Australian shepherd, breed of herding dog that, despite its name, was developed in the United States in the late 1800s from dogs brought there by Basque shepherds who had spent time in Australia.
A hardy dog with strong herding and guarding instincts, the Australian shepherd stands 18 to 23 inches (45 to 58 cm) and weighs 35 to 70 pounds (16 to 32 kg). Notable is its highly variable coat, which, according to American Kennel Club standards, can be black, blue merle (marbled gray on black), red merle (red marbled with beige), or red, with or without white markings or tan (copper) points.
Australian Shepherd is also known as "ghost-eye" dog, because many dogs of this breed have eyes of different color. Aside from two eyes of different color, each eye can be bi-colored, brown and blue at the same time. Unusual eyes are responsible for scary (ghost-like) appearance.
Australian Shepherd is one of the rare breeds that can be born with bobbed tail (naturally short tail). Some varieties of Australian Shepherd have long tail.
In addition to herding and farm work, Australian shepherds have been used for search and rescue, police work, aid to the blind, deaf, or physically handicapped, and as therapy dogs. They are valued family pets but require a high level of activity.
Australian Shepherd is very good with children. It likes to play with them and protect them. Due to strong herding instinct, it may treat them as its "herd".
Australian Shepherd sheds heavily two times per year (during the spring and autumn). It should be groomed at least once per week to prevent matting.
Australian Shepherd is not suitable for inactive families and life in the apartments. It requires houses with large yards, which provide plenty of open space for running.
Australian Shepherd has an average lifespan of 13 years.