Australian Shepherd

  • Temperament Protective, Good-natured, Active, Intelligent, Affectionate
  • Family Friendly Yes
  • Trainability Difficult to Train
  • Shedding Average
  • Group Herding
  • Color Blue Merle, Black, Red Merle, or Red (all with or without white markings and/or tan points)
  • Origin United States (1800s)
  • Height 18-23 inches
  • Weight 40-65 lbs
  • Original Function Herding
  • Current Function Herding, Companion
  • Lifespan 12-18 years

Origin of the Breed

Australian Shepherds originated in the Basque area of the Pyrenees Mountains, between France and Spain. They were bred to be working dogs, skilled in herding sheep. As many of the shepherds in Basque came from Australia, it is commonly understood that this is where the breed?s name came from.

Coloring and Size Variations

Australian Shepherds mostly come in amber or blue, with large spots in black, red or blue merle, or white spots with tan markings. Aussies have soft hair which collects in a thick mane-like shape in around their heads.

Behavioral Tendencies

This breed has a sturdy build and an easy-going temper that makes Aussies fantastic for small children to climb on, pet and cuddle with. They are playful and loyal to their families. They have a cheerful demeanor, being eager to please, and are only whiny when they are left alone. These dogs can develop behavioral dysfunctions if they are neglected or not properly exercised or socialized. They are natural protectors and guard dogs, alerting their owners if there is anything suspicious going on. Though this is a herding dog, they are far less aggressive toward humans, when properly led.

Training Needs

Australian Shepherds require good boundaries, firm leadership. Australian Shepherds respond well to commands and rigorous training. Ranked as one of the top-ten most intelligent dog breeds, Aussies are able to perform complex tasks if given the responsibility, provided they have been trained well.

Health Complications

Australian Shepherds have struggled with eye sight and hearing loss issues, as well as some spinal defects, tumors, hip dysplasia, thyroid failure, cases of epilepsy and allergies. Note that herding dogs who test positive for carrying the MDR1 gene might find some drugs to be life-threatening. Though these kinds of extreme health ailments do not occur often, owners should be aware and have their pup checked.


Aussies need frequent exercise and strenuous work-out regimes. As dogs bred for sheep herding, they require sprints and long runs or walks and daily activities. They have sharp minds, and enjoy projects and playing games with their owners.

Living Conditions

Australian Shepherds are best suited to homes with spacious areas, and function best when they have more romping ground than an apartment would typically afford.


Australian Shepherds have average-length coats and require almost no grooming or up-keep. They could use a good brushing semi-frequently, and regular baths will keep their fur fresh and odor-free.

Top 10 Most Popular Dog Breeds in the United States