Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd is a well-balanced dog of medium size and bone. He is attentive and animated, showing strength and stamina combined with unusual agility. Slightly longer than tall, has a coat of moderate length and coarseness with colouring that offers variety and individuality in each dog. An identifying characteristic is his natural or docked bobtail. His gait is smooth, free and easily shows agility and efficiency of movement.

The Australian Shepherd is intelligent, primarily a working dog of strong herding and guardian instincts. He is an exceptional companion. He is versatile and easily trained, performing his assigned tasks with great style and enthusiasm. He is reserved with strangers but does not exhibit shyness. Although an aggressive, authoritative worker, viciousness toward people or animals is intolerable.

The only recognized colours are blue merle, red merle, solid black and solid red. Blue merles and blacks have black noses and eye rims while red merles and reds have liver (brown) noses and eye rims. All colours may be with or without white and/or copper trim. Preferred height for males is 51-59 cm and for females 46-54 cm at the shoulder. Australian Shepherds are considered by many people to be the ideal dogs. Their uncanny intelligence, whether herding livestock or being a companion is always at work. The Aussie´s loyalty and devotion are beyond question. If you are looking for a dog to be an active part of your work or play, consider the Australian Shepherd.

History of the Australian Shepherd

The origin of The Australian Shepherd is not definitely known. Despite their name, Australian Shepherds are not from Australia. There has even been speculation that they might be remnant of the lost continent of Atlantis. According to early owners and breeders, Aussies were introduced to Australia from the taking their dogs with them. These colourful little dogs acquired their name as they arrived in the US with the boatloads of Australian sheep and their Basque sheepherders. This took place in the late 1800s and early 1900s as the American wool market was blossoming.

Stockmen were impressed with the abilities of these capable dogs, which were used for herding cattle as much as sheep. Their popularity began to rise throughout the western United States. It wasn’t until the 1950s and 60s, when Jay Sisler, a rodeo contestant and rancher from Idaho, teamed up with Shorty, Stubby and Queenie that the Australian Shepherd gained national attention. Jay and his Aussies delighted rodeo audiences throughout the US and Canada with an array of tricks that have yet to be equalled even today. In fact, so unique and delightful were these dogs that Walt Disney Studios produced two movies featuring them: The World’s Greatest Cow Dog, Run Appaloosa Run.

Juanita Ely, the dean of old-time Australian Shepherd breeders, acquired her first Aussie during the 1920s when she imported a boatload of sheep from Australia. When the sheep arrived in the US a Basque sheepherder and a little blue dog accompanied them. Mrs. Ely later bought a female from Jay Sisler, Ely’s Blue, a full sister to Sisler´s Queenie, the famous trick dog. Ely’s blue produced Hartnagle´s Badger and Hartnagle´s Goody (who later became known as blue Shadow, an ancestor of both the well known Wood and Flintridge bloodlines). The breed continued to grow and breed true to type as it had for generations.

Foundation bloodlines were established and the modern Australian Shepherd developed from there. Among the most influential sires of the modern Aussie include Sisler´s Shorty, Wood’s Jay, George’s Red Rustler, Windhaven’s Thistle and Hartnagle´s Fritzie Taylor were responsible for producing a number of outstanding sires and dams who, in turn, laid the foundation for many modern blood- lines recognized in the Australian Shepherd Club of America Hall of Fame and Record of Merit. (Joseph Hartnagle)