Fitting of their personality, Australian shepherds are not actually Australian. (They defy expectations in all sorts of ways!) This handsome breed is actually an American dog, having originated in the western United States in the 1840s around the time of the Gold Rush. Aussies were bred by American sheepherders of Basque descent, and are known for being loyal, highly intelligent, and pretty darn funny.
An American Beauty
These energetic, medium size herding dogs range from forty to sixty-five pounds, and come in a variety of striking colors—black, blue merle, red, and red merle—with tan and white markings. Their fluffy, medium-length coat is stunning to behold, and an Australian shepherd puppy is heartbreakingly cute. This shepherd dog breed isn’t for everyone, however! Aussies need smart training and lots of attention.
Like other herding dogs (the border collie, cattle dog, etc.) the Australian shepherd likes to have a job. That’s why these working dogs excel at tasks like search and rescue. Channel that high energy level with vigorous exercise, and you’ll have a well-behaved and loyal companion on your hands.
For Aussie owners, the love runs deep, and they’ll be the first to tell you why there’s no other dog breed for them.
1. Aussies Have Big Brains
Australian shepherds would kill on the Canine SATs. They’re equipped with keen minds and sharp observation skills, and they’re studious pets—always looking for patterns and reading expectations. With proper training, they can become highly skilled work or performance dogs.
2. Your New Project Director is an Australian Shepherd
With their Good Will Hunting mental capacity, Australian shepherds love something they can put their brilliant minds to.
If you have a herd of sheep, chickens, or cattle, then you’re all set! Otherwise, keep an eye out for challenges and activities that will keep your dog on her toes.
3. They Have So Many Opinions
In case you need a translation: Australian shepherds are the best canine conversationalists out there.
4. If You Like Extra Carpet…Get an Aussie
If you can find a way to transform Australian shepherd fur into a viable, desirable product, you’ll be a gazillionaire in about a week. But, hey, beauty comes with a price tag! And you won’t be lying when you tell your friends that an Australian shepherd is a gift that keeps on giving.
5. Somebody’s a Wee Bit Sensitive
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Aussies have big, big feelings. They love attention, interaction, and activity. When they’re feeling unsatisfied, they’ll let you know with a good talking-to or a very moving pout.
6. Couch Potatoes Need Not Apply
A walk around the block is an insult to an Australian shepherd. These dogs need ample room to run, sprint, chase, and sniff. If you’re up for the challenge, they can evolve into impressive athletes. They love mental stimulation, too, and excel at puzzles. Stock up on your hiking gear and high-performance dog food because your Aussie is ready to GO.
7. They’ll Be Watching You…
Like the eyes of a White Walker, Australian shepherds can pierce your soul with their disarming gaze.
Their sometimes marbled eye coloring makes their stare even more arresting. The Aussie’s observant nature means they’re often keeping track of your every move—usually checking to see if you’re about to grab the keys and leash. Or just watching you with adoration!
Considering an Australian Shepherd?
Get ready to run—and cuddle. Enjoy that energy level and be sure you’re prepared to get your loyal companion plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. In addition to obedience classes, your Aussie could excel at agility and other canine games.
Health concerns for this breed include hip dysplasia, eye conditions, and epilepsy. That said, the Australian shepherd is generally a healthy dog. For more information, check with a local Australian shepherd association or breed group, or find an Aussie rescue group in your area.