Australian Shepherd


Despite its name, the Australian Shepherd probably originated in the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France; the name comes from association with shepherds who came from Australia to the western U.S. in the 1800s. Ranchers continued to develop the breed to its current high level of versatility, intelligence, and trainability. Appearances in movies, television shows, and rodeos helped boost popularity. The breed excels as guide, hearing, therapy, and search-and-rescue dogs.


Medium; females 18 to 21 inches, 40 to 55 pounds; males 20 to 23 inches, 50 to 65 pounds.


Blue merle, red (liver) merle, and black or red, all with or without copper and/or tan markings.


Bold, alert, confident, independent, and smart; difficult if lacking a challenge.

May try to herd children and small animals by nips.

Energy level:

Medium to high.

Best owner:

Active owner in a rural or suburban home.


Daily workouts with mental and physical challenges (agility, flyball, obedience, tracking, freestyle), fenced yard, weekly brushing, companionship.

Life expectancy:

12 to 14 years.