About the Breed
The Australian Shepherd is a well-balanced herding dog with moderate bone. He is attentive and dynamic, showing strength and stamina combined with unusual versatility. Slightly longer than tall, he has a coat of moderate length that come in a variety of different colours. The Four standard colours are Black, Blue Merle, Red, Red Merle. Each of these colours may have white or copper trim allowing for 16 different colour combinations. Please visit The Field Guide to Coloration of Australian Shepherds for an explanation of the fundamentals of the “ewenique” colours of the Australian shepherd.
The Australian Shepherd will have a natural or docked bobtail making the Australian Shepherd easily identifiable.
The Australian Shepherd is intelligent and animated. He is primarily a working dog of strong herding and guardian instincts and is an exceptional companion. He is agile and easily trained, making for a versatile dog that excels not only in the herding venues, but also in agility, disc, flyball, rally-o or any other task you set him to. The Australian Shepherd is not the dog for everyone. They are happiest when given a job to do or kept active. A bored Australian Shepherd will find his own job to do, which can lead to destructive behaviour.
Socialization and obedience is extremely important for the Australian Shepherd. While he is reserved with strangers and an aggressive worker, the Australian Shepherd should not be aggressive towards people. Australian Shepherds have been used as guide dogs and therapy dogs who visit children or the elderly in hospitals.
The Australian Shepherd is 18"-21" for females and 20"-23" for males.
The Australian Shepherds suffer from relatively few genetic disorders, however it is important to note that the Australian Shepherd (as in any breed) is not free of specific health issues.
Eye defects of varying severity are possible disorders in the Australian Shepherd. A Veterinary Ophthalmologist should test a puppy’s eyes at or before 8 weeks of age to rule out any hereditary eye defects. The testing results can be submitted to the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) and can rule out among others, Iris Colobomas, Juvenile Cataracts, Persistent Pupilary Membrane, Collie Eye Anomaly and Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Breeding stock should be tested yearly for any signs of eye disorders.
Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is the dislocation of the hip joint. CHD is usually congenital. The dislocation eventually results in the deterioration of the joint, with painful and possibly crippling results. CHD has been identified in certain lines of the Australian Shepherd. Breeding stock should be x-rayed and results sent to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or PennHIP. OFA radiographs require that the dog be at least 2 years old to receive permanent certification.
Luxating Patella is a disorder characterized by lameness due to the kneecap slipping out of place. Puppies should be checked by a veterinarian at 8 weeks for this hereditary condition.
Some Australian Shepherds are highly sensitive to Ivermectin, available both as a single worming treatment and in a lower dosage as a heartworm preventive under the brand name Heartguard®. Ivermectin affects the central nervous system in individuals to which it is toxic. Symptoms of Ivermectin toxicity include depression, excitability, seizures, loss of muscle control, drooling, coma or even death.
It is best to err on the side of caution and never prescribe Ivermectin to an Australian Shepherd. There are alternative treatements available including herbal remedies. Please consult your Veterinarian regarding Heartworm Prevention.
For more information on the Australian Shepherd, please visit:
Please don’t forget about rescue! There are many great Australian Shepherds waiting for their forever home.