The Australian Shepherd developed in California during the 1900’s. However, Australian Shepherds became more popular in the mid-twentieth century as the favorites of ranchers and cowboys for their unique herding talents. They did not enter the AKC Stud Book until 1991. The Australian Shepherd we know today was developed mainly in the U.S and has no real connection to Australia.
The Australian Shepherd is an intelligent working dog of strong herding and guarding instincts. They are a loyal companion and has the stamina to work all day. They are well balanced, slightly longer and taller than medium size, with coloring that offers variety and individuality. They are attentive and animated, lithe and agile, solid and muscular without bulkiness. They have a coat of moderate length and coarseness and a docked or natural bobbed tail. They can weigh between 35 and 70 pounds and have a life span of 12-13 years.
The Australian Shepherd is super-smart, versatile, adaptable and energetic. This is a thinking dog, bred to use their brain and make decisions. They want to be a part of everything that is going on and needs an active lifestyle to be happy. They are also big on consistency. Expect to spend plenty of time training the Aussie so they can learn things to do that will keep them occupied.
Like most herding breeds, the Australian Shepherd has an inborn protective streak and can be wary of strangers. They may not be a buddy-buddy dog with everyone they meet, even with plenty of socialization, although rarely aggressive. Aussies are also highly sensitive to sound and may develop noise phobias, especially to thunderstorms, if they are not accustomed to loud or unexpected noises. On the plus side, they are excellent watchdogs and will always alert you to anything or anyone out of the ordinary.
It’s essential to purchase an Australian Shepherd from a breeder whose stock is temperamentally sound, contains no congenital abnormalities (to be discussed in the next blog), and who understands the importance of early exposure to many different people, noises and situations.
Chances are that you chose your because you like Aussies:
- Highly intelligent, playful, and energetic
- Agile, sturdy, and muscular
- An excellent companion, family, or working dog
- Above average intelligence and train-ability when positive reinforcement training methods are used
- Adaptable to a wide variety of living conditions
However, no dog is perfect! You may have also noticed these characteristics:
- Barks when suspicious strangers or dogs come around
- Has a tendency to herd, including small children
- Coat requires regular brushing and grooming
- Suspicious of strangers