Dog Breed 101: Australian Shepherd

Written by Dr. Muqeet Mushtaq DVM, MS ABG (Animal Breeding and Genetics)



Australian Shepherds are medium to large-sized dogs with a solid build and low centre of gravity. They are commonly known as Aussies. An active yet easy-to-handle dog, the Australian Shepherd, likes to hang out with children and get along well with other pets.

Australian shepherds act as large domestic pets, shepherds, police dogs and as obedience dog.


Historical reports on the origin of the Aussies differ from source to source. According to one theory, the Aussies were developed to work in the states. Their ancestors were Spanish shepherd dogs that originated in the Basque Country of Spain and France and were brought to the United States in the colonial days with a herd of Marino sheep. Collies may also be in their ancestral background. So, the dogs are called Australian shepherds simply because they were associated with Basque shepherds in the United States in the 1800s.

They also make family pets. They are recently included in the AKC Herding Group. Some breeders of this breed fear that the identification of AKCs may place undue emphasis on appearance beyond capacity.


Aussies are active yet easy-to-walk dogs that love their owner's company. They also get along well with other dogs or pets. The breed is considered to be highly intelligent and easy to train. The Aussies are especially keen to please their owners.

According to their upbringing habits, Aussies are very protective of their family and territory and will alert you if they visit strangers, but they are not considered aggressive.


Australian shepherds, especially pedigreed breeds, are active dogs that need to be kept busy. Being confined and lonely, they become unhappy and can be devastating. They are country dogs who love to play in the vast land. At the very least, the best fit should be a large fenced yard and owners who want to spend time with their dog.

Aussies are average shedders. Despite their lush coat, brushing with a bristle brush weekly and taking occasional baths is needed to keep their skin clean and helps stop the mattings.

Breed Characteristic

Weight Range:

  • Males: 50-65 lbs.
  • Females: 40-55 lbs.

Height at Withers:

  • Males: 22 in.
  • Females: 20 in.

Other body features

  • Ears: Floppy (naturally)
  • Exercise Requirements: >40 minutes/day
  • Energy Level: Very energetic
  • Longevity Range: 12-14 yrs.
  • The tendency to Drool: Moderate
  • The tendency to Dig: Low 
  • Social/Attention Needs: High
  • Bred For: Mainly livestock herding but also act as guard or police dog

Coat Characteristic

  • Coat Length: Medium
  • Coat type: Double coat, straight
  • Coat Colours: Black, red, blue merle, red merle, all with or without a tan, and with or without white
  • Overall Grooming Requirements: Adequate

Club Recognition

  • AKC Classifications: Herding
  • UKC Classifications: Herding Dogs
  • Prevalence: Common

Aussies are beautiful dogs. Male Aussies are usually taller and heavier than females.

Aussies have a lush, medium-length coat that is straight or slightly wavy. Most Aussies naturally have a short tail, but sometimes it may be more than 4 inches.

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