Australian Shepherd
Overview
 
The Australian shepherd is a breed
Dog breed
Dog breeds are groups of closely related and visibly similar domestic dogs, which are all of the subspecies Canis lupus familiaris, having characteristic traits that are selected and maintained by humans, bred from a known foundation stock....

 of herding dog
Herding dog
A herding dog, also known as a stock dog or working dog, is a type of pastoral dog that either has been trained in herding or belongs to breeds developed for herding...

 that was developed on ranches in the Western United States
Western United States
.The Western United States, commonly referred to as the American West or simply "the West," traditionally refers to the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. Because the U.S. expanded westward after its founding, the meaning of the West has evolved over time...

. Despite its name, the breed, commonly known as an Aussie, did not originate in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 They acquired their name because some of the Australian sheepdogs arrived in the United States with boatloads of Australian sheep. The breed rose gradually in popularity with the boom of western riding after World War I.
Encyclopedia
The Australian shepherd is a breed
Dog breed
Dog breeds are groups of closely related and visibly similar domestic dogs, which are all of the subspecies Canis lupus familiaris, having characteristic traits that are selected and maintained by humans, bred from a known foundation stock....

 of herding dog
Herding dog
A herding dog, also known as a stock dog or working dog, is a type of pastoral dog that either has been trained in herding or belongs to breeds developed for herding...

 that was developed on ranches in the Western United States
Western United States
.The Western United States, commonly referred to as the American West or simply "the West," traditionally refers to the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. Because the U.S. expanded westward after its founding, the meaning of the West has evolved over time...

. Despite its name, the breed, commonly known as an Aussie, did not originate in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 They acquired their name because some of the Australian sheepdogs arrived in the United States with boatloads of Australian sheep. The breed rose gradually in popularity with the boom of western riding after World War I. They became known to the general public through rodeos, horse shows, and through Disney
The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company is the largest media conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue. Founded on October 16, 1923, by Walt and Roy Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, Walt Disney Productions established itself as a leader in the American animation industry before diversifying into...

 movies made for television.

For many years, Aussies have been valued by stockmen for their inherent versatility and trainability. While they continue to work as stockdogs and compete in herding trials, the breed has earned recognition in other roles due to their trainability and eagerness to please, and are highly regarded for their skills in obedience. Like all working breeds, the Aussie has considerable energy and drive, and usually needs a job to do. It often excels at dog sports such as dog agility
Dog agility
Dog agility is a dog sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. Dogs run off-leash with no food or toys as incentives, and the handler can touch neither dog nor obstacles...

, flyball
Flyball
Flyball is a dog sport in which teams of dogs race against each other from a start/finish line, over a line of hurdles, to a box that releases a tennis ball to be caught when the dog presses the spring-loaded pad, then back to their handlers while carrying the ball.Flyball is run in teams of four...

, and frisbee
Disc dog
Disc dog is the more generic name for what is commonly called Frisbee dog. In disc dog competitions, dogs and their human flying disc throwers compete in events such as distance catching and somewhat choreographed freestyle catching. The sport celebrates the bond between handler and dog, by...

. They are also highly successful search and rescue dogs, disaster dogs, detection dogs, guide, service, and therapy dogs.

Size

The Australian shepherd is a medium sized breed of solid build. The ASCA standard calls for the Australian shepherd to stand between 18-23 inches at the withers, females being 18-21 inches and males measuring 20-23 inches, however, quality is not to be sacrificed in favor of size.

Color

Aussie colors are black, red (sometimes called liver), blue merle (marbled black, white and gray), and red merle (marbled red, white and buff); each of these colors may also have copper (tan) points and/or white markings in various combination on the face, chest, and legs. A black or red dog with copper and white trim is called tricolor or tri, a black or red dog with white trim but no copper is called bicolor or bi. White, rather than pigment, on or around the ears is an indicator of increased risk for white-related deafness. Excessive white on the face and ears can place an individual dog at greater risk for sunburn and subsequent skin cancer.

The wide variation of color combinations comes from the interaction between the a color allele
Allele
An allele is one of two or more forms of a gene or a genetic locus . "Allel" is an abbreviation of allelomorph. Sometimes, different alleles can result in different observable phenotypic traits, such as different pigmentation...

, which is either black (B) dominant or red (b) recessive, and the dominant merle allele (M). Together, these provide four coat-color aspects that can appear in any combination:
  • Black, with tan points and/or white markings on the face, collar, legs, chest, underbelly. Solid black dogs are equally desirable as ones with tan and/or white.
  • Red (Liver) with or without tan points and/or white markings on the face, collar, legs, chest, underbelly. Either white or tan points are required. Solid Red dogs are equally desirable as ones with tan and/or white.
  • Blue Merle (a mottled patchwork of gray and black) with or without tan points and/or white markings on the face, collar, legs, chest, underbelly. Neither white nor tan points are required. Solid Merle dogs are equally desirable as ones with tan and/or white.
  • Red Merle (a mottled patchwork of cream and liver red) with or without tan points and/or white markings on the face, collar, legs, chest, underbelly. Neither white nor tan points are required. Solid Merle dogs are equally desirable as ones with tan and/or white.


The merle allele, which produces a mingled or patchwork combination of dark and light areas, is the coat pattern most commonly associated with the breed. This merle (M) is dominant so that unaffected dogs (Mm) show the pigmentation pattern; however, when two merles are bred, there is a statistical risk that 25% of the offspring will end up with the two copies of the merle gene (homozygous). These dogs usually have a mostly white coat and blue irises, and are often deaf and/or blind. In this case, the deafness and blindness are linked to having two copies of the merle gene, which disrupts pigmentation and produces these health defects.

All black and blue merle dogs have black noses, eye rims, and lips. All red and red merle dogs have liver or brown noses, eye rims, and lips.
There is also great variety in the Aussie's eye color. An early nickname for the breed was "ghost-eye dog". Aussie eyes may be any shade or hue of brown, or blue; they may have two different colored eyes, or even have bicolored or "split eyes"
Heterochromia
In anatomy, heterochromia refers to a difference in coloration, usually of the iris but also of hair or skin. Heterochromia is a result of the relative excess or lack of melanin...

 (for example, a half-brown, half-blue eye), which appear to be linked to the merle coloration. Merled eyes occur as well, where one color is mixed in and swirled with another. Any combination of eye color is acceptable in the breed standard, so long as the eyes are healthy. In general, however, black Aussies (self, bi-color or tri-color) tend to have brown eyes, while red (self, bi-color or tri-color) Aussies tend to have amber eyes, though these Aussies may also carry the blue eyed gene.

Tail

A hallmark of the breed, some Aussies are born with naturally bobbed tails (NBT). Others have full long tails, and others with natural partial bobs, where the tail is midlength and appears stubby. Breeders have historically docked the tails when the puppies are born. Even without a tail, the wagging movement of the hind end still occurs. In the United States and Canada the standard calls for a natural bob or docked tail not to exceed four inches as a defining characteristic, however some long tailed examples have been successfully shown and been given recognition despite having a longer tail. Any natural tail length is permitted when showing in Europe, where docking has been banned in some countries.

Temperament

The breed is typically highly energetic, requiring a great deal of exercise and attention. Sometimes they can be calm and easy-going. An Australian shepherd enjoys working, whether it is learning and practicing tricks, competing in dog agility, or engaging in any other physically and mentally involving activity.

Dogs may show reserved and cautious guarding behaviors. They are kind, loving, and devoted to those they know. They are very loyal to their owners, and are rewarding dogs if treated well. Because the breed was developed to serve on the ranch, a job which includes being protective of its property, it is inclined to bark warnings about neighborhood activity, but its barks can be very annoying and unpleasant. However, it is not inclined toward obsessive barking.

The Aussie is intelligent, learns quickly, and loves to play. This means that a bored, neglected, unexercised Aussie may invent its own games, activities, and jobs, which to a busy owner might appear to be hyperactivity: for example, an Aussie may go from being at rest to running at top speed for several 'laps' around the house before returning to rest. Without something to amuse them, Aussies can become destructive. Aussies also do best with plenty of human companionship: they are often called "Velcro Dogs" for their strong desire to always be near their owners and for their tendency to form intense, devoted bonds with select people.

The Australian shepherd has a reputation as a highly intelligent and versatile stock dog with a range of working styles. A good working Aussie is quick, thoughtful, and easy with its stock. The ability for the breed to adapt to the situation and think for itself makes it an excellent all-around worker. For this reason the Aussie is often chosen to work unusual livestock such as ducks, geese, and commercially raised rabbits.

Australian shepherds can become extremely destructive if their energy is not directed in a positive way. These dogs require a minimum of 2–3 hours a day of play, exercise, and attention. The dogs thrive in rural, ranch like conditions, and need space to run and play in an urban setting. The Australian shepherd is a high spirited dog, that requires much attention and work. Teaching them tricks keeps them focused and happy, which also keeps their mind working. The breed also has great stamina and can live in a variety of terrain. That's why they are a popular pick as trail dogs and working dogs.

Health

There are several health problems that an Australian shepherd can inherit, including back, hip, and vision problems. Epilepsy is also a concern. In merle to merle breeding, the puppies who have inherited two copies of the merle gene have an increased risk of being born blind, and/or deaf.

Mortality

Results of a 1998 internet survey with a sample size of 614 Australian shepherds indicated a median longevity of about 12.5 years, but that longevity may be declining. A 2004 UK survey found a much shorter median longevity of 9 years, but their sample size was low (22 deceased dogs).

The median life spans for breeds similar in size to Australian shepherds are mostly between 11 and 13 yrs, so, assuming the results of the UK study are not representative of the population there, Aussies appear to have a typical life span for a breed their size. Leading causes of death in the UK survey were cancer (32%), "combinations" (18%), and old age (14%).

Morbidity

Based on a sample of 48 still-living dogs, the most common health issues noted by owners were eye problems (red eye, epiphora, conjunctivitis, and cataracts). Dermatological and respiratory problems also ranked high.

Collie eye anomaly
Collie eye anomaly
Collie eye anomaly is a congenital, inherited, bilateral eye disease of dogs involving the retina, choroid, and sclera. It can be a mild disease or cause blindness. CEA is caused by a simple autosomal recessive gene defect...

 (CEA) is rare in the breed, but it and cataracts are a concern in Aussies. Other conditions of note include iris coloboma, canine hip dysplasia (CHD), Pelger-Huet anomaly, hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone.Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism worldwide but it can be caused by other causes such as several conditions of the thyroid gland or, less commonly, the pituitary gland or...

, and nasal solar dermatitis. Prior to breeding, the Aussie should be checked for Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, DNA tests performed to show the dog to be free of the MDR1 mutation, cataract mutation, and CEA. Tests should also include those for thyroidism and clearances for other known eye diseases like colobomas, PRA and retinal folds.

Some Australian shepherds (as well as collie
Collie
The collie is a distinctive type of herding dog, including many related landraces and formal breeds. It originates in Scotland and Northern England. It is a medium-sized, fairly lightly built dog with a pointed snout, and many types have a distinctive white pattern over the shoulders. Collies...

s, German shepherds and many other herding dogs) are susceptible to a genetic mutation of the MDR1 gene. Dogs with the mutation can suffer toxicity from anti-parasitics such as Ivermectin in high doses, and other drugs. A test is available to determine if a particular dog carries the mutated gene.

Double Merle

Double merling or homozygous merle occurs when the resulting offspring of two merled parents inherit two copies of the dominant merle gene. Double merles often have excessive white and can have hearing and vision problems as a result of having two copies of the merle gene. Homozygous merles can be deaf, blind, express iris coloboma
Coloboma
A coloboma is a hole in one of the structures of the eye, such as the iris, retina, choroid or optic disc...

s and microphthalmia
Microphthalmia
Microphthalmia also referred to as microphthalmos, nanophthalmia or nanophthalmos, is a developmental disorder of the eye that literally means small eye...

. Not all homozygous merles are affected, but most are, making the breeding of two merles a very touchy subject. Breeders will either euthanize mostly white pups or in the case of poorly qualified breeders, sell them as "rare" white Aussies without disclosing the potential for health defects. A large percentage of homozygous merles sold eventually end up in rescue and shelters as the average family is ill prepared to take on a deaf and/or blind pet. However, deaf and/or blind Australian shepherds can make wonderful pets given a home prepared for their special needs. The term "lethal white" is incorrectly used when referring to Australian shepherds that are born double merle, it is actually a term referring to the Lethal white syndrome
Lethal white syndrome
Lethal white syndrome , also called overo lethal white syndrome , lethal white overo , and overo lethal white foal syndrome , is an autosomal genetic disorder most prevalent in the American Paint Horse...

 that affects horses.

Available health tests

Many diagnostic tests are available for concerned Aussie owners, to check the overall health of an Aussie. Also, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) has an extensive database to track results and provide statistics for the following concerns: hips, elbows, heart, patellar luxation (knees), and thyroid (autoimmune) disease. The OFA database also includes the results for eye exams performed by a Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) veterinarian, but only if the owner of the Aussie submits the results. This database is a great resource to investigate the lineage and related health of the progenitors of some dogs, at least regarding hip ratings.

Many tests have been developed by, or are processed at, laboratories to check for the 11 health concerns that plague the Australian shepherd breed. Some of those labs are Optigen, Animal Health Trust, Endocrine Diagnostic Center, Animal Health Laboratory, Washington State University Veterinary Clinic, Vet DNA Center, and HealthGene. These labs might perform one or many of the tests that have been developed.

Tests or evaluations have been developed for:

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia,

Patellar Luxation (knees),

Eyes,

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA)http://www.optigen.com/,

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) http://www.optigen.com/,

Thyroid (Autoimmune) - Multiple labs perform this test-check OFA application for list,

Congenital Cardiac (heart),

Multi Drug Resistance Gene (MDR1)http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/,

Hereditary Cataracts (HSF4)http://www.aht.org.uk/, and

Pelger Huet Anomaly

Other areas that are currently not health concerns, but tests have been developed for, are:

Coat Color (red carrier/red factored) - Vet DNA Center and HealthGene process this sample,

Dilute Gene Carrier - Vet DNA Center and HealthGene process this sample

DNA testing to either certify parentage (CP) or to verify parentage (VP) for Australian shepherds is also another test that can be performed and as of January 2010 all adults producing a litter will be required to be DNA tested to allow a breeder to register a litter with the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA)http://www.asca.org/.

There is a list of costs, labs, applications, and samples required for the above tests at Pure Stock Aussies

History

The Australian shepherd's history is vague, as is the reason for its misleading name
Misnomer
A misnomer is a term which suggests an interpretation that is known to be untrue. Such incorrect terms sometimes derive their names because of the form, action, or origin of the subject becoming named popularly or widely referenced—long before their true natures were known.- Sources of misnomers...

. It is believed by some the breed has Basque
Basque people
The Basques as an ethnic group, primarily inhabit an area traditionally known as the Basque Country , a region that is located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.The Basques are known in the...

 origins in Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and was used there by shepherds. What is known is that it developed in western North America in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Breeds as we know them today did not exist before Victorian times
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

, but local variations of the ancestors of current breeds came into America along with their owners and livestock. Included are some that are now extinct or that have merged into other breeds. These may have included some British herding dogs, as well as dogs from Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 including the Carea Leonés
Carea Leonés
- Description :The Carea Leonés is a breed of herding dog from the province of Castile and León in Europe, in and is used as a sheepdog...

. For many centuries, shepherd
Shepherd
A shepherd is a person who tends, feeds or guards flocks of sheep.- Origins :Shepherding is one of the oldest occupations, beginning some 6,000 years ago in Asia Minor. Sheep were kept for their milk, meat and especially their wool...

s were more interested in dogs' working abilities than their appearance. As a result, over time, shepherds interbred dogs that they believed would produce better workers for the given climate and landscape. In the eastern U.S., terrain
Terrain
Terrain, or land relief, is the vertical and horizontal dimension of land surface. When relief is described underwater, the term bathymetry is used...

 and weather conditions were similar to that of Europe, however, so the existing imported breeds and their offspring worked well there.

In the American West, conditions were quite different. Spanish flocks were introduced for food and fiber which was mainly the Churra. The Spanish dogs that accompanied them to American West proved well suited for their job in the wild and dangerous territory. They were highly valued for their ability to herd and protect their charges from predators on the open range. In the arid
Desert
A desert is a landscape or region that receives an extremely low amount of precipitation, less than enough to support growth of most plants. Most deserts have an average annual precipitation of less than...

 and semiarid areas inhabited by early Spanish settlers, temperatures reached extremes of hot and cold, and fields varied in altitude from sea level to the higher, rougher Sierra Nevada and similar mountain ranges. The ranchers in these areas often pastured livestock on remote ranges. They preferred more aggressive herding dogs that served in the capacity of herder and guardian.

With the 1849 California Gold Rush
California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands , and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to...

, a massive migration occurred to the west coast, and along with easterners came flocks of sheep and their eastern herding dogs; from the southwest came people and Spanish. But it was just as effective to bring sheep in by ship, and in they came, including flocks from Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and other regions, along with shepherds and their own herding breeds.
Dogs from Australia had already begun to be selected and bred for climates and terrains that were often similar to California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

.

It is not clear where the name "Australian" came from, although it is possible that many of the dogs coming from Australia were blue merle and the adjective "Australian" became associated with any dogs of that coat color.

Recent history

Development of the breed began in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and the Pacific Northwest. The breed's foundation bloodlines are depicted in the Australian Shepherd Genealogy Chart showing the relationship between the early families of dogs.

Selective breeding
Selective breeding
Selective breeding is the process of breeding plants and animals for particular genetic traits. Typically, strains that are selectively bred are domesticated, and the breeding is sometimes done by a professional breeder. Bred animals are known as breeds, while bred plants are known as varieties,...

 for many generations focused on aspects of the dog that enabled it to function as an effective stockdog in the American west. It had to handle severe weather; have plenty of speed, athleticism, energy, and endurance; and be intelligent, flexible, and independent, while remaining obedient. The actual foundation for the Australian shepherd was established between the 1940s and the early 1970s, when the Australian Shepherd Club of America was formed and the registry was started. They became popular as performing dogs in rodeo
Rodeo
Rodeo is a competitive sport which arose out of the working practices of cattle herding in Spain, Mexico, and later the United States, Canada, South America and Australia. It was based on the skills required of the working vaqueros and later, cowboys, in what today is the western United States,...

s. Their stunts and skills earned them places in several Disney
The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company is the largest media conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue. Founded on October 16, 1923, by Walt and Roy Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, Walt Disney Productions established itself as a leader in the American animation industry before diversifying into...

 films, including Run Appaloosa Run and Stub: The Greatest Cowdog in the West.

Activities

Like other herding breeds, these dogs excel at many dog sports, especially herding
Herding
Herding is the act of bringing individual animals together into a group , maintaining the group and moving the group from place to place—or any combination of those. While the layperson uses the term "herding", most individuals involved in the process term it mustering, "working stock" or...

, dog agility
Dog agility
Dog agility is a dog sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. Dogs run off-leash with no food or toys as incentives, and the handler can touch neither dog nor obstacles...

, frisbee
Disc dog
Disc dog is the more generic name for what is commonly called Frisbee dog. In disc dog competitions, dogs and their human flying disc throwers compete in events such as distance catching and somewhat choreographed freestyle catching. The sport celebrates the bond between handler and dog, by...

, and flyball
Flyball
Flyball is a dog sport in which teams of dogs race against each other from a start/finish line, over a line of hurdles, to a box that releases a tennis ball to be caught when the dog presses the spring-loaded pad, then back to their handlers while carrying the ball.Flyball is run in teams of four...

. Herding
Herding
Herding is the act of bringing individual animals together into a group , maintaining the group and moving the group from place to place—or any combination of those. While the layperson uses the term "herding", most individuals involved in the process term it mustering, "working stock" or...

 instincts and trainability can be measured at noncompetitive instinct tests. Aussies that exhibit basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in ASCA stock dog trials or AKC herding events.

The dog has a stride in which its front and back legs cross over, making for an appearance of "on the edge" speed. The dogs instinctively use a "pounce" position to deal with cattle trying to kick them. They also have strong hips and legs, allowing for fast acceleration and high jumping, sometimes as high as 4 ft (1.3m).
An Australian shepherd named Pockets is credited as being the oldest dog to earn a title in AKC history, having earned the Rally Novice title at the age of 15 years, 5 weeks.

Miscellaneous

The Australian Shepherd Club of America ASCA was founded in 1957 to promote the breed. The National Stock Dog Registry became its official breed registry, which continued until ASCA took over in 1972.

In 1975, ASCA created a breed standard
Breed standard
A breed standard in animal fancy and animal husbandry is a set of guidelines which is used to ensure that the animals produced by a breeder or breeding facility conform to the specifics of the breed....

, describing exactly how an Australian shepherd should look and be constructed (its conformation to the Standard). It developed more uniformity in the breed and standardized the type.

In the United States, the American Kennel Club
American Kennel Club
The American Kennel Club is a registry of purebred dog pedigrees in the United States. Beyond maintaining its pedigree registry, this kennel club also promotes and sanctions events for purebred dogs, including the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, an annual event which predates the official...

 is the primary registry for purebred dogs. However, many Aussie breeders felt that AKC put too much emphasis on breed conformity and not enough on performance, so ASCA declined to join the AKC. Those breeders who felt that AKC membership had its advantages split off from ASCA to form their own Australian shepherd club, the United States Australian Shepherd Association, created their own breed standard, and joined the AKC in 1993. The decision about affiliation with the AKC remains controversial, as it does with many performance breeds.

The Fédération Cynologique Internationale recognized the Australian shepherd for international competition in 2007, in Group 1 Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs as breed number 342. An Australian shepherd from Latvia competed in the Fédération Cynologique Internationale Agility World Championships in Helsinki, Finland in 2008.

In addition to the miniature Australian shepherd
Miniature Australian Shepherd
The Miniature Australian Shepherd was developed by breeding smaller Australian Shepherds for the desired size. Miniature Australian Shepherds are rapidly increasing in popularity among those interested in a compact dog with a strong work ethic. They are especially popular in dog agility, and do...

, the western United States are now seeing the emergence of an even smaller version, referred to as the toy Australian shepherd, with adult males tipping the scales at a mere 12 to 15 pounds (5.5 to 7 kg). The genetic consequences of breeding the standard Australian shepherd down to one-quarter size remain to be seen. Many breeders and owners of Australian shepherds consider the Mini and Toy to be separate breeds; others consider them to be downsized versions of the same breed. ASCA and AKC considers all such variants to be separate breeds.

External links

- An active listing of Australian Shepherd links.
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