Australian Shepherd

Last updated June 2010

A breed standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance including the correct colour of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.

From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Breed Watch information related to this breed for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure. However, if a dog possesses a feature, characteristic or colour described as highly undesirable, it must not be rewarded in the show ring.

General appearance

Well balanced, length slightly greater than height. Medium sized, muscular with moderate bone. Expression alert and keen. Masculinity and femininity well defined.


Intelligent working dog with herding and guarding instincts. Great stamina, loyal, attentive and animated. Lithe, agile and able to change speed and direction with ease.


Even disposition. May show initial reserve, never shy or aggressive.

Head and skull

In proportion to body. Clean cut. Dry. Muzzle equal to, or a little shorter than length of skull, tapering slightly to a rounded tip. Skull flat to slightly rounded, approximately equal in length and width. Moderate, well-defined stop. Nose and eye rims: black in blue merles and blacks; shades of brown in red merles and reds. Poor pigmentation undesirable over one year of age.


Expressive, almond shaped, set obliquely with tight-fitting rims. Brown, blue or amber, or combination including flecks and marbling.


Triangular; of moderate size and thickness with a slightly rounded tip. Set high on the side of the head. When alert, brought forward and carried semi-erect, with half to three quarters of the ear breaking forward or to side.


Jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. the upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws.


Clean, without throatiness. Moderate length, strong, slightly arched; fitting smoothly into shoulders.


Shoulder blades long and flat, well laid back. Upper arms of comparable length and angulation. Height to the elbow is half the height of the dog at the withers. Forearms straight from all sides with moderate oval bone. Slightly sloping pasterns of medium length.


Length from point of shoulder to point of buttock slightly greater than height at withers. Strong, with firm level topline. Chest deep, of moderate width, with brisket reaching to elbow. Ribs well sprung and carried well back. Loin strong and broad. Croup moderately sloping. Moderate tuck-up.


Approximately equal in width to forequarters at the shoulders. Angulation of pelvis and upper thighs reflects that between scapulae and upper arms. Stifles moderately angulated. Hocks well let down, with rear pasterns perpendicular to ground and parallel when viewed from rear.


Oval, compact with well arched toes and thick pads.


Previously customarily docked.

Undocked: Set on following the line of the croup. Of moderate length, not kinked. In overall balance with the rest of the dog. Moderately feathered.

May be naturally bobbed.


Agile, smooth, free and easy, with moderate length of stride without any exaggeration. Fore and hind limbs move straight and true but should converge at speed. Topline should remain firm and level.


Medium length and texture, straight to slightly wavy, weather resistant with undercoat. Short hair on head, ears, front of forelegs and below hock joints. Back of legs moderately feathered. Moderate mane, more pronounced in dogs than bitches.


Blue merle, black, red merle, red, all with or without tan points. All colours should be strong, clear and rich. White should not dominate the head. On all colours the areas covering and surrounding the ears and eyes are dominated by a colour other than white.

May have white as follows:

full or part collar not extending beyond point of withers at the skin

* chest

* muzzle

* moderate blaze

* underparts

* on fore legs

* on hind legs, preferably not extending above the hock joint


Dogs: 51-58 cms (20-23 inches). Bitches: 46-53 cms (18-21 inches).


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

*Note for prospective puppy buyers

Size – The Kennel Club breed standard is a guide and description of the ideal for the breed; the size as described does not imply that a dog will match the measurements given (height or weight). A dog might be larger or smaller than the size measurements stated in the breed standard.