Australian shepherds are medium-sized dogs with a solid build and low center of gravity.
They are about 18 to 23 inches in height, and weigh from about 40 to 60 pounds (18 to 27 kilograms). Males generally are taller and heavier than females. Aussies live about 10 to 12 years.
Aussies have a lush, medium-length coat that is straight or slightly wavy. They have feathering on the back of the legs and a generous mane around the neck. Coat colors vary and might be blue or red merle or red or black tricolor, all with white and/or tan markings. Most Aussies have a naturally short tail, but sometimes tails are docked if longer than four inches.
Aussies are the perfect blend of energy and chillaxation; they love to have fun with kids, get along easily with other animals, possess a sharp intelligence that makes training an absolute breeze - all while consistently striving to make their owners happy.
Australian Shepherds are incredibly loyal guardians, often alerting their families to any potential intruders. Despite this natural instinct for defense, Aussies have never been known for displaying aggressive behavior towards outsiders.
Australian shepherds, renowned for their working lines, are an energetic breed in need of purpose and plenty of playtime. Unhappy when left alone or caged up, these dogs seek out spacious homes to exercise their bodies and minds - preferably with a large yard! The best way for owners to keep them content is by providing lots of love along with daily activities such as running around outside or learning new tricks.
Australians may have a luscious coat, but they don't let it get out of control! With regular weekly brushing and the occasional bath when necessary, their lush locks stay neat and tangle-free.
The Australian shepherd has a mysterious and fascinating history, with various theories asserting their origin. While one popular idea suggests they were developed in the United States to work on ranches, others propose that Basque shepherds who traveled from Australia during colonial days brought dogs of Spanish herding descent - possibly even collie lineages - along with them as companions for accompanying Merino sheep herds. This could explain how these smart working canines came to be known as "Australian" Shepherds.
Besides working as herding animals, Aussies serve as police dogs, narcotics detectors and competitors in obedience trials. They also make great family pets. They are a recent addition to the AKC herding group; some Aussie breeders fear AKC recognition may create undue emphasis on appearance over ability. The Australian Shepherd Club of America was the main registry of Aussies before AKC recognition and remains a powerful force in the breed.