The ultimate working dog, the Australian Shepherd actually comes from the Basque region of Europe, not Australia. Believed to be sacred by Native Americans, Australian Shepherds were nicknamed ghost eye, because of their striking eye coloration. They commonly have eyes of different colors, or have varying colors within each eye. Lively and vivacious, they gained their first bit of fame as rodeo trick dogs. These superb herders are so intelligent that they are used as Seeing Eye dogs for the blind, as well as search and rescue dogs.

Among the smartest of all dog breeds, the Australian Shepherd will not be content spending his life alone in the backyard, or sitting quietly next to you all night while you watch television. If he gets bored, he is likely to bark a lot and be destructive. With that being said, they are devoted to their family and enjoy being as close to you as possible.

When Australian Shepherds herd livestock, they nip at the heels. Since most people don’t have sheep to herd, the Australian Shepherd might do this to your children, pets or vehicles instead. To remedy this, be sure to give him interesting tasks that will give him exercise and mental stimulation.

The Australian Shepherd doesn’t necessarily need a large backyard to roam in. Although he enjoys the outdoors, he is by no means an outside dog. He should always live indoors. Nicknamed the Aussie, he tends to be rather vocal. Australian Shepherds bark when they hear or see something they don’t expect.

Best known for his patchwork, light and dark merle coat, the Aussie has a sort of marbled look. Blue and red merle are the most common colors but they also come in black or white. According to Vetstreet, you should avoid getting an all-white Aussie because they are genetically linked to being deaf and blind. The Aussie breed is prone to eye problems in general.

As mentioned, their most notable feature is their eyes. They come in brown, amber, blue, green and hazel, and the two eyes are generally different colors. Some Aussies even have two different colors within one eye.

There are two types of Australian Shepherds, one for herding and one for show. Dogs bred for show are larger, thicker and have longer coats. Either variety is very family-oriented. There are also mini and toy Australian Shepherd breeds out there. If you select one of these, just be aware that the AKC will not register them as they don’t recognize them as viable candidates. Also know that just because they are smaller doesn’t mean they will need any less activity.

An athletic, high jumper, the Australian Shepherd is exceptional at sports and agility contests. Eager to please, he learns new skills quickly. Intelligent and focused, an Australian Shepherd will be easy to managed, providing you give him plenty to do. Some activities they enjoy include Frisbee, obedience training and herding, of course. If you want to meet his high activity needs, he will need two daily hour-long walks, in addition to some home training sessions. As long as he gets plenty of exercise and something to do with all of his brainpower, the Australian Shepherd will be a happy camper.