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Black & White Australian Shepherd: Facts, Pictures, Origin & History

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

brushing australian shepherd dog

Australian Shepherds are rarely completely black and white. Often, these dogs have some sort of brown coloration on their face or legs. However, it is possible for these markings to be absent on some dogs. Therefore, having a completely bicolor Australian Shepherd is possible.

Breed Overview

Height 18 – 23 inches
Weight 35 – 70 pounds
Lifespan 13 – 15 years
Colors Black, red, merle, red merle, blue merle, tricolor
Suitable for Homes with yards, families with and without kids
Temperament Friendly, loyal, affectionate, playful, intelligent, trainable

These dogs are not inherently very different from other Australian Shepherds. Their temperament and work ethic will be similar. The only major difference is their coloration.

Australian Shepherds Characteristics


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The Earliest Records of Black & White Australian Shepherds in History

The black & white Australian Shepherd’s history starts at the same time as the rest of the breed.

Australian Shepherds aren’t actually from Australia, despite the name. Instead, these dogs are descended from herding dogs transported to take care of herds in North America by the Spaniards. Back then, to feed troops and settlers, live animals were utilized. Therefore, the herding dogs to keep the flocks together and safe were also brought with armies and settlers.

While we don’t have exact dates on when these herding dogs were first introduced into the Americas, it is thought to be as early as the 1500s. We also don’t know exactly which dogs were utilized. It is thought that they included Carea Leones bloodlines due to the eye coloration of the Australian Shepherd, as well as the merle coat1 (which isn’t found in too many dogs).

Sometimes, it is said that the Pyrenean Sheepdog and the Basque Shepherd Dog were utilized as the lines of this breed. However, we really don’t know for sure and intensive DNA studies have not been done.

The breed slowly developed as all the dogs imported were bred together. Since they were separated from the main breeding stock in Europe, they developed differently from this breeding stock. The breed that we know today didn’t develop until the 19th century in California.

On top of the herding dogs brought over by the Spaniards, herding dogs were also imported with sheep from Australia and New Zealand. For this reason, the term “Australian Shepherd” came to be.

How the Black & White Australian Shepherd Gained Popularity

The Australian Shepherd was not popular outside of herding circles for much of its history. The breed was very popular with farmers because of its ability to work well with sheep, as well as handle cattle. However, it was purely a working breed for many years.

It wasn’t until the rodeo began to take off that the average American was introduced to this breed. Australian Shepherds were often utilized to perform tricks at these rodeos. Eventually, this led to fans adopting Australian Shepherds with the intent of keeping them as companion animals.

The breed did not gain popularity until quite a while after it was commonly utilized as a herding dog.

Formal Recognition of the Black & White Australian Shepherd

Shortly after these dogs began appearing in rodeos, the Australian Shepherd Club of America was founded to promote the breed. Eventually, this led to the breed being recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1979. However, the American Kennel Club didn’t recognize this breed until the 1990s.

In the 20th century, this breed was increasingly used in conformation demonstrations. Furthermore, it became an extremely prevalent companion animal, as well. Later, this breed became the 15th most popular dog breed in the United States in 2019.

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Top 4 Unique Facts About Black & White Australian Shepherds

1. These dogs are mostly a working breed.

While the Australian Shepherd has become a very popular companion animal, they were originally bred for working. Today, they still have many of these instincts. Simply put, this leads to them being extremely active. Plus, they also have extensive herding instincts, which can lead to problems with children and smaller animals.

Therefore, you should be careful when deciding to adopt an Australian Shepherd. If you can’t handle an extremely active dog with herding instincts, they probably are not the best option for you. Many dog owners don’t realize just how big of a handful these dogs can be.

2. They aren’t from Australia.

Despite the name, these dogs aren’t from Australia. Some of their ancestral canines are from Australia, though, which is where they got their name from. Instead, these dogs are a mix of many herding breeds that were brought over by several European settlers. For instance, the Spaniards brought over many dogs to help herd sheep.

3. Some have bobbed tails.

Australian Shepherd
Image Credit: Marrisu, Pixabay

While it isn’t extremely common, Australian Shepherds do have a genetic predisposition to bobbed tails. About one in five dogs will have no tail naturally. Of course, because this is genetic, not every dog has a chance of having a short tail. Typically, you have to find a litter that was bred for this trait.

Often, herders prefer these dogs because their tails are less likely to get trampled while they are herding.

4. They shed a lot.

These dogs are extremely hairy, so they shed a lot. Therefore, it is typically best to brush them daily. If you keep on top of their brushing needs at home, you won’t have to take them to the groomer all that often. Furthermore, you cannot shave these dogs. They have a double coat, so shaving can interfere with their ability to regulate their body temperature.

These dogs will simply need a lot of brushing a lot of the time. It’s a time-consuming maintenance requirement that should be considered before you adopt an Australian Shepherd.

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Do Australian Shepherds Make a Good Pet?

These dogs can make great pets if you can handle their hyperactivity. They are extremely active, as they were bred to work all day long. Furthermore, they have strong herding instincts and they may try to herd small children, animals, and even cars. If you don’t have herd animals, these instincts can be troublesome. They cannot be trained out of the dog, either. Therefore, you’ll simply need to manage your dog’s instincts by keeping them on a leash and watching them around children.

With that said, these dogs are extremely smart. They are easy to train and take to training very quickly. Therefore, they are great for dog owners that want to compete in canine sports or have a very active relationship with their dogs.

However, they can get bored easily and do best for dog owners who plan on doing lots of training and interaction.

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Black and white Australian Shepherds are an extremely common breed. They are becoming increasingly popular as more and more people learn about them. However, originally this breed was only utilized for herding. It took a while for them to become popular companion animals.

Today, it isn’t odd to see them as companion animals. However, many people don’t quite understand what they’re getting into with this dog. It is vital that you understand how active and high-maintenance these dogs are before you adopt one.

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Featured Image Credit: Jennie Book, Shutterstock

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