Australian Shepherd Dog Breed: Characteristics, Facts, and Names

Australian Shepherd is a mysterious dog breed for many, thanks to their distinct colored eyes and bobbed tail. Widely known as Aussies, they were once called the Ghost Eyed Dogs and considered sacred! Popular among dog lovers for their exceptional showmanship in Rodeos and Agility Sports, Aussies are, in fact, herding dogs. To be precise, they are the real-life Bitzer of Shaun the Sheep!

This dog breed is remarkably intelligent, active, and protective of its family.

Aussies are outstanding athletes and they love to work. Without exaggerating a bit, this dog breed can do pretty much everything. However, if you are a typical everyday family, Australian Shepherds are not for you!

Australian Shepherd is a herding dog and has a tendency to herd if not kept busy. They can even herd your children in a corner! But if trained and handled by a firm personality, Australian Shepherds can be those intelligent, considerate, loyal, and affectionate dogs that you see in the movies.

Australian Shepherd Dog Breed Overview

Australian Shepherd Dog Breed Overview

Group: Herding
Size: Medium (35 – 65 pounds)
Lifespan: 12 to 16 years
Best Suited For: Singles, Active Families, Herding
Temperament: Lively, Affectionate, Intelligent, Protective, Alert, Workaholic
Exercise Needs: High
Drooling Potential: Low
Grooming Needs: Moderate
Similar Breeds: Australian Cattle Dog, Bearded Collie, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Sheepdog

1. Basic Features

Australian Shepherds \mysterious eyes

The most noticeable feature about Australian Shepherds is their naturally bobbed tail. (Remember Henry the Dog with No Tail?) Apparently, these dogs were bred like that to improve their performance as working dogs.

Another striking feature about Australian Shepherds is their mysterious eyes. They can have light to dark brown, green, or blue eyes. But some of them are born with each eye of a distinct color.

Due to their remarkable eyes, the Native Americans considered them sacred and named them ‘Ghost Eyed Dogs’!

Based on breeding, there are 2 distinct lines of Australian Shepherd. They can be either stock dogs or show dogs. The stock dogs are medium-sized with a moderate coat. On the other hand, show dogs are a little bigger with a dense coat.

Aussies love to work along with their master. They are pretty agile and can herd sheep, goose, chicken, and most of the other farm animals.

2. Australian Shepherd Origin

Australian Shepherd Origin history

A fascinating truth: Besides being named Aussies, these dogs do not originate from Australia!

There is not much evidence regarding the origin of this breed. However, studies suggest that they originate from the Pyrenees mountains near Spain. The Basque community of Pyrenees called them Little Blue Dogs because of their Merle Coat.

The Aussies were then taken to Australia where they were cross-bred with Australian Kettle Dogs and coming back to the Northen America, they were cross-bred with the best of the world’s herding dogs. Hence, this ultimate herding dog breed was evolved.

3. The Personality of Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds are loyal, alert, intelligent, and strong-minded breed. They love to do their everyday chores. Aussies love to do inventive things being one of the smartest dog breeds.

If taught they can even get you a toilet paper roll in case of emergency!

Furthermore, they are affectionate and serve as a great companion as well. However, the biggest trait of the Aussies is that they need to be busy both physically and mentally. If not given enough work, some behavioral issues can erupt.

4. Australian Shepherd Behaviour

Being evolved as herding dogs, this breed has a natural tendency to herd.

If they do not have anything to do, they may even round up your children in a corner!

Some of the dogs even gather and disperse their toys continually.

If trained by a strong-willed person, all the behavioral issues can be solved without much hassle. Thereafter, the dog can be trained to do anything you want an ideal dog to do.

They can be your camping partner, the couch cuddler, and even your beer fetcher!
Being herders, these dogs are always alert and do not trust strangers spontaneously. They are nothing like Labs and Goldies in this manner.

5. Exercise Requirements

Aussie Exercise Requirements

Australian Shepherd comes from a herding breed. Unlike other stock dogs that eventually learn to be in a non-active environment, this breed does not forget what it is meant for.

One may say that they are hardwired for herding. Hence, Aussies need plenty of exercises; they cannot be confined within walls.

If you live in an apartment, you should drop the idea of adopting an Australian Shepherd.

Having such characteristics, Australian Shepherd serve great as a service or therapy dog and even as a guide dog for blind people.

Aussies are so full of energy that they can work tirelessly for hours. If you are an occasional hiker then this dog will not leave your side until you reach to the top!

6. Diet Needs

Australian Shepherds tend to thrive on nutritional dry dog food.

An average dog of the same breed usually needs 2 to 3 cupfuls of dry food each day, shared into two meals.

However, depending upon the age, activeness, and weight of the dog, it may need more or less than the standard quantity.

Furthermore, looking at their history of being a herding dog and their exercise needs, you must feed high-protein food to the dog, which dry dog food does very well.

7. Trainability


Aussies are exceptionally trainable. They are smart and apparently, they love to please their master. Hence, this breed learns new skills pretty quickly!

In fact, Australian Shepherds primarily gained their fame due to the fabulous performances in Rodeos and Agility Sport.

No matter whether you want this dog breed to participate in a sport, frisbee games, or just want it to fetch your newspaper every morning, Aussies can do it all with an amazing ease.

8. Common Health Problems

Besides having beautiful eye colors, Aussies are prone to eye diseases like Juvenile Cataract which is a condition of clouding in the eyeballs.

Earlier, there have been attempts of breeding a pure colored Australian Shepherd. However, the outcome of these attempts showed that there are 25% chances of the puppy to born blind if two merl colored Aussies are bred together.

Moreover, this breed has a fluffy, dense coat, which can be a breeding place for parasites if not cleaned often.

9. Who should Adopt an Australian Shepherd?

Australian Shepherds are quite intelligent and tend to make their own independent decisions. They are considered as one of the best working dog breeds in the world. They serve well as guide and rescue dogs too.

All in all, Aussies can prove to be a great companion singles and families as well.

However, it is prerequisite that you be strong-willed to train and keep this dog busy as it is not a couch potato by any means.