Australian Shepherd illustration
Pastoral

Australian Shepherd

Despite the name, developed in the USA as a ranchers’ dog

Breed characteristics

Size
Medium
Exercise
More than 2 hours per day
Size of home
Large house
Grooming
More than once a week
Coat length
Medium
Sheds
Yes
Lifespan
Over 10 years
Vulnerable native breed
No
Town or country
Country
Size of garden
Large garden

About this breed

Belying his name, the Australian Shepherd is a breed developed in America as a sheepdog to work on the ranches. He has as his roots the Spanish Sheepdogs taken to America by Basque shepherds when they emigrated to America in the 19th century. Although blue dogs were originally most frequently seen, the breed is seen now in a variety of Merle patterns and tricolours. With the innate instinct to work still very much present the breed can still be seen in its original role. However, they have grown very popular in all canine disciplines, and their attractive colours and athletic movements have made them very successful in the show ring.

Read the breed standard

Images for this breed

The Pastoral breed group

The Pastoral Group consists of herding dogs that are associated with working cattle, sheep, reindeer and other cloven footed animals.

Usually this type of dog has a weatherproof double coat to protect it from the elements when working in severe conditions. Breeds such as the Collie family, Old English Sheepdogs and Samoyeds who have been herding reindeer for centuries are but a few included in this group.

 

Breed standard colours

Breed standard colour means that the colour is accepted within the breed standard and is a traditional and well-known colour in this breed.

Breed standard colours in this breed include:

  • Black
  • Black Tricolour
  • Black With White Trim
  • Blue Merle Red Merle With White Trim
  • Blue Merle White & Copper Trim
  • Blue Merle With Copper Trim
  • Blue Merle With White
  • Red
  • Red Merle Black With Copper Trim
  • Red Merle White & Copper Trim
  • Red Merle With Copper Trim
  • Red Tricolour
  • Red With Copper Trim
  • Red With White Trim

Other colour/s

'Other' means you consider your puppy to be a colour not currently known within the breed and one that does not appear on either the breed standard or non-breed standard list. In this instance you would be directed through our registrations process to contact a breed club and/or council to support you on identifying and correctly listing the new colour.

Non-breed-standard colours

Non-breed-standard colour means that the colour is not accepted within the breed standard and whilst some dogs within the breed may be this colour it is advised to only select a dog that fits within the breed standards for all points.

Colour is only one consideration when picking a breed or individual dog, health and temperament should always be a priority over colour.

Health

Whether you’re thinking of buying a puppy, or breeding from your dog, it’s essential that you know what health issues may be found in your breed. To tackle these issues we advise that breeders use DNA tests, screening schemes and inbreeding coefficient calculators to help breed the healthiest dogs possible.

More about health

Priority health schemes and tests

The Kennel Club's Assured Breeders must use the following schemes, tests and advice. All other breeders are strongly advised to also use these.

Important health schemes and tests

We strongly recommend that all breeders, both assured breeders (ABs) and non ABs, use the following schemes, tests and advice.

Other health schemes and tests available

CombiBreed - simple to use and easy to organise all-in-one DNA tests for breeders

The DNA tests listed above marked with an * are included in our CombiBreed health test package. This includes:

  • HC-HSF4 (Hereditary cataract)
  • CEA/CH (Collie eye anomaly) (partner lab)
  • MDR1 (Multidrug resistance gene 1) (partner lab)
  • prcd-PRA (Progressive retinal atrophy)

As part of this package, all four tests are carried out from a single swab for a total of £135 (incl. VAT). Assured breeders receive a 10% discount (£121.50 incl. VAT).

Find out more about our CombiBreed health packages.

Find out about a particular dog's results

Please visit our Health Test Results Finder to discover the DNA or screening scheme test results for any dog on The Kennel Club's Breed Register.

You can also view the inbreeding coefficient calculation for a puppy's parents, or for a dog you're thinking of breeding from.

Have any questions about health in your breed?

If you have any concerns about a particular health condition in your breed then you may wish to speak to your vet or you could contact your breed health co-ordinator.

Breed health co-ordinators are individuals working on behalf of breed clubs and councils who are advocates for the health and welfare of their chosen breed. They acts as a spokesperson on matters of health and will collaborate with The Kennel Club on any health concerns the breed may have.

Contact the breed health co-ordinator for the Australian Shepherd.

Breed watch

Category 1        

Currently no points of concern specific to this breed have been identified for special attention by judges, other than those covered routinely by The Kennel Club's breed standard.

Read more about Breed Watch

Breeding restrictions

There are a number of The Kennel Club's rules and regulations that may prevent a litter from being registered, find out about our general and breed specific breeding restrictions below.

More about breeding

In October 2008, our board agreed to record puppies that are born with naturally bobbed tails on registration certificates. The decision was made in order to help breeders identify which dogs or lines carry the tailless gene. The word bobtail is the only description of the tail which is accepted. The description of any other tail length or tails which are not naturally bobbed, such as full tail or legally docked will not be recorded. Confirmation of the tail status of puppies must be accompanied by veterinary certification (on practice headed paper) and sent with the litter registration form. As veterinary certification is required to record the status, this service is not available online.

With effect from 1st January 2013, The Kennel Club will not register puppies whelped from a merle to merle mating born on or after this date. This is due to associated health risks of impaired vision and hearing associated with the merle gene in this breed.

More information

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