With its unusual markings and beautiful blue eyes, it’s hard to ignore an Australian Shepherd when it wiggles by you on the street. They are one of the most beautiful breeds of dogs. Here you can learn more facts about the Australian Shepherd – the fluffy, energetic dog and its background.
Facts About The Australian Shepherd
Australia is not their native land
The history of the Australian Shepherd is borderline Mythical, but one thing is for certain: These dogs do not hail from Australia. It is said that these dogs most likely have roots in the Basque region of the Pyrenees Mountains. This little countryside is only about 191 square miles, in which there was not a lot of work for the local herders and their furry friends.
According to tales, these herders came to the United States for work in the 1800’s. Some say they made a pit stop in Australia, others think the name comes from the breeds affiliation with Basque shepherd’s that came from Australia, tho the Basque shepherds bear very little resemblance to the Australian Shepherds we love today.
They are very markedly American
Australian Shepherds were preferred here by herders in the U.S. from countries all around the world. They would breed these work dogs to be alert, intelligent, agile and adaptable to different terrains. Little thought went into their beauty. The Scotch Collie, Border Collie, and English Shepherd are all believed to have contributed to the Australian Shepherd bloodline. Another likely culprit is the Australian Koolie, a dog that looks remarkably similar with almost all of the same features, such as a merle coat and bright blue eyes.
The Rodeo made them stars
Australian Shepherds enjoyed a huge boom of popularity after World War I. As waves of people headed out West, the spunky dogs found more work outside of just herding sheep. Since they are very intelligent and can be easily trained, the Australian Shepherd was perfect for the rodeo.
One popular dog show was the Jay Sisler show. He and his team of trained dogs were featured in the Disney movies Run, Appaloosa, Run and Stub: The Greatest Cowdog in the West. People all over the country were charmed with the talented dogs as they jumped rope, ran through barrels and performed tricks.
They are strikingly beautiful
When people think of Australian Shepherds, many think of their crystal blue eyes. Some native tribes called the breed the ‘ghost eye dog’ because of their eerie peepers. They were said to be considered sacred and were sometimes avoided by members. Not all Australian Shepherds have blue eyes: they can also be green, amber, hazel, brown or in some cases two different colors. (See my fur baby Grits above 🙂
Today most Australian Shepherds have merle coats, blue is the most recognizable. Breeders attempted to breed the other colors out of the dogs, but found that Australian Shepherds with the double merle gene faced many health problems like blindness.
They often have no tail
When you are a hard working dog, long ears and tails can get in the way. To avoid injury, many workers would dock their dog’s ears and tails. The tail was somewhat breed out of this breed, as one in five Australian Shepherds are born with a naturally bobbed tail. If you are using your Australian Shepherd as a show dog they are expected to have a docked tail.
They enjoy having plenty of work
Thanks to their working dog background, Australian Shepherds are well-equipped for a number of different jobs. Besides herding and performing tricks, they also make great search and rescue dogs or therapy dogs. Aussie’s are happiest when they have a job to do. The jerks might herd your children as well. 🙂
They are the most loving companions
While they will be your best fur friend, they need to stay active. Without proper stimulation they will grow bored and restless. This can cause them to be extremely full of energy and very hyper. It is best to give them at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
They are popular!
According to most canine studies, Australian Shepherds are the 18th most popular breed in the United States. There are roughly 211 types of dog breeds in the U.S.
They have big brains
Australian Shepherds would kill it on the Canine SATs. Because, Aussie’s have very keen minds and sharp observation skills. They are very studious pets- always looking for patterns and reading your every move. With proper training they can become quite the intelligent and highly skilled dog.
They can have a favorite person
Australian Shepherds love to follow their owners around. They are always underfoot and need to be by your side. These dogs form a strong bond with their owners. One common nickname for the breed is a “Velcro dog”. Australian Shepherds want to be with their owners and family as much as possible.
Australian Shepherds are know to bare teeth when they “smile”. They are one of the few breeds to do so. It is the cutest thing ever 🙂