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White Australian Shepherd: Facts, Origin & History

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Australian Shepherds are lean and agile and love the outdoors. Bred as ranch hands, these dogs were well known as a cowboy’s best friend. This is a true herding breed that is focused and loyal to their human companions. This medium-sized dog is friendly with people and other pets but is not afraid of hard work. Here is everything that you need to know about this unique dog.

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The Earliest Records of White Australian Shepherds in History

Australian Shepherds are not actually Australian. All the evidence leads us to believe that these dogs came from Spain and were brought to America by Spanish sheep farmers in the 1500s. There is also speculation that these dogs were first bred from mountain sheepdogs, which display many characteristics of Australian Shepherds. Either way, these dogs did eventually make their way to Australia, which is how they got their name.

The White Australian Shepherd came into existence when merle Australian Shepherds were bred together. The merle coloring of an Australian Shepherd is directly related to their genes.

A merle Australian Shepherd has silver or grey patchwork coloring over their regular coat color. This coloring is due to a gene that inhibits regular melanin production. When two merle dogs breed, they can produce what is referred to as a double merle or White Australian Shepherd. The white coloring indicates that the two merle genes have canceled out the true coloring of the coat. However, there are certain health implications for a White Australian Shepherd due to the doubled-up genes that they inherit.

How the White Australian Shepherd Gained Popularity

Australian Shepherds have grown in popularity throughout the years due to their loyal and friendly disposition. They are also popular due to their efficient herding abilities. Their height of popularity was when they were featured in rodeos as bull herders. They were the “right-hand dog” for farmers and shepherds and have always gotten along with children and other animals.

The White Australian Shepherd became popular due to the color patterning. Some of these dogs are completely white, while others show both merle and white patches on their coats.

Formal Recognition of White Australian Shepherd

No organization or club formally recognizes the White Australian Shepherd. However, the American Kennel Club Formally recognized the Australian Shepherd breed as a whole in 1991. The Australian Shepherd has also been formally recognized by the United Kennel Club in the U.K.

These clubs do not recognize White Australian Shepherds because of the health problems that they are predisposed to. The clubs do not want to promote the breeding of dogs that will go through a lifetime of pain and limited quality of life.

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Top 3 Unique Facts About the White Australian Shepherd

1. They Became Popular at Rodeos

Ranchers located throughout the United States took great pride in their Australian Shepherds.  These dogs were featured in rodeos, which helped propel their popularity to new heights. These dogs would herd bulls and perform tricks for rodeo audiences around the United States and Mexico.

2. They Aren’t Technically From Australia

Although these dogs were brought to Australia and were bred in the country, these are Spanish dogs based on historical findings. They have spent more time in Spanish nations and the United States than they have in Australia.

3. Many of These Dogs Have Two Different Eye Colors

There are some White Australian Shepherds that have dark brown eyes and others with light brown eyes. But more often than not, these dogs have at least one blue eye, which is an indication of their genetic “defect.”

Does the White Australian Shepherd Make a Good Pet?

The White Australian Shepherd makes as good a pet as any other dog in existence. They get along with kids and adults alike and typically integrate well with other household pets. They enjoy outdoor adventures and are smart and sociable.

The problem is that White Australian Shepherds can have various hereditary diseases, such as blindness and deafness. They may have unproductive and unhappy lives simply due to their coat color. It is best to stick with a breed that is not susceptible to these health problems, especially if you expect an entire family to adapt to living with a dog.

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White Australian Shepherds are beautiful dogs, but they are born with major health risks. A traditional Australian Shepherd is a better choice for most families because they don’t have the same health concerns as White Australian Shepherds do. It’s important to do your research and spend time with this breed before deciding whether it’s the right one for your household overall.

Featured Image Credit: GoodFocused, Shutterstock

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