The Australian Shepherd herding dog was first developed in the Western United States, and due to its beautiful coat, cleverness, and sweet nature, the breed has become iconic and is now one of America’s most popular dog breeds.
18 – 23 inches
35 – 70 pounds
13 – 15 years
Black, red, merle, red merle, blue merle, tricolor
Homes with yards, families with and without kids
Friendly, loyal, affectionate, playful, intelligent, trainable
It’s best known for its lush coat, dazzling eyes (sometimes a piercing blue), and possible merle markings. The black and white Aussie Shepherd has soft fur that looks shiny, sophisticated, and reminiscent of Sheepdogs and Collies around the world.
Australian Shepherds Characteristics
The Earliest Records of Black and White Australian Shepherds in History
The black and white Australian Shepherd likely descended from certain “origin” breeds. Sailors bought pastoral dogs like Collies to North America in the 1500s, which they mixed with other species (thought to be Pyrenean Sheepdogs or Basque Shepherd dogs due to physical characteristics, such as merle coloring).
The breed was refined into the Australian shepherd breed that we know today in California in the 19th century. The dogs moved from the western US, traveling with sheep imports to California. They mixed with more Collies from Australia and New Zealand, giving them their iconic name, which helped shape the breed. As it was imported to new lands, the breed’s popularity grew.
How Black and White Australian Shepherds Gained Popularity
Once people noticed the breed’s intelligence, word quickly spread, and the Australian Shepherd made its way to the western US and found great popularity with Cowboys and livestock farmers.
These dogs were often used in rodeos since they could herd cattle and were also great performers for the Cowboys. With its beautifully striking good looks and sharp intellect, the black and white Australian Shepherd was finally recognized (along with all Australian Shepherds) by the American Kennel Club in the 1990s.
Today, it is the 12th most popular dog in the United States of America and is known as a companion dog, even though it still keeps some of its herding instinct.
Formal Recognition of the Black and White Australian Shepherd
The Australian Shepherd was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in the 1990s and recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1979. The clubs that recognize the Australian Shepherd include the American Canine Association, American Canine Registration, American Kennel Club, Australian Shepherd Club of America, Continental Kennel Club, Dog Registration of America Inc, and the North American Pure Breed Registration Inc.
Top 8 Unique Facts About Black and White Australian Shepherds
1. They Were Considered Special and Even Sacred to Native Americans
Australian Shepherds were considered exceptional dogs in Native American culture and even considered sacred in some tribes. The Native Americans called the dogs “ghost eyes,” and for a good reason, as the dogs (when they do have blue eyes) look almost ethereal, particularly if the Australian Shepherd is black and white.
2. Rodeos Gave the Australian Shepherd Its Popularity
The black and white Australian Shepherd shot to fame as their cleverness, speed, and agility matched perfectly with their capabilities in the ring. Joe Lister, a Rodeo performer in the 1900s, showcased the black and white Australian Shepherd’s skills in rodeo as he had his Shepherds perform all manner of tricks to an adoring crowd.
After this, the breed’s popularity as a pet increased dramatically; the rest, they say, is history.
Black and white Australian Shepherds (and all Australian Shepherds, for that matter) have the genes to express beautifully unique and complex patterns and colors in their coats.
Black and white Australian Shepherds may only come in two colors, but their variety is astounding, with merle, pointed, and bicolor.
4. Many Australian Shepherds Have Two Eye Colors
Heterochromia is the scientific name for an animal or a person having one eye a different color from the other. It’s a genetic trait and usually doesn’t affect vision at all, and Australian Shepherds express this much more commonly than other dog breeds do. Some have one green and one brown, one blue and one brown, or a mixture of colors in the eyes.
5. They Can Be Born With Bobtails
It sounds bizarre, but it’s true; the Australian Shepherd can be born with a bobtail. While the Aussie’s tail is commonly docked if they’re a working dog (to allow more maneuverability and less chance of injury), some Aussie Shepherds are born with half or three-quarter length (or completely bobbed) tails. It is a gene mutation that has been passed down genetically.
6. Miniature and Teacup Varieties Are Available
Strangely, the miniature and teacup varieties of the Australian Shepherd don’t share a name with the standard breed. They are called American Shepherds and are a breed of their own in the American Kennel Club.
Selective breeding has reduced these pups in size dramatically, but many of their personality traits still shine through. It’s still the same dog, just a lot more compact.
7. Australian Shepherds Are More Popular in America Than Pomeranians and Chihuahuas
8. Australian Shepherds Never Lose Their Herding Instinct
Unfortunately, this breed has such a strong herding instinct that while they are very intelligent and get along with family members and other pets, sometimes the instinct to herd will overcome them.
They have been known to push, guide, and be nippy with smaller animals to herd them. This isn’t aggressive behavior by any means and would be more of an annoyance, but it’s always best to keep an eye on an Australian Shepherd if you have small children around, lest they be herded into a corner.
Does a Black and White Australian Shepherd Make a Good Pet?
Undoubtedly, the black and white Australian Shepherd makes an excellent pet if you have an active family and time to train them. They are loyal, sweet, and clever dogs with amazing personalities, and they’re incredibly adaptable to most situations.
These dogs do shed, however, as they have a double coat, so they need regular grooming to keep them looking sleek and tangle-free. They can also suffer from some congenital health issues such as blindness and deafness if they’re merle colored with black and white; however, this is not always certain by any means.
If your family has young children, we’d advise you to supervise them around any dog, even though the black and white Australian Shepherd is known for being very good with children and, in fact, will try and herd them all together to keep them safe.
A well-trained, excellent-working Aussie can be a service or farm dog. However, they will thrive just as much in a companion animal setting as in a working dog setting. So, if you want a lap dog, this is not the dog for you, but if you need a spelunking and exploring partner, you couldn’t find a partner any better than you would find in the black and white Australian Shepherd.
The black and white Australian Shepherd is very adaptable and makes an excellent companion animal, which is why it’s made it onto America’s top dogs list. They’re also incredibly beautiful and can avoid most health issues if they’re bred responsibly.
If they’re well socialized, they can produce gorgeous dogs with sunny and focused personalities, which can truly impress and bring joy to every family member. For those who live for the great outdoors, the Aussie is ideal since they can run for miles and have energy that knows no bounds.
Featured Image Credit: Pxhere