Australian Shepherd, or Aussie as they are also known, is a highly energetic dog that is known for its intelligence, loyalty, obedience and strong guarding instincts. They have strong, medium sized bodies – males are usually 20 to 23 inches tall at withers and females 18 to 21.
It has a well-proportioned head, and its muzzle is roughly the same length or somewhat shorter than its back skull. The dog’s teeth from a level of scissor bite. Its facial features display intelligence and alertness. This breed has a penetrating but not unfriendly gaze and its eyes are usually blue, brown or amber. It has triangular, moderately large ears positioned high on the head.
Their tails were traditionally docked. Some Australian Shepherd dogs are even born with a naturally shorter tail; if under 4 inches in length these tails don’t require further docking. But even a longer tail is not necessarily immediate grounds for disqualification in shows, and some dogs with a tail longer than 4 inches have made good show results.
One of the more prominent features of these interesting dogs is their beautiful, multi-colored coat. Aussie coats are usually straight or somewhat wavy, of medium length and offer good protection against the harsh weather. The coat is usually black, red, red merle or blue merle. It is not unusual for Aussies to have tan points or white patterns in their coats. If a dog has both tan and white markings it is called “tricolor”, and if it has only white it’s called “bicolor”.
Merle patterns give these dogs an even more interesting appearance, but one should take great care not to breed two merle dogs, as this union might produce offspring that has two copies of the merle gene which can cause pigmentation disruption and blindness of deafness. Merle gene can often influence the color of the dog’s eyes, sometimes even causing one eye to have a combination of two different colors. It is also common for all black and blue merle dogs to have black lips, noses, and eye rims, while in red and red merle ones these parts are brown.
Apart from their beauty these dogs are popular because of their various talents, loyalty and pleasant disposition. They are extremely energetic, which is not surprising in a working dog, if you don’t find something for the dog to do, it will find its own entertainment. This excessive energy can even make them destructive if they are left without a more appropriate way to channel it. But this also means that Aussies are very playful, and make great company.
They are also highly intelligent and have been shown to be very fast learners. This is why this breed was not used only for herding sheep, but sometimes also poultry or rabbits, because of its intelligence and flexibility it wasn’t a problem for this dog to adapt to this significantly different type of work.
Australian Shepherds have both the looks and personality to make great and loving pets, but they are known to form very strong bonds with their masters, so if you want a dog that you don’t really have to spend a lot of time with, you should probably consider a different breed.