This breed has come to the UK fairly recently and has rapidly gained in popularity. Indeed you may well have seen an example of an Australian Shepherd Dog when Caitland Isle Take a Chance won best in show at Crufts in 2006. Australian shepherds are strong and intelligent and very fast. They usually stand between 46 to 58cm and like the border collie, there is a lot of variation in the height. The weight also varies a lot and can be anything from 16 to 32kg The colours are also very variable as you can see from the photos. They can be blue, blue merle, black and red merle all with or without tan points and with some white which is only allowed in specific areas.
If you want to do agility or flyball or anything other than showing then the colour doesn't matter a jot. They make good agility dogs but they are a heavier build than a border collie and may not be quite as speedy. I've seen these dog being trained for other disciplines and they seem to love working for their handlers.
Thanks to Kennkiser of Morguefile for the excellent photos of a black and white Australian Shepherd dog The Australian Shepherd does have a lot of stamina and will need plenty of exercise. They are bred for herding and guarding and they are very active and agile dogs. Activities such as agility and obedience will help to keep a dog occupied but you must still be prepared to go for lots of walks.
The temperament can be a little reserved but not aggressive. If you are considering getting an Australian Shepherd dog I would suggest that you speak to the breeder about the requirements. These are working dogs and in our dog breeds survey respondents all found them easy or fairly easy to train.
Thanks to Taliesin of Morguefile for the lovely photos of Molly above.
Left: Thanks to Alex at Morguefile and Free Picture Graphic for these photos
If you're interested in finding out more about the Australian Shepherd dog there is a UK club called the Australian Shepherd Club of the UK.
Comments from Australian Shepherd owners and handlers
My dog Sally's breeder said she is a Border Collie, however, she looks a lot like an Australian Shepherd. She is very trainable even though sometimes she scatters shoes over the farm!
I love these types of dogs they are my faviorate breed I have 3 of them 2 females and 1 male I use them for agility, herding, attac, and guared dogs. THEY ROCK!
Daun Reusche (USA):
I do not think that there is a "perfect/type/breed" of dog for agility. If you have a breed you like you can teach it agility. The main thing is to find a dog that is willing and one that you would like to live with. it would be helpful if the dog had energy to make it fun. In other words keep in mind how far do you want to go? Top competitor, world team or wow this is fun to do and if we get a title that's a bonus; isn't agility about challenges? And spending time with our friends? Here in the USA I have seen every kind of dog compete; from chihuhuas to great danes, some are really fast and some are really slow but the team is having a great time.
Pat comments: Very well put Daun and thank you for your comments. I started these breed pages after a colleague said, "I can't do agility. I haven't got a collie." I also get asked a lot if it's possible to do agility with various different breeds of dog. I hope that people will realise that they can have fun with any breed and if they want to get competitive they can do so with many breeds other than collies.
Australian Shepherd handler:
Can you get an easier dog to train? Probably not. They are fantastic for speed, but keep their heads about them to get the job done. That extra bit of carefulness makes up for the slight edge in speed that the borders have (Aussies being not quite as quick). Jumps will never seem to be easier as the breed has the agility of an antelope/jackrabbit cross. Sproing! They do have a tendency to be more independent than GSD's and Borders which can make the weaves a challenge. However, once they get the message it's never going to be forgotten. They take the course and look at you with an ""Isn't this great?! What's next?"" attitude. The breed as a whole really seems to enjoy the courses.
Australian Shepherd handler:
Too fast! Too enthusiastic!
Pat comments: LOL Everyone wants a fast enthusiastic dog.
Working towards competition. He just adores agility, the sight of the equipment gets him excited. He's biddable and smart, making training easy! My only concern is speeding him up, but I won't worry about that until he has the obstacles down Pat.
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