Australian Shepherd, often nicknamed “Aussies,” make great family pets. They are intelligent, active, loyal dogs who love playing and working. Read on to learn all about this incredible breed!

Where Aussies Come From

Australian Shеphеrd wеrе originally brеd in thе wеstеrn Unitеd Statеs to herd livestock on ranches. Despite their name, they didn’t come from Australia!

Fun Fact: No one knows how they got their misleading name. One theory is that some of the breed’s ancestors came from Australia.

The Amazing Australian Shepherd: A Fun and Friendly Pet

Australian Shepherds, often nicknamed “Aussies,” make great family pets. They are intelligent, active, loyal dogs who love playing and working. Read on to learn all about this incredible breed!

Origin of the Australian Shepherd

Where They’re Really FromWhere Their Name Comes From
Western United StatesPossibly some Australian heritage

The Australian Shepherd you see today developed when ranchers in the American West bred intelligent, energetic, and devoted dogs. Those qualities made them the ultimate herding dogs!

Today, Australian Shepherds are popular pets and competition dogs rather than working ranch dogs. But they still have that intelligent, active nature.

All About Aussie Appearance

Australian Shepherds are medium-sized dogs standing 18-23 inches tall. They weigh around 40-65 pounds when fully grown.

These colorful dogs come in black, red, blue, or liver brown, with spots of white and copper. Blue merle and red merle coats showcase a signature mottled pattern.

Australian Shepherd Looks

HeightWeightCoat Colors
18-23 inches40-65 lbsBlack, red, blue/liver, merle patterns

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Aussies have perky upright ears, sweet almond-shaped eyes, and a fluffy, medium-length double coat. Their tails are usually naturally bobbed or docked short.

They have an attractive, athletic look. No wonder they do well in dog sports and competitions!

Fun Fact: Aussie owners can leave their dog’s tail long and feathered. But a short nub is part of the iconic breed look.

Big Brains and Lots of Energy

Australian Shepherds are wicked, intelligent cookies. They have great instincts from being bred to make decisions while herding livestock independently.

Australian Shepherd Personality Traits

Very IntelligentIndependent ThinkersEnergetic
Eager to learn tricksWill work on their ownNeeds lots of activity

Aussies pick up on tricks and routines quickly. However, that smart Aussie brain means they get bored quickly. With enough physical and mental exercise, these dogs will invent their activities…and only sometimes good ones!

Chewing, excessive barking, restlessness, and other “naughty” behaviors happen when an Aussie is under-stimulated.

Health Watch: With their energy and athleticism, Australian Shepherds need plenty of free running/playtime in a safely fenced area. Keep them lean and fit!

A Loyal, Loving Family Dog

Despite their working dog origins, Australian Shepherds thrive as loving companions. They form strong bonds with their owners.

Fun Fact: Aussies are “Velcro Dogs” – they want to stick by your side constantly!

Aussies can be cautious around strangers but are affectionate with their families. They get along great with polite kids and other pets, too.

Australian Shepherd Temperament

Eager to please “their” peopleCautious with strangersDon’t respond well to harsh trainingDoes well in many homes

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Proper socialization helps bring out an Australian Shepherd’s best attitude. With good care and training, Aussies make wonderfully loyal best friends.

Aussie Alert! Australian Shepherd puppies should meet many friendly people during their first 16 weeks. This prevents shyness and helps them behave well as grown-ups.

Activity Needs for Pet Australian Shepherds

As herding dogs, Australian Shepherds are athletes at heart and NEED physical activity. Plan on providing at least an hour of exercise daily!

Favorite Aussie activities include:

  • Chuck-It or fetch
  • Tug of war
  • Running beside a bike
  • Agility obstacles
  • Interactive pet toys

Mental stimulation is equally crucial for this brainy breed. Food puzzle toys, obedience or trick training, and other challenges help them thrive.

If space/finances allow, consider dog sports like flyball, frisbee, rally obedience, or herding. This lets your Australian Shepherd use their natural skills!

Aussie Watch: Without enough activity, Australian Shepherds often develop destructive chewing, barking, hyperactivity, anxiety, or other nuisance behaviors. A tired Aussie is a “good” Aussie!

Keeping an Australian Shepherd Happy

Amount of ExerciseType of ExerciseGames and ToysDog Sports
~1 hour dailyOff-leash running/playFood puzzles, interactive toysFlyball, agility, rally obedience

Health Watch: Adolescent Aussie joints are still growing, so limit high-impact exercise until your dog matures around age 2.

Training a Smart Aussie

Australian Shepherds are wicked eager to please … WHEN they understand what you want!

Early training is a must for these brilliant dogs. Use reward-based methods to communicate desired behaviors.

Aussies excel at many dog “jobs” when trained patiently and positively:

  • Basic manners
  • Fun tricks
  • Therapy work
  • Service dog tasks
  • Agility
  • Herding
  • Obedience competition

Aussie Alert! Harsh corrections can damage the sensitive bond between an Australian Shepherd and their owner. Always train using kindness and consistency.

The Ideal Aussie Home

This energetic, people-focused breed thrives as part of an active family. Australian Shepherds love bonding closely with their owners.

The perfect home provides:

  • Patient training
  • Gently supervised interaction with kids/other pets
  • Safe fenced areas for daily off-leash exercise
  • Lots of toys and activities

First-time dog owners may find the Aussie’s energy and smarts challenging without professional training guidance.

Families committed to meeting the needs of this athletic, loyal breed will discover a wonderful doggie best friend!

Australian Shepherd Health

Australian Shepherds are generally healthy dogs with an average lifespan of 12-15 years. But like all pure breeds, they can inherit certain health conditions.

Responsible Aussie breeders screen their dogs for:

Eye Problems: Cataracts, Collie Eye Anomaly, and vision issues.

Joint Conditions: Hip dysplasia.

Reputable breeders also test Aussies for dangerous herding dog genetic mutations like MDR1.

Pet owners should stay alert for any signs of health issues and keep their Aussie at a healthy weight. Proper nutrition and vet care help avoid some illnesses.

Australian Shepherd Health Issues

Average LifespanHealth TestsMedical ConcernsStaying Healthy
12-15 yearsGenetic screening by breedersJoints, eyes, herding dog mutationsProper nutrition/weight, vet checks

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Bringing Home a New Aussie Puppy

Adding an Australian Shepherd puppy to your family is very exciting! Follow these tips for a great start together:

  • Puppy-proof your home by locking up medications, chemicals, small objects, etc. Start teaching kids safe behavior.
  • Enroll in a positive-methods puppy kindergarten class right away.
  • Introduce your Aussie pup to brushing, nail trims, and frequently handling their mouth, ears, and paws. This prevents sensitivities.
  • Set up a contained outdoor potty spot. Take your puppy there often using a keyword like “Go potty!” Praise and treat when they go to the right place.
  • Make sure children know how to play gently without overwhelming an Aussie puppy. Teach them to leave the pup alone if they seem nippy or need a nap.
  • Buy interactive toys so your smart pup can safely entertain themselves sometimes, too!

With plenty of patience, love, and training, an Aussie puppy will quickly become an excellent member of your household!

Preparing for an Australian Shepherd Puppy

Puppy ProofingPositive TrainingHandlingHousetrainingKid PrepEnrichment Toys
Lock up dangersEnroll in “puppy preschool”Brushing, nail careEstablish outdoor routineGentle interaction rulesFood puzzles, chews


Whether a bouncy Aussie puppy or a mature grown-up dog, this remarkable breed makes a fun-loving, active companion for families who enjoy an energetic pet.

Australian Shepherds do best with plenty of exercise, training, and quality time with their adored humans. Their intelligence and eagerness to bond sincerely also mean they rely heavily on their owners for leadership and clear communication.

While their activity needs and tendency towards mischief keep them from being ideal for very young children or frail/elderly owners, an Aussie who gets their physical and mental needs met makes a delightful best friend.

If your family enjoys outdoor adventures, has time for daily vigorous exercise, wants to experience canine cleverness through training, and won’t get frustrated by an innovative, persistent dog’s antics, the Australian Shepherd could be the perfect breed for you!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are Australian Shepherds called that if they didn’t come from Australia?

No one knows, but one theory traces back to some ancestral herding breeds used to create Aussies in the American West. Some of those foundation dogs may have been Australia’s landrace herding breeds. Their descendants inherited the “Australian” name, even if the current breed was solidly molded in the western/southwestern U.S.

Do Australian Shepherds shed?

Yes, Australian Shepherds have a double coat that sheds year-round. When they “blow” their undercoats in spring and fall, loose hair can cover your clothing and furniture. Plan to brush an Aussie one or more times per week, along with regular vacuuming.

Are Aussies easy to train?

YES! Australian Shepherds love to learn and excel at obedience, tricks, dog sports, or job skills like therapy work. Their intelligence means they need patient, positive training that TEACHES instead of punishing. Treats, toys, and praise keep an Aussie excited to figure out what earns rewards.

Can Australian Shepherds live in apartments?

Home living is only recommended for Australian Shepherds if owners can access large fields/parks for sufficient daily exercise. These active dogs need intense daily activity plus room to run safely off-leash. If exercise needs aren’t met, Aussies often develop problem behaviors from frustration and stress.

Should I get an Australian Shepherd?

If you love an energetic, intelligent dog and will provide adequate exercise, training, supervised interaction with children/other pets, and plenty of toys for their needs, an Australian Shepherd makes an excellent companion! But if you don’t need more time and space for this active breed, another calmer dog breed is likely a better match. Meet the needs of this exceptional breed, and you’ll be rewarded with a great friend!

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