Facts About Australian Shepherds

Updated on February 17, 2016
An adult Australian shepherd.
An adult Australian shepherd.
A Blue Merle Australian shepherd.
A Blue Merle Australian shepherd.

Australian shepherds are becoming a very popular breed of dog in America. People are beginning to notice their intelligence and loyalty. Aussies are working dogs and need about 30 minutes a day of hard exercise. After proper exercise they are perfectly content to hang around the house; however without proper exercise they can be very destructive. If you are willing to provide your dog with proper exercise every day and are looking for a smart, loyal dog,then an Australian shepherd may be a good fit for you and your family.

Aussies are medium-sized dogs weighing anywhere from 40 to 70 pounds, with males weighing more than females on average. They live for 12 to 15 years on average. Because of their long coat they do need some grooming. A simple brush a day should do, although some people prefer to shave their Aussie's long coat during the summer for shedding issues and to keep their dog cool. If you keep in Aussie indoors it is important to realize that vacuuming and sweeping will become part of your daily routine due to shedding!

Facts about Australian Shepherds

  • Aussies come in four standard colors: blue merle, red merle, red, and black.
  • Australian shepherds did not originate in Australia. They were originally bred in America and they got their name from their working relationships with herders who came from Australia.
  • Most are medium-sized, however there are miniature and teacup varieties.
  • Australian shepherds need a job to do, even if it is getting the paper everyday. Aussies are bred to herd, and if you don't give yours a job to do they will find one on their own. Inadequate mental stimulation and exercise causes destructive behavior and misbehaving.

Quick Breed Overview

Lifespan: 13 to 15 years

Weight: 35 to 70 pounds, males weigh more than females

Height: 18 to 21 inches tall

Coat colors: Black, Red Merle, Red tricolor, Merle, Red, Black tricolor, Blue Merle

  • Australian shepherds love to be close to their family members. They will follow you everywhere, room to room, outside, and even to the bathroom. Having one can be like having a shadow, especially if you are your Aussie's "favorite person."
  • Aussies are very agile. They excel in pet sports such as Frisbee, agility, and fly ball.
  • They have a medium coat and may have either straight or wavy hair.
  • Aussies can have either brown or blue eyes; it is not uncommon to see one with two different eye colors.
  • The AKC officially added Australian shepherds to their list of recognized breeds in 1991.

  • Australian shepherds are very shy, apprehensive dogs. Because of this it is important to socialize your Aussie as a puppy and to expose them to as many people and situations as possible.
  • The gene responsible for the signature merle coloration of some Australian shepherds' coats also carries a blind/deaf component. Because of this it is paramount to obtain a puppy from a reputable breeder.
  • Australian shepherds are extremely intelligent dogs and need to be trained from puppy-hood to curtail any mischievous behaviors before they begin to form.

  • Litters usually range from six to nine puppies. The average number of puppies in a litter is seven.
  • Australian Shepherd's are the 18th most popular dog breed according to the AKC. This ranking makes them more popular than dogs such as Pomeranians and Chihuahuas.
  • Like other herding breeds the Australian Shepherd has strong instincts to bark although this can be overcome with proper training.
  • Australian Shepherds coat can be either straight or wavy.
  • While Aussies do well with other pets they may chase and nip them due to their herding instincts.
  • With Australian Shepherds being such a popular dog breed reputable breeders are easy to locate in most areas. Due to the Australian Shepherds popularity if you purchase a dog from a breeder you will pay anywhere from $300 to $600 for a puppy.

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    • profile image

      matiana 

      3 weeks ago

      thank you for all the facts about the AUSIE, I am probably going to get one now and know what to expect!

    • profile image

      Garland 

      7 weeks ago

      We bought two aussies from a farm. They were pottie trained in three weeks. They slept with us and one got off the bed on her own after a month. The second after two months. Yes they love to be by your side. Easy to train. They are sooooo smart. They love people and other dogs. We will have to work on the barking. So glad we got two. They have so much fun and run fast and roll over like balls and keep going. LOVE THEM SO MUCH!!!

    • profile image

      Colin 

      8 weeks ago

      I love my Aussie he’s one year old technically his first summer and was curious if anyone had found their dog to eat less during the summer times

    • profile image

      Bob 

      8 weeks ago

      They are greats dogs

      They sleep for 4to 6hours a day

      There lifespan is 13to 15 years

    • profile image

      Trina 

      5 months ago

      My husband and I just lost our beloved 10 year old Aussie to cancer a little over a month ago. Up until the day we had to put him down, no matter how horrible he felt, he did his job and protected his momma. I had to leave him at the vet for exploratory surgery, to see if they could save him. s

      So I left work and visited with him before his surgery. It was a pretty day that day, so we sat outside the vets office on the grass. Everytime someone would walk out of the vets office, he would bark, just to let them know he was there to protect me. He was the most amazing creature I have ever met and our lives are very empty without him. Treasure yours, ours was taken in the blink of an eye.

    • profile image

      Holly 

      5 months ago

      I have a almost 7 year old blue Merle boy. He’s technically a mini but he’s large for a mini, he’s about 30lbs. I love my Levi and he definitely loves me! I really lucked out though and he’s fairly laid back and grew out of his distructive behaviors after around age 2. I couldn’t have asked for a better Aussie and really consider getting another but at the same time the separation anxiety is rough (both on Levi and myself).

    • profile image

      Steve 

      6 months ago

      I have an 8 year old Aussie who I adopted at age 5 through a friend. She is the love of my life. LONG LIVE SISSIES !

    • profile image

      sam 

      7 months ago

      i have a 4 month old aussie, she is very soft, smart, brave, and loyal. Sophie is already potty trained and is great with kids of all ages.

    • profile image

      RenaBarr 

      8 months ago

      My husband introduced me to Aussies and I will have one as a pet for as long as I have pets. We currently have two in the house - they are definitely more like people than pets. Having two helps with the activity and hearding - they exercise and heard each other! They are great watchdogs and keep track of all of the cat activity in our home, too.

    • profile image

      Mellanie Prindle Teal 

      8 months ago

      hi i have a red Merle and i'm 12 years old i need some interesting facts for a prezi i'm doing in class

    • profile image

      Artemiss 

      8 months ago

      $300 to $600? Maybe 20 years ago. Most reputable breeders these days are $1000 - $2000. And can be higher with full registration.

    • profile image

      Sharon 

      11 months ago

      I have a 12 year old , and she is at my side all the time. Just a short story about the intelligence of this breed. My husbands sugar had dropped to a point that while sleeping he went into a coma. She came and jumped into my lap whining, which I had never heard her do, then ran back to the bed room ! The doctors at the hospital said if he would been left 30 min, longer he would have died.

    • profile image

      Davis 

      12 months ago

      I have a 9 yr old that is with me 24/7. Everything in this article is spot on! She is just as happy on a 60 acre farm as she is traveling on vacation. They adapt well, as along as they are with their "person/people" they are happy. Although I was raised in a German Sheppard home, I will always have room for an Aussie.

    • profile image

      Will W. 

      14 months ago

      Our 4 yr.old Aussie, Jaxson, is a healthy 82 lbs.. Our daily walk includes a large open field. He intentionally lets me get way ahead so he can run to catch up. Watching an Aussie in full stride is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. What strength and grace.

    • profile image

      taylor 

      18 months ago

      they are so cute great website

    • profile image

      skieter 

      20 months ago

      Charlie Ann....I'm so glad I took the time to read these posts....esp. yours, because not long ago, I lost my beloved female, blue merle Aussie to cancer at 11 and half years of age and was rather devastated. She was so healthy up till she was diagnosed. She was as devoted as all of these owners have described and esp close to me after her 'master' passed. Knew my every emotion and stayed by my side at all times. With her being so intelligent on top of her loyalty, she almost seemed as a human companion! I will never ever have a dog like her again....a very personal experience, for me! Thanks again for sharing, this has really helped me!

    • profile image

      Jamie Nowlin 

      22 months ago

      My Aussie doesn't have a blank stare! He's very loving, I do get him a summer haircut and his coat grows beautifully in the winter. He's very protective and loves to heard my toddler grandchildren. He gets along well with my lab and mini dachshund

    • profile image

      Mary 

      2 years ago

      I have 4 Aussies and I love this breed. All of them do different show events. They are above normal intelligence and learn quickly! As for being shadows, yes, all 4 are shadows! But, I love this about them. They love training, jobs, playtime and just hanging out with family and friends. Most of all enjoy their energy and have fun! Yes, definitely go to a good breeder. Nothing is harder than having a pet with genetic health issues that could have been avoided.

    • profile image

      Jen 

      2 years ago

      I have to disagree with the pricing unless you are getting your Aussie from a puppy mill. I paid $1250 for my Blue Merle almost 3 years ago, they are now going for $1600! I just bought a Black Tri puppy for $1200. I saw many more online for that amount or more. Agree with Kate that mini's and toys are not considered Australian Shepherds, they are American Shepherds. And 30 minutes is not long enough to exercise your Aussie, especially a puppy (1-3 years old especially!). We could walk our 1 year old Aussie for an hour, come home and play for a bit and he was still raring to go and we were tired. LOL Now he's almost 3 years old and has settled down some so we don't have to exercise him quite as much. We are training him in agility, rally, obedience and conformation through 4-H now and just got a new puppy so he's very busy.

    • profile image

      Barbara 

      2 years ago

      Have had Aussie s for about 30years. Have also had many other breeds and mixes. These are the most interested and loyal of them all. Have had 4 over these years. They have been the smartest, most active, most challenging and diverse in temperament we have ever had. Wouldn't change or trade any of them..but always tell people who ask about them or want one that you really really need to be involved with them.they may not be an easy pet. Also they need to know if the Aussie was a "pet/show" bred or a "farm/working" bred. There is a definite difference in their "thinking powers" . My herder (her mom was a herder on a sheep farm) was the stubbornness,thinking girl I have ever met ! But we have grown together and I wouldn't have her any other way . Please just know what your getting into before getting this breed, they really are special.

    • profile image

      Kate 

      2 years ago

      Mini Aussie and teacups are not recognized by The Australian Shepherd Club of America or the AKC.

      Most Aussie need more than 30 mins of exercise a day!!! They are bred to work, and not just for half an hour, they have incredible endurance.

      They have strong guard dog qualities, which may be mistaken for shyness. It is a separate trait. They are bred to question new situations and people, in order to protect their families.

    • profile image

      Tiffany 

      2 years ago

      We have an eight month old blue Merle mini Aussie named Lilly. We have 2 boys age 6 & 9 months. She protective of both but she's almost inseparable from our 9 month old. Almost to a fault. And she most definitely herds them! She keeps us on our toes and some days I want to wring her neck but I couldn't live without her! She has more personality than most people I know

    • profile image

      Linda 

      2 years ago

      I love australian shepherds, so intelligent and loyal. But I would never get one because of their weird blank stare. I've had other breeds that have such feeling and depth in their eyes, just don't get that from an Aussie... they have a cold look.

    • profile image

      Harrison 

      2 years ago

      I have a six year old Aussie named Patch. We lived far from the city so he never got to socialize but now that we live in the city he can be very protective unless properly introduced, but overall he is an amazing dog!

    • profile image

      Charlie ann 

      2 years ago

      We had three Aussies and lost 2 at the age of 111/2 to cancer. we have Deuce our blue merle. we are expecting a puppy on Saturday a red merle called Porter. it should be interesting. we have gone through 11 years of adult Aussies and are looking forward to this new little puppy.

    • profile image

      Susan 

      2 years ago

      Love, love, love my Aussie! I got him very early, 3 weeks due to his mother not making enough milk. Definitely my baby and extremely intelligent.....sometimes to smart! :)

    • profile image

      Candice 

      2 years ago

      We have an Aussie mix Germen Shepherd. He is such a great mix. Looks like a Germen Shepherd but has longer hair and little white on his chest. I feel like he has the best qualities of both breeds. Very smart.

    • profile image

      Gerri Lyon 

      2 years ago

      We have a 9 yr old, Red Merle. Quincy is very loyal, attentive & loves our grandkids. He follows me everywhere to keep an eye out while I'm doing garden work or just relaxing. When we come home he will make a circle around the house & yard barking to make sure it is safe for us. He is an amazing , smart dog. He loves to lead me on walks & does require exercise everyday. Quincy is my motivator! He has free run of our farm since he is territorial & loyal . I seriously can't think of any reason not to enjoy his wonderful company!

    • profile image

      Kathy3882 

      2 years ago

      My Aussie, Bailey is my untrained service dog. When I'm having medical issues, he's constantly with me, won't take his eyes off of me and if I must go into an area that's gated off, he waits for me to return. I love my black tri color so very much.

    • profile image

      S. Fowler 

      2 years ago

      love love love my AUSSIE !! He's the best. He loves everybody and yes...follows me everywhere I go. When I went thru a very difficult time in my life....he was always there by my side. No matter how dark my days...his love and devotion got me thru

    • profile image

      Susan 

      2 years ago

      Never shave your Aussie! They will get overheated as their under coat acts as insulation. They are in danger of getting sun burned and the undercoat never grows back the same once shaved. I have owned Aussies for over 25 years.

    • lenamariee profile imageAUTHOR

      lenamariee 

      2 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @Aussieowner, it doesn't mean every Aussie is shy or apprehensive it is just a general trait of the breed. I had an Aussie that did fit the general shy Aussie temper with strangers however once she got to know someone it was as if she had known them their whole life!

      Another example is Labs are known for being sweet, easy to train, well mannered dogs however there are plenty of labs that are ill mannered and in some cases aggressive. Its is an overview of the breed not specific to every dog. Max is right, you obviously have taken the time to socialize your dogs and remove any shy traits they may have.

      Have a great day!

    • profile image

      Colleen 

      2 years ago

      I love my 1 year old Black Tri Aussie.

    • profile image

      Max 

      2 years ago

      Doesn't mean their facts are wrong just means you took your time to socialize your dog like they suggested to do...

    • profile image

      Aussie Owner 

      2 years ago

      We have three Aussies that are neither shy or apprehensive. A dog is what you make if it. Your facts are wrong here.

    • profile image

      Scott 

      3 years ago

      So true! Our Aussie is 9 years old, still active as a puppy...we play fetch with a chuck it EVERY day...she could go on forever!!! Always follows me EVERYWHERE! (Yes, even to the bathroom) but most of all...she is the best, must loyal , sweetest dog EVER.

    • profile image

      Darnesha 

      3 years ago

      Frankly I think that's abullsteoy good stuff.

    • brenda12lynette profile image

      brenda12lynette 

      6 years ago from Utah

      I have a border collie who is also a working dog. Thanks for all the great info on Australian Shepherds!

    working

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