If you haven't met an Australian Shepherd in person, you've definitely seen a video of one online. These athletic dogs are always performing impressive tricks or showing off their good looks. Learn more about just how fast, smart, and adorable Aussies are through these 11 Australian Shepherd facts. And yes, we herd you; there are tons of cute Aussie pictures too. Pawsome!
1. Australian Shepherds Aren’t Actually from Australia
Even though they're called the Australian Shepherd, this breed is actually from the United States. The Aussie's predecessors are believed to be herding dogs that came to America from Australia with sheep shipments, which is probably where the "Australian" part of their name came from. But the Aussie you know and love today was developed in California. Who would have thought?
2. They Can Have Heterochromia
Heterochromia is a condition where a dog's eyes are different colors; usually, one is brown, and the other looks blue. It is a genetic trait that's passed down from parents to puppies, and Australian Shepherds happen to be one of the breeds that are affected by it.
3. There’s a Mini Version of the Aussie
If you think the Australian Shepherd is cute, wait until you meet the mini version! Mini Aussies are actually a distinct breed called the Miniature American Shepherd because, like the true Aussie, they're from the U.S. These tiny guys only reach between 20 and 40 pounds. Mini Aussies have a lot of the same personality traits and quirks of the larger Aussie, just in a much smaller package.
4. Some Aussies Like to “Grin”
Under most circumstances, a dog baring their teeth at you should be taken as a sign of aggression, but that's not always the case with Australian Shepherds. That's because Aussies like to smile. The "Aussie grin," as it's known, is a sign of appeasement. And it looks pretty darn cute.
5. They Come in 4 Colors
Australian Shepherds can be found in four standard coat colors: red, red merle, blue merle, and black. Most have white or tan markings or "trim" in addition to their primary body color. That might be trim on their chest, legs, feet, muzzle, or forehead.
6. The Breed Is Incredibly Athletic
The Aussie is a very active and agile breed that excels at many canine sports. It's no wonder since they were originally bred to herd sheep. Today, many Aussies still herd, though they're also good at agility, flyball, dog driving, and Frisbee, among other sports.
7. Aussies Can Reach Speeds Up to 30 Mph
You can add "speed" to the Australian Shepherd's list of athletic accolades because this breed is fast. Aussies can run at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. This isn't too far off from the Greyhound's speed of 45 miles per hour.
8. Their Short Tails Are Often Natural
That cute, stubby tail is a trait that was reinforced in the Australian Shepherd through selective breeding. A long tail can get in the way while herding, so it's desirable for these dogs to have bobbed tails instead. Those that aren't born with a nub might have their tail surgically docked, though a lot of breeders allow their puppies to keep their natural tail, whether it's long or naturally bobbed.
9. These Dogs Are Smart Cookies
Aussies are well-known for their adorable appearance, but they're equally famous for their intelligence. This trait makes them highly trainable, but it also means they can get bored very easily. Australian Shepherds need to be kept busy through mental enrichment so they don't bark, dig, or chew out of boredom.
Interactive toys and other boredom busters are a great way to keep your smart Aussie out of trouble.
10. They Can Have Many Jobs
Because of their intelligence, agility, and size, Australian Shepherds can fulfill many roles. Of course, they're used for herding, but they can also work in search and rescue, therapy work, as service dogs, and even as sled dogs. They're a hardworking breed, indeed.
11. An Average Litter is 6 to 7 Puppies
All puppies are cute, but have you seen Aussie puppies?! These little furballs will melt your heart. Mamma Australian Shepherds have their paws full because the average litter includes six to seven puppies.
Aussies Are Popular and Charming Dogs
If you're thinking about getting an Australian Shepherd, know these dogs are very energetic. You'll need to keep them physically and mentally busy to prevent them from turning to destructive behaviors. If you're looking for a cute lap dog, the Aussie is not a good choice. But if you want an adventure buddy who will accompany you on your daily run and will enjoy learning new tricks, this might be the perfect breed for you.