The Australian Shepherd

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Australian Shepherd
Weight: 40 — 65 lbs
Height: 18” — 23”
AKC Rank 2008 #29
Lifespan: 12—15 yrs
Group: Herding
Origin: United States

Dog Breed Info - Australian Shepherd

An Australian Shephard takes a giant
leap and catches a flying Frisbee!

Breed Overview

Origin 1800’s. Original function, sheep herding. Today, sheep herding. Colors: blue merle, red merle, black, red, all with or without white markings and/or tan points.

Sometime during the 1800’s, the Basque people of Europe settled in Australia, bringing with them sheep and sheepdogs. Shortly after, they came to the western part of the United States with their sheep and dogs. American shepherds naturally called these dogs Australian Shepherds, or “Aussies” because that was their immediate past home. The breed kept a low profile until the 1950’s when they were featured in a popular trick dog act that performed in rodeos and was featured in a film.

In 1957 the Australian Shepherd Club of America was formed and subsequently became the largest Aussie registry in America. The AKC finally registered the Australian Shepherd in 1993. The breeds popularity, according to AKC statistics, underestimates the popularity of this breed as a pet because a large portion of this working breed remains unregistered by the AKC.

Young Aussie running in a field
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Yes. Very trainable. Intelligent. Eager to learn, responsive. This dog is a great candidate for clicker training and would respond very well to positive reinforcement training too. Try it.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Australian Shepherd puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

The Australian Shepherd learns fast and is easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For excellent results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.


This is a handsome canine!


The Australian Shepherd has lots of stamina. He is loving, bold, confident, alert, independent smart and responsive. It this dog does not get the opportunity to remain active and exercise to challenge it’s mind and body, it will become frustrated and hard to live with. With proper exercise and training, this breed is a loyal and utterly devoted, obedient companion. It is reserved with strangers and has a protective nature. This dog may try to herd children and small animals by nipping.

If you happen to get an Australian Shepherd with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Moderate. Some mix well with dogs, others don’t.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Generally good natured and accepting of other family members. May have a problem with cats, as they appear to need herding.


Aussie on the agility course
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Friendly Toward Strangers

Wary of strangers. The Aussie can be somewhat reserved.


Yes. Exceptionally playful. The Australian Shepherd has a ton of energy and needs a lot of constructive play time.


Yes, affectionate. Loyal to family, loves his home and people and must be part of all activities and everything going on.

Good with children?

As long as the kids are older (6 or 7 and up) and are active outdoors, the Aussie will fit in. This breed does tend to herd small children and other pets and will nip at ankles and heels as he follows his instincts.

Good with Seniors over 65?

No. Needs too much exercise.

Living environment

House with fenced yard and plenty of open space for jogging or walking and playing fetch. A farm or ranch would be nice.

Aussie playing with friend, a Weimaraner puppy.
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Energy level

Very high energy.

Exercise needs, daily

Very high. Needs lots of exercise. The Australian Shepherd must have plenty of high quality exercise or it becomes difficult to deal with. They love to chase balls, a Frisbee, or pull a wagon or go jogging with you.



Guard dog

Good. Protective of family and property.




Brush and comb twice weekly with a stiff bristle brush to keep coat neat looking, especially on the chest.



Suggested Reading For The Australian Shepherd
Click on the cover photos for more book information and reviews.

  • 1st book, lower row teaches HOW to play with your dog. It's a training book. How, when and where to play plus more.

  • 2nd from the left on the lower row is "101 Dog Tricks" which says it all. Stimulate and exercise your dog;s mental abilities with a vast variety of unusual and interesting things to do.

  • 3rd book from the left,lower row is "50 Games For Your Dog" which is really good and is a great way to bond and have fun too.The games are easy to teach and play.

  • The book on the lower right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, illnesses and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual to keep close at hand.

Australian Shepherd Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Australian Shepherd puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training. It's not often that Aussie puppies turn up in dog pounds and shelters but you might check anyway.
Australian Shepherd Breeders with puppies for sale.

Australian Shepherd Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an Aussie and are looking for an Australian Shepherd Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Australian Shepherd Rescue If you do adopt one, try to locate all dog health records for possible future reference.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site but may not have Australian Shepherd Rescue groups or kennels near you. Consider surfing the net and checking locally of course

Dog Health Issues For The Australian Shepherd
Below: The dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the the Aussie by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Cataracts - Hazy or cloudy vision. Can cause blindness if not treated.

  • Collie eye anomaly—Abnormal eye development. Watch your dog closely, as many will experience retinal detachment causing blindness, usually around 6 to 12 months old. If your Collie is bumping into things, get it to the vet fast. Also, look for abnormal blood vessels or vessels have a twisted appearance, or you find holes or shallow areas in the dog’s eyes which could be inadequate development of a fiber coating Any change in the eyes is reason to call the vet NOW.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain, lameness, arthritis and difficulty walking. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Nasal solar dermatitis—Hereditary immune diseases. The skin of the face and nose are involved… it is called “Collie Nose” though many breeds have it. There will be rough, scaly skin or ulceration where the nose and skin meet, also, a loss of color on the nose. Sores may be on the skin at the nose. The disease is not a killer but is not easy to look at. If too much sunlight hits the nose area, cancer may develop. That area will sunburn easily. Treatment includes no sunlight or use sunscreen, corticosteroids in cream form, medicine as pills, injections and a vitamin E supplement.

  • Pelger-Huet syndrome—Hereditary. Abnormal white blood cells that, instead of being a natural round shape look more like two round shapes tied together. If the white cells with the disease are not dealt with, they can have a devastating effect on healthy bone marrow cells. Thus, it will be easy to break brittle bones and the dog will bleed easily. With a shortage of healthy white blood cells, the immune system will shut down and the dog will be like falling dominoes. While there is no cure for this, there is a way of re-growing healthy white cells to replace the bad ones and this process can be done over and over, keeping the dog alive.

  • Iris Coloboma—Eye disease. A thinning or hole in the iris. This does not stop the dog from seeing but it does cause the dog to squint because too much light is allowed to enter the eye. With a hole in the eye, it's ;like getting your eyes dilated and going out into the sun. It should stop with the breeder.

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the dog's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the Australian Shepherd’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

  • Valvular heart disease—Usually older dogs. A progressive disease. Heart valves thicken and degenerate. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, reluctance to exercise, fainting, excessive coughing, no appetite, constant fatigue. See vet immediately for treatment program!

  • Ivermectin toxicityis - Some Australian Shepherds are sensitive to a common drug "Ivermectin" that's used as a parasitic and the dogs have a severe reaction. Be careful when using this drug.

  • Lumbar sacral syndrome—Spinal nerve compression in the lumbar-sacral (lower) area of the spine.

  • Epilepsy—A serious seizure disorder showing up at around 2 to 4 or 5 years of age.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

  • Von Willebrand"s Disease—A deficiency in clotting factor in the blood. The affected dog does not properly utilize the blood-platelets for blood-clotting. Thus, the dog is prone to excessive bleeding if in an accident or surgery.

  • Patent ductus arteriosis—Canine congenital heart failure. Before birth, blood from the heart passes the lungs by a small vessel called the ductus arteriosis. That small vessel is supposes to vanish after birth and the infant breathes on it’s own With this disease, the vessel does not go away resulting in improper circulation of blood.

  • Urolithiasis—Excessive crystals (urinary stones or bladder or kidney stones) can form in the urinary tract or kidney, bladder or urethra, blocking the flow of urine. The crystals or stones irritate the lining of the urinary tract. They cause blood in the urine and pain and in severe cases make urination impossible. Symptoms are frequent urination, urinating in odd places, blood in urine, dribbling, depression, weakness, straining, pain, vomiting and loss of appetite. Dogs can be treated by diet, medications and surgery, depending on the dog, severity and other circumstances of the individual case.

  • Persistent pupillary membranes—Hereditary.Eye Problem - Vision impaired by strands of tissue in the eye left over from before birth. Strands should be gone by 5 weeks age. Strands can bridge from iris to cornea, iris to pupil, iris to lens (causing cataracts) or they can for sheets of tissue. If the Australian Shepherd is young and you see small white spots in the dog’s eyes or the dog seems to have poor vision, see the vet. Forming of cataracts might be the biggest problem but don’t let this slip by. It may be nothing, it may be something.

Other health issues could occur with your Australian Shepherd. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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