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Australian Shepherd basic information

The Australian Shepherd is a working dog that was developed in the United States in the 19th century, rather than Australia—a misnomer. The dog, commonly known as an Aussie, is popular in its native California and is growing in popularity in countries across the world.

Like many working breeds, the Aussie has considerable energy and drive and usually needs a job to do. It often excels at dog sports such as frisbee and dog agility.

The coat comes in several colors—blue merle, red merle, solid red, or solid black; all can occur with or without white markings, tan (called "copper") points, or both. Dogs with tan and white along with the primary color are called tricolor. Dogs with white only along with the primary color are called bicolor. Too much white on any Aussie is a serious flaw, because it is frequently accompanied by deafness and/or blindness, which can occur when two merles are bred together (the double merle).

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 green, hazel, amber, brown, or blue; they may have two different colored eyes, or even have bicolored eyes (for example, a half-brown, half-blue eye). Any combination of eye color is acceptable in the breed standard, so long as the eyes are healthy. In general, however, black Aussies tend to have brown eyes, while red Aussies tend to have amber eyes, frequently with one eye totally or partially unpigmented (that is, blue).

The breed's general appearance also varies greatly depending on the particular line's emphasis. As with many working breeds that are also shown in the ring, there are differences of opinion among breeders over what makes an ideal Australian Shepherd.

Reflecting the great variation that still exists in the breed, an Aussie can stand between 18 and 23 inches (46 to 58 cm) at the withers and weigh between 35 and 70 pounds (16 to 32 kg). For show dogs, females should fall in the lower heights and males in the higher ranges.

A hallmark of the breed is a short bobbed or docked tail in countries where docking is permitted. Some Aussies are born with naturally short bobbed tails, others with full long tails, and others with natural partial bobs, where the tail is midlength and appears stubby. Most breeders dock the tails when the puppies are born.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Australian_Shepherd".
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