Australian Shepherd, also known as Spanish Shepherd, New Mexican Shepherd, and California Shepherd, breed of herding dog developed in the United States. Its ancestors probably were Australian dogs bred for herding livestock. Sheep herders who emigrated from the Basque region of Spain to the United States had these dogs shipped to California when the United States imported sheep from Australia in the 19th century.
Miniature Australian Shepherd: Brought to the United States by sheepherders in the late 19th century, the Australian shepherd possesses strong herding instincts. The Australian shepherd’s natural ability to steer cattle and sheep makes it popular as both a working dog and a pet on many American farms and ranches.
The Australian shepherd has a medium-boned, muscular body. The male stands about 50 to 58 cm high (about 20 to 23 in) at the shoulders and weighs about 22 to 30 kg (about 50 to 65 lb). The female stands about 46 to 54 cm high (about 18 to 21 in) and weighs about 16 to 22 kg (about 35 to 50 lb). The top of the well-shaped head is flat and slightly rounded, and the muzzle tapers to a rounded tip. Medium-sized, triangular-shaped ears sit high on the head and break forward slightly. The short, straight tail is about 10 cm (about 4 in) long.
The Australian shepherd has almond-shaped eyes, which can be blue, brown, amber, or any variation, with flecks or marbling. Its gaze is alert, eager, and attentive. The coarse, medium-length coat is colored black, black and gray or white, red with beige, and red.
The Australian shepherd is intelligent and trains easily. Its strong herding and guarding instincts are matched by great stamina. Naturally smooth movements and the ability to change direction and speed instantly make this dog well suited for herding cattle or sheep. It is also used for search-and-rescue operations. The good-natured disposition of the Australian shepherd also makes it a gentle and affectionate family pet.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Australian shepherd as a separate breed in 1993. The national breed club is the United States Australian Shepherd Association.