Weight: 40–65 pounds
Height: 18–23 inches
The Australian Shepherd is descended from a line of Europe’s finest herders.The Aussie’s world
tour began in Europe, near the Pyrenees Mountains. It was here, in the borderlands between
France and Spain, where the indigenous people known as the Basques built their centuries-old
reputation as world-class shepherds. Their herding dog of choice was called the Pyrenean
Shepherd, progenitor of our modern Aussie. In the early 1800s, Australia’s Anglo émigrés began a
push into the continent’s vast interior in search of rich pastureland for cattle ranching. Eventually,
many Basques, with their faithful shepherd dogs in tow, sailed east to try their luck on the virgin
Australian continent, a wide-open paradise for sheep herders. During their long sojourn in
Australia, the Basque shepherd refined their dogs with judicious crosses to Australia’s British
imports, Collies and Border Collies, among them. After building up their flocks, the intrepid
Basques left Australia for greener pastures—literally—and set sail to California. California ranchers
admired the Basques’ herding dogs and assumed they were an Australian breed—thus the
misleading name Australian Shepherd. Aussies, further refined and perfected in America, have
been an iconic part of cowboy culture ever since. Many are still happily herding in the American
West, others earn their feed as rodeo performers, and still others of this exuberantly versatile
breed work as therapy dogs, drug detectors, service dogs, and search-and-rescue dogs. The
Australian Shepherd entered the AKC Herding Group in 1993.
A LOOK BACK
There are many theories about the origin of the Australian Shepherd. Despite its misleading name,
the breed as we know it today probably developed in the Pyrenees Mountains somewhere
between Spain and France. It was called the Australian Shepherd because of its association with
Basque shepherds who came to America from Australia in the 1800s. The Australian Shepherd was
initially called by many names, including Spanish Shepherd, Pastor Dog, Bob-Tail, Blue Heeler, New
Mexican Shepherd, and California Shepherd.
RIGHT BREED FOR YOU?
An energetic breed with strong herding and guarding instincts, the Aussie requires daily vigorous
exercise. Although sometimes reserved with strangers, they are .people. dogs that want to always
be near their families. Their thick coats require weekly brushing.