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AKC Meet the Breeds: Australian Shepherd

American Kennel Club, Inc. (c) 2011

Animated, adaptable and agile, the Australian Shepherd lives for his job, which still involves herding livestock and working as an all-purpose farm and ranch dog. He needs a lot of activity and a sense of purpose to be truly content. Today, due to the breed's intelligence and versatility, "Aussies" also excel in AKC events such as agility, obedience, and herding. Their coats can be black, blue merle, red merle, and red with or without white markings.

A Look Back
There are many theories about the origin of the Australian Shepherd. Despite its misleading name, the breed as we know it today probably developed in the Pyrenees Mountains somewhere between Spain and France. It was called the Australian Shepherd because of its association with Basque shepherds who came to America from Australia in the 1800s. The Australian Shepherd was initially called by many names, including Spanish Shepherd, Pastor Dog, Bob-Tail, Blue Heeler, New Mexican Shepherd, and California Shepherd.

Right Breed for You?
An energetic breed with strong herding and guarding instincts, the Aussie requires daily vigorous exercise. Although sometimes reserved with strangers, they are "people" dogs that want to always be near their families. Their thick coats require weekly brushing.

  • Herding Group; AKC recognized in 1991.
  • Ranging in size from 18 to 23 inches tall at the shoulder.
  • Sheep herder; farm dog.



AKC Meet the Breeds is a registered trademark of the American Kennel Club, Inc.

Comments (3)

  • ashleycoslett 3 Mar, 2011

    my aussie is the most amazing animal. She's intelligent, independent, but loves to snuggle. Most of the time she is trying to understand what we are saying...we had her potty trained after 2 days of owning her as a pup. Once she felt brave and slipped away to explore - when we finally found her, it was at a busy intersection where she waited for the light to turn red and THEN she crossed -- In the designated pedestrian section! She is amazing. Just be prepared to give yours LOTS of excercize!

  • Jacquifromaust 20 Mar, 2009

    my pup will be coming home in about 6 weeks can't wait

  • Ashley_Jane 17 Mar, 2009

    These dogs have amazing personalities. I miss mine