly yes! There’s no doubt that this adorable breed would be the perfect addition to your household and family!

If you’re an experienced dog owner who just loves hikes, exercise, and even running, then your Australian Shepherd will tag along with you anytime – they love you and their exercise as it provides them with mental stimulation and the ease of training! 

However, if you’re a newer unsuspecting novice owner and perhaps less experienced, then it’s worth considering other breeds for now! 

These dogs can be quite overwhelming for new owners as they’re highly energetic and lively, always looking for something to do, and need mental stimulation to keep them interested! But there’s no doubt they’re truly unique and lovely additions to your household! 

Just be sure to find a responsible breeder or preferably dogs registered with the American Kennel Club, as this will lower the chance of your dog having things like CEA (Collie eye anomaly) and hip dysplasia. You can also contact the National breed club, and they will point you toward an Aussie rescue.

Emma Davies
Emma has loved all animals but especially dogs all her life. She was smitten from the first puppy to enter her life at just 5 years old. Over the years she has had her heart stolen by one particular breed and that's the German Shepherd! She has used her love of dogs and animals, in general, to create a successful writing career for herself over the last 6 years. Emma has written in a variety of niches but especially loves those that are centered around dogs and animals. When she's not writing you can find her enjoying the great outdoors with her family and beautiful German Shepherd Faith.

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