Other names: Aussie
The Australian Shepherd entered the top 10 dog breed rankings with a bang several years ago, and these dogs haven’t stopped delighting those looking for an affectionate, playful, intelligent and dynamic companion ever since. Particularly skilled in a number of canine sports (agility, treibball, dog dancing, canicross, etc.), the breed is able to adapt to a number of lifestyles as long as his physical and mental needs are respected and met.
Key facts about the Australian Shepherd
Origins and history
While many theories exist regarding the origin of the Australian Shepherd, the breed was principally bred in the United States. The “Australian” association was attributed to the dog after the arrival of the sheepdog in the United States from Australia in the 19th century.
It wasn’t until the mid 1980s that this sheepdog came to the UK, and over the years, he became the popular dog that we know and love today.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)
Section 1 : Sheepdogs
Physical characteristics of the Australian Shepherd
Female : Between 18 and 21 in
Male : Between 20 and 23 in
Female : Between 42 and 57 lb
Male : Between 55 and 75 lb
The sheepdog’s coat colours can vary, but white will never be the principal colour of his fur:
- Tri-colour black or two-tone black with white and fawn markings
- All-over red, tri-colour red or two-tone red with white and fawn markings
- Blue merle with or without white and fawn markings
- Red merle with or without white and fawn markings
Type of coat
Fairly dense fur, either straight or slightly wavy with an undercoat that changes with the seasons.
The eyes can be different colours: brown, blue, green or amber.
The Australian Shepherd can also have odd-coloured or multi-coloured eyes. This means that the dog can have eyes with different colours, or even eyes with markings of various colours.
An intelligent, dynamic and active sheepdog. He is medium-sized, slightly taller than wider, with a muscular but not overly heavy physique. With an insatiable playfulness, this dog will bring to both young and old people a lot of joy thanks to his abundant energy and unwavering joviality.
Good to know
The Australian Shepherd is actually anything but Australian, originating from the United States. His little “brother”, initially named the miniature Australian Shepherd or dwarf Australian Shepherd, was renamed as the American Shepherd.
This dog has a very pleasant character: he is very loyal to his owners and knows how to prove his love for them.
Naturally very playful, this sheepdog knows how to befriend both young and old people. He will appreciate playtime to unwind more than anything, both that of the physical variety but occasionally mental too, especially when he is able to spend time with members of his social group.
This dog is overflowing with energy and will have a hard time staying put, especially if he isn’t sufficiently exercised. He will need regular walks and things to do to be able to keep him satisfied and calm in the house.
Like any good working dog, the Australian Shepherd is very intelligent and particularly receptive to his owner’s demands.
This dog is very skilled in a number of disciplines and excels particularly in agility, treibball and dog dancing competitions, as well as in sheep and cattle herding.
Naturally therefore, the Australian Shepherd would be a good fit for a cattle or sheep breeder looking for some canine help to herd them.
This pup won’t go out on a limb to hunt anything and everything - even if he is capable of pursuing smaller prey - especially if he wasn’t socialised early enough around cats or other small domestic animals.
Conversely, since he is meant for cattle/sheep herding, the Australian Shepherd prefers to regroup animals rather than hunt them.
Fearful / wary of strangers
This sheepdog is naturally very sociable and friendly, but he may occasionally seem reserved around strangers.
Being a sheepdog, as his name suggests, he will tend to protect his social group and be distrustful of strangers - even violent - if an intruder comes into contact with his owner, or if he senses a threat.
This dog is very close to his social group, so independence isn’t part of his natural temperament.
He will sometimes take initiative in his work, notably when herding sheep/cattle, however, he is very attached to his owners.
Behaviour of the Australian Shepherd
His intense attachment to his social group can be advantageous, but it can also pose disadvantages since it only allows for a small amount of solitude and means that he usually prefers to be in company rather than alone.
From a very young age, it is therefore a good idea to get this dog used to peaceful absences from his owner. You can try turning the absence into a positive experience, for example by offering him fun things to do during these times apart.
Easy to train / obedience
Like many sheepdogs, the Australian Shepherd is very keen to please his owner and respond to his demands.
However, it is still necessary to train him in a way that is adapted to his character and respectful of the principles of positive education.
This companion will be very easy to train if the relationship is based on trust and mutual respect. To achieve this, training must be firm, coherent and precocious.
He may sometimes seem stubborn, but training him in many areas from an early age and reinforcing the owner/dog relationship will be the keys to successful training and a harmonious cohabitation.
The Australian Shepherd may bark in certain situations, for example if he is not able to get the herd moving while herding sheep/cattle, or if he feels his owner has been absent for a long time.
In short, this pup may bark if he doesn’t get what he wants, if he’s very excited, or if he’s bored. However, this personality trait can vary depending on training, the attitude of his owners as well as the correct response to his needs.