The Aussie Shepherd did not originate in Australia. It is an American breed first used by Basque shepherds from Australia, mainly in the Western states. Their intelligence and cooperative nature make them fun to have but also challenging. If no one in the family will become the leader, an Aussie will be happy to fill the gap. The breed is mid-sized, 18" to 23" tall, weighing from 30 to 50+ lbs, with a bobbed tail and ears that fall over in front.
An Aussie Wants a Job
Aussies are bred to work, so they must have a function to perform or they will make mischief due to excess energy. On a farm, herding sheep, cattle or goats is natural to them. They will also tolerate wearing a backpack and even help haul fruit at harvest time. They will follow their owner as he does his tasks and always want to be near members of their human family. If there is no literal work, an Aussie must be challenged by doing agility training, chasing frisbees or acting as a guard dog to alert the family to intruders.
Aussie Shepherds Need Social Interaction
This breed loves to be with other dogs as well as family members. Joining a doggie play group or walking pack is just perfect for them. Most Aussies are tolerant of other breeds and get along well if they have been socialized as pups. This is not a breed of dog to leave home alone or restrict to a small space without exercise. Barking, chewing rugs and other destructive behavior will result if they are not exercised or challenged.
Australian Shepherds Shed
They have an thick outer coat and an even denser inner coat. All Aussies shed constantly. Any owner of this breed with need a good vacuum and must be willing to use it often. Brushing the coat daily will minimize shedding on furniture or carpets
Four Acceptable Color Patterns for Aussies
The major color patterns are black (usually with reddish-brown markings), blue merle (black and gray), red, and red merle (red and silver). Eye color can be blue, amber, brown or hazel, and a dog's eyes can each be a different color, one blue and one brown, for example.
Typical Behavior of Australian Shepherds
These dogs are very smart and often will learn many words used by their owners, giving the impression they are eavesdropping on conversations. They are also vigorous, with strong hips and legs, so they can jump high, often as high as 4'. They exhibit an unusual pouncing reflex, which they use to avoid being kicked by cattle, or when catching gophers. Aussies love to chase tires, especially bicycle tires, so they must be trained to restrain this impulse.
Aussie shepherds are loving, dependable dogs for families who have the space and energy to deal with them. They identify with their family, are protective of the children and especially like riding in the car. This breed lives a median 11 to 13 years.