The Australian Shepherd is highly intelligent, with sharp problem-solving skills. The Aussie once ruled the West as America’s ranch dog but now has many jobs, including therapy dog, drug detector, and — most importantly — loving pet.

Western Wonder Dog

While his name may lead you to believe otherwise, the modern Australian Shepherd was actually developed in the Western United States. The breed’s ancestors, Basque shepherds, migrated from Europe to Australia before making their way to the U.S. in the 1800s.

From there, the shepherds interbred with local working dogs, creating the breed we know today. The Aussie became known as the quintessential ranch dog after World War II when he starred in Western television programs and rodeos.

Kaleidoscopic Coat

Built to be lithe and agile, the Aussie is a robust, medium-sized dog with keen, electric blue eyes. His coat is black or red and can be one of several patterns, the most notable of which is merle.

Having a kaleidoscope effect of swirling colors, merle dilutes the dog’s coat color into lighter shades. When lightened, black is often called blue, giving the name to the coloring most associated with the breed, blue merle.

On the Job

Bred to work long days of outwitting the livestock they guarded, the Australian Shepherd possesses keen intelligence, boundless energy, and a wariness of strangers. An Aussie needs vigorous daily exercise, a job to keep him busy, and proper socialization.

With proper training and adequate exercise, the Australian Shepherd can be a loyal and rewarding companion.

 

Photo Credit: Dina Becnel