10 Incredible Australian Shepherd Facts

merle Australian shepherd laying in grass
© Maria Ulzutueva/Shutterstock.com

Written by Jeremiah Wright

Updated: August 13, 2023

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Australian Shepherds, sometimes known as Aussies, are herding dogs and one of the most common dog breeds in the United States. Because of their boundless energy and exceptional intelligence, they are entertaining and fascinating and make productive friends and assistance dogs.

Aussies have a strong body as well as an energetic disposition. Thanks to their medium-sized physique, which is slightly longer than it is taller, these dogs can move very fast. They are also capable of switching speeds and directions effortlessly. 

The Australian Shepherd has a water-resistant, medium-textured double coat. Its outer layer is either straight or curly and comes in various colors. Its expression, however, is pleasant and intelligent.

Australian Shepherds are great for many reasons, and these are 10 of our favorites!

Some amazing facts about the Australian Shepherd are as follows:

1. Australian Shepherds are not native to Australia

Australian shepherd at sunset

The Basque region of the Pyrenees Mountains is usually thought to be the origin of Australian Shepherds.


The Australian Shepherd’s origins are a bit of a mystery, but one thing is certain; these canines are not Australian. The Basque region of the Pyrenees Mountains is usually thought to be the origin of these dogs. There wasn’t much work for the local herders and their dogs because the small region was approximately 191 square miles.

According to one account of the incident, these herders arrived in the United States in search of livelihood in the late 1800s. Some say they stopped in Australia, while others believe the term stems from the breed’s association with Australian-bred Basque shepherds. Despite this, the Basque shepherds show little similarity to the Australian shepherds we are familiar with today.

2. Australian Shepherds gained popularity from rodeos

Portrait of funny and crazy Blue merle Australian shepherd dog at sunset in summer. Happy aussie puppy running on the road

Australian Shepherds have great running endurance.

©Anastasiia Cherniavskaia/Shutterstock.com

Following World War I, Australian shepherds had a major surge in popularity. As more people moved west, the industrious dogs were able to find more labor than merely herding sheep. The canines were ideal for the rodeo since they were intelligent and easy to train. 

The Jay Sisler show was a particularly well-liked dog exhibition. He and his trained dogs appeared in the Disney films Run, Appaloosa, Run and Stub: The Greatest Cowdog in the West. The brilliant pooches—Stubby, Shorty, and Queenie—wowed audiences across the country as they jumped rope, dashed through barrels, and did feats.

3. Australian Shepherds usually have two different colors of eyes

Portrait of aussie with different eyes

Australian Shepherd lies in fallen bright maple leaves

©Nemyrivskyi Viacheslav/ via Getty Images

Only a few dog breeds have eyes of more than one color, a condition known by experts as heterochromia. The Australian Shepherd happens to be one of them. Their eyes may be a mixture of blue, brown, amber, hazel, or green. Some can even have more than one color in a particular eye. 

4. A lot of Aussies have naturally short tails

Australian Shepherd

Some Australian Shepherds are born with bobbed tails.


Apart from having heterochromia, one in five Australian Shepherds is born with bobbed tails. This provides an advantage because long tails and ears cause obstructions when the animal is carrying out certain difficult tasks like herding. For this reason, herders intentionally bred dogs whose tails were naturally short. It is always expected that the tails of show dogs are always cropped if they are not naturally short. 

5. Australian Shepherds try to herd small children

The Australian Shepherd is a breed of herding dog from the United States.


Aussies make lovely companions, but they must be kept busy. They may become bored and restless if they are not properly stimulated. If left alone, their natural impulses may kick in, causing them to begin herding other items in your home. It would be best if you were on the lookout to avoid your kids being pushed into a gated area in an organized herd. 

6. Australian Shepherds have had many names

Australian Shepherd (Canis familiaris) - isolated background

Australian Shepherds have had many names over the years!

©Jan Havlicek/Shutterstock.com

Australian Shepherds have also been known as Bob-Tails, Pastor Dogs, New Mexican Shepherds, Blue Heelers, California Shepherds, and Spanish Shepherds. The latter is understandable because it fits with the place of origin of the canines. 

7. Native Americans considered Australian Shepherds sacred

Osiris Beef Flavored Dog Chews

Native Americans referred to Australian Shepherds as “ghost eyes.”

©Christian Mueller/Shutterstock.com

According to legend, Native Americans referred to Australian Shepherds as “ghost eyes” and considered them sacred. Even though these animals may not usually have blue eyes, they do have pale blue, “ghostly” eyes.

8. Australian Shepherds are American 

Australian shepherd herding in field

The Australian shepherd is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States.

©Ellis Berankova/Shutterstock.com

Although the Aussie’s origins are unknown, it is a fact that they were developed in the United States. Herders from all over the world brought their dogs to the West Coast, resulting in much interbreeding. Stockmen would breed these working dogs to be attentive, clever, athletic, and able to adapt to various terrains. The Australian Shepherd’s bloodline is thought to have been influenced by the Border Collie, Scotch Collie, and the English Shepherd. The Australian Koolie, a dog with striking similarities to the Australian Shepherd, including a merle coat and vivid blue eyes, is another potential suspect.

9. Almost all Australian Shepherds have merle coats

merle Australian shepherd laying in grass

Nowadays, Aussies can be found in various colors.

©Maria Ulzutueva/Shutterstock.com

Although the American Kennel Club accepts only red, black, red merle, and blue merle, you can find Aussies in various colors nowadays. The blue merle is the most well-known of Australia’s four recognized colors. Breeders tried to breed the dog’s other colors but discovered that puppies with the double merle gene had several health issues, including blindness.

10. One Aussie was a frisbee champion

Happy Australian Shepherd dog running outdoors in summer

Hyper Hank was an Australian Shepherd well-known for his frisbee catching skills!


In the 1970s, an Australian shepherd named Hyper Hank became famous for his frisbee talents. The fluffy dog had a lot of energy, as his name suggests. Hank and his owner, Eldon McIntire, monopolized dog frisbee tournaments, even performing at the Super Bowl and playing with the Carters at the White House. The amazing disc team has won competitions all over the country, appeared at the Super Bowl XII pre-show, and even spent considerable time with the Carters at the White House.

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About the Author

I hold seven years of professional experience in the content world, focusing on nature, and wildlife. Asides from writing, I enjoy surfing the internet and listening to music.

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