Australian Shepherd Colors

Reviewed By Julie •  Updated: 12/06/21 •  11 min read
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Australian Shepherd Colors

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Australian shepherd dogs also referred to as Aussies, are beautiful, affectionate dogs. The dogs were bred to be used working dogs in the US West. These playful pups are prized for their intelligence and loyalty. They love to play, too! And they’re very eager to please their pet parents, making Aussies one of the most popular dogs around!

These beautiful dogs come in a variety of colors and patterns. If you’d like to know about these amazing dogs, then read on! We’ve included a short overview of the Australian shepherd and information about their colors!

What is an Australian Shepherd Dog?

The Australian shepherd dog breed is intelligent, fast-thinking/acting, playful, and loyal. According to the AKC, these dogs are the 13th most popular breed! These dogs were first recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club) back in 1993.

When it comes to appearance, an Aussie dog has a body that’s somewhat longer than his tail. These are medium-sized dogs who are strong and made to run.

Australian shepherds have a two-layer coat; the top layer protects the dog from all types of weather, while the undercoat works to cool or warm the dog. While these dogs can go without baths for a few weeks (depending on how dirty they become!), they require regular brushing to remove dirt and keep the fur from matting and snarling.

Aussies have been used as working dogs for many years. They are excellent herding dogs and have even been known to herd young children and other pets. Australian shepherds have a ton of energy, which means they require lots of daily exercise and mental stimulation. These dogs also enjoy obedience training, running agility courses, and so much more. They’re also happy to run and jump to catch frisbees!

When it comes to exercise, these dogs have the strength to go all day long, and then some. This makes them excellent for pet parents who are active. If you’re a jogger or hiker, here’s the companion for you. If the dog’s energy is not properly channeled through exercise and work, this breed can become quite destructive and cause other problems. Aussies are not good for families that head out to work and school all day, leaving the dog at home.

Aussies are extremely loyal dogs, which also makes them a little territorial and protective. They will sound the alarm when a stranger is nearby. While they can make wonderful family dogs, they have been known to herd other pets and young kids. They may even nip at the other pets and small kids to get them to obey. However, this behavior can be curbed in an Australian shepherd that has been properly socialized from a young age.

A Brief History of the Australian Shepherd

Are these dogs really from Australia? Well, yes and no. The Australian shepherd breed actually is descended from herding dogs used by Basque shepherds in the Pyrenees mountains of Europe.

These people eventually immigrated to America around the mid-1800s in a search for work and took their dogs along. The shepherds eventually settled in the American West, where they and their dogs began working with cattle.

In the midst of the Basque immigration, some of them did head to Australia and worked the cattle there with their dogs. However, some of the shepherds and their dogs did head to America. This is why the dog breed is called Australian Shepherds today. Though they didn’t really originate in Australia, the name stuck and has remained ever since.

Australian shepherds became prized herding dogs in the American West and joined the cowboy culture quite successfully. From there, these dogs have become much-loved working and family dogs!

The Australian Shepherd’s Coat Colors

Aussies come in a wide range of colors, but only a few are recognized by the AKC. These colors include black, blue merle, red, and red merle. When it comes to markings, the AKC recognizes white markings, tan points, and white markings with tan points.

However, you will find Aussies with colors that aren’t included on the AKC’s list. But that doesn’t matter, because these dogs are wonderful, loving companions no matter their color and markings!

“Rare” White Australian Shepherds

One note we’d like to include here is that a reputable breeder will never breed two merle Aussies together. It doesn’t matter what color merles are bred together; if they breed, the puppies have a 25% chance of being born a double merle. These puppies will appear almost completely white and have a very high chance of being born deaf or blind, or even both.

The double merle puppies are often killed after being born. Breeders do this because no one wants to buy a dog that has these types of health issues. If not killed, the pups may be sold as “rare” whites and then end up in a shelter or worse. So, please be aware of this and avoid unreputable breeders who are selling rare white Aussies.

If you can adopt one of these beautiful dogs and deal with their health issues, then you will love your little white pup immensely. Other than the white coloring and health problems, these dogs are loyal, loving companions!

Solid Black Aussie Sheperd

These dogs are completely black. Their color’s caused by a recessive gene in the breed. A completely black dog is not common. These dogs usually have brow eyes; however, the shade of brown can range from light to dark. And sometimes, you may find an Aussie that has hazel, gold-flecked eyes. These are very rare Australian shepherds.

Black Bicolor Aussie Shepherd

Black bicolor Aussies are sometimes referred to as “black bi,” which refers to the dogs’ black and white coat. The Bi Aussie may have white from the face to his front paws, with the rest of his fur a solid black. These dogs also sometimes have white points just above their eyes.

Then there are some black Aussies that are black and tan. These dogs may have tan points above the eyes, cheeks, throat, chest, and legs. While these dogs have two colors, they’re not known as “bi black.” This term is solely used for the black and white Australian shepherd dogs.

Black Tricolor Aussie

Some black Australian shepherds are known as three-colored black Aussies. They may also be referred to as “black tri” Australian shepherds. These dogs have three colors in their coats, which include black, white, and tan. You’ll most often see the white markings on the paws, muzzle, chest, and stomach. The tan markings are usually found on the dog’s eyes, cheeks, and legs.

The black tri Australian shepherd dog is one of the most popular coat colors and markings of all Australian shepherd dogs. They also have brown eyes, which range in color from light to dark.

Solid Red Australian Shepherd

The red Aussie’s fur color is caused by a recessive gene that appears when the dominant black gene is absent. These dogs are more challenging to breed, which makes them rarer.

Red Australian shepherds’ coats come in several different shades, including cinnamon (appears gold), liver (almost a dark gray or black), auburn, chestnut, ruby, and more.

Solid colored Australian shepherd dogs are rare, which means that a solid red Aussie is even rarer.

Red Bicolor Aussie

Aussies also come in red bicolor! These dogs have white markings on their faces, chests, and legs. You may also find a dog that has white on the back of his neck. However, the rest of the dog’s fur will be red.

Red bicolor Aussies are always red and white, which means you won’t have a red/tan Australian shepherd unless the color white is also there.

Red Tricolor Australian Shepherd

Aussies can also sport a red tricolor variation. These dogs have a red and white coat, which includes copper points and markings. The dogs may also have white on their faces, paws, fronts, with the copper highlights usually on their face and legs.

A red tricolor Aussie can have amber eyes, which are the most common in these dogs. However, you can find them with blue eyes or even with one amber eye and one blue eye (which is called heterochromia).

Blue Merle Aussie Dogs

Another color you’ll often find in Australian shepherds is called blue merle. Merle is a dominant gene pattern in this breed, which means more Aussies have this color more often than solid red or black fur. Merle means the coat has a marbled look, with lighter and darker shades combined and layered. The patterns can be quite stunning.

Merle Aussies can also be black or red; however, when a black Aussie has the merle gene, he’s called a blue merle. Blue merle Aussies are said to be blue because the black in their fur is mixed with grey. When seen from far away, these dogs may look blue, which is why they’re called blue merle Aussies.

The entire coat of a blue merle Aussie will be marbled. The gray in the coat may range from silver to charcoal. This is not the rarest coloring for an Australian shepherd, but no one can deny they’re quite beautiful.

Blue Merle Bicolor Aussies

Just as with the other colors, blue merle Australian shepherds can also come in a blue merle bicolor combination. Dogs with the bicolor combination can mix white or tan with the blue marbled coloring. You’ll find the white coloring on the chest or on the dog’s chest, middle, and forelegs.

These dogs can also have blue merle and tan coloring! These are not as common, but you may find them with tan or copper points on their eyebrows. Some blue merle bicolor Aussies may also have tan beards.

Blue Merle Tricolor Australian Shepherd Dogs

Then there are the blue merle tricolor Aussies! This color combination is very popular and is considered to be a mark of purebred dogs. Here, the dogs will have white ruffs & faces, tan cheeks, ears, and legs, with the blue merle coloring down their backs.

Blue tricolor Aussies usually have blue or brown eyes but may also have one of each color. The combination of eye color and fur results in a most beautiful dog.

Red Merle Aussie Dog

Then there are the red merle Aussies! The genes for these dogs feature the merle pattern and the red color gene. The result is a marbled red coat, which almost looks like sandstone. It’s very pretty.

Some red merle Australian shepherd dogs may also sport copper and/or white patches and still be considered red merles.

When it comes to their eyes, red merle Aussies have marbled colored eyes, too. Their eyes may have blue or brown marbling; however, some of these dogs may also have one of each—one brow and one blue marbled eye. What a striking combination this can be!

Red Merle Bicolor Australian Shepherd

Aussies can also be red merle bicolored dogs! The dogs have a red merle coat, trimmed with white on their faces, legs, and necks. White may also be mixed with the red marbling in the rest of the dog’s coat.

These Australian shepherds may also have red and white spots that are mixed together. The result can look something like freckles, which are really cute!

Red Merle Tricolor Aussie Dogs

You guessed it; this dog breed can also come in a red merle tricolor. Aussies with this coloring have a red marbled foundation color, with tan highlights and white trim. You may find white on the dog’s face, chest, legs, or even on the belly.

Copper is another common color, which may appear around their eyes and on the tips of their feet.

Summing It Up

No matter their coloring or patterns, Australian shepherds are wonderful, loving, loyal working dogs. They can come in a variety of colors and patterns, which make them unusual, beautiful dogs.

Aussies may be working dogs, but they also make lovely family companions!

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Julie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.

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