Marvel at the Australian Shepherd or the “Aussie” as they’re sometimes known; not only is the Aussie one of the most capable dog breeds, they’re the proud wearers of a glossy merle-coloured coat that would make Cruella jealous. More likely to be found on an American ranch than the outback, this Australian Shepherd can be your best friend ever, but only if you’re prepared to keep him busy. Read all about this hardworking shepherd’s characteristics in our guide.
Breed Group: Pastoral
Size: Medium (unless bred as miniature)
Coat length: Long
Exercise: Requires lots of exercise – over 2 hours a day!
Grooming required?: At least twice a week
Contrary to its name, the Australian Shepherd actually originated from the US in the mid 19th-century. The reason behind the Australian title has never been confirmed, and this breed has gone by many an alias in the past including; “Spanish Shepherd”, “Californian Shepherd” and “New Mexican Shepherd”. Despite their shrouded identity, Australian Shepherds were used as sheepherders in ranches and mountains across the US, although they’re perhaps better known today for their film star credentials, with starring roles in films such as the Famous Five (2012) and its sequels.
Australian Shepherds commonly live between 11-13 years. They can be prone to vision problems when the merle gene is found in both parent dogs (a type of gene that determines the distinctive Aussie blue coat colour). Epilepsy can also be a concern.
The Australian Shepherd is nothing if not hardworking! Your best employee yet, they’re happiest when they have a job to do, whether it’s learning new tricks, agility or other doggy sports. For a family that loves being outside, the Australian Shepherd would be the perfect stick-chaser, retriever and frisbee player. Just be warned – you’re likely to tire before they do.
A loyal compadre
Australian Shepherds are extremely loyal to their owners and have even been called “velcro dogs” because of how closely they like to stick to their owner’s side! They thrive on companionship and for that reason, they’re best when not left alone for long periods of time as they can experience separation anxiety.
Active mind and body
Aussies require a lot of mental stimulation. Despite their size, they need at least two to three hours of play, exercise, and attention per day. Without it, they may resort to making up their own “games” which could be destructive or dangerous. The flip side of this is that they’re extremely easy to train and love all forms of active exercise.
Due to their working history, Australian Shepherds are extremely easy to train and will pick up basic commands quickly. They are a people-pleasing breed and respond well to positive reinforcement such as praise and toy rewards. Training should begin early with the Aussie, to ensure their herding instinct doesn’t take over inside the home.
Toilet training the Australian Shepherd is very easy, as they are keen to please and learn quickly.
Where to find Australian Shepherds
The Aussie’s personality is so unique that breed groups are a great way to learn more through first-hand accounts from other owners.
Make sure you get what you’re looking for by using this list of Kennel Club assured breeders.
Adopt an Australian Shepherd
Adopting an Australian Shepherd is a great way to give such an active dog a second chance at life.