The Australian Shepherd is a medium sized herding dog known for its stamina, attentiveness, and agility. They descended from herding dogs in Europe, who emigrated with their shepherds to Australia in the 1800s and later to California in the 1900s as ranch dogs. The breed was truly forged in the American West, and the Australian Shepherd quickly earned a name as a star on the rodeo circuit and a favorite companion of cowboys. Today, working Aussies still outshine their peers as truly do-it-all stock dogs.
In all ways, the Aussie can be summed up in one word: balance. They are moderate in character, from size and bone, to coat length, to temperament. However, moderation should not be confused for mediocrity. The Australian Shepherd is a versatile worker who excels in a variety of venues with enthusiasm and grace. Aussies have strong herding and guardian instincts, including a reserved nature around strangers and a robust expression of "eye" - the stare herding dogs use to move prey animals.
Male Australian Shepherds stand between 20 and 23 inches at the withers (shoulder) and weigh between 50 and 70 pounds. Female Australian Shepherds stand between 18 and 21 inches and weigh between 35 and 50 pounds.
Aussies come in a variety of colors. The recognized colors are solid black, solid red, blue merle, and red merle, all with or without white markings and/or copper points (bi-color and tri-color). There is no preference given to any color of Australian Shepherd. (For more on Aussie color patterns and their link with genetics, check out the ASHGI page under Resources and Links.)
We highly recommend that all owners read through the breed standards from the Australian Shepherd Club of America and the American Kennel Club, noting in particular the sections on character/temperament and movement/gait, to get a sense for what this breed is all about.