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Australian Shepherd Dog

Australian Shepherd Dog

Solid, muscular and robust, the Australian Shepherd is an athletic dog who looks like they are built to work. Slightly longer than they are tall, Aussies have a medium length coat that should be straight or very slightly waved with a thick weather resistant undercoat. Tails, if present, should carry decent feathering and be set on in line with the croup. Some are born naturally tailless.  

The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Extra training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys more than two hours of walking a day
  • Medium dog
  • Minimum drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Could have issues with unknown dogs but gets along with known dogs
  • Gets along with other pets with training
  • Great family dog
  • Needs a large garden
  • Best suited to countryside
  • Cannot be left alone
Generally healthy breed

The Australian Shepherd dog can suffer from: 
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia 
- Collie eye anomaly which is an inherited condition where the eye does not develop properly, potentially leading to blindness.
- Hereditary cataracts which is a condition where the lens in the eye becomes cloudy and this can result in blindness. 
- Progressive retinal atrophy which is an inherited disorder where part of the eye degenerates and wastes away which can result in blindness.
- Cobalamin (vitamin B12) malabsorption which is a genetic problem that can lead to weakness and growth deficiencies.  
- Multi-drug sensitivity, an inherited condition where affected dogs are paricularly sensitive to certain drugs.

Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing:
- Hip dysplasia screening scheme 
- DNA test for hereditary cataracts which tests whether or not a dog has the potential to be affected by this condition
- Eye screening scheme 

Key Facts

Lifespan: 13 – 15 years
Weight:  19 – 29kg
Height:  51-58cm for males and 46-53cm for females
Colours:  Black, blue merle, red merle and red, with or without tan points
Size:  Medium
UK Kennel Club Groups: Pastoral


Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 5/5
Easy to train: 5/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 5/5
Energy level: 5/5
Grooming needs: 2/5
Shedding: 3/5
Australian Shepherd in the forest


With strong working instincts, particularly the instinct to herd and drive groups of animals, and a natural suspicion of strangers, the Australian Shepherd is devoted to their owners, and loves to be a part of family life, if that family can offer the right active lifestyle. Early dog socialisation with other animals and children is vital, and Aussies must be given a job to do and plenty of physical and mental exercise to keep them satisfied and content. For the right owner, they can be the perfect dog but like most working breeds, a bored Aussie is a nightmare to live with. 

Australian Shepherd with the owner

History and Origins

Country of Origin – America 
With a somewhat misleading name, the Australian Shepherd is actually an American breed, bred to herd sheep imported from Australia. Shepherds from the Basque region of the Pyrenees took their native small ‘blue’ (blue merle) dogs to work in the U.S in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s.  It is also possible that they could originate from dogs first imported from Australia, then mixed with native dogs in the U.S in the late 1800’s so there is more of a potential Australian connection.

Since they were created, bred or imported to work, working ability was significantly more important than appearance, and it is no surprise that they share many physical traits with other well established pastoral breeds. 

The Aussie has remained a popular herding dog in the U.S. for over a century, particularly as although bred to herd sheep, the Aussie is also adept at working with cattle. 
More recently, the Aussie has turned a paw to a variety of canine sports and proven to be a versatile and adaptable competitor in obedience, scent work, agility, disc-dog, search and rescue and field trial competition.

Did you know?

Did You Know?

  • Despite being one of the lesser-known breeds and commonly mistaken for the Border Collie, the Australian Shepherd is remarkably popular with celebrities. Famous owners include actress Amanda Seyfried (The Art of Racing in the Rain - a fabulous dog film), Susan Sarandon, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, director Steven Spielberg … the list is almost endless! 

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