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Australian Shepherd: Pictures, Care, Traits & More

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on February 24, 2024 by Dogster Team

australian shepherd dog sitting on a rock in the park

Australian Shepherd: Pictures, Care, Traits & More

An Australian Shepherd is one of the most instantly recognizable breeds these days. While they thrived on the farm rounding up sheep at one point, they have quite a different role in the household now. Australian Shepherds are an adventurous, loyal breed with boundless energy to burn!

These playful pups will impress you with their brainiac ways, beauty, and devotion. However, a breed this active won’t be for everyone—and only you can decide if they are right for you!

Height: 18–21 inches
Weight: 50–65 pounds
Lifespan: 13–15 years
Colors: Merle, black, red merle, red tricolor, blue merle, black tricolor, red
Suitable for: Active families, rural living, service-related training
Temperament: Energetic, intelligent, happy-go-lucky

Australian Shepherds are medium-sized dogs with long hair. They can have a number of different coat colors and even two separate colored eyes. These unique, energetic dogs make fantastic family companions in the right homes.

In this article, we’ll discuss how an Australian Shepherd can integrate into your life and what to expect when you own one.

Australian Shepherd Characteristics

Energy
Trainability
Health
Lifespan
Sociability

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Australian Shepherd Puppies

Australian Shepherd puppy running
Image Credit: Chris Curtis, Shutterstock

Australian Shepherd puppies will undoubtedly be the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. But apart from their adorable appearance, you probably want to know what to expect when one of these pups really starts to come into their own.

During the first several weeks, your puppy might sleep more than they’re awake. That’s totally to be expected. But once they hit roughly the 3-month mark, you’re going to see a completely different side of them.

This particular breed is highly energetic, so if it isn’t fostered correctly, it can develop destructive tendencies. We highly recommend having a broad selection of toys and other forms of entertainment to keep your belongings safe from tiny chompers.

The Australian Shepherd might also be a breed that requires being kenneled or crated when you are not home. Because of their high intensity exercise needs, this is certainly not a breed you can be away from for long periods.

So, while your little one is growing up, it’s for the best that you will have the time and energy to devote to them early on so you can end up with a well-rounded dog as an adult. You can find an Australian Shepherd virtually anywhere.

Because this breed is so common, you can quickly do a Google search and find tons of breeders and pet shops in your area that supply quality pups.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd is nothing short of an intelligent, fiercely loyal breed that will impress you daily. If you’re the kind of person who can keep up with their on-the-move personality, you will have a life companion.

These dogs are incredibly aware of their surroundings and make fantastic alert dogs. They also can learn a variety of tasks, making them perfect for emotional support or service animals. They also make exceptional work dogs and score off the charts in agility or shell.

These stunning pooches require stimulation at every turn, so they’re certainly not for the faint of heart. You must have the mental capacity and grit to take on a dog like an Aussie. Otherwise, they might develop some unsavory behaviors that can be difficult to manage.

If you’re looking for a couch potato dog, this is definitely not the one for you.

Are These Dogs Good for Families?👪

An Australian Shepherd can make an amazing addition to a variety of different families. They can be good for single owners and growing families alike. However, it is important to understand the requirements on your part to ensure you have a lifestyle that they can fit into.

Australian Shepherds have extremely high levels of energy, meaning that they will need their homes to be able to accommodate them. These dogs are best suited for a life in the country or somewhere where you have a very large fenced-in backyard so they can naturally run and roam.

They love running out of energy, so apartment living really isn’t always the best idea for them. If they are too cooped up, it can cause a variety of issues, such as destructive tendencies, like chewing, ripping up carpet, gnawing on the trim, and even escaping enclosures.

woman cuddling an australian shepherd dog
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?🐶 😽

The Australian Shepherd will certainly make a good friend to other canines. However, because of their high prey drive, they might not be as good with smaller animals, like chickens or cats.

There is usually no issue if they’re raised alongside cats, but they are sparked easily by the desire to chase and run. So, even if they don’t necessarily mean to hurt or kill a cat, they can easily do so if they have pent-up energy.

When introducing any high-energy breed, it’s always best to use caution when you have them around smaller animals.

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Things to Know When Owning an Aussie

Food & Diet Requirements🦴

Because Aussies have so much energy in a day, they need high-calorie, protein-rich dog food to keep up with their bodily demands. The Australian Shepherd is very athletic and certainly needs a very high-quality dog food to ensure they’re getting all of the proper nutrients.

Dry kibble and wet canned food are still hot on the market these days. When you are deciding, it’s best to look at reviews and ingredients labels to ensure that they are getting a quality recipe.

Many pet owners are also shifting focus to a fresh diet. Companies often offer subscription-based services where you have food delivered directly to your door. These diets are often more species-specific and healthy. They also benefit dogs by giving them a fresh source of food instead of dried, preserved dog foods.

Ultimately, it will depend on your budget and veterinary recommendations.

australian shepherd dog is waiting for pancakes
Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock

Exercise🐕

Your Australian Shepherd is certainly going to need a lot of exercise. This is definitely not a dog that can stay cooped up in a kennel all day and be expected to behave in the evenings when they’re out.

They require long walks, jogs, hikes, a large backyard to bustle around in, and many other forms of exercise. Because of their personality, friendliness, and activity levels, they can make extremely good candidates for dog parks.

You could even get pretty intense with this type of breed. It seems the harder they work, the happier they are. So don’t be afraid to push the boundaries and really explore what your Aussie is capable of.

Training🎾

Because they are so keen, easy to train, and eager to please, they are very receptive to various training styles. As mentioned above, these dogs can work for anything from family companions to highly trained work dogs.

The amount of training you give your Aussie is up to you. Some people find it is a little difficult to train them, so they do very well with obedience and other professional training schools. You can also get very advanced if you choose to, creating an incredibly well-rounded canine.

Australian Shepherd Dog playing on green grass at park while raining
Image Credit: DenisNata, Shutterstock

Grooming✂️

The Australian Shepherd is typically pretty hefty when it comes to grooming. Although they don’t require any fancy haircuts, they do have a thick, long coat that requires daily brushing and general upkeep.

There are quite a few grooming products for your Aussie. If you’re the kind of person who hates having shed hair on the furniture or fabrics in your home, consider having a handheld vacuum to keep up. With general hygiene, a lot of this can be managed as well.

You should have a few different kinds of grooming tools on hand. When it comes to daily brushing, you will want something that penetrates the fur to get out any mats or tangles, as these dogs are prone to knotting up.

Bristle brushes are designed to distribute the oils evenly through the coat to keep it nice and shiny. Slicker brushes are designed to eliminate shedding and keep the fur even and tangle-free. Deshedding tools are an excellent product to have on hand, but you should use them sparingly.

We recommend that you give your dog a good bath and brush every 4 to 6 weeks to eliminate the dead fur and debris on the undercoat. It’s always best to buy your dog natural shampoos and products to avoid irritation or allergic reactions.

Health and Conditions🏥

The Australian Shepherd is a very hardy breed that tends to have very few health issues. Of course, that doesn’t mean they can’t develop some over time due to genetics or the environment.

The best way to stay ahead of health issues is to ensure that you’re taking them routinely to the vet as needed. During their first year of life, they will get to know their vet quite well, visiting for parasite prevention, routine vaccinations, spaying or neutering surgery, microchipping, and various other potential things.

If your dog is healthy, you can expect to see your vet annually for routine blood work and general checkups. Many families are opting for pet insurance these days as a way to ensure they’re able to afford vet bills from both general care and emergency visits.

Aussies are susceptible to the following conditions, but that doesn’t mean that your particular dog will have all or even any of them.

Minor Conditions
  • Eye problems
  • Bladder or kidney stones
  • Obesity
Serious Conditions
  • Lymphoma
  • Bleeding tumor
  • Coagulopathy
  • Multiple drug sensitivity
  • Diabetes

Male vs Female

Male and female Australian Shepherds can be quite different in size. The males tend to be larger and weigh more than their female counterparts. On average, the males weigh between 55 and 70 pounds, while the females only weigh between 35 and 55 pounds. You can see how this is pretty drastic.

When it comes to personality, sex really doesn’t have any effect on the overall personality. However, hormones involved can play a different role in behavior. For this reason, most vets recommend that you get your dog fixed between the ages of 4 and 6 months old.

Health issues can vary between sexes as well due to reproductive problems. Females can get issues such as ovarian remnant syndrome, false pregnancy, vaginitis, pyometra, dystocia, and metritis.

Males, on the other hand, might have other issues such as testicular cancer, a contorted testicle, inflammation of the penis or prepuce, priapism, or phimosis.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Australian Shepherd

1. Aussies can be heterochromatic.

If you’ve looked at pictures of Aussies, you might have already noticed that some of them have two different-colored eyes. Most of the time, one of them is often a vibrant blue, and the other one is dark brown.

While they can have two irises that are the same color, heterochromia is extremely common in Aussies. Interestingly, Aussies can also have multiple different eye colors in a single eye. That’s part of what makes them so captivating.


2. Despite the name, Aussies are not Australian dogs.

With a name like Australian Shepherd, their origin would come as no surprise, right? Actually, you might be surprised to know that the Australian Shepherd actually comes from the Basque region in Spain. They traveled with Basque shepherds to Australia and then again to the United States.

However, they have had many names over the years—the Spain Shepherd, Pastor Dogs, Bob-Tails, and New Mexican Shepherds.


3. Native Americans considered the Aussie a sacred dog.

Rumor has it that Native Americans would refer to Australian Shepherd dogs as “ghost eyes.” They consider them to be a very sacred breed.

australian shepherd enjoying the outdoors during autumn
Image Credit: dodafoto, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Did you learn anything interesting about the Australian Shepherd that you didn’t know before? If you’ve been interested in this breed, hopefully, you can find a reputable breeder with a quality pup you can welcome to the family.

Keep in mind that Australian shepherds are extremely physically demanding and not the best candidates for people who have mobility issues or a sedentary lifestyle. However, they can make exquisite additions to growing families, homes with large fenced-in backyards, and active lifestyles.


Featured Image Credit: ChocoPie, Shutterstock

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