All Dog Breeds A To Z
The Australian Shepherd, often known simply as the “Aussie“, is a medium-sized breed of dog that was, despite its name, developed on ranches in the United States during the 19th century. There is disagreement regarding the exact history of the breed prior to its arrival in the United States, and thus no official consensus on the origin of its name or association with Australia.
They are similar in appearance to the popular English Shepherd and Border Collie breeds, and research has found that Australian Shepherds and Border Collies are closely related to each other; both the Border Collie and Australian Shepherd are slightly more distantly related to other kinds of Collies from the Basque regions of Europe. However, the Border Collie was not used to create the Australian Shepherd. The Australian Shepherd most likely is the descendant of Carea Leonés, Pyrenean Shepherd and Old German Herding dogs that were brought over by shepherds.
Australian Shepherds rose in popularity with a boom in Western riding after World War II. They became known to the general public through rodeos, horse shows, and Disney movies made for television.
For many years, Aussies have been valued by stockmen for their versatility and trainability. While they continue to work as stock dogs and compete in herding trials, they have earned recognition in other roles due to their trainability and eagerness to please and are highly regarded for their skills in obedience.
Like all working breeds, Aussies have considerable energy and drive and usually need a job to keep them occupied. They often excel at dog sports such as dog agility and frisbee and are also highly successful as search and rescue dogs, disaster dogs, detection dogs, guide dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs. They are considered the 17th-most popular dog breed in the United States.
The breed is typically highly energetic, requiring a great deal of exercise and attention. An Australian Shepherd enjoys working, whether it is learning and practicing tricks, competing in dog agility, or engaging in any other physically and mentally involving activity.
Dogs may show reserved and cautious guarding behaviors. They are kind, loving, and devoted to those they know. They are very loyal to their owners, and are rewarding dogs if treated well. Because the breed was developed to serve on the ranch, a job which includes being protective of its property, it is inclined to bark warnings about neighborhood activity. It is not inclined toward obsessive barking.
The Aussie is intelligent, learns quickly, and loves to play. This means that a bored, neglected, unexercised Aussie may invent its own games, activities, and jobs, which to a busy owner might appear to be hyperactivity: for example, an Aussie may go from being at rest to running at top speed for several “laps” around the house before returning to rest. Without something to amuse them, Aussies can become destructive. Aussies also do best with plenty of human companionship: they are often called “Velcro dogs” for their strong desire to always be near their owners and for their tendency to form intense, devoted bonds with select people.
With children, they work best with children over the age of eight: this is absolutely not because they do not like children or have a short temper with kids (most are quite friendly to children) but more because there are rambunctious specimens of this breed that, though they do not intend to hurt the child, get carried away and may knock the youngster over. Other untrained Aussies may nip at the feet and heels of small children, like they would with sheep, but this is out of boredom or lack of boundaries set by their owners.
The Australian Shepherd has a reputation as a highly intelligent and versatile stock dog with a range of working styles. A good working Aussie is quick, thoughtful, and easy with its stock: there are working lines in the American West that still herd sheep, smaller cattle, and goats. They are fast runners with a loose eye style of working livestock. The ability for the breed to adapt to the situation and to think for itself makes it an excellent all-around worker. For this reason, the Aussie is often chosen to work unusual livestock such as ducks, geese, and commercially raised rabbits.
These dogs require a minimum of two to three hours a day of play, exercise, and attention. They thrive in rural, ranch-like conditions, and need space to run and play in an urban setting. The Australian Shepherd is a high-spirited dog, that requires much attention and work. Teaching them tricks keeps them focused and happy, which also keeps their minds working. The breed also has great stamina and can live in a variety of terrain. Because of this, they are popularly used as trail and working dogs.
Australian Shepherds need roughly 30–60 minutes of exercise each day. They do not adapt well to apartment living
The Australian Shepherd’s history is vague, as is the reason for its misleading name. The breed was initially called by many names, including Spanish Shepherd, Pastor Dog, Bob-Tail, New Mexican Shepherd, California Shepherd, and Austrian Shepherd. It is believed by some that the breed has Basque origins in Spain and was used there by shepherds. Those shepherds might then have emigrated to the West Coast of the United States via Australia. What is known is that it developed in western North America in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Australian Shepherd was a particularly tireless sheep herder in the Rocky Mountains because it is relatively unaffected by altitude. Ranchers in Boulder, Colorado, began breeding the dogs which would attract purchasers from as far west as California for their legendary sheep-herding abilities. A theory suggests that they were named for the imported sheep that they herded. It is also possible that many of the dogs coming from Australia were blue merle and the adjective “Australian” became associated with any dogs of that coat color.
Development of the breed began in the American West. The breed’s foundation bloodlines are depicted in the Australian Shepherd Genealogy Chart showing the relationship between the early families of dogs. The American Kennel Club (AKC) ranked the Australian Shepherd as the 17th-most popular breed in the United States in 2016.
Selective breeding for many generations focused on aspects of the dog that enabled it to function as an effective stockdog in the American West. It had to handle severe weather; have plenty of speed, athleticism, energy, and endurance; and be intelligent, flexible, and independent; while remaining obedient. The actual foundation for the Australian Shepherd was established between the 1940s and the early 1970s, when the Australian Shepherd Club of America was formed and the registry was started.
Their stunts and skills earned them places in several Disney films, including Run Appaloosa Run and Stub: The Greatest Cowdog in the West. An Australian shepherd was featured in the film Flight of the Navigator (1986) and the TV series Flash Forward (1996). More recently, an Australian Shepherd starred in the film Famous Five (2012) and its sequels.
In June 2017, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his family adopted a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd named Harley.
Products & Gifts For Australian Shepherd Dog Lovers
Do you or someone you know love Australian Shepherds? All Pets Allowed has a ton of gift ideas hand picked specifically for Border Collie dog lovers