The Australian Shepherd

About Aussies

The Australian Shepherd is a well-balanced dog of medium size and bone. He is attentive and animated, showing strength and stamina combined with unusual agility. Slightly longer than tall, he has a coat of moderate length and coarseness with coloring that offers variety and individuality in each dog. An identifying characteristic is his natural or docked bob tail. His gait is smooth, free and easily shows agility and efficiency of movement.

The Australian Shepherd is intelligent, primarily a working dog of strong herding and guardian instincts. He is an exceptional companion. He is versatile and easily trained, performing his assigned tasks with great style and enthusiasm. He is reserved with strangers but does not exhibit shyness. Although an aggressive, authoritative worker, viciousness toward people or animals is intolerable.

The only recognized colors are blue merle, red merle, solid black, and solid red. Blue merles and blacks have black noses and eye rims while red merles and reds have liver (brown) noses and eye rims. All colors may be with or without white and/or copper trim. Preferred height for males is 20-23 inches and for females 18-21 inches at the shoulder.

Australian Shepherds are considered by many people to be the ideal dogs. Their uncanny intelligence, whether herding livestock or being a companion is always at work. The Aussie’s loyalty and devotion are beyond question. If you are looking for a dog to be an active part of your work or play, consider the AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD.

History of the Breed 

Would it surprise you to learn that the Australian Shepherd is the only livestock working breed developed in America? Contrary to his name, the Australian Shepherd is not an Australian breed at all. We can trace his early ancestors back to dogs that worked sheep on the west coast, many of those sheep were brought from Australia. Basque shepherds on the west coast were known to have “little blue dogs with bob tails” in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Sheep were imported from France, Spain, England, New Zealand, and Australia along with shepherds and their dogs. In the western United States, the Basque shepherd and his little blue dogs came to represent shepherding as much as the Scotsman and his Collie in Britain. In Australia, there are dogs similar to Aussies called German Coolies.

Other breeds have been observed in the above countries exhibiting some of our Aussie’s characteristics. Although their exact origin is unknown, there is no doubt that the breed was developed in the western United States by livestock producers who used the dogs for working. The fact that the dogs also excelled as a cattle dogs made them ideal for our many diverse farm and ranch operations. The breed evolved to meet the demands of their farm and ranch owners.

Aussies have been used for many purposes. Their use with livestock demanded a natural worker who was easy to train. Their devotion to their owners made them the ideal family farm dog which was needed to guard the homestead. Modern times have seen these talents used in even more diverse ways such as Search and Rescue, Drug Detection and Hearing and Handicap work. The original purpose of the breed as a working stock dog is still maintained across America on ranches and farms as well as through competition at stock dog trials. He is truly: MADE IN AMERICA BY AMERICANS!

The Value of Pedigrees 

The Australian Shepherd Club of America provides many valuable services to their membership, one of the most important being the recording of ancestry, or pedigrees. Pedigrees are a valuable tool in dog breeding because these ancestral records provide the knowledge necessary for predicting progeny performance. More value can be added by recording performance records of each individual and its progeny. Pedigrees are of value to all segments of the industry. Breeding programs can be directed toward goals by selecting appropriate dogs that excels in those traits for which the pedigree need improvement. Information contained as part of a registration certificate consists of individual animal identification, and parentage (sire and dam). With that knowledge and previous information stored in the breed association data bank, a pedigree or ancestral record can be produced for the breeder. The breeder provides every piece of raw data used in the production of pedigrees and records, bringing to surface the importance of breeder integrity.