Skip links

Facts about The Australian Shepherd For Kids


  • The Australian Shepherd is a medium size breed of dog that was developed on ranches in the western United States.
  • Despite its name, the breed was not developed in Australia, but rather in the United States where they were seen in the West as early as the 1800s.
  • They have a similar look to the popular English Shepherd and Border Collie breeds.
  • While they continue to work as stock dogs and compete in herding trials, the breed has earned recognition in other roles due to their trainability and eagerness to please and are highly regarded for their skills in obedience.
  • Like all working breeds, the Aussie has considerable energy and drive and usually needs a job to do.
  • The ASCA standard calls for the Australian shepherd to stand between 18–23 inches (46–58 cm) at the withers, females being 18–21 inches and males measuring 20–23 inches (51–58 cm); however, quality is not to be sacrificed in favor of size.
  • Aussie colors are black, red (sometimes called liver), blue merle (marbled black, white and gray), and red merle (marbled red, white and buff), each of these colors may also have copper (tan) points or white markings in various combination on the face, chest, and legs.
  • Blue Merle (a mottled patchwork of gray and black) with or without tan points or white markings on the face, collar, legs, chest, underbelly.
  • This merle (M) is dominant so that heterozygous dogs (Mm) show the pigmentation pattern; however, when two merles are bred, there is a statistical risk that 25% of the offspring will end up with the two copies of the merle gene (homozygous).
  • In this case, the deafness and blindness are linked to having two copies of the merle gene, which disrupts pigmentation and produces these health defects.
  • All red and red merle dogs have liver or brown noses, eye rims, and lips.
  • Any combination of eye color is acceptable in the breed standard, so long as the eyes are healthy.
  • The Australian shepherd has a reputation as a highly intelligent and versatile stock dog with a range of working styles.
  • Prior to breeding, the Aussie should be checked for Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, DNA tests performed to show the dog to be free of the MDR1 mutation, cataract mutation, and CEA.
  • Double merles often have excessive white and can have hearing and vision problems as a result of having two copies of the merle gene.
  • The term “lethal white” originated from horses born with lethal white syndrome, and has since evolved to often describe dogs born with the double merle trait.
  • The Spanish dogs that accompanied them to American West proved well suited for their job in the wild and dangerous territory.
  • The actual foundation for the Australian shepherd was established between the 1940s and the early 1970s, when the Australian Shepherd Club of America was formed and the registry was started.
  • An Australian shepherd named Pockets is credited as being the oldest dog to earn a title in AKC history, having earned the Rally Novice title at the age of 15 years, 5 weeks.