Country of Origin: The Australian Shepherd (affectionately called an ‘Aussie’) does not actually originate in Australia. It is believed that some Basque farmers brought ancestors of these dogs with them when they emigrated to Australia, then subsequently to the United States during the 1849 California gold rush. However, the breed as it is known today was developed in the American Southwest over the next few decades. The Australian dog was crossed with several breeds in an effort to produce an animal able to deal with the harsh temperatures and demands of the American West. Breeding During this period was mainly focused on ability—speed, agility, and endurance--rather than appearance, which delayed the Australian Shepherd’s recognition as a breed. Australian Shepherds became popular pets after they were featured as rodeos performers in the 1950’s, and later in Disney films such as ‘Run Appaloosa Run’. Australian Shepherds were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1993.Size: The standard Australian Shepherd has a shoulder height of 43-58 cm (18-23 in) and weighs 16-34 kg (35-75 lbs). The Australian Shepherd has highly set, triangular ears, a moderately defined stop (point at which the muzzle meets the forehead), a scissors bite and brown or blue eyes. (See more on eyes blow). It has a flat back, natural or docked bobtail, and oval feet. The Australian Shepherd is slightly longer than it is tall.
Coat: The Australian Shepherd’s coat ranges from medium to long, with a dense undercoat. It can be straight or slightly wavy, and is highly weather resistant. The coat is short and soft on the head and legs, with a thick mane around the neck. The Australian Shepherd can be black, red, red merle (dark patches on a light colored background), or blue merle. All may have white markings or tan points. Click here to see more info on the Aussie Coat.
Eyes: Our breed standard allows eyes of any pigment color or combination of pigment colors. Aussie eyes have been seen that are golden, lemon yellow, amber, light brown, dark brown, green, orange, and blue. On very dark individuals they may even appear black. The iris can be monochromatic, have concentric rings of color, flecks of darker pigment, flecks of blue, or be split or marbled with blue (heterochromia iridis). The two eyes of one dog are not always both the same color; one may be pigmented while the other eye is blue, or both may be pigmented but be of different colors (heterochromia irides). Blue eyes are not confined to merles; there is a recessive gene in the breed that produces blue or split blue eyes in solid colored dogs as well. There are probably multiple genes which together affect eye color and it is not possible to predict with certainty eye color from a planned breeding. As a generalization, brown eyes tend to be dominant to lighter eyes. There is some relationship between eye color and coat color as well, since black pups will tend to have slightly darker eyes than red pups in the same litter.
Character: The Australian Shepherd is intelligent and eager to learn. It is relaxed, loyal, and devoted, bonding closely with family, even to the point of developing separation anxiety. Aussies are confident and lively; they are known to behave like puppies.
Temperament: The Australian Shepherd is a great companion for children and other pets, especially if socialized as a puppy. It can be shy around strangers, as it is territorial by nature. Australian Shepherds are affectionate and kindhearted. They are easily bored. The Australian Shepherd can become nervous and destructive without frequent socialization and proper exercise.
Care: The Australian Shepherd requires relatively little grooming, but a thorough combing is required when shedding. Bathe only when necessary. Australian Shepherds can tolerate warm or cool climates, but must live indoors as they require constant socialization. Aussies have a life span of 12-13 years and litters of 5-8 puppies.
Red Merle (Split face), Black Tri, Blue Merle, Red Tri
(Not our dogs. Pictures taken from Kennel Bohemia with permission.)