The Australian Shepherd is a hardworking breed, yet a breed that doesn’t have to work hard to win an owner’s love or affection. Best Bully Sticks highlights this breed because they have a great history, temperament and not to forget, they’re beautiful. Read more about the Australian Shepherd below!
History & Background: The obvious guess as to where this breed originates would most likely be a wrong guess. It’s thought Australian Shepherds originated in the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France; yet earn their name because of the Basque shepherds who lived in Australia before coming to America in the 1800s. In practice, this dog is an American breed.
When new cattle species were introduced to the American West, so was a new breed of dog that worked well with the herds. Even in the dangerous altitudes of the Rocky Mountains, this breed was mostly unaffected. Ranchers all over the West were buying up these dogs for their own herds and began further developing the breed. The end result of this breeding gives us the Australian Shepherd that we know and love today; a dog that is adaptable, intelligent, has strong herding instincts and has a beautiful all-around look.
Today, there are still plenty of Australian Shepherds used as working dogs. However, this dog also excels at agility trials, flyball and Frisbee tournaments.
The Australian Shepherd was once called many different names like Spanish Shepherd, Pastor Dog, Bob-Tail, Blue Heeler, New Mexican Shepherd and California Shepherd.
Height: Males: 20 to 23 inches, Females: 18 to 21 inches
Weight: Males: 50 to 65 pounds, Females: 40 to 55 pounds
Coat: Aussies have a medium length coat, with a profuse amount of hair. The hair itself is soft, but not silky; coarse, but not hard. The AKC describes their coat as having a “medium texture.” An Australian Shepherd’s hair ranges from straight to wavy and is very abundant! This dog’s undercoat varies with climate. The hair on the head, ears and front of legs and below hock. Everywhere else on this dog is frill, mane and fur. Feathering appears on the back of the legs and the chest has a very thick layer of fur.
Color: These Shepherds have 4 distinct colorings: black, red, blue merle and red merle. Black colorings can be paired with tan points and/or white markings on the face. Red, or liver, colorings must have tan points or white markings to be acceptable to the breed standard. Blue Merle is a marbled coloring of gray and black. Tan points and/or white markings are not necessarily required, but are acceptable. Red Merle is combination of cream and liver colorings and like Blue Merle Aussies, tan points and white markings are acceptable but not required.
Nose and facial colorings correspond with coat colors. Black and Blue Merle dogs have black noses, eye rims and lips. Red and Red Merle dogs have liver or brown noses, eye rims and lips.
Eye colors for Aussies can be very unique. In fact, an early nickname for this breed was “ghost-eye” dog. These dog’s eyes can range from any shade of brown to blue. They sometimes have two different color eyes, called bi-colored or “split eyes” that show a brown and blue eye. These “split eye” dogs usually appear in merle colorings. There is a tendency for black dogs to have brown eyes and red dogs to have amber eyes, but these dogs may also carry the blue-eyed gene.
Appearance: The Australian Shepherds are sturdy yet very agile dogs that are well balanced and slightly longer than tall. Almond-eyed with medium-sized triangular ears that sit high on the head, the expression of the Aussie is alert and active. This dog’s chest is deep and the back is strong and level. The tail of the Australian Shepherd is straight and docked, either naturally or docked and by breed standards shouldn’t exceed 4 inches in length. The “wag” of the Aussie is a well-known trait and is more of a whole backend shake that a single wag of the short tail.
Temperament: This dog is extremely intelligent, often competing in agility trials and other dog sports. This penchant for cleverness paired with a need to be active makes the Aussie easily trainable because they have a longing to work. For many Aussies, lots of exercise and time outdoors is a must. This dog can run at high speeds, loves to guard and herd (even people) and are extremely loyal.
The tight bonds that Australian Shepherds make with their owners sometimes earn them the name “Velcro Dogs.” They want to be near their owners and love human companionship.
If these dogs don’t have the exercise they need they can become destructive. Usually 2-3 hours of play and attention are what this dog needs to be satiated. On the whole, Aussies are easy-going, high spirited, highly adaptable dogs. They don’t bark much, especially not obsessively, and make good watchdogs for the home. This dog isn’t recommended for apartment living.
Health & Grooming: The gene that produces the merle coloring also carries a blind/deaf gene with it. Sometimes this is only seen in breeding two merles, but any merle puppy should have their hearing checked. Other eye problems, epilepsy and hip dysplasia are all potential health problems for these Shepherds. Aussies usually live 12-15 years.
Australian Shepherds need to be brushed about once a week or so with a firm bristled brush.
Product Suggestions: For hours of fetching fun, give your Australian Shepherd a Planet Dog Orbee-tuff ball. This ball is extremely durable, buoyant and even has a nice minty smell! If your dog could only have one ball, this would be the one that would make the cut!
To keep this dog at peak performance, give your Australian Shepherd Zuke’s Power Bones Beef Formula Dog Treats! Just like a energy bar for humans, these treats are packed with beef, veggies and complex carbs to keep your pup going! Plus, theses treats are free of wheat, corn and soy!
Do you own or know an Australian Shepherd? Tell us your favorite Australian Shepherd story in the comments section!