- The Australian shepherd originated in the United States, not Australia, although it comes by way of Australia.
- In the 1800s, the Basque people of Europe settled in Australia, bringing their sheep and sheepdogs with them. Sheepdogs needed to be tougher in Australia than they did in most parts of Europe. Through unknown crosses the Basque developed a hardy, tough sheep herding dog that they then took with them when some resettled in America.
- The western parts of America placed many of the same demands on sheep and dogs as did the rugged lands of Australia, and the Basque sheepdogs excelled in this new land. It was in America that they evolved into the breed we know as the Australian shepherd.
- Australian shepherds were equally adept at working with cattle as with sheep, which made them especially valuable in America.
- Except for ranchers, few people were aware of the breed until the 1950s, when a group of Australian shepherds appeared in a rodeo trick-dog act. The act was featured in a movie, and the secret was out.
- In the late 1950s, Australian shepherds began to be registered with the National Stock Dog Registry and later, the Australian Shepherd Club of America. Working Aussies are still primarily registered with these organizations rather than with the AKC.
- The AKC recognized the Australian shepherd in 1993.
Australian Shepherd Behavior Concerns
- Makes an enthusiastic and protective companion.
- Playful and very good with children
- Somewhat reserved with strangers
- Good with other dogs and pets.
- Does best with reward-based training involving games, food or praise.
- Learns quickly, but can become easily bored. Australian shepherds enjoy learning new things.
- Can become frustrated and destructive without adequate mental stimulation.
- Aussies from working lines tend to be more energetic and need more things to do.
- Aussies are extremely good at the sports of herding, obedience, agility, disk catching, and flyball.
Australian Shepherd Suggested Exercises
- Makes an alert and well-mannered housedog, given adequate exercise.
- This is an extremely active and playful dog that enjoys having a job to do. It needs a long walk, good run or energetic play session every day.
- Does well in dog parks.
- Games and tricks provide needed mental exercise.
- Herding, agility, flyball and disk catching can provide both mental and physical exercise.
- Australian Shepherds enjoy cold weather, but cannot live outside in it.
Australian Shepherd Grooming
- Coat is of medium length and texture, straight to wavy.
- Requires brushing once or twice weekly.
- Shedding is average.
Suggested Australian Shepherd Nutritional Needs
- Australian Shepherds tend to stay in good weight.
- Adult dogs should be fed a balanced diet, with restricted calories if the dog starts to gain too much weight.