About Australian Shepherds

The Australian Shepherd is part of the Herding Group. The AKC officially describes the breed as follows:

The Australian Shepherd is an intelligent working dog of strong herding and guarding instincts. He is a loyal companion and has the stamina to work all day. He is well balanced, slightly longer than tall, of medium size and bone, with coloring that offers variety and individuality. He is attentive and animated, lithe and agile, solid and muscular without cloddiness. He has a coat of moderate length and coarseness. He has a docked or natural bobbed tail.

Despite the misleading name, the Australian Shepherd is not Australian at all, but was developed entirely in the U.S. to work as a herding dog on ranches. It is possible that the name was derived from one of the dog's ancestors, which 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. It has only recently (1993 for the AKC) gained recognition as a distinct breed. Its many talents include, retrieving, herding, watchdogging, guarding, police work, narcotics detection, search & rescue, agility, competitive obedience and performing tricks.

The Australian Shepherd was initially called by many names, including Spanish Shepherds, Pastor Dogs, Bob-Tails, Blues, Heelers, New Mexican Shepherds and California Shepherds.

So you want to own an Australian Shepherd?

Australian Shepherds are a truly versatile breed. Not only are they agile working dogs, they are also extremely intelligent animals and wonderful family companions. A very endearing quality of Aussies is their intense desire to please their owners; this makes them quick learners and loyal friends. They are excellent children's companions that are great with active children.

A devoted friend and guardian, they are naturally protective. Very lively, agile and attentive, they are always eager to please. Australian Shepherds are highly intelligent and easy to train. They are naturally suspicious of strangers, so they should be well-socialized when they are young.

Australian Shepherds are not recommended for apartment life. They are moderately active indoors and will do best with at least some yard to run and play in.

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