The Australian Shepherd is an intelligent, medium-sized dog of strong herding and guardian instincts. He is also a
delightful and loyal companion and a great family dog. He loves to be part of the daily hustle and bustle, and
enjoys riding in the vehicle just to be with his beloved master. As a farm dog, he diligently carries out his
responsibilities, be they bringing in the stock or finding that stray one that got tangled in the brush. He is easy to
train, easy to housebreak, and eager to please.
Aussies have been used as seeing-eye dogs, as utility dogs to the physically handicapped, hearing aid dogs,
police and narcotics dogs and search and rescue dogs. In the northern areas they have also been used as sled
dogs. Many go with their masters as volunteers to children's homes and nursing homes to do therapy work. Truly,
the Australian Shepherd is a highly versatile dog.
The Aussie (as he is lovingly nicknamed) is a very active dog that needs a great deal of exercise on a daily basis
to prevent him from become bored or frustrated and developing destructive habits. Because of their high energy
level, combined with high intelligence, Aussies need to be given a "job" to perform, be it shepherding the children,
protecting the house, herding livestock or competing in dog events.
One of the most frequent reasons Aussies are turned over to rescue groups is because their owners didn't realize
how much energy the breed has, and weren't willing to channel that energy through training. Aussies are also
quite demanding of their owners' time and attention and want to be constantly with them, following them from room
to room in the house, and going along in the car or truck on errands. They can be highly territorial and protective
of their masters' possessions, which can cause serious difficulties unless controlled with proper training.
The Australian Shepherd comes in four acceptable colors: black, blue merle (a marbling of gray and black), red
(ranging from light cinnamon to liver), and red merle (marbling of red and silver or buff). A variety of white and tan
markings may appear on the face, chest, front and rear legs. The outer coat is of moderate length, with a texture
that is straight to wavy and weather resistant. The undercoat is soft and dense, and the amount varies with
climate. Tails are naturally bobbed or docked. Ears are moderately sized, and break forward and over, or the side
as rose ears. Males weigh approximately 50 to 65 pounds, measuring from 20 to 23 inches, and females weigh
about 40 to 55 pounds, measuring from 18 to 21 inches.
The eyes of the Australian Shepherd are perhaps one of his most commented on features because of the variety
of colors. They may be any color or combination of colors from glassy blue, amber, hazel, to all shades of brown.
While there are many theories as to the origin of the Australian Shepherd, the breed as we know it today
developed exclusively in the United States. The Australian Shepherd was given its name because of their
association with the Basque sheep herders who came to the United States from Australia in the 1800's. The Aussie
rose rapidly in popularity with the boom of western riding after World War II, becoming known to the general public
via rodeos, horse shows, movies and television. Their inherent versatility and trainability made them useful on
American farms and ranches. The American stock men continued the development of the breed, maintaining the
versatility, keen intelligence, strong herding instinct and eye-catching appearance.
Australian Shepherds have been registered by various registries since the early 1950's. One of the earliest
registries for Aussies is the National Stock Dog Registry. In 1990, the United States Australian Shepherd
Association was established as the parent club of the Australian Shepherd representing the breed to the American
Kennel Club. On September 1, 1991, the AKC recognized the Australian Shepherd breed and on January 1, 1993,
accepted them into the Herding Group.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
American Kennel Club VS National Stock Dog Registry, what's the difference?
I get a lot of questions regarding the difference between the two registries. American Kennel Club (AKC) is more well
known and more popular because it is thought of as the best and you can show these Aussies. However for the
Aussies it has actually changed the entire breed as it once was. Whenever the Aussies were first being registered the
National Stock Dog Registry (NSDR) registered many, many dogs and had a vast amount of bloodlines. They came in
a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and coat variety. These Aussies had a purpose: To help farmers work. Therefore
they couldn't have eye problems, hip problems, and had to have a lot of intelligence in order to survive and work. Only
the best work dogs were bred to the best work dogs leaving little error for lack of intelligence and/or health issues.
Whenever the AKC opened their books to the Aussies in the 90's they registered only so many Aussies, not everyone
was notified of the open book. As time went by people began breeding their AKC Aussies for their looks and
conformation, forgetting about intelligence, working ability, and overall health. A lot of the AKC Aussies are linebred so
close that health problems sometimes crop up. The overall intelligence of the AKC Aussie is totally different from a
NSDR Aussie. We own both AKC and NSDR Aussies so we can safely verify that they are as different as night and
day. I love my AKC Aussies as much as the NSDR Aussies but they both have a speciality, so AKC papers will not
ensure you a better dog. If you are looking for something to work on the farm and have a pet then I recommend taking
another look at the NSDR Aussie.
What about the other registries?
In the Aussie world there are dozens of registries, NKC, CKC (continental kennel club), ASDR, IPR, and the list goes
on and on. The first registry to recognize Aussies was the NSDR/IESR. Eventually the IESR broke off and formed the
ASCA (Australian Shepherd Club of America). These two registries are the foundation for the Aussie. Eventually AKC
opened their books to them but like I said earlier a lot of Aussies didn't get in. I, myself, do not recommend purchasing
an Aussie unless they have at 'least' 3 generations of registered ancestry. A lot of registries will register anything that
might be an Aussie as long as you have 2 friends verify it as being an Aussie, so you never know what you are getting
if the parent has unknown pedigree. The three registries that I recognize are NSDR, ASCA, and AKC. With NSDR
make sure you ask for a pedigree as NSDR will also register unknown pedigrees.
What should I look for in a breeder?
There are hundreds of Aussie breeders out there. There are basically three types of breeders:
1. Those that own show Aussies and will only sell to people wanting to show or sell their non-show quality pups to pet
homes for $1000. Their Aussies are usually kept up in a kennel most of the day and very rarely get to enjoy being a
'real' Aussie. Most of their dogs do not have any herding instinct and are just fluffy show dogs. They rarely give newbie's
the time of day unless they plan to buy a pup to show from them, so they can earn more titles for their kennel.
2. Those that show or compete in performance events part-time and raise their pups for everyday people and families
to enjoy. They do activities with their Aussies. Their Aussies are part of their family and most of the time will be house
dogs or are able to get out on a farm and run/play everyday. Their pups are mid-range prices $400-800, most of the
pups will be show quality. Several if not all of their dogs have health clearances or at least several generations of no
health problems in their Aussies.
3. And the third type of breeder are those that are only in it for the money. They do nothing with their dogs, most never
leave their kennel and have no obedience training. They usually have 3 or more breeds of dogs they raise pups from
and will have no health clearances on their dogs. A lot of times these breeders will continuously sell and buy dogs
especially if they do not produce good litters. Prices range from $50-800 depending on how much money they want to
make off the litter, the current fad is on the breed, and how quick they want to sell the pup.
So which one do I recommend? Type #2 is where you will find the most dedicated breeder for the breed. They don't
just breed any male to female to make money. They actually try to produce a dog that was bred for what it is meant to
do not just prance around a ring and look pretty. Breeder #2 will also be friendlier and ready to answer any question
you have even if you do not plan to buy a pup from them or plan to buy a pup from their kennel to show.
What about my pup's personality?
I get a lot of questions from people wanting to know about a puppies personality. Some pups are bold and outgoing,
some pups are more shy and reserved. I try to give all of my pups a good start in life, letting them see all the things that
they might encounter in farm life. After they leave me it is up to their new families to expose them to as many sights and
sounds as possible and get the puppy proper socialization. However some people will be more comfortable with an
outgoing puppy compared to a shy puppy. So what are the different personalities like? Well, the outgoing puppy has no
real fear of anything and will stay in trouble constantly, they will be harder to train and will tend to be more dominant.
They are also quite fun to be around as they will be more playful and they will have a show-off attitude that will capture
your heart. The shy puppy will require more socialization as they will be afraid of new things and people. Sometimes
they will urinate whenever frightened or just whenever someone gives them a lot of attention. This is called submissive
urination. They will tend to cling more closely to their family and you might have problems with separation anxiety so it is
very important that you give this puppy A LOT of socialization.
When should I start socializing
I start socializing my puppy outside the farm at about 3 months old (12 weeks). I make sure that they have had AT
LEAST 2 sets of shots as there are several different diseases that your puppy can catch and it can either kill him or at
the very least have an expensive vet bill. No matter if they have the shots or not they can still catch these diseases, the
shots just enhance the odds that your puppy will survive so it is up to you to do your best at keeping your puppy safe.
Where do you need to take your puppy? I recommend puppy classes, parks, livestock shows or sales (if you are
interested in those type of things). Pretty much anywhere there are a lot of people and activities going on. It
desensitizes your puppy and shows it that there is a lot of stuff out in the world and to wary of everything. Even the most
outgoing friendly puppy in the world needs socializing.
Minis VS Standard Aussies
This is a very touchy subject for some people. I really do not care if you have a mini rather than a standard size Aussie.
Minis are under 18 inches and were bred to be small (not to be confused with TOY Aussies). My Aussies range from
17 inches to 21 inches depending on the bloodline. I prefer the 18-19 inch Aussie as they are lighter and quicker on
their feet but still big enough to take on a ewe that is protecting its lambs but I need to get them up. It is possible for
standard Aussies to produce a smaller sized pup and for it to be classified as a mini. Some people just like a smaller
Aussie. However, our view is that there is no way possible to end up with a toy Aussie from breeding standard
Aussies. A Toy is under 12". We are a firm believer that toy Aussies are not/can not be full blooded Australian
Shepherds. They have some other toy breed mixed in with them to create the small size and will also inherit a lot of the
toy breeds undesirable traits.
Coming Soon: The Basics on Raising Your Aussie pup