The Australian Shepherd, commonly known as the Aussie, is a 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. The breed rose gradually in popularity with the boom of western riding after World War I. They became known to the general public through rodeos, horse shows, and Disneymovies made for television.
For many years, Aussies have been valued by stockmen for their versatility and trainability. They have a similar look to the popular English Shepherd andBorder Collie breeds. While they continue to work as stockdogs 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
Aussie colors are black, red, 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. A black or red dog with copper and white trim is called tricoloror tri, a black or red dog with white trim but no copper is called bicolor or bi. White, rather than pigment, on or around the ears is an indicator of increased risk for white-related deafness. Excessive white on the face and ears can place an individual dog at greater risk for sunburn and subsequent skin cancer.
The breed is typically highly energetic, requiring a great deal of exercise and attention, although some can be calm and easy-going. An Australian shepherd enjoys working, whether it is learning and practicing tricks, competing in dog agility, or engaging in any other physically and mentally involving activity.
Dogs may show reserved and cautious guarding behaviors. They are kind, loving, and devoted to those they know. They are very loyal to their owners, and are rewarding dogs if treated well. Because the breed was developed to serve on the ranch, a job which includes being protective of its property, it is inclined to bark warnings about neighborhood activity. It is not inclined toward obsessive barking.
There are several health problems that an Australian shepherd can have. Vision problems are common. Epilepsy is also a concern. In merle to merle breeding, the puppies who have inherited two copies of the merle gene have an increased risk of being born blind, and/or deaf.