These dogs are often compared to the Border Collie dog breed. Solid and muscular, they are slightly longer than they are tall, standing at 51-58cm (males) and 46-53cm (females). They generally weigh 19-29kg depending on their sex and build. The coat comes in black, blue merle, red merle, and red, with or without tan points. See the breed standard for full details.
Surprisingly, the Australian Shepherd dog breed is actually American! Shepherds from the Basque region of the Pyrenees took small 'blue' dogs to work in the U.S. in the late 1800s and early 1900s to work with sheep. The Australian part of the name comes from the sheep that they worked with that were imported from Australia. Another theory suggests that the dogs immigrated first to Australia and then to the U.S. When they first arrived in the south-western United States in the late 1800s, the dogs were initially allowed to interbreed with other shepherd dogs, to enhance working ability. A breed club was established in the U.S. in 1957.
This dog has strong herding instincts and loves to be part of family life, thriving on the companionship of his owners. They can be initially reserved with new people so early socialisation is essential. Ongoing training and a combination of physical and mental stimulation is also important to satisfy his considerable intelligence and energy.
The Australian Shepherd dog is generally a very healthy breed. However as with many breeds, they can suffer from various hereditary eye disorders, and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.
This dog needs at least two hours a day. Many Australian Shepherd dogs perform to a high standard in the dog sports (agility, heelwork to music, obedience and flyball), where they can use their physical and mental energy.
Your dog's diet needs to have the right balance of all the main nutrient groups including a constant supply of fresh water. It's also important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed him at least twice daily and in accordance with the feeding guidelines of his particular food.
The coat is medium in length, with a weather-resistant undercoat. There's some feathering (longer hair) on the back of the legs and a moderate mane, which is thicker on male dogs. A brush through two or three times a week should suffice, with more frequent grooming needed when the coat sheds.