All About the Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd dog is known as a tough ranch dog. It’s an American dog that has close ties to the cowboy way-of-life.

What You Should Know

Despite the name, the Australian Shepherd doesn’t come from Australia, but America. It may have originated in Australia with European settlers back in the 1800s, but those shepherds relocated to the United States and brought the dog with them.

This first registry was with the International English Shepherd Registry. Then, the AKC recognized it in 1993. It’s a versatile breed that excels at obedience, agility, and herding. That’s why it’s used so frequently to deal with cattle and sheep.

The Australian Shepherd is known by numerous names. Some of these include the Spanish Shepherd Blue Heeler, Aussie, Pastor Dog, New Mexican Shepherd, and Bob-Tail.

It looks similar to an English Shepherd or Border Collie. In fact, recent research suggests that the Border Collie and Aussies have a similar background. It features a harsh, moderate length coat.

What Sound Do They Make?

Australian Shepherds are often destructive and will bark when they don’t receive the exercise they require. This barking becomes excessive and loud. The dogs will also bark to alert the owner of any suspicious activity. Expect this breed to protect the family and cattle with explosive fierceness, when needed.

Group Characteristics

The Australian Shepherd tends to have an average of seven pups per litter. This equates to anywhere between six and nine puppies each time.

How Many are There?

It’s not clear how many Australian Shepherds currently exist, though we know they are most popular in America. The AKC now ranks them as the 17th most popular breed.

Pop Culture

Australian Shepherds received their claim to fame after World War I. They became the perfect dog for the rodeo and people in the West enjoyed their presence. One dog show earned popularity, The Jay Sisler Show. This team of dogs was featured in many Disney movies including Run, Appaloosa, Run plus Stub.

The Australian Shepherd isn’t as popular as the Border Collie, but it’s still found in many movies today. Back in the 1920s, a notable addition was in the Jack Hoxie westerns. You might have also seen this breed in films such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Jr., 12 Dogs of Christmas, Air Bud: World Pup, and The Animal.

Interesting Facts

Australian Shepherds demand at least 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise. It’s preferable to do something high-energy with the dog, such as playing Frisbee. They also thrive when they have a job to perform and welcome obedience training.

While many Australian Shepherds have blue eyes, that isn’t true with all of them. You might find some with brown, hazel, amber or green-colored eyes. It’s even possible to find dogs with unmatched eyes showcasing two different colors.

The Australian Shepherd has several health issues that owners need to know about. It’s common for this breed to suffer from epilepsy, which makes feeding time more difficult. They are also susceptible to viral and bacterial infections. When they suffer from a urinary infection, the owner needs to keep plenty of water available. They also have a history of eye diseases, but plenty of beta carotene seems to help prevent that from happening.