The Australian Shepherd Dog is a smart, lively, work-oriented herding dog. This breed lives a real cowboy life, often spotted as ranch dogs and featured at rodeo circuits. Overall, they are a medium size and come in seven different colored coats. They are a popular family dog because of their smarts and loyalty.
They are one of the most common breeds to have heterochromia, a condition that causes two different colored eyes, adding to their charm. Often given the name “Aussies,” this breed always has the urge to herd. Anything they see that catches their eye; they are going to want to herd.
Australian Shepherd Dog Quick Stats:
- Breed Popularity: Very Popular (Ranked 17 out of 197 from AKC)
- Life Expectancy: 12 – 15
- Group: Herding
- Height: Male 20″– 23″ Female 18″–21″
- Weight: Male 50-65 lbs Female 40-55 lbs
- Temperament: Smart, Work-Oriented, Exuberant
- Coat colors: Black, Black Tricolor, Blue Merle, Merle, Red, Red Merle, Red Tricolor
History Of The Australian Shepherd Dog:
The start of this breed all began with the finest European herders. In the Pyrenees Mountains, there were people known as the Basques. They bred the world-class Pyrenees Shepherd who was an ancestor to the Aussie.
Now let’s get to the whole reason that the Australian Shepherd Dog came to be. It was all because of the search for rich pastureland by cattle ranchers in the 1800’s. The Basques decided to take their chances in the continent of Australia. During their time in Australia, they and their Pyrenees Shepherds encountered Australia’s British imported Collies and Border Collies. They then built up their flock.
After a while the Basques journeyed back. Ranchers from California then noticed the Basques herding dogs and took much interest in them. They assumed they were an Australian breed. The breed was then perfected in America and here they are now!
Australian Shepherd Dog Breed Standards:
In proportion to the body, the Aussies head is strong, dry, and clean cut. The muzzle length should be the same as the back skull but is still normal if it’s slightly shorter. The muzzle has a round tip and barely recedes from the base to nose.
Body: (Neck, Topline, Body)
The back is level and tight from withers to hip joints. The croup has somewhat of a slope. The chest is deep with the lowest point reaching the elbow. It should not be broad. They are not barrel chested nor slab-sided. While the ribs are well sprung. The underline displays a balanced tuck-up.
The shoulder blades are moderately set near the withers, long and flat. They are also well laid back. The upper arm is equal to the length of the shoulder blade. It’s attached with a close right angle to the shoulder line and should drop straight to the ground. Legs should be perpendicular and strong. The bones are powerful and should be oval rather than round. The pasterns of the dog should be very lightly sloped and medium length. Front dewclaws could possibly be nonexistent. The feet are overall oval with compact, solid, arched toes. The paw pads are thick and tough.
The space between the hindquarters and the forequarters are the same at the shoulders. The angle of the pelvis and upper thigh is in conformity to the angle of the shoulder blade and upper arm thus forming an approximate right angle. The dog’s hock joints are fairly bent. Overall, the hocks are short and straight when they come to the ground. Your Aussie’s rear dew claws cannot be present. Like the forequarters the feet are overall oval with compact, solid, arched toes. The paw pads are thick and tough.
Caring For an Australian Shepherd Dog:
The Australian Shepherd Dog is just like every dog included in the herding group. The exercise for this breed is mandatory if you choose to adopt an Aussie. They benefit from long walks and preferably a large fenced in yard to run around in. Even if your Aussie is highly trained, you should always keep this breed on a leash during walks due to its high herding drive.
If your Aussie doesn’t get enough exercise, it can face boredom and frustration which is not healthy mentally or physically for this breed.
The Aussie’s coat is medium length and texture going from straight to wavy. Their coats are very weather resistant, and the undercoat varies in quantity with the change of climate. This means you won’t need to give them baths that often. You should always keep up with grooming due to the fact that they shed year-round. It is also just good to brush their coat often so it doesn’t get matted or tangled. The recommendation is to brush their coats two times a week. When it comes to shedding season, do brush them more often.
Like all other dog breeds, keep their ears clean to avoid any infections and trim their nails regularly to assure comfort.
Aussies are overall a very healthy breed if taken care of correctly. Here are some health problems that can appear in the breed.
- Hip Dysplasia
- Eye Diseases
- Heart Diseases
Merle coated Aussies usually experience more heredity health problems. When the mother and father are both merles, the puppies can be born blind, deaf or even both. These puppies usually face euthanasia at birth.
Aussies are very athletic dogs meaning they should be fed as healthy as possible. You want to make sure you’re giving them healthy foods and not dangerous ones. Here is an article about what your shepherd can and can’t eat including healthy diets that can keep your Aussie living longer. The article says it’s for German Shepherds, but it really goes for all shepherd breeds.
Aussies are eager to please and easy to train. They are very smart so they understand things more than other breeds. Once trained they are very obedient dogs. Here is a training article that is good for training your Australian Shepherd.
Are Australian Shepherds Good Family Dogs?
Aussies are perfect family dogs. They have owners all over the world and are a highly popular breed. Aussies are a great companion for a very active person. They are great with all people including little kids. They do good with other pets but if you have small pets like a cat, don’t be too surprised if you see your Aussie herding this pet around the house. But that’s just how the play. Aussies do tend to bark a lot so keep that in mind when thinking about adopting this breed.
How Much Do Australian Shepherds Cost?
The general cost from a licensed breeder for this breed ranges from about $600 – $800. Adoption fees are around $300. If looking for cheaper prices you can look at local shelters or adoptapet.com. If you’re definitely looking for a 100% pure breed and champion bloodline look at puppyfinder.com. Now just warning you that puppies from that site can be way over the average price of $600 – $800.
5 Interesting Facts About The Australian Shepherd Dog:
- The Australian Shepherd Dog is not actually Australian.
- The Native Americans considered them sacred.
- They have naturally short, or nubbed tails.
- Two different colored eyes are very common.
- Got popular from being in rodeos.
The Australian Shepherd Dog In The Movies
Aussies, due to their beautiful coats and appearance, have been stars in many popular movies. Here is a list of some of the movies the breed has starred in.
In the 2010 hit film Marmaduke, one of the main talking dog characters is a female blue merle Australian Shepherd Dog, Mazie. She is a stray tomboy who wears a red bandanna during the film.
This Aussie serves a big role in the movie as she forms a romantic connection with the main dog character Marmaduke, the Great Dane.
100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd
From 1999-2002 there was a 3 series show about a school bully who is turned into a Australian Shepherd/Husky mix who must fulfill 100 good deeds.
Across The Great Divide
Across the Great Divide is a 1976 old western movie. The main dog that tags along in this film is a tricolor Aussie. He is right by the characters sides as they journey across the west and go on many adventures.
Australian Shepherd Dog In Closing:
The Aussie is a beautiful, energetic, intelligent, family dog. They are playful and loyal. If you adopt this dog breed you are sure to start a special bond with them. I hope this article answered all your questions, the background history or just how they would do in your household. Come back to read more of our articles updated weekly!