Basque shepherds first brought the ancestors of this outstanding herding dog to the United States as stock dogs to work the sheep imported from Australia in the late 1800s and early 1900. The Australian Shepherd, as a breed, was developed within the United States and is the only American-produced herding breed. Australian Shepherds are superior farm dogs, capable of doing the work of several men and handling all kinds of stock on any terrain. They are also outstanding in obedience and agility, often placing high in trial. The versatile, intelligent Australian Shepherd has served as a narcotics detection dog, service dog for the deaf, on search and rescue teams, and in therapy work. The breed is also known for excellence with the Frisbee.
The AKC, the CKC, the United Kennel Club and the Australian Shepherd Club of America recognize the Aussie. The Australian Shepherd Club of America (original parent club of the Aussie) sponsors Stock dog Trials to promote and preserve the breed’s exceptional working abilities. Today’s Aussie is both a popular farm dog and a loyal family companion.
The Australian Shepherd is a medium sized, robust, well-balanced, rustic dog with pendant ears, an abundant, medium length coat and a bobtail. He should be attentive, lively and agile with a body slightly longer than its height at the withers. The Aussie has a strong, deep chest and stands squarely on all fours. The front legs are straight. Front dew claw removal is optional, but rear dew claws are generally removed. The feet are compact and oval, with arched toes. The width of the top of the head is approximately the same length as the slightly tapering muzzle. The head has a moderate stop. The teeth form a scissors bite. The medium sized oval eyes come in many shades of blue, amber and brown, often combined or with flecks. The triangular, pendant ears are set high on the head. The medium length coat comes in blue merle, red merle, red or black; either with or without white and/or copper trim. The hair around the ears and eyes should predominated by a color other than white. The coat may be straight or slightly wavy, and should have feathering on the backs of the forelegs, and a mane or frill around the neck. Hair on the head, front of the legs and on the outside of the ears is shorter than the rest of the coat. The tail is generally docked if it is long at birth, though many are naturally short. Each individual’s masculinity or femininity is clearly defined.
Although many Aussies are friendly to all, as a breed they tend to be somewhat reserved and naturally suspicious of strangers, so they should be well socialized as puppies. The gene responsible for the beautiful merle coloration also carries a blind/deaf factor. This may be expressed only in merle/merle crosses. Buy from a reputable breeder. Australian Shepherds of strong working-line backgrounds may be too energetic to be suitable pets for the average dog owner. Hip dysplasia and hereditary eye defects, though not prevalent, do occur in this breed. Be sure to buy a pup whose sire and dam have had their hips OFA certified and eyes examined and cleared within the past year by a CERF certified Veterinary Ophthalmologists.
Aussies can be easy going, perpetual puppies who love to play. They can also make excellent children’s companions (with children they grow up with). They are devoted friends and guardians, naturally protective, courageous, loyal and affectionate. They are very lively, agile and attentive. The Australian Shepherd is eager to please, with a sixth sense about what the owner wants. They are highly intelligent and easy to train. Though aggressive when at work with livestock, the Aussie is gentle with human friends. The Aussie needs lots of exercise and a job to do, as the breed is very intelligent, active and easily bored which can lead to destructive behavior if left alone too much without exercise.
DO NOT get an Australian Shepherd unless you are prepared to take the time to train it and make it part of your life. Without adequate training, the Aussie is perfectly capable of setting his own rules to live by and they are not rules that would be appreciated by the average family.
The Australian Shepherd is relatively new to AKC, not being granted recognition until 1992, with the parent club designated as the newly formed United States Australian Shepherd Association. Though AKC had desired to recognize the Aussie for several years prior to 1992; the Australian Shepherd Club of America did not seek this recognition.
Aussies have several genetic problems that can be passed on to following generations. Typically, they are eye issues, hip dysplasia and drug sensitivity.
NEVER BREED A MERLE TO A MERLE!!!!! Click this link to find out why! ALL THINGS COLOR in AUSSIES!