Despite its name, the modern Australian Shepherd was actually developed in the western United States by ranchers and sheepherders. It has been known by many names, including the Spanish Shepherd, Pastor Dog, Bob-Tail, Blue Heeler, New Mexican Shepherd and California Shepherd. Today, it is typically called by its nickname, the “Aussie.” This is an extremely sound-minded dog, so versatile that it can adapt to almost any situation or living condition. Aussies are loyal, friendly, affectionate, protective, active, brave, playful, sturdy and tireless. However, these qualities and traits, while endearing to their fanciers, make Australian Shepherds unsuitable for some households. They need a fenced yard and regular walks, always on leash. Their temptation to herd extends beyond livestock to other dogs, children and cars. If not exercised regularly, they can turn their intense energy to destructive tasks, such as chewing, digging and barking. According to the parent club, Aussies are quite capable of out-thinking their owners. They are naturally wary of strangers, and some Australian Shepherds never learn to accept new people. Naturally protective, they can become aggressive if not raised and socialized properly.
Australian Shepherds were entered into the American Kennel Club stud book in 1991, and they were fully recognized as members of the Herding Group in January of 1993. This breed is not registered in Australia as a native breed.
Aussies are naturally bobtailed, wavy-coated sheepdogs. The mature male should be 20 to 23 inches at the withers, with females being 18 to 21 inches at the withers. They typically weigh between 35 and 65 pounds. Their double coat can be straight to wavy and is medium in length. Aussies can be blue merle, black, red merle or red – all with or without white markings and/or tan/copper points. Their coat patterns are unique and can be quite variable.