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Australian Shepherd

Information and Pictures


Ravel the red merle Australian Shepherd at 7 years old



Other Names


Australischer Schaferhund




The Aussie, as it is known, is a medium-sized, robust, well-balanced, rustic dog. The ears are set high at the side of the head, triangular and slightly rounded at the tip. The coat is of medium texture, straight to slightly wavy, weather resistant, of moderate length with an undercoat. The quantity of undercoat varies with climate. Hair is short and smooth on the head, outside of the ears, front of the forelegs and below the hocks. Backs of the forelegs are moderately feathered; breeches are moderately full. There is a moderate mane and frill, which is more pronounced in male dogs than females. The Aussie has a natural or docked bobtail. The AKC standard states the tail should not exceed four inches in length; tails that are longer are docked. The dog's body should be slightly longer than its height at the withers. The chest is not broad but is deep with the lowest point reaching the elbow. The front legs are straight, perpendicular to the ground. The feet are oval, compact with close knit, well arched toes. The front dewclaws are sometimes removed, but back dewclaws are almost always removed. The overall size of the head should be in proportion to the body, with the muzzle being equal or slightly shorter than the back skull. The stop is moderate to well-defined. The teeth should form a scissors or level bite. The eyes are oval in shape and medium in size. Eye colors include brown, blue, amber or any variation or combination including flecks and marbling. The ears are set high on the head, triangular in shape and slightly rounded at the tip. When the dog is at full attention the ears break forward and over, or to the side as a rose ear. Coat colors include blue merle, black, red merle (liver), solid red with or without white markings and/or tan (copper) points, with no order of preference. The coat is medium texture, straight to wavy, weather resistant and of medium length. There should be feathering on the back of the legs, the mane and frill around the neck.


Australian Shepherds are easy-going, remaining puppy-like even in their adult years. This courageous dog makes a good watchdog for the home. Aussies are excellent with children, even with an active child, as they love to play. They are devoted, loyal friends and guardians, for they are naturally protective. Affectionate, very lively, agile and attentive—they are eager to please, with a sixth sense about what the owner wants. Australian Shepherds are highly intelligent and easy to train. Though aggressive when at work with livestock, the Aussie is gentle with human friends. Australian Shepherds are not the kind of dog to lie around the living room all day or live happily in the backyard with only a 15-minute walk. They need much more exercise than that and something to occupy their mind daily or they will become bored, leading to serious behavior problems. Without enough mental and physical exercise and/or a lack of a true pack leader, they can become nervous and destructive if left alone. Socialize well to prevent them from becoming suspicious of strangers. Working lines may be too energetic for people who only have a moderately active lifestyle. Some like to nip people's heels in an attempt to herd them, and this behavior needs to be corrected, teaching the dog that humans are not to be herded. The Aussie is a quiet worker. This breed is not usually dog aggressive.

Height, Weight

Height: Males 20 - 23 inches (52 - 58cm) Females 18 - 21 inches (46 – 53 cm)

Weight: Males 50 - 65 pounds (25 - 29 kg) Females 40 - 55 pounds (18 - 25 kg)

Health Problems

The gene for the beautiful merle coloration also carries a blind/deaf factor. This may be expressed only in merle/merle crosses. Be sure to check the hearing on merle puppies. Natural bobtail-to-natural bobtail breedings can result in some offspring with serious spinal defects. Major concerns: cataract, CEA. Minor concerns: CHD, nasal solar dermatitis, Pelger – Huet syndrome, iris coloboma. Occasionally seen: lumbar sacral syndrome, epilepsy, PRA, vWD, distichiasis, PDA, PPM. Suggested tests: hip, eye. Some are prone to hip dysplasia. This breed is often sensitive to ivermectin; however, the dosage for heartworm preventive is considered safe. Also IMHA (Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia. Some herding dogs carry a MDR1 gene which makes them sensitive to certain drugs that are otherwise okay to give another dog, but if tested positive for this gene can kill them.

Living Conditions

This breed is not recommended for apartment life. They are moderately active indoors and will do best with at least a large yard.


This energetic working dog needs plenty of vigorous exercise to stay in shape, mentally and physically, or better yet, some real work to do. Very intelligent and craving a good challenge, they need to be taken on a daily, brisk, long walk, jog or run alongside you when you bicycle. If under-exercised, this breed can become restless and destructive.

Life Expectancy

About 12-15 years

Litter Size

6 - 9 puppies, average 7


The coat is easy to groom and needs little attention. Brush occasionally with a firm bristle brush and bathe only when necessary. This breed is an average shedder.


Despite its name, the Australian Shepherd is not Australian at all, but was developed most likely in the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France, and refined in the U.S. to work as a herding dog on ranches. The breed's principal forebears were most likely Spanish dogs that accompanied the Basque shepherds and herds of fine Merino sheep exported to both America and Australia in the early days of the colonies. At some point it probably crossed with Collie stock. The dog has had many names in the past including the Pastor Dog, Blue Heeler, Spanish Shepherd, Bob-Tail, New Mexican Shepherd and California Shepherd. Its many talents include retrieving, herding, watchdog, guarding, police work, narcotics detection, search & rescue, agility, competitive obedience and performing tricks.


Herding, AKC Herding


ACA = American Canine Association Inc.

ACR = American Canine Registry

AKC = American Kennel Club

APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.

ASCA = Australian Shepherd Club of America

CKC = Continental Kennel Club

DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.

NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.

NKC = National Kennel Club

NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club

UKC = United Kennel Club

Kai the black and white, blue-eyed Australian Shepherd at 3 years old — "Kai has a super friendly temperament and an off switch when we are at home relaxing. Always happy and ready for anything. He's more low -key than some I have met, well trained & easy to control. He's always eager to please. He has 3 pet cats who love him. I have never known a dog like him. He's very bonded to me, so much so that I haven't been to the bathroom alone in almost 3 years."

Kai the black and white, blue-eyed Australian Shepherd at 3 years old

Kai the black and white,  blue-eyed Australian Shepherd at 3 years old



Puntici the red merle Australian Shepherd. Courtesy of Helena.

Puntici the red merle Australian Shepherd, photo courtesy of Helena



Mikey, the Aussie lives with 5 horses, a larger heard of goats and 3 dogs

Mikey the Aussie lives with 5 horses, a larger heard of goats and 3 dogs



LionHill's Red Baron, photo courtesy of Genevieve Simmons



AustralianShepherdspuppy1.jpg (18895 bytes)

Photo courtesy of Cheynat Australian Shepherds



"This is Nana at almost a year old. She is the best dog I have ever owned and between being smart, trained well, and very gentle I could not have asked for a better dog. She lets my two-year-old wrestle her and never eats the food that falls from my kid’s hands unless I say "go get it." I did all my training at home and we are working on "Nana, go get a diaper!" She is sweet, loving, and a wonderful addition to our family."



Rival's Echoes of Osoto Gari, CCGC, CGN aka Budo, a male blue merle Australian Shepherd with copper and white markings at 2 years old—"Budo is a two-year-old Australian Shepherd. He has a wonderful work ethic tempered by a nice off-switch in the house. He regularly trains in Obedience and Agility but also enjoys disk, bikejoring, backpacking, sheep herding (for fun), and urban hikes. This dog is up for anything at all times! Budo does have a protective streak and is reserved with strangers, but is completely sound of temperament. Very cute, but he is not a pushover! His striking merle coat and marble eye attracts the most attention when we are out on the town but it is his impish grin that captures my heart on a daily basis. Budo is raw fed and on a limit vaccine protocol."

Rival's Echoes of Osoto Gari, CCGC, CGN aka Budo, a male blue merle Australian Shepherd with copper and white markings at 2 years old

Rival's Echoes of Osoto Gari, CCGC, CGN aka Budo, a male blue merle Australian Shepherd with copper and white markings at 2 years old

Rival's Echoes of Osoto Gari, CCGC, CGN aka Budo, a male blue merle Australian Shepherd with copper and white markings at 2 years old