Updated 27-06-2023

Australian Shepherd Characteristics, Facts & Traits

However, despite their common name, the Australian Shepherd dog originated in the United States during the Gold Rush era. A working dog at heart, they were originally intended to herd animals.

The Australian Shepherd is a slender, nimble, and slightly longer-than-tall dog with a muscular build. Because of its size, strength, and speed/agility, this breed can labour all day without tiring. They must be able to change direction or pace in a split second with this dog's free and effortless gait. The outer coat has a medium texture and length, ranging from straight to wavy, and is weather resistant. Intense, intelligent, and enthusiastic are the words used to describe the expression.

There are few things in life that make the Aussies happier than working. If their intelligence and energy are used in dog sports or activities, they can be fantastic family members.

A complete list of Australian Shepherd characteristics and facts is provided below.


  • This breed requires 30 to 60 minutes of activity per day, ideally high-energy sports like playing Frisbee. Aside from regular obedience instruction or competing in herding and agility events, they also need a job.
  • With the right amount of stimulation and exercise, Australian Shepherds may thrive in the city as long as there is plenty of room to roam. They're not ideal for living in a small space. Your dog will benefit from a little yard in which to release some of their pent-up energy.
  • A lack of exercise and mental stimulation can cause Australian Shepherds to become destructive and bark for long periods of time.
  • In the event of an intruder, an Aussie will let you know with a warning bark. They are very protective of their family and home.
  • Aussies prefer to spend their time with members of their own family or close friends. Long lengths of time spent alone in the backyard aren't good for them.
  • With a timid or inexperienced owner, a herding dog's pushiness with animals might spill over into the home, where he may assume the role of family leader. When it comes to Aussies, you'll need a confident, firm owner if you've never had one before.
  • In general, Australian Shepherds are moderate shedders, and their coats require frequent cleaning and trimming in order to keep them looking their best.
  • Unless they are regularly exposed to a wide variety of people, starting as puppies, Aussies tend to be wary of strangers because of their natural standoffishness. Biting may occur as a result of the stress and anxiety this causes. To improve his social abilities, make sure your Aussie has plenty of opportunities to interact with friends, family, neighbours, and even strangers.
  • Never buy a puppy from a puppy mill, negligent breeder, or pet retailer if you want a healthy dog. To avoid passing on hereditary disorders to their offspring, a reputable breeder will do temperament and health testing on all of her breeding dogs.



Social Appearance 


A little dog isn't inherently better for an apartment than a larger one, contrary to popular opinion. A high-rise apartment isn't the ideal environment if you have a little dog that is overly energetic and vocal. An apartment dog's best attributes include being quiet, low energy, somewhat peaceful indoors, and respectful to the other inhabitants. If you want to give your dog a bit more privacy in your apartment, you can get a great crate for them right here.

Sensitivity Level

While some dogs are unfazed by a firm rebuke, others are taken aback by a filthy stare. "Easy-going," "resilient" and "thick-skinned" dogs can better endure a noisy, chaotic environment, an aggressive or boisterous owner, and an unpredictable or erratic schedule. Playing in a garage band, having small children, or living a hectic lifestyle are all signs that you might fit into this category. Choose a dog that isn't overly sensitive.

Protective Nature

A dog's ability to notify you of the presence of strangers. There is a greater likelihood that these dogs will respond to any potential threat, whether it is the mailman or a squirrel outside the window. In the event that a stranger enters the house and is approved by the family, one of these breeds is more likely to be friendly.

Potential for Playfulness

Some dogs never grow out of their puppyhood and are always looking for a game to play. Think about how many games of fetch or tag your dog will need to play each day, as well as if you have children or other canines who can act as playmates.

Personality Appearance


Sheepdogs, which were intended to herd animals and require a high level of intelligence and attention, need mental exercise just as much as dogs raised to gallop all day do. Without cerebral stimulation, they'll make their own work often with activities you despise, such as digging and chewing which you'll have to put up with. Obedience training and interactive dog toys, as well as dog sports and occupations like agility and search and rescue, are wonderful ways to keep a dog's brain engaged.

Energy Level

High-energy dogs are constantly ready to go. These dogs can work hard all day since they were bred to do a certain job, like hunting or herding animals. They'll spend more time jumping, playing, and discovering new sights and smells if they're getting enough physical and mental stimulation.

Dogs with low energy levels prefer to sleep all day. When choosing a breed, consider your own level of activity and whether or not you'd appreciate owning a boisterous, energetic dog.

Easy To Train

Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at creating an association between a cue (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (receiving a treat) relatively fast. Other dogs require a greater investment of time, patience, and repetition to successfully complete their training.

Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" mentality, in which case you'll need to utilise rewards and games to encourage them to desire to comply with your demands.

Family Affection Level

Affectionate With Family

Even if they've been nurtured by the same person since puppyhood, some breeds are stubborn and aloof; others form strong bonds with a single person and are uninterested in anybody else; and still others exhibit unconditional love to everyone in the household. It's not just the breed that influences a dog's level of attachment; canines who were raised in a home with people around are more likely to form strong bonds with humans.


A kid-friendly dog must be kind with children, strong enough to withstand the hefty pets and embraces they can give out, and tolerant of running, scream-inducing toddlers. Some of the names on the list may come as a shock to you: Fierce-looking Both Boxers and American Staffordshire Terriers are regarded as family dogs (which are considered Pit Bulls). Chihuahuas, which are small, sensitive, and potentially sharp, aren't always family-friendly.

Dog Friendly

There is a world of difference between being friendly to dogs and being friendly to people. Even if a dog is a big fan of humans, it is possible for it to attack or try to dominate another dog. Other dogs prefer to play rather than fight, and some will simply go away. There are other considerations besides the animal's breed. At six to eight weeks of age, puppies should have spent a lot of time playing with their littermates and their mother, and they are more likely to have good social skills.

Physical Appearance

Amount of Shedding

Having a dog in the house means having to deal with dog hair on your clothes and all over your home. However, breeds differ substantially in terms of shedding. There are some dogs that shed all year round, some that "blow" (shedding) seasonally, and still others that shed very little. Pick a breed that sheds less or lower your requirements if cleanliness is important to you. You can use a de-shedding tool to keep your house a little cleaner.

Drooling Potential

Whenever a dog with a tendency to drool comes over to say hi, be prepared for slobbery armbands and dripping wet clothes. For those who don't mind a little drool, any dog will do; however, if you're a neat freak, you might want to avoid getting a dog that slobbers a lot.

Easy To Groom

Some dogs may be brushed and go, while others need to be bathed, clipped, and otherwise groomed on a regular basis in order to maintain their health and cleanliness. A dog who requires a lot of grooming may not be a good fit for you if you do not have time or patience for it.

Exercise Needs

Even a leisurely stroll around the neighbourhood can be enough exercise for certain breeds. Those that were originally developed for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting, require regular, rigorous exercise.

They can gain weight and release their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, including barking, chewing, and digging, if not given enough exercise. If you're an active person who likes to go outside and play with your dog, you should consider a breed that requires a lot of activity.

Average sizes and life expectancy of the breed


40 to 65 pounds


12 to 15 years


18 to 23 inches tall at the shoulder 


Despite its name, the Australian Shepherd Dog is not a native of that country; rather, it was brought to the United States from there. While there is no evidence to support this theory, the Basque people of Europe, who arrived in Australia in the 1800s, brought their sheep and their sheepdogs. Shepherds and their dogs soon followed, moving to the west coast of the United States. Because of their recent ancestry in Australia, American shepherds naturally gave these dogs the name Australian Shepherd.

Sheepdogs in Australia and the West Coast of the United States faced challenges that they had not encountered in Europe, but the Basque breed was able to overcome these challenges via careful breeding and selection for working ability. It wasn't until the 1950s that the breed gained notoriety as part of a popular trick-dog act, which appeared in rodeos and on screen. Many of Jay Sisler's dogs can be identified in the ancestry of today's Australian shepherds.

The International English Shepherd Registry, which is now known as the National Stock Dog Registry, received the first ever registration of an Aussie. The Australian Shepherd was first recognised by the AKC in 1993. Since a considerable percentage of this working breed is still unregistered with the AKC, its popularity as measured by AKC statistics likely understates its true popularity. Constructive, obedience, herding and agility competitions are just some of the ways this dog excels. Many people believe the Aussie's close-working style makes it better at working cattle than sheep.

Personality and Temperament

Aussies are energetic, yet laid-back canines who like playing and romping with young children. They have a good relationship with other animals. The dog is well-known for its high level of intelligence and amiability when it comes to training. When it comes to pleasing their owners, Aussies have a reputation for going above and above.

Aussies are fiercely protective of their families and territories, although they are not considered violent by most people because of their herding instincts.

Stamina, love, confidence, independence, intelligence, and responsiveness are some of the characteristics of the Australian Shepherd. A lack of exercise might cause them to become irritated and difficult to live with, especially if their mental and physical abilities have been overdeveloped. This dog is a loyal, faithful, and obedient friend with the right amount of exercise and training. With strangers, the Aussie is reticent and protective. To herd youngsters and small animals, this breed might nip.


A dog's best friend, the Australian Shepherd, is always eager to join in on the fun. Their loyalty and protectiveness make them a good choice for a guard dog. The Aussie is a very intelligent dog and may be trained easily by experienced owners.

Those with a lot going on all the time will enjoy having an Aussie as a pet. It's possible for them to get into all kinds of mischief around the house if they're bored. They do best in a household with multiple members who can provide them plenty of mental and physical stimulation.


Despite their love for their owners and their desire to spend time outdoors, Australian Shepherds are just like any other purebred dog: loyal, affectionate, and prone to specific health issues.

Hip Dysplasia

Because of this problem, the hip joint's femur does not fit tightly enough into the pelvic socket. Hip dysplasia might be present even if there are no obvious symptoms. One or both of a dog's rear legs may be painful and lame in some canines. Arthritis can occur in an older dog. Both the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program offer screenings for hip dysplasia. Having hip dysplasia doesn't mean that a dog should be bred. Obtain documentation from the breeder stating that the parents have been checked for hip dysplasia and are clear.

Elbow Dysplasia

Large-breed dogs are more likely to suffer from this inherited ailment. The three bones that make up the dog's elbow are hypothesised to grow at distinct rates, resulting in joint laxity. Painful lameness can result from this. Depending on the severity of the problem, your veterinarian may offer surgery or medication to alleviate the pain.

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)

Osteoarthritis of the elbows is the most common, but it can also occur in the shoulders. As a result, the dog's elbow becomes painfully rigid and unable to flex. Dogs as young as four to nine months old can be tested for the disease. Puppies fed high-protein or "growth formula" puppy food could be more prone to this condition.


Epilepsy, a condition that causes seizures, can affect the Australian Shepherd. However, epilepsy cannot be cured with medication. With proper treatment, a dog can live a long and healthy life despite the presence of this genetic condition.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

The loss of photoreceptors in the rear of the eye eventually results in blindness as a result of this degenerative condition. Detection of PRA occurs years before the dog shows any evidence of blindness. Due to their highly developed sense of hearing and smell, dogs may make up for their lack of sight by using their other senses to their advantage. Just don't get into the habit of moving things around. Veterinary ophthalmologists inspect the eyes of reputable Aussie breeders every year, and any dogs found to be infected are not bred by those breeders.


In this breed, deafness is a common occurrence, and it can pose a number of difficulties. However, deafness cannot be healed, but some varieties of deafness can be treated with medicine and surgery. A deaf dog requires a lot of patience and time to train, but there are many products on the market like vibrating collars that can help. Make sure that you have the patience, time, and ability to care for your Aussie if it has been diagnosed with hearing loss or complete deafness. Regardless of your choice, you should contact the breeder as soon as possible.


When the lens of the eye becomes clouded, it impairs vision. The dog's eye(s) will appear clouded. Older dogs are more likely to develop cataracts, which can be surgically removed in some cases to improve the dog's eyesight.


If the dog's oil gland grows an additional row of eyelashes (known as distichia), they grow along the outer edge of the eyelid, and this condition is known as distichia. If your Aussie's eyes are irritated, you may see him squinting or touching them (s). To cure distichiasis, eyelashes are frozen using liquid nitrogen and then removed surgically. Under general anaesthesia, the procedure known as cryoepilation is carried out.

Persistent Pupillary Membranes (PPM)

There are strands of eye tissue known as Persistent Pupillary Membranes that are remnants of the foetal membrane that nourished the eyes before birth. By the time a puppy is 4 or 5 weeks old, they're usually gone, but they can still be found. There are a number of places where these strands can be found in the eye, including the iris, the lens, and the cornea. The strands usually do not create any problems for puppies under the age of eight weeks and fall out on their own. Cataracts and corneal opacities can result if the strands do not break down. Your veterinarian's suggested eye drops can aid in the breakdown of these foreign bodies.


Hypothyroidism is characterised by a thyroid hormone deficiency. Infertility might be a mild indication of the condition. Obesity, mental dullness, lethargy, drooping eyes, low energy, and erratic heat cycles are some of the most visible symptoms. The dog's skin gets harsh and black as well as its fur becoming coarse and brittle. Dogs with hypothyroidism can be treated with daily medicine that must be taken for the rest of their lives. A long and healthy life is possible for a dog who receives daily thyroid medication.

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA)

One of the most common causes of blindness in dogs is Collie Eye Anomaly. A veterinary ophthalmologist is the best person to diagnose this condition in dogs under the age of two. CEA cannot be treated, but as previously mentioned, blind dogs are able to navigate their surroundings quite effectively when using their other senses. Because this is a hereditary defect, you must inform your puppy's breeder if he or she displays any of the symptoms listed above. It's also critical to have your dog spayed or neutered to avoid passing on the trait to future puppies.


Dogs who suffer from allergies are not uncommon. This is done by removing particular foods from the dog's diet until the allergen is found and eliminated. An allergic reaction to whatever the dog comes into contact with, such as bedding, flea powder, or dog shampoo, is what causes a contact allergy. Identifying and eliminating the source of an allergy is the first step in treatment. A variety of airborne allergens, such as pollen, dust, and mildew, are the main culprits in inhalant allergy symptoms. The severity of an inhalant allergy determines which treatment is necessary. Inhalant allergies are frequently associated with ear infections.

Drug Sensitivity

Australian Shepherds and Collies, two herding dogs, are prone to drug sensitivity. An MDR1 mutation, which produces P-glycoprotein, is responsible for the condition. It acts as a pump to remove hazardous compounds from the body, thereby protecting the body from their negative consequences. This gene is dysfunctional in dogs with Drug Sensitivity, resulting in toxicity. Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic treatment routinely used in heartworm preventatives, as well as other drugs, can be toxic to dogs having this mutant gene. Signs include tremors, sadness and convulsions as well as hypersalivation and even mortality in extreme cases. There is no known cure, however a new genetic test can detect dogs that have this gene that does not function. All Australian Shepherds need to be screened.

Nasal Solar Dermatitis

Non-Collie dogs can also have Collie-nose, which is a condition that affects dogs with very little or no pigment in their nose. Lesions on the nose and even around the eyelids can range from light pink to ulcerating in dogs who are extremely sensitive to sunlight. At first, it may be difficult to determine the cause of the lesions, as many different diseases can produce similar symptoms. Keep your Aussie out of the sunshine and apply doggie sunscreen if he has been diagnosed with Collie nose. Treatment for this issue involves tattooing the dog's nose with a dark ink that acts as a sunblock.

Detached Retina

An injury to the face can cause the retina to separate from its supporting tissues, which can lead to blindness. The loss of vision that can result from a detached retina is severe. Unfortunately, there is no cure for a detached retina, yet many dogs are able to function normally despite their loss of vision.


Dogs, like humans, are susceptible to cancer. There are a wide variety of cancers, and the outcome of treatment depends on the particulars of each case. Tumors are surgically removed for some types of cancer, while chemotherapy is used for others, and a combination of surgical and medicinal treatment is used for still others.

Recommended Health Tests 

  1. Hip Evaluation
  2. Elbow Evaluation
  3. Ophthalmologist Evaluation


High-protein commercial dog food, whether wet or dry, should be fed to Australian Shepherds because they are so active. As a general rule, the first element in the diet they ingest should be meat. A good source of complex carbohydrates, such as barley, brown rice, squash, pumpkin, and berries, should be included as well. Fillers like soy and maize should never be included in a product's list of ingredients.

As a supplement to their diet, this dog breed can eat shredded carrots, chopped leafy greens, and broccoli. Their daily caloric intake should be between three and four cups of dry food, or the equivalent in wet feed. Having two meals a day rather than just one is better for your digestive system. All day, every day, these dogs should be able to drink clean, fresh water.


Because of their long, thick double hair, this breed is prone to developing knots and tangles, especially as they get older. An Australian Shepherd should be brushed at least twice a week in order to maintain a glossy coat that is free of tangles. As a result of their regular shedding in the summer, it is possible that daily brushing and frequent use of the vacuum will be necessary.

Using a pair of shears, they can clip their leg hair to a more manageable length. Nails don't normally need to be clipped due to their high activity levels. To keep "doggy odours" at bay, you should bathe your dog once a month. Blow-drying your hair after a bath is a smart idea because thick hair can take hours or even days to dry.


Every day, the Australian Shepherd should be able to spend at least an hour outside for walks, hikes, and fun. When they're inside, they'll want to play, so it's important to have kid-safe toys on hand. A dog walker should be employed if family members are too busy to take their pets out for a walk every day. If you leave your dog alone at home, he could get bored, frustrated, and destructive.


In general, Australians are well-educated and eager to expand their horizons. This makes them a breeze to train because they are naturally eager to please their human companions. As early as six months of age can be used to begin obedience training; however, to ensure tranquility and focus, this should only be done after a vigorous workout. Despite the importance of obedience training, Australian Shepherds excel at other sorts of training, such as agility and hunting. When training an Australian Shepherd new skills, it is usually best to work with a professional trainer.

Children and Other Pets

A herding dog such as an Australian Shepherd will need to be taught that chasing and nipping at children to herd them is not acceptable. As soon as they learn this, Aussies become fantastic family pets.

In order to avoid any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party, teach youngsters how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise such encounters. Never approach any dog while it is eating or sleeping, and never try to take the dog's food away from it. A dog should never be left alone with a child, no matter how affectionate the dog is.

If you have other pets, they can get along with you, however they may try to herd them at times. This may not go down well, particularly with cats.. Until your Aussie learns that other pets are not part of his flock, keep a close check on him when they're around.


Despite their attractive puppy form, Australian Shepherds are muscular, energetic dogs that require a lot of exercise and adventure. Before making a decision on whether or not to adopt one of these puppies, consider the following information:

This breed can cost anywhere from $800 to over $2000, depending on the puppy's history and medical records. If you're thinking of getting a puppy, you should budget at least $1,000 to cover the cost of the animal's veterinary care, food, and other necessities. A breeder selling Australian Shepherds for less than $800 should provide you with their lineage papers to prove that the dogs are purebred and do not come from mixed-breeds of any kind.

Dogs breed related to the Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds are a sort of herding dog, but they are just one of several. Take a look at these closely related breeds, and see if you agree. Some of these breeds even have their own unique Australian blend.

German shepherd

This German-bred giant of a working dog is one of the most beloved on the planet. An Australian Shepherd is a hard-working dog with many of the same traits as the Labrador Retriever.

Border Collie 

The Border Collie, a herding dog from Northern England and Scotland, has a devoted disposition, a hard working ethic, and an energetic temperament. Also, its distinctive colour combination mimics the Australian Shepherd's appearance.

English Shepherd  

The English Shepherd is a medium-sized dog that comes in a variety of black, white, tan, and sable hues. It is descended from a variety of collie breeds. Border Collies and Australian Shepherds share a common ancestor. Work ethic, high intelligence, and passionate loyalty are all a result of this dedication.