Despite his name, the Australian shepherd that we know today was developed in the United States. An active and friendly herding dog, the Aussie needs a family that understands his special needs.
History and Origin
In the 1800s, Basque sheepherders came to the United States from Australia with their herds. With them, they brought their herding dogs. During this time, American farmers were looking for an intelligent, versatile dog to manage their flocks. They bred the Australian herding dogs with American herding dogs to create a well-rounded working dog. Exactly what breeds were used to develop the modern day Australian shepherd, or Aussie, are unknown. Today, Aussies are still used to herd flocks all over the world.
Appearance and Size
Aussies are medium sized with a thin body structure. The medium length coat comes in four colors: black, blue merle, red and red merle. Some white markings are common. The coat is waterproof and serves as a good insulator. The hair coat can be straight or wavy. The ears are medium sized and shaped like a rosebud.
Aussies have naturally bobbed tails. The most striking aspect of the Aussie is his eyes. They can be solid or any combination of blue, brown, amber or hazel.
Typically, Aussies weigh between 40 and 60 pounds. The average Aussie stands 18 to 23 inches at the shoulder.
These dogs are very loyal to their families. They make great watchdogs as they have a strong guarding instinct. They are also instinctual herders and will tend to nip at your heels when running and playing.
Aussies are very high energy. They love to work and will become destructive if they don't have a job. They need loads of exercise and demand time and attention.
Home and Family
An Aussie's strong herding instinct tempts them to herd children by nipping at their heels. They demand a family that will include them in activities; they need lots of attention and time. Some can be cautious with strangers, but most are highly loyal and affectionate.
These dogs are exceptionally easy to train. They love to work for praise. Some areas that they excel in are agility, obedience, fly ball, Frisbee, therapy and police work. As you can see, the Aussie is a highly versatile breed. There have even been Aussie sled dogs.
Common Diseases and Disorders
In general, the Australian Shepherd is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:
In addition, although these occur infrequently, the following disorders have also been reported:
The life span of the Aussie is approximately 12 to 13 years.
We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.