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Red Australian Shepherd: Characteristics, Temperament, and Care - PawSafe
Dog Breeds

Red Australian Shepherd: Characteristics, Temperament, and Care

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

red Australian Shepherd

The Red Australian Shepherd is a striking color in a well-known breed for its striking appearance and friendly personality. These dogs are a variation of the Australian Shepherd breed with a unique red coat color. 

Red Australian Shepherds share traits with fellow Aussies, including high energy levels. These pups need plenty of physical and mental exercises like puzzle toys to remain well-behaved and healthy, and the occasional canine perfume spritzes after long days playing outside.

Despite their rarity, Red Australian Shepherds have become increasingly popular in recent years, thanks in part to their friendly and outgoing personalities. Using extensive guides from well-known Aussie breeders, we’ve compiled the ultimate Red Australian Shepherd guide.

Red Aussies are neck to neck with other energy-crazy breeds and mixes like Border Collies and Husky Collies. Bred to herd livestock, you wouldn’t expect anything less from this magnificent breed.

This dog requires regular, intense exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. They also need proper grooming to maintain their coat’s health and shine.

Overall, the Red Australian Shepherd is an excellent breed for people looking for an intelligent, active, and loyal companion.

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History & Origin of the Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd is not from Australia, as the name suggests. The breed was brought from the Basque region of Spain, where Basque Shepherds bred capable herding dogs. The Pyrenean Shepherd is believed to have been an Australian Dog ancestor at this point.

These Basque shepherds migrated to Australia first with their dogs, where they were bred with Collies, before finally settling in California. This explains why Australian Shepherds have the name Australia, despite it not being the country of origin. Aussies were then refined in the US to the Australian Shepherds we know today.

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Genetics Behind the Red Coloring: How do you get a Red Australian Shepherd?

The red coloring in Australian Shepherds is caused by a recessive gene called the “e” or the MCIR gene. Surprisingly, the “e” gene is also responsible for cream-colored dogs like Cream Frenchies, Cream Dachshunds, and even white dogs like White Frenchies.

The recessive “e” gene is responsible for the pigment called pheomelanin, which produces red and brown colors in dogs. Several studies point out that dilution genes like the C gene (or the D allele for “dilute”)  determine the intensity of red color. This means the coat can be deep reddish brown or chocolate color, or a more diluted tan or cream.  However, opposing research shows that whatever causes variations in dogs with e/e is largely unknown. 

Both parents must carry at least one copy of the red factor gene to produce a red Australian Shepherd. This is because the “e” gene needs to be in the homozygous state (e/e) to present. In other words, puppies need to inherit two copies of the red gene, one from each parent, to be born with red coloring.

Kinds of Red Australian Shepherds

Red Australian Shepherds are known for their striking red coats, which come in various shades and patterns. Here are the different kinds of red Australian Shepherds:

Solid Red

Solid Red Australian Shepherds have a uniform red coat without any white markings. The shade of red can vary from deep mahogany to a lighter cinnamon color. This is extremely rare.

Red Tri

Red Tri Australian Shepherds have a red base coat with white markings on their chest, legs, and face. They also have tan or black markings on their coats. In other words, tri-color red Australian Shepherds have three different coat colors on their body.

Red Bi

Red Bi Australian Shepherds have a red base coat with white markings on their chest and legs. However, unlike Red Tri Australian Shepherds, they do not have any merle markings on their coat and they only have two colors.

Red Merle

Red Merle Australian Shepherds have a red base coat with darker red markings. The merle part of the coat is mottled with darker splotches on a lighter base.

Phantom Red

Phantom Red Australian Shepherds have a red base coat with black markings on their face, legs, and chest. They carry the gene for merle coloring, but you won’t see it in their coat.

What does the red Australian Shepherd look like?

Red Aussies have a well-balanced and agile build, reflecting their herding heritage. Their body is slightly longer than their height, with a level back and well-developed muscles. They are medium-sized dogs and should have an athletic build, not a chonky one. 

One of the most captivating features of Australian Shepherds is their eyes. They often have striking, almond-shaped eyes that can be blue, brown, or even one of each (heterochromia). Some dogs even have marbled eyes, with mixed colors within one eye.

The ears are medium-sized, triangular in shape, and slightly folded. They have a cute natural bobtail or a short tail. 

How big does the Red Australian Shepherd get?

The Red Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized breed, typically standing 18-23 inches (46 to 58 cm) tall at the shoulder and weighing between 40-65 pounds (18 to 29 kg). 

Color and Coat

As the name suggests, the red Australian Shepherd has a predominantly red coat. The shade of red can vary from light cinnamon color to deep mahogany and may have white or black markings on the face, chest, and legs. They often also have a mottled merle pattern. 

The coat is thick and double-layered, with a soft undercoat and a longer, coarser topcoat that protects from the elements.

Temperament and Behavior

Red Australian Shepherds are highly active,  intelligent, adaptable, affectionate, playful, and energetic dogs. They require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior and for them to calm down.

These dogs often work on farms, ranches, and other outdoor settings due to their high energy levels and strong work ethic. Living with these dogs in apartments is not recommended because they may take out their energy on your valuables. 

When properly socialized and trained, red Australian Shepherds make excellent family pets. They are affectionate and protective of their families and can get along well with children and other pets. However, they may be reserved or wary around strangers and require early socialization to prevent shyness or aggression.

Red Australian Shepherds are highly trainable and excel in obedience, agility, and other dog sports. They enjoy learning new commands and tasks and thrive on positive reinforcement training methods.

These dogs are also known for their strong herding instincts and may try to herd children, other pets, or even cars if not adequately trained and supervised.


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Health and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

Like all dog breeds, Red Australian Shepherds may be prone to specific health issues, according to studies. These health problems include:

  • Common joint and bone issues like arthritis and hip dysplasia. 
  • Eye issues like Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA). Studies show that 9% of Collies suffer from this genetic eye issue. Other eye issues include cataracts, conjunctivitis, and glaucoma. 
  • Multidrug Resistance 1 (MDR1) Gene Mutation refers to a blood-brain barrier affecting the transport of drugs.
  • Different cancer types like lymphoma.
  • Heart Issues: Some Australian Shepherds may be prone to heart conditions, including congenital heart defects and mitral valve disease.
  • Autoimmune Disorders: Certain autoimmune disorders, such as autoimmune thyroiditis and autoimmune skin conditions.
  • Merle-Associated Issues such as blindness and deafness for Red Merles.
  • Moderate issues like obesity, dental issues, ear infections, and allergies.

It is essential to find a reputable breeder who performs health screenings on their breeding dogs to reduce the risk of these health conditions.

How long do Red Australian Shepherds live?

The lifespan of a Red Australian Shepherd is typically between 12 to 15 years. However, several factors may affect their lifespan, such as genetics, diet, exercise, and overall health. 

Training a Red Australian Shepherd

Training a Red Australian Shepherd requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. These dogs are intelligent and eager to please, but they can also be stubborn and independent. Here are some tips to help you train your Red Australian Shepherd:

Start training early, use positive reinforcement, and keep sessions short and interactive. These dogs rank as the 42nd smartest dogs and will grasp commands pretty fast. Socialization, obedience, and crate training are essentials for your Red Aussie.


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Red Australian Shepherds Care and Maintenance 

Dietary Needs

Red Australian Shepherds need a balanced diet to maintain their health and energy levels. Providing them with high-quality dog food that meets their nutritional requirements is essential. A diet rich in protein is essential for muscle development and maintenance. Owners should ensure that the dog food they select has a protein content of at least 25%.

It is important to note that Red Australian Shepherds are prone to obesity if they don’t get enough exercise, so it is essential to monitor their weight and adjust their diet and exercise routine accordingly. Overfeeding and lack of exercise can lead to serious health problems like joint issues and heart disease.

Exercise Requirements

Red Australian Shepherds are active and require regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. Owners should provide them with at least 1 to 2 hours of exercise daily. This can include activities such as walking, running, and playing fetch.

In addition to physical exercise, mental stimulation is crucial for Red Australian Shepherds. Owners can provide them with puzzle toys, agility courses, and obedience training to keep their minds active.

How to Groom an Australian Shepherd

Grooming an Australian Shepherd is essential to keeping your dog healthy and happy. Regular grooming helps remove dirt, mats, and tangles from their coat and prevents skin irritation and infections. Here are some tips on how to groom an Australian Shepherd:


Australian Shepherds have a thick double coat that sheds heavily twice a year. Brushing your dog’s coat daily helps remove loose hair and prevent mats and tangles. This is important as their coat mats quickly and can cause a number of health issues, not to mention just being extremely uncomfortable for your dog.

Use a slicker or pin brush to brush your dog’s coat, starting at the head and working your way down to the tail. Be gentle when brushing around your dog’s ears, belly, and legs.

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Australian Shepherds need monthly baths with a mild dog shampoo and warm water. 

Nail Trimming

Trimming your dog’s nails is vital to prevent overgrowth, splitting, and cracking. Use a sharp dog nail clipper to trim the tips of your dog’s nails, ensuring not to cut too close to the quick. If you’re uncomfortable trimming your dog’s nails, consider taking them to a professional groomer or veterinarian.

Ear Cleaning

Australian Shepherds are prone to ear infections, so cleaning their ears is essential. Use a cotton ball with ear solution or ear wipes to wipe the inside of your dog’s ears, being careful not to push debris further into the ear canal. 

Teeth Cleaning

Dental hygiene is essential for your dog’s overall health. Brush your dog’s teeth regularly with a soft-bristled toothbrush and dog toothpaste. You can also give your dog dental chews, rinses, or toys to help keep their teeth clean.

By following these tips, you can keep your Australian Shepherd looking and feeling their best.

Finding a Red Australian Shepherd

There are two main options when looking for a red Australian Shepherd: finding a reputable breeder or adopting from a rescue or shelter. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages.


Finding a reputable breeder is essential when looking for a red Australian Shepherd. A good breeder will provide you with a healthy and well-socialized puppy and offer support and advice throughout the dog’s life. Here are a few tips for finding a reputable breeder:

  • Look for breeders registered with the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) or the American Kennel Club (AKC).
  • Visit the breeder’s facility and meet the puppies’ parents to ensure they are healthy and well-cared for.
  • Ask for health clearances for the parents, including hip and elbow dysplasia, eye exams, and genetic testing for common breed-specific diseases.
  • Ask for references from previous puppy buyers and contact them about their experience with the breeder.


Adopting a red Australian Shepherd from a rescue or shelter can be an excellent option for those who want to give a loving home to a dog in need. Here are a few things to keep in mind when adopting:

  • Research the rescue or shelter to ensure they have a good reputation and are transparent about the dog’s history and behavior.
  • Meet the dog in person and spend some time with them to see if their personality and energy level fit your lifestyle.
  • Ask the rescue or shelter staff about any medical or behavioral issues the dog may have and ensure you are prepared to handle them.
  • Understand that rescue dogs may require more patience and training than a puppy from a breeder, but the reward of giving them a second chance at a happy life is priceless.

Red Aussie rescue organizations include:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average price range for a red Australian Shepherd?

The price range for a red Australian Shepherd can vary depending on the breeder, location, and demand. On average, a red Australian Shepherd puppy can cost anywhere from $800 to $2,500.

Are red Australian Shepherds rarer than other colors?

No, red Australian Shepherds are not more rare than other colors. They are one of the four standard colors recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) for Australian Shepherds.

Where can I find reputable breeders for Australian Shepherd puppies?

One can find reputable breeders for Australian Shepherd puppies by searching for breeders registered with the AKC or the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA).

What are the personality traits of Australian Shepherds with red coats?

Australian Shepherds with red coats are known for being intelligent, loyal, and energetic. They are often used as working dogs and excel in activities such as agility and obedience training.

Are red merle Australian Shepherds more prone to health issues?

Red merle Australian Shepherds are more prone to merle-related health issues like deafness and blindness. However, all Australian Shepherds can be prone to specific health issues such as hip dysplasia, eye problems, and epilepsy.

What are some common coat colors for Australian Shepherds?

The four standard coat colors recognized by the AKC for Australian Shepherds are black, blue merle, red, and red merle. However, Australian Shepherds can also have variations of these colors, such as white markings or tan points.

Does the red Australian Shepherd shed?

Yes, the red Australian Shepherd does shed. They have a double coat and shed moderately throughout the year, with heavier shedding during seasonal changes.

Is the Red Australian Shepherd hypoallergenic?

No, the red Australian Shepherd is not hypoallergenic. They shed moderately and can produce dander, triggering allergies in some people.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the Red Australian Shepherd is a beautiful and intelligent breed that makes an excellent companion for active individuals or families. They are known for their high energy levels, loyalty, and trainability. Potential owners should know that these dogs require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. 

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.