The Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized, robust, well-balanced, rustic dog with pendant ears, an abundant, medium-length coat, and a bobtail. He should be attentive, lively, and agile with a body slightly longer than its height at the withers. The Aussie has a strong, deep chest and stands squarely on all fours. The front legs are straight. The feet are compact and oval, with arched toes. The top of the head is approximately the same length as the slightly tapering muzzle. The head has a moderate stop. The teeth form a scissors bite. The medium sized oval eyes come in many shades of blue, amber, and brown, often combined or with flecks. The triangular, pendant ears are set high on the head. The medium-length coat comes in blue or red merle, red or black, all with or without white trim or tan markings. The hair around the ears and eyes should not be white. The coat might be straight or slightly wavy, and should have feathering on the backs of the legs, and a mane and frill around the neck. Hair on the head, front of the legs, and on the outside of the ears is shorter than the rest of the coat. The tail is generally docked if it is longer than 4 inches, though many are naturally short.
Basque shepherds from Spain and France first brought this outstanding herding dog to the United States and Australia; many then came from Australia to the western United States. They were adept at handling tough cattle and sheep over rugged terrain, and soon became popular herding and all-purpose ranch dogs. They became visible to many non-ranchers when several Aussies toured as a performing act with a rodeo in the 1950s; the dogs were subsequently featured in a movie. Australian Shepherds are superior farm dogs, capable of doing the work of several men and handling all kinds of stock. They are also outstanding obedience dogs, often placing high in trial. The versatile, intelligent Australian Shepherd has served as a narcotics-detection dog and service dog for the deaf, and in search and rescue work. The breed is also known for excellence at disc-catching. The Australian Shepherd is recognized by the AKC, the United Kennel Club and the Australian Shepherd Club of America. The Australian Shepherd Dog Club of America sponsors Stockdog Trials to promote and preserve the breed's outstanding working abilities. Today's Aussie is a popular farm dog and family companion.