Everything You Need to Know About the Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd is a breed of herding dog native to the United States. Developed in California in the 19th century, it is claimed that the breed is descended from various herding breeds, including collies imported to California along with sheep imported from Australia and New Zealand, the breed is named after the former.

Originally used only as herding dogs, the Australian Shepherd has become one of the most popular companion dog breeds in North America.

Visual Status:

Dog Breed Group:
Herding Dogs
Life Span:
12 to 15 years
18 to 23 inches tall at the shoulder
40 to 65 pounds

Australian Shepherd Breed Characteristics:

Adaptability: 5 starsDog Friendly: 3 starsShedding Level: 3 stars
Affection Level: 4 starsExercise Needs: 5 starsSocial Needs: 4 stars
Apartment Friendly: 3 starsGrooming: 3 starsStranger Friendly: 2 stars
Barking Tendencies: 5 starsHealth Issues: 3 starsTerritorial: 5 stars
Cat Friendly: 3 starsIntelligence: 5 starsTrainability: 5 stars
Child Friendly: 5 starsPlayfulness: 5 starsWatchdog Ability: 5 stars

Aussie (Australian Shepherd) Breed Image / Photo / Look:

Aussie Breed Image

The History of the Australian Shepherd Breed:

The Australian Shepherd is descended from herding dogs brought to North America by Spanish herders in the early 1500s. There is some speculation that these dogs include the Care Leonés, a mountain sheepdog that may exhibit the eye color and merle coat found in many contemporary Australian Shepherds.

It is sometimes claimed that the Basque Shepherd Dog and the Pyrenean Sheepdog were also among the ancestors of the breed. The breed as it is known today was developed in California in the 19th century as a sheep herding dog for Californian shepherds.

The Australian Shepherd is believed to have evolved from a variety of cattle breeds imported from Australia and New Zealand, including the Collie, along with the importation of sheep into California. It is from these ancestors that this caste got its name.

The Australian Shepherd spread from California throughout the western United States where it became extremely popular with ranchers who valued the breed’s working qualities as well as its ability to handle cattle and other livestock.

A quintessential working breed for over a century, the Australian Shepherd was virtually unknown outside of the livestock industry until the mid-20th century when the breed was popularized by rodeo performer Jay Lister with his Australian Shepherds at rodeos in the western states. All kinds of tricks.

Australian Shepherd Club of America and United Kennel Club:

When the breed was recognized by the Australian Shepherd Club of America and the United Kennel Club in 1979, a breed club was soon formed to promote the breed. The breed was subsequently recognized by the American Kennel Club and then the Federation Cynologic International in the 1990s.

Since the late 20th century the Australian Shepherd has been increasingly seen in conformation shows and has become an extremely popular companion dog, in 2019 it was ranked as the 15th most popular breed of dog in the United States by the {www.akc.org}.

Everything You Need to Know About The Australian Shepherd’s Appearance:

Standard Australian Shepherds are a medium-sized, solidly built breed, with adults weighing between 40-65 pounds. They are built fairly low to the ground – remember, they were bred to run around flocks of sheep! – and have high-set, forward-flopping ears.

Aussie coats are thick and rugged and come in a few different colors or patterns. You may encounter the all-black Aussie, which has red fur, or the more commonly pictured “blue merle,” which has a black, gray, and white coat. Aussies also often have blue eyes, or one blue eye and one brown eye.

One common canine feature you won’t find in an Aussie: is a full-length tail. In the past, their tails were docked after birth, meaning part of their natural tail was surgically removed. However, over time, selective breeding naturally led to bobbed tails.

These days, tail docking is considered an inhumane practice, as explained by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Australian Shepherd Temperament: What You Need to Know?

The Australian Shepherd is super-smart, versatile, adaptable, and hardworking. This is a thinking dog, bred to use its brain and make decisions. He wants to be a part of what’s going on and needs an active lifestyle to be happy. It’s also big on consistency.

He likes things to happen at the same time every day – meals, walks, and bedtime. Whenever you want to change something, your Aussie has to sign off on it first.

Expect to spend plenty of time training the Aussie so he can learn things that will keep him busy. Teach him to fetch the paper, carry dirty clothes to the laundry basket, help your garden by pulling the garden, and more. When he’s done with his chores, he’ll be ready to play outfielder in sandlot games or go hiking or biking with you.

Australian Shepherd’s Personality:

Like most herding breeds, the Australian Shepherd has an innate protective streak and can be wary of strangers. Even with plenty of socialization, he is not a friendly dog ​​with everyone he meets. Without early and frequent socialization, an Aussie can become shy or aggressive in the presence of people he doesn’t know.

Aussies are also extremely sensitive to noise and can develop noise phobia if they are not used to loud or unexpected noises, especially thunderstorms. On the plus side, they are excellent watchdogs and will always alert you to anything or anyone out of the ordinary.

It is important to buy an Australian Shepherd from a breeder who has a good stock and who understands the importance of early exposure to the many different people, noises, and situations that come with living in a family home. Steer clear of breeders who raise their puppies in barns or backyard pens.

An Australian Shepherd that is destined to become a family companion needs plenty of socialization.

Australian Shepherds have many great qualities, but they don’t just magically develop. Any dog, no matter how nice, can develop disgusting levels of barking, digging, counter surfing, and other unwanted behaviors if they are bored, untrained, or unsupervised.

And any dog ​​can be a trial to live with during adolescence. In the case of the Australian Shepherd, the “teen” years can begin at six months and continue until the dog is about two years old.

Australian Shepherd’s Puppy:

Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is able to absorb everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he’s 6 months old to start training or you’ll have a stronger dog to deal with. If possible, get him into a puppy kindergarten class by the time he’s 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize.

However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines to be up-to-date, and many veterinarians recommend limited contact with other dogs and public places until the puppy is up to date on vaccinations.

Instead of formal training, you can start training your puppy at home and socialize him among family and friends until the puppy’s vaccinations are complete.

Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for help choosing a puppy. Breeders see puppies every day and can make unmistakably accurate recommendations when they know something about your lifestyle and personality.

A perfect Australian Shepherd whelping is not fully formed from the box. It is a product of his background and upbringing. Whatever you want from an Aussie, look for one whose parents have a great personality and who is well socialized as an early puppy.

Health Tips for an Australian Shepherd:

Aussies are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they are susceptible to certain health conditions. Not all Aussies will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed.

If you are buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you the health clearances for both of your puppy’s parents. Health approvals prove that a dog has been tested for a specific condition and has been cleared.

In Australia, you should expect to see health approvals from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand disease; from Auburn University for Thrombopathy; and certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) that the eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearance by checking the OFA website (offa.org).

Hip Dysplasia:

This is an inherited condition in which the femur does not fit tightly into the pelvic socket of the hip joint. Hip dysplasia can exist with or without clinical signs. Some dogs show pain and lameness in one or both hind legs. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop.

X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. Ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and found to be free of problems.

Elbow Dysplasia:

This is a hereditary condition for large-breed dogs. It is believed to be due to the different growth rates of the three bones that make up a dog’s elbow, which causes joint laxity. This can lead to painful lameness. Your vet may recommend surgery to correct the problem or medication to control the pain.


Australian Shepherds can suffer from epilepsy, a disorder that causes seizures. Epilepsy can be treated with medication, but it cannot be cured. A dog can live a full and healthy life with proper management of this hereditary disorder.


Deafness is quite common in this breed and can bring many challenges. Some forms of deafness and hearing loss can be treated with medication and surgery, but deafness in general cannot be cured.

Living with and training a deaf dog takes patience and time, but there are many aids on the market to make life easier, such as vibrating collars.

If your Aussie has been diagnosed with hearing loss or total deafness, take the time to assess whether you have the patience, time, and ability to care for an animal. Regardless of your decision, it’s best to notify the breeder.

Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD):

This orthopedic condition, caused by improper growth of cartilage in the joint, usually occurs in the elbow, but can also be seen in the shoulder. It causes painful stiffness of the joint, to the point that the dog is unable to bend its elbow.

It can be detected in dogs at the age of four to nine months. “Growth formula” puppy food or high protein food can contribute to its growth.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA):

This is a degenerative eye disorder that eventually causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors in the back of the eye. PRA can be detected years before a dog shows any signs of blindness. Fortunately, dogs can use their other senses to compensate for blindness, and a blind dog can live a full and happy life.

Just don’t make a habit of moving furniture around. Reputable Aussie breeders have their dogs’ eyes certified annually by a vet and do not breed dogs with this disease.


A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye that causes difficulty seeing. The dog’s eye will have a cloudy appearance. Cataracts usually occur in old age and can sometimes be surgically removed to improve a dog’s vision.


This condition occurs when an extra row of eyelashes (known as distichia) grows over the oil gland in a dog’s eye and protrudes at the edge of the eyelid. This causes eye irritation, and you may notice your Aussie squinting or rubbing his eye(s).

Distichiasis is treated surgically by freezing the excess eyelashes with liquid nitrogen and then removing them. This type of surgery is called compilation and is performed under general anesthesia.

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA):

Collie Eye Anomaly is an inherited condition that can lead to blindness in some dogs. It usually occurs when the dog is 2 years old and is diagnosed by a veterinary ophthalmologist. There is no cure for CEA, but as noted above, blind dogs can get around quite well using their other senses.

It is important to remember that this condition is a genetic abnormality, and your breeder should be notified if your puppy has this condition. It is also important to spay or neuter your dog to prevent the gene from being passed on to a new generation of puppies.

Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM):

The persistent pupillary membrane is a strand of tissue in the eye, a remnant of the fetal membrane that nourishes the eye’s lens before birth. They usually disappear by the time the puppy is 4 or 5 weeks old, but sometimes they persist.

The strands may extend from the iris to the iris, from the iris to the lens, or from the cornea to the iris, and are sometimes found in the anterior (front) chamber of the eye. For many dogs, the strands do not cause a problem and usually fall out by 8 weeks of age.

If the strands are not broken, they can lead to cataracts or cause corneal opacity. Eye drops prescribed by your vet can help break them up.


Hypothyroidism is an abnormally low level of hormone produced by the thyroid gland. A mild sign of the disease can be infertility. More obvious signs include obesity, mental dullness, lethargy, drooping eyelids, low energy levels, and irregular heat cycles.

The dog’s fur becomes coarse and brittle and begins to fall out, while the skin becomes rough and black. Hypothyroidism can be treated with daily medication, which should be continued throughout the dog’s life. A dog receiving daily thyroid treatment can live a full and happy life.


Allergies are a common ailment in dogs. Certain food allergies are identified and treated by removing certain foods from the dog’s diet until the culprit is found. A contact allergy is caused by a reaction to something the dog touches, such as bedding, flea powder, dog shampoo, or other chemicals.

Allergies are treated by identifying and eliminating the cause. Inhalant allergies are caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, and mildew.

The right medication for an inhalant allergy depends on the severity of the allergy. Ear infections are a common side effect of inhaled allergies.

Drug sensitivity:

Sensitivity to certain drugs is commonly seen in breeders including Australian Shepherds and Collies. It is caused by mutations in the multidrug resistance gene (MDR1), which produces a protein called P-glycoprotein.

This protein acts as a pump to remove toxins from the body to prevent the harmful effects of toxins. In dogs that show drug sensitivity, the gene does not function, resulting in toxicity. Dogs with this mutated gene may be sensitive to Ivermectin, which is commonly used in anti-parasitic products such as heartworm prevention, as well as other medications, including chemotherapy drugs.

Signs of this sensitivity are tremors, depression, seizures, incoherence, hypersensitivity, coma, and even death. There is no known treatment but there is a new genetic test that can identify dogs with this dysfunctional gene. All Australian Shepherds should be tested.


Just like humans, dogs can get cancer. There are many different types of cancer and treatment success varies for each individual case. For some forms of cancer, tumors are removed surgically, others are treated with chemotherapy, and some are treated both surgically and medically.

Nasal Solar Dermatitis:

Also known as collie-nose, this condition is commonly seen in dogs whose noses are depigmented and are not limited to collies. Dogs hypersensitive to sunlight develop lesions on the nose and occasionally around the eyelids, ranging from light pink lesions to ulcerating lesions.

The condition can be difficult to diagnose at first because many other diseases can cause similar lesions. If your Aussie has been diagnosed with collie nose, keep him out of direct sunlight and apply doggy sunscreen when he goes outside.

The most effective way to manage the condition is to tattoo the dog’s nose black so that the ink acts as a shield against sunlight.

Detached Retina:

An injury to the face can cause the retina to detach from its underlying supporting tissues. A detached retina can lead to visual impairment or even blindness. There is no cure for a detached retina, but many dogs live full lives with visual impairments.

7 Top Facts About Australian Shepherd:

The Australian Shepherd, also known as the Aussie, is a breed of dog that originated in the western United States. Here are some interesting facts about the breed:

  1. History: The Australian Shepherd is not actually from Australia, but rather from the western United States. It is believed that the breed was developed by Basque sheepherders who came to the United States in the 19th century.
  2. Size: Australian Shepherds are medium to large dogs, with males weighing between 50 and 65 pounds and females weighing between 40 and 55 pounds.
  3. Coat: The breed has a medium-length, dense coat that can come in a variety of colors, including black, blue merle, red, and red merle.
  4. Intelligence: The Aussie is a highly intelligent breed and is often used as a working dog. They are highly trainable and excel in a variety of activities, including herding, obedience, agility, and search and rescue.
  5. Temperament: Australian Shepherds are known for their high energy and enthusiasm, and they make great companions for active individuals or families. They are also highly protective of their families and can make excellent watchdogs.
  6. Exercise: This breed requires a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they are not well suited for apartment living or a sedentary lifestyle.
  7. Health: The breed is generally healthy, but they can be prone to certain health problems, such as hip dysplasia, eye disorders, and deafness. Regular veterinary check-ups and a well-balanced diet can help to minimize the risk of these conditions.

Overall, The Australian Shepherd is a loyal and energetic breed that makes a great companion for active individuals OR Families.

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How to Care for an Australian Shepherd?

If you have a yard, make sure you also have a secure fence that your Aussie can’t dig or jump under. Underground electronic fencing won’t work for this breed: your desire to get outside of Australia and create something of a herd will eliminate any concern about mild shock.

For the same reason, keep him on a leash until you are ready to train him to resist his urges.

Your Aussie needs half an hour to an hour of stimulating activity each day, such as a run, a Frisbee game, or obedience or agility exercises.

When you’re not playing with your dog, puzzle toys like Buster Cubes are a great way to keep an active mind occupied.

Puppies don’t need as much vigorous exercise as adults, and in fact, you shouldn’t let them run on hard surfaces like concrete or jump a lot until they’re at least a year old. It can stress their still-developing skeletal system and cause joint problems in the future.

Aussie habits are great for sheep herding, but bad manners when applied to humans and other pets. Obedience classes can help you curb your Aussie’s herding behavior, and they also help satisfy their need for mental stimulation and activity.

OCOs respond well to training methods that use positive reinforcement – rewards such as praise, play, and food – and are generally happy to take commands from their trainer. They just want to know who’s in charge so they can do a good job for them.

A Guide to Grooming an Australian Shepherd:

Australian Shepherds have a double-layer, waterproof coat that can pick up debris as they run, so be prepared to do some combing! Generally, brushing sessions once or twice a week will keep their coat in good condition.

During the seasonal shedding season, you can help remove dead fur with an undercoat rake. Aussies only need the occasional bath if they’ve gotten into something extra dirty. Otherwise, regular brushing, nail clipping, and tooth brushing are sufficient to maintain good grooming.

A Beginner’s Guide to Training an Australian Shepherd:

Australian Shepherds are smart, motivated, and love to work. Training isn’t just a good idea, it’s essential to maintaining their mental health. The good news is, that Aussies love to learn! Training is a key part of building your relationship with Australia.

If you get an Australian Shepherd puppy, join a group puppy class as soon as they are old enough. The socialization and training foundation will set you up for success. And if you’re adopting an adult Aussie, group obedience classes are still a great way to work on socialization and nail the basics.

Once your Australian Shepherd has the basics down, you can train them to do tricks and tasks like cleaning up toys or fetching your slippers.

Whatever type of training you’re doing, start in a quiet, distraction-free environment and be consistent. It helps them exercise in advance, and stick to short, focused training sessions with lots of positive reinforcement.

Feeding an Active Australian Shepherd:

Recommended Daily Amount: 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.

Note: How much your adult dog should eat depends on its size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog.

The quality of the dog food you buy also makes a difference – the better the dog food, the more it will go towards nourishing your dog, and the more you’ll need to stir in your dog’s bowl.

Keep your Aussie in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day. If you’re not sure if he’s overweight, have him get an eye test and a hand exam.

First, look at it below. You should be able to see the waist. Then place your hands on her back, thumbs along the spine, fingers spread downwards. You should be able to feel it but not see its ribs without pressing hard. If you can’t, he needs less food and more exercise.

For more on feeding your Aussie, see our guides to buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

Australian Shepherd Rescue Groups:

Australian Shepherd Breeder:

Adopting a Dog from an Australian Shepherd Rescue or Shelters:

Australian Shepherd Breed Review / Video:

FAQ’s About Australian Shepherd Dog:

Are Australian Shepherds a good family dog?

An active yet easy-going dog, the Australian Shepherd loves to play with children and tends to get along well with other pets. Australian Shepherds are great pets, herding dogs, police dogs, and competitors in obedience trials.

Do Australian Shepherds bark a lot?

Keep in mind that the average Australian Shepherd tends to bark a lot, making it a bit more challenging to stop barking unless you give it the ‘speak’ command or there is a situation in which it needs to bark to alert you.

Why are Australian Shepherds so special?

In addition to herding dogs, Australian Shepherds serve as seeing eye dogs, hearing dogs, drug-sniffing dogs, and search and rescue dogs. Because of their high intelligence, Aussies are well-suited to a variety of jobs.

Do Australian Shepherds like to cuddle?

While Australian Shepherds can be very affectionate, loving, and cuddly dogs with their family members, they may not treat someone they don’t know the same way. This dog will enjoy snuggling with people it trusts.

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