The Australian Shepherd is an enthusiastic dog that should be given plenty of jobs to keep it occupied. Unlike the name implies, this breed isn’t really Australian but was developed in the US to herd sheep. Earlier names that were used included Spanish Shepherd, Pastor Dogs, Blues, Heelers, New Mexican Sheepdog and Californian Sheepdog.
Australian Shepherds, which are often compared to Border Collies, are medium to large dogs measuring 51-58 cm at the withers (slightly smaller for females) and weighing 22-30 kg (16-22 kg for females).
Aussie Shepherds have a double coat: a downy undercoat with coarser guard hairs. Coat colours include black, blue merle, red and red merle, often with copper or white markings on the chest, legs, under the muzzle and on the forehead. It’s recommended you comb your Aussie with a coarse, double-toothed comb during moulting season.
As with all shepherd dogs, the Aussie has a strong herding instinct so socialise your dog early to help it get used to children and pets. Loyal and affectionate, the Australian Shepherd will love and protect its owners. The best home for this dog is a suburban or rural place with a fenced yard.
The Australian Shepherd is eager to please and easy to train, but it needs daily attention, play and exercise. If you don’t give your Aussie a job to do, it may become bored and potentially destructive. In short: this is the perfect farm dog.
As a collie, this breed is prone to eye diseases. It has an average lifespan of 12-14 years.