Contrary to the name, Australian Shepherds do not originate from Australia. They actually have a rich ancestry in Spain.
The first dogs that existed in Spain were thought to be very different from today's domestic dog and dogs would have been used, almost exclusively, by shepherds.
The original "Australian Shepherds" that derived from these original ancestors, adapted well to the American West and its terrain; a terrain that is very similar to that of Spain.
With careful breeding these dogs have evolved into the Australian Shepherd we all know today. They have proven themselves to be protectors of herds as well as man. While their primary job has always been herding, today they have a variety of uses mainly as a family pet.
Australian Shepherds come in several colors but usually the same shape and size. They are considered a medium sized dog and are either black with brown, red and white, black and white and red, or blue merle.
Australian Shepherds tend to be born with shortened tails, although this is not always the case. There will be some tails that tend to be shortened, and is usually done by a Veterinarian at a young age (3 to 5 days). These dogs are double coated which have a tendency to shed.
Overall, they are extremely fun-looking dogs with the personalities to match.
Australian Shepherds are typically high energy dogs. Aussies need room to run and should be exercised daily.
A normal Australian Shepherd requires anywhere from 2 to 3 hours of activity and attention. They are social dogs and love being with people or other animals.
Aussies adapt well in most circumstances and enjoy working, whether herding animals or participating in field trials. Aussies thrive on action and accolades given them by their owners.
Aussies are actually "thinking dogs"; they seem to be able to reason out what needs to be done in a situation, then they take control. This breed is loyal, kind, loving and totally devoted. They form intense bonds with their owner and other select people.
Aussies sense danger and will bark until they are assured everything is back to normal. The down side to Australian Shepherds would probably be the need to use up all their energy. If they are not exercised by play, running or herding, they can become destructive.
Aussies are prized among ranchers and shepherds for their boundless energy, knowing these dogs don't quit until all the work is done. Even though Aussies are "people dogs", they thrive best on ranches and rural settings where they can expend the energy they have in abundance.
This may sound extreme, but the enjoyment you will derive from these dogs and their personalities outweigh the time and energy given. Like a hyperactive child that needs their energy directed, Australian Shepherds are fairly similar.