What Kind of Coat Does an Australian Shepherd Have?

This award-winning Australian shepherd is an example of a blue merle.
i Christopher Furlong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

When is an Australian dog not Australian? When it’s an Australian shepherd! The “Aussie" breed's place of origin is debated -- but authorities agree it wasn't Australia. It's likely, though, that some came to the American West, where the dog herded Australian sheep, from Down Under in the 1800s.

Double Coat

The Australian shepherd has a double coat; it consists of two layers. The outer layer is intended to be weatherproof, while the inner layer is intended to provide insulation. The double coat would have been suited to the climate of the Pyrenees Mountains where the breed was purportedly developed.

Outer Coat

The Australian shepherd's outer coat is of medium texture, neither harsh nor soft. It can range from straight to wavy but should be moderate in length. The moderate length does vary somewhat over the entirety of the dog’s body. The Australian Shepherd Club of America standard describes the coat over the head, the backs of the ears, the front of the forelegs and below the joint of the rear legs as being “smooth” or short. The coat is longer on the neck, forming a “frill” or a “ruff,” as well as on the back of the Aussie’s front legs and on the back legs above the joint. Male Aussies usually have more substantial frills than female Aussies. According to ASCA standard annotations, the additional coat frill “is partially what gives them a more masculine appearance.


The Australian shepherd’s undercoat consists of hairs denser than the hairs in the outer coat. The amount of undercoat any given Aussie has will vary based on the environment in which the dog is raised. That is, an Australian shepherd raised in North Dakota will typically have more undercoat than a dog that is raised in North Carolina.


The Australian shepherd coat comes in four colors: blue merle, red merle, solid black and solid liver brown, called “red” in this breed. Blue merle dogs are gray dogs, ranging from light to dark gray with black splotchy markings. Red merle coats have a lighter red background color with darker brown splotchy markings. All of these colors can have white markings but are not required to have them. They may also have reddish-brown markings over their eyes, on their cheeks and on all four legs. All other colors are disqualified because they are evidence of “mongrelization."

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