In the 1970s, an Australian Shepherd called Hyper Hank became famous for his Frisbee skills. Hank and his owner, Eldon McIntire, conquered dog Frisbee competitions, performed at the Super Bowl, and played at the White House with the Carter family.
Brace yourself friends; we’re introducing the vivacious Australian Shepherd! Aussies are tough ranch dogs, cowboys at heart, and sheepherders by profession. Take one home, and you’ll be part of their pack and protected as such forever.
Country of Origin
United States of America
Male 20-23 In
Female 18-21 In
Male 50-65 Ib
Female 40-55 Ib
In a Nutshell
Aussies are super intelligent, alert, confident, responsive, incredibly loving, loyal, protective, and totally devoted to their human pack. They’re fierce watchdogs, and if not trained, their strong work drive will have them herding you all like a pack of sheep. If you’re a couch potato in an apartment or have a small yard but plan to leave your Aussie alone for hours, this is not the dog for you. Aussies are a perfect match if you want a super trainable and energetic sports companion, have the time to play (Frisbee especially), and can offer mental stimulation. Maybe you even own a sheep or two!
Life With a Australian Shepherd
Amount of Shedding
Tendency of Barking
Consider working from home
Definitely a yard
Looks & Personality
Australian Shepherds are medium-sized, muscular, agile, supple, and fast (take note before you find yourself flapping at the end of their leash). They are bred to be active and pushy work dogs with the exceptional capability of herding livestock for miles through snowdrifts and rough terrain. In fact, they have an overwhelming impulse to herd anything from dogs to birds to kids.
Their double coat makes them weather resistant. They are also year-round shedders, especially in spring when they lose their winter coats. Aussies are cautious around strangers, so they need puppy training and young socialization to become well-rounded dogs with good social skills. If they don’t get the mental and physical stimulation they require, they can become frustrated and hard to live with.
A tip from a vet
A tip from a trainer
Did You Know
Australian Shepherds were called California Shepherds, Bob-Tails, Spanish Shepherds, New Mexican Shepherds, and Pastor dogs.
According to legend, Native Americans called Aussies “ghost eye” and believed they were holy. While not all have blue eyes, pale blue “ghostly” eyes are a standard feature.
The Australian Shepherd are among a few dog breeds that typically have heterochromia – two different colored eyes. For example, they might have blue, green, brown, amber, or hazel eyes. Some even have more than one color in the same eye.
In The News
Famous Australian Shepherd Owners
The History Behind the Breed
The Australian Shepherd is a herding dog born and bred in California, United States, in the 19th century. It is said that they originate from herding breeds imported into California in the 1840s with sheep from New Zealand and Australia, with the breed taking its name from the latter. Originally Australian Shepherds were only used to herd livestock for farmers and ranchers in the old West. Still, they have become one of the most popular companion dogs in North USA today. During the post-WW2 boom, there was a revived fascination with Western-style horseback riding, rodeo shows, and film and TV Westerns. Audiences were wowed by the dog working alongside cowboys – the Australian Shepherd. However, their inherent trait of herding remains, as does their work ethic, intelligence, and versatility.
If a Australian Shepherd Could Talk…
A Quick Anatomy Lesson
Besides their genetic tendency for heterochromia (different color eyes), one in five Australian Shepherds are born with a natural bobtail (NBT). An NBT is caused by an incomplete dominant gene, like merle. NBT dogs should not be bred with each other as their puppies can be born with spina bifida or other lower spinal cord defects. Because of the merle trait, Aussies can also be born deaf.
Common Health Problems
What about your Australian Shepherd?