Australian Shepherds are commonly characterized by traits that contributed to their original use as herding dogs, including being very intelligent, obedient, active, energetic, and watchful. These traits now allow Australian Shepherds to be used as service dogs primarily in search and rescue, disability assistance, and drug detection. However, as with other working breeds, the athleticism and stamina of the pet Australian Shepherd requires physical and mental stimulation in the family environment. Australian Shepherds are eager to learn and respond well to reward-based training, allowing them to enjoy a vast array of activities including agility, flyball, and Frisbee that help the dog bond with its family. However, its herding tendencies can impair this bond as an Australian Shepherd may herd children (sometimes by nipping), chase moving vehicles, or bark. Australian Shepherds may also be suspicious of strangers, which implies some degree of low level fear or concern about them, but socialization may minimize the development of fear-based defensive aggression.
The Australian Shepherd Dog was developed to be a working dog, specifically to assist with the herding of animals. The breed was introduced to the United States in the 1800's, accompanying the Basque Shepherds that emigrated from Australia. The origin of the Basques began in the Spanish Styrene's and the breed's ancestry may be traced back to the Spanish Shepherd dogs that lived during the early days of the United State's colonization. The population of the Australian Shepherds rose significantly following World War II and the breed gained popularity due to their role in rodeos, horse shows and growing media attention. The American Kennel Club finally recognized the Australian Shepherd in 1991.