Photo by eskimo_jo

Australian Shepherd - Breed Profile:

Origin: Thought to be Pyrenees Mountains
Colors: Blue or red merle, red, black, with or without white/tan markings
Size: Medium
Type of Owner: Experienced
Exercise: Needs lots of exercise
Grooming: Weekly
Trainability: Very easy to train
Combativeness: Not generally dog-aggressive
Dominance: Moderate
Noise: Not a barker

Physical characteristics

The Australian Shepherd, also known as the Aussie or Little Blue Dog, is a medium size dog with a well-balanced body that is slightly longer than tall. The pendent ears are set high on the head. Boning is medium. The head is well-proportioned to the body, with the top of the head of approximately the same length as the muzzle. The latter tapers slightly to a rounded nose. The almond shaped eyes are brown, blue, amber or any variation of these. The teeth meet in a scissor bite. The front legs are straight. The tail is either naturally bobbed or docked. The gait is smooth, free and easy.
Males weigh 45 to 55 pounds, females 30 to 45 pounds.

Temperament

Good natured, attentive, lively and agile. An excellent companion for active children. Due to their working nature, Australian Shepherds need a lot of exercise. Without it, they easily get bored and may even become destructive. Regular jogging is an excellent way to burn their energy. A happy Aussie is a devoted friend and naturally protective guardian. Very intelligent, these dogs are easy to train. A proper socialization is required as they tend to be suspicious of strangers. Nonetheless, Aussies are known to be people oriented dogs that want to be near their families all the time. Strong herding instincts may sometimes tempt your Aussie to nip people's heels in order to herd them. You will need to stop this habit to prevent more serious behaviour problems. Be sure to always remain the alpha dog of your household.

Coat and grooming

The medium length coat is abundant. It may be straight or a bit wavy. It should have feathering on the backs of the legs, and a mane and frill around the neck. Short and smooth hair covers the head, ears, front of forelegs and the area below the hocks. The undercoat thickness varies depending on climate. Weekly grooming is required.
Photo by Vanessa Fermino

Australian Shepherds come in blue merle, red merle, solid red or solid black with or without white markings and/or tan (copper) points.

Health

Beware of hip dysplasia and PRA. The beautiful merle colouration gene is, unfortunately, associated with deafness and blindness.
The lifespan is 11 to 13 years.

Other interesting facts

In spite of their name, Australian Shepherds do not come from Australia. There are a lot of theories about the origin of this breed. Today it is believed that Australian Shepherds developed in the Pyrenees Mountains somewhere between Spain and France. The dogs were called the Australian Shepherd because they were associated with Basque shepherds who came to America from Australia in the 1800s. The Australian Shepherd was actually called by many names such as Spanish Shepherd, Pastor Dog, Bob-Tail, Blue Heeler, New Mexican Shepherd, and California Shepherd.

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