Breed of the Week: Australian Shepherd
Slightly longer than they are tall, the Australian Shepherd averages from 18 – 21 inches at the shoulder and is a fairly solid working dog. The coat color can vary from black to red with merle dogs having a gene that makes their coat and skin appear blotchy with diluted spots. Tan and white points or markings are also acceptable on all dogs. Australian Shepherds have a thick, protective coat that requires moderate grooming.
Bred to work farm animals, Australian Shepherds are very active and intelligent. They require an owner who will give them the appropriate exercise and stimulation that they need. Australian Shepherds are often considered a “people dog” who enjoy the company of their families more so than many other herding breeds. They are great with children and other pets when properly socialized.
Due to the popularity of the merle coloration, double merle breeding has led to an increase in deafness and blindness in the breed. Seizures are also a potential concern and all dogs should be well researched before adoption.
• Though named ‘Australian Shepherd,’ the breed as we know it today was actually developed in America by ranchers looking for a versatile working dog.
• Breeders have recently began breeding miniature versions of this breed as a more suitable family pet and they are now being considered by the AKC Foundation Stock Service as an American Shepherd.
• Like many shepherding breeds, the Australian Shepherd uses its gaze in directing life stock and often people remark on the intensity of the breed’s stare.