Learn About the Smart and Hard-Working Australian Shepherd (2024)

The Australian shepherd, or Aussie, is a medium-sized herding dog with medium-length fur and an agile, athletic build. The breed's ancestors came to the U.S. from Europe by way of Australia, hence the name. Aussies are an extremely intelligent, loyal, and hard-working breed that makes excellent companions for active people and families.They are adept at herding, dog sports, and search-and-rescue—they can even be therapy or service dogs.

Learn more about the Aussie to decide if they are the right breed to welcome into your home.

Breed Overview


Height: 18 to 21 inches (female), 20 to 23 inches (male)

Weight: 40 to 55 pounds (female), 50 to 65 pounds (male)

Coat: Medium double coat

Coat Color: Blue merle, red merle, black, or red; all colors may have white markings and/or tan (copper) points

Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Temperament: Intelligent, active, energetic

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: United States

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Characteristics of the Australian Shepherd

Australian shepherds tend to have an exuberant temperament. They are high-energy dogs with the intelligence to match, so they need lots of mental stimulation and physical activity. The good news is most Aussies have very trainable personalities and are eager to please.

Affection LevelMedium
Exercise NeedsHigh
Energy LevelHigh
Tendency to BarkMedium
Amount of SheddingMedium

History of theAustralian Shepherd

Despite the breed’s name, the Australian shepherd was developed in the United States. The breed descends from European herding dogs that lived around the Pyrenees Mountains. In the 1800s, some of the indigenous Basque people took their dogs from this region and traveled to Australia, hoping to find more cattle land.

The Basque herding dogs then were crossed with border collies and other dogs in Australia and eventually made their way to California. Ranchers in the U.S. assumed these Basque dogs were native to Australia and dubbed them Australian shepherds. The breed continued to be refined in the U.S. into what we know as the Aussie today and became especially popular in Western U.S. culture as a ranch and rodeo dog.

The American Kennel Club first recognized the Australian shepherd breed in 1991. The AKC later recognized the miniature American shepherd, a smaller version of the Aussie, in 2015.

Learn About the Smart and Hard-Working Australian Shepherd (1)

Australian Shepherd Care

The Aussie can make a wonderful companion for the right family. This dog tends to adapt well to different kinds of active households, as long as they can provide proper exercise and training. Aussies also need regular grooming.


The Aussie has a thick, medium-length double coat that sheds year-round, soroutine grooming is important to remove loose fur and prevent tangles and mats. Brush at least one to two times per week, making sure to brush all areas, including behind the ears where the fur can become matted. Don’t forget to brush the tail, which is naturally short in many Aussies.

Aussies will typically shed their thicker winter coat in the spring. You'll likely have to brush more frequently during this time to keep up with all the loose fur.

The coat is quite weather-resistant and generally only needs an occasional bath.It's also important tokeep the ears clean to prevent infections, brush your dog's teeth regularly, andtrim the nails regularlyfor healthy and comfortable feet.


It is essential for your Aussie to getfrequent exercise,even more than most dogs. This intelligent andhigh-energy dog can become bored, frustrated, destructive, and hyperactive if they don’t get enough mental and physical stimulation.

Aussies should get at least one to two hours per day of fairly strenuous activity, such as:

  • Running
  • Walking
  • Playing fetch or frisbee
  • Training in dog sports, such as agility, flyball, and herding tests
  • Enrichment activities, including puzzle toys or scent work

Be sure to walk an Australian shepherd on aleash, as the breed has a natural instinct to chase (i.e., herd) moving objects, including passersby, bicycles, other animals, and even cars. Aussies also will need a secure solid fence when they are out in the yard rather than an electronic fence, which won't always dissuade their urge to chase and herd.


Aussies have high exercise requirements and need to be mentally stimulated, so they aren’t the right choice if you don’t have the time to give them the attention and active lifestyle they need.


Due to their high intelligence, Aussies are generally receptive totrainingand learn quickly. With proper and consistent training, Aussies tend to be extremely obedient. Start training when the dogs are puppies with socialization to different people and environments as well as basic commands like sit and stay. Proper socialization is important, as Aussies tend to be reserved around new people and can become shy or defensive.

Remember that these dogs were bred to work—and work hard. Most Aussies are happiest with a job, and training in different activities can be that job. Getting your Aussie involved in dog sports, therapy work, herding activities, or other activities is a great way to channel their energy and strengthen your bond.

Learn About the Smart and Hard-Working Australian Shepherd (2)

Learn About the Smart and Hard-Working Australian Shepherd (3)

Common Health Problems

Aussies are a generally healthy dog breed, but they are prone to a few health conditions, including:

Learn About the Smart and Hard-Working Australian Shepherd (5)

Diet and Nutrition

An Australian shepherd typically should be fed two meals per day of a nutritionally balanced dog food. The amount will depend on your dog's size, activity level, age, and other factors. An adult Australian shepherd might eat as many as 5 cups daily, split between two meals.

Discuss your dog's nutritional needs with your veterinarian to get appropriate recommendations, and consistently monitor your dog's weight. Also, make sure fresh water is always available to your Aussie, especially in hot weather and during periods of intense exercise.

Where to Adopt or Buy an Australian Shepherd

Aussie puppies can cost around $1,000 to $2,000 from breeders on average, though this can vary widely. Adult dogs and rescue groups often have lower costs.

Check your local animal shelter and breed-specific rescue groups for Australian shepherds. It's fairly common for people to realize they can't handle the Aussie's high energy level and intelligence, so they give up their dog for adoption.Thus, as you're considering this breed, make sure you're realistic about the time and energy you have to devote to them.

Some groups that can help connect you with an Australian shepherd include:

Australian Shepherd Overview

The Australian shepherd can be a perfect companion, especially if you want an active dog that will be happy to learn commands and tricks. However, they are protective and wary of strangers, so early socialization is important. And because they might try to herd children by nipping, they might not be the right choice for all families.

Pros of Australian Shepherds

  • Affectionate and loyal
  • Trainable and eager to please
  • Excels at "jobs" and athletic endeavors

Cons of Australian Shepherds

  • Boundless energy that must be channeled through training and activities
  • Can become destructive without enough mental and physical stimulation
  • Can be wary of strangers

10 of the Smartest Dog Breeds

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you want to become the proud owner of an Australian shepherd,take the time todo your research first. Talk to your veterinarian, other Aussie owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

  • Miniature American shepherd
  • Border collie
  • Australian cattle dog

There's a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!


  • Are Australian shepherds good family dogs?

    Australian shepherds can be good for active families. They generally are good around kids. But their herding instinct might cause them to nip at children, especially when they're being rambunctious.

  • Do Australian shepherds shed a lot?

    Yes, Aussies shed all year long, so frequent brushing is necessary. Also, their winter coat is shed in the spring, which means extra brushing is required.

  • Are Australian shepherds good apartment dogs?

    Aussies typically aren't good apartment dogs due to their high activity level. They will need lots of daily activity where they can physically exert themselves if you live in a small space.

14 Dog Breeds With Blue Eyes

The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Australian shepherd dog breed information. American Kennel Club.

  2. Australian Shepherd Puppies for Sale. American Kennel Club.

Learn About the Smart and Hard-Working Australian Shepherd (2024)


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