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Australian Shepherd: Everything You Need to Know

Mira Gibson

Did you know that the #1 dog breed in the United States today is the Australian Shepherd? Out of all the purebred dog breeds, the Australian Shepherd is the most researched, according to Google, and it’s also the top selling breed in our country. 

How did an Australian dog become so popular in the U.S.? That’s actually a trick question. The Australian Shepherd dog breed isn’t Australian at all. It’s 100% American

This article contains everything there is to know about purebred Australian Shepherds to help you make an informed decision about whether or not this beautiful, energetic dog breed is right for you and your family!

HISTORY

A cowboy rancher crouches with his rifle next to a purebred Australian Shepherd, as Australian Shepherd dogs were the original cowboy and rancher breed of choice in the American West.

The Australian Shepherd dog breed was developed in the United States as a herding dog for ranchers throughout the birth of our nation. The high energy and whip-smart intelligence of this dog breed quickly caught on, and soon Australian Shepherds were used to corral bulls at rodeos and serve other “cowboy” purposes! 

Although Australian Shepherds were developed and heavily bred in the United States, we must give credit where credit is due. The first iterations of this dog breed originated in the Basque region of Spain where Spanish shepherds used these herding dogs to protect and corral their livestock. 

Basque shepherds were nomadic, however, and they didn’t stay in Spain. They migrated to Australia with their faithful dogs, and this is how the name “Australian” Shepherd got its start. At the same time, however, the Basques also moved to the new Americas, where their dogs really “stuck.” Australian Shepherds have existed in the United States since the mid 1600s and rose to massive popularity in the 1700s – 1800s… and today. The history and facts about the Australian Shepherd go far beyond the highlights mentioned here.

AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERDS VS. AMERICAN SHEPHERDS

For those of you dog breed geeks out there, you might be wondering, if Australian Shepherds are American, then what the heck are American Shepherds?

The American Shepherd is another purebred dog breed that’s not only related to the Australian Shepherd, but it was a kind of “sub-breed.” American Shepherds are newer, smaller, and less popular. These dogs were developed in the 1960s, which is hundreds of years after the origin of the Australian Shepherd. They are also “miniature” in size, and noticeably smaller than Australian Shepherds. 

Other notable differences include their fur texture and length, fur colors and markings, and weight, as the American Shepherd weighs less by about 20 lbs. 

Now back to the topic at hand, Australian Shepherds…

APPEARANCE

The Australian Shepherd dog breed is a medium-sized, lean dog. Australian Shepherds have wispy, medium-length fur that can be straight or slightly wavy with a thick undercoat. Australian Shepherds have distinct fur color markings and patterns unlike any other dog breed. Their white coat is speckled with black, gray, blue, and merle down their backs. The fur on their legs, tails, and faces can be brown, fawn, or gray. And they have soft, floppy ears, and the most unusual eyes. Their eyes are often blue, translucent blue, or green, with many Australian Shepherds possessing one blue and one green eye. No two Australian Shepherds look alike, that’s how unique their appearances are! 

An Australian Shepherd puppy gives its trainer a high five after a fun puppy training session outside at PuppyBuddy where puppies for sale in Boca Raton FL are great.

INTELLIGENCE 

Australian Shepherds are highly intelligent dogs. This is the primary reason that this dog breed might not be suitable for every dog owner, especially first-time dog owners. Australian Shepherds are happiest when their minds are put to work. In this sense, they’re an authentic “working dog.” Today, farmers and ranchers still use Australian Shepherds to keep their livestock safe and moving. Australian Shepherds are employed in this sense just as much as Border Collies, which is another top herding breed. 

We’re not saying you should be a farmer if you get an Australian Shepherd, but we are stating plainly that in order to be a good owner to an Australian Shepherd, you’ll need to be prepared to satisfy your dog’s mental needs. This can be accomplished by playing high-energy games that are complex or giving your Australian Shepherd outdoor “jobs” to do for you that require him to use his intelligence and obedience. 

An adult Australian Shepherd looks majestic during its snowy outdoor adventure in Montana.

TEMPERAMENT

Aussies are non-aggressive and exceptionally gentle purebred dogs! Their temperament and behavior proves that they care about the welfare of their families and the children or animals that are part of their homes. Despite the medium size and lean build of these beautiful dogs, they are fearless in the face of threats against their families. If you and your family enjoy hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities and you plan to bring your Australian Shepherd, you can rest assured that your dog will defend you against dangerous wildlife. 

At home, Australian Shepherds are territorial yet reasonable and good-natured. As a non-aggressive breed, an Australian Shepherd will bark to alert owners of strangers on or near the property. This dog isn’t one to attempt to intimidate strangers into leaving the property, and it won’t be inclined to bite a stranger unless that person physically harms the dog’s owner or family. In cities and suburbs, the Australian Shepherd is a friendly, perky dog who looks forward to meeting new people and experiencing new places. Just be sure to give your Aussie plenty of exercise if you live in a city to balance the smaller living space you might have. 

An energetic Australian Shepherd fetches an orange ball on a cool autumn day in Wyoming.

EXERCISE NEEDS

Australian Shepherds are high-energy dogs. An Australian Shepherd can easily be on its feet all day long with tons of running, sprinting, and herding to break up the day. As a family dog or companion dog, an Australian Shepherd will be happy with 2 hours of daily exercise. This can be broken up into one-hour chunks. If you’re an early morning jogger, bring your Aussie along, and then after you get home from work, take him out again for a long walk or trip to the dog park, and that will cover his exercise needs.  

Putting it plainly, people who lead a sedentary lifestyle and do not plan on exercising with their dog probably shouldn’t get an Australian Shepherd. Even providing an Aussie with a dog park or park to run around in without you, while you watch from the sidelines isn’t going to make him happy. Australian Shepherds have an innate need to serve an important purpose in their owners’ lives. An Aussie will want to run with you, exercise with you, and be at your side to make your life better. 

An obedient Australian Shepherd sits still while being professionally groomed by a woman.

GROOMING REQUIREMENTS

Surprisingly, the grooming requirements of an Australian Shepherd is only moderate. Yes, they have a thick coat of double-layer fur, but keeping them neat and groomed isn’t that demanding. Brushing your Aussie a few times a week will keep its shedding at bay. And unless your Aussie gets dirty during his outdoor adventures with you, he won’t need to be shampooed and bathed more often than once every 3 – 4 months. Lastly, you won’t need to take your Australian Shepherd to the professional groomers more than once every 6 – 8 months to get his nails clipped, and receive other grooming. 

IS AN AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD RIGHT FOR YOU & YOUR FAMILY?  

An Australian Shepherd purebred puppy is right for you and your family if:

  1. You and your family are committed to training your puppy beyond housebreaking and basic commands
  2. You and your family lead an active lifestyle and you want to include your dog
  3. You and your family will be able to provide your Aussie with at least 2 hours of daily exercise, even on a rotating schedule, i.e. Dad brings the Aussie for his morning run, Mom walks the Aussie after work, and the kids play with the Aussie in the backyard after school, with additional walks and trips to the dog park interspersed throughout the week

If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then an Australian Shepherd will be a great family dog!

PuppyBuddy has Australian Shepherd puppies for sale. We also offer a wide variety of purebred puppies and hybrid puppies for sale in Boca Raton, Florida. The breeders we work with are humane puppy breeders and ethical breeders in Florida. We invite you to come to PuppyBuddy in Boca Raton to meet our Australian Shepherds, as well as all our high-energy dog breeds for active people!