Black Australian Shepherd: A Complete Guide to Black Aussies

Black Australian Shepherd dog lying in the snow

Aside from being intelligent, work-oriented, and exuberant, Australian Shepherds are also well-loved because they look impeccably stunning. Thanks to their rich coat colors, you won’t easily mistake them as a working breed.

If you have a preference for dark-coated dogs, you might be wondering can Australian Shepherds be black? The quick answer to this is yes! You may even find pitch-black Australian Shepherd without markings on ranches and suburban sidewalks.

In this article, I will present all there is to know about the black Aussie, including their different color varieties. 

Ready your notes or bookmark this page as this may become handy once you decide to bring home this exact pup.

Can Australian Shepherds Be Black? 

Pitch-black Australian Shepherds do exist alongside other black Aussies with various colored markings. 

It may be rare and unlikely to see Australian Shepherds in one solid color due to a controlled recessive gene, but it’s not impossible. 

According to the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA), black is one of the four primary colors of the purebred Australian Shepherd breed. 

It should come off as good news to those who prefer predominantly dark pets. The other coat colors are black, blue merle, red, and red merle.

A black Aussie doesn’t have to be entirely unblemished to be considered as having a solid color coating. Any white or tan spots will be understated, however.

Black Australian Shepherd Appearance: What Does a Black Aussie Look Like?

Australian Shepherds are famous for their gorgeous coats, especially black Aussies. They have a thick, double-layer fur that is medium length. These dogs also have long tails and floppy ears.

The double coat of black Australian Shepherds is long and wavy, with a thick undercoat and coarse topcoat. The fur is short on the face and well-feathered on the back legs. 

The breed is noted for its distinct colorations and coat. It’s a widespread belief that no two Aussies have the same pattern.

In terms of size, black Australian Shepherds are slightly longer than tall, standing at an average of 20 to 23 inches tall for males and 18 to 21 inches for females. Male Aussies typically weigh 50 to 65 pounds, while females weigh 40 to 55 pounds.

Appearance-wise, black Australian Shepherds always have brown eyes, with shades varying from light to dark. Though rare, you might even see a black Aussie with gold-flecked hazel eyes.

In particular, the black Aussie even has different color varieties. Some have a lot of copper and white trim, while others have none. Let’s take a closer look:

Solid Black Australian Shepherd

As the name suggests, a solid black Australian Shepherd has a uniform glossy black coat. These dogs lack tan/copper points or white markings anywhere on their body.

They are among the least popular black Australian Shepherd variations. Regardless, you will still see these pitch-black Aussies from time to time.

Often, a black Aussie will have a sliver of white on their chest. Some may still identify such a dog as a solid black Australian Shepherd, despite the white markings.

Black Merle Australian Shepherd

Most of the time, black merle Aussies are primarily black dogs with a merle pattern or contrasting shades of blue or red. Their coat color features a pitch-black coat with blue or red spots in arbitrary locations. 

The blue or red spots can be found anywhere in their bodies (eyes, chest, cheeks, legs, or throat), either as specks or large patches. As a result, you can find many exciting and unique black merle Aussies.

Black Tri Australian Shepherd

Black Tri Australian Shepherd

The black tri Australian Shepherd has one of the most common color combinations in black Aussies. Sometimes, their coats make them look like lean Bernese Mountain Dogs.

In some dogs, the black coat is complemented with white markings on the belly, chest, face, and legs. Copper and tan highlights are also present on both the face and leg parts.

RELATED: Tri-Color Australian Shepherd: All 4 Tri-Color Varieties Explained

Black and Tan Australian Shepherd

Black and tan Australian Shepherd
Photo by @aussie_juul (IG)

Considered the second rarest versions of black Aussies, black and tan Australian Shepherds have primary black coats with either copper or tan highlights around their eyes, chest, face, and legs.

The tan shade can range from a light brown to a deep copper. In other words, they are the Rottweilers of black Aussies.

Black and White (Black Bi) Australian Shepherd

Black and white or black bi Australian Shepherd

Also known as black bicolor (or black bi), these black Aussies only have coat colors of black and white. Primarily, they have more black in their furs than white.

The white markings are seen on their belly, chest, face, and legs. They are typically solid black everywhere else, from the back of the head to its tail. These dogs can also have any eye color.

If you have plans to breed your new pet, it’s ideal to talk to your breeder about the genetic makeup of the parent dogs. 

A reputable breeder can inform you of the coat color possibilities of your new dog’s offspring with confidence.

READ NEXT: Do Australian Shepherds Have Tails? Bobbed Tail vs. Normal Tail

Black Australian Shepherd Coat Color Genetics: What Makes an Aussie Black?

The Tyrosinase-related protein 1 (TYRP1) gene on chromosome 11, also called “B” by Aussie breeders for decades, causes the black color in Australian Shepherds. 

This enzyme is required to produce a pigment called eumelanin, which is a dark-colored pigment. Your dog only needs to inherit one copy of the dominant version of B to have a black-colored coat.

B (TYRP1) has four different versions, but the most dominant one causes an Aussie’s coat to be black-colored. 

Meanwhile, the other three all cause liver (dark brown color) but are treated as a single version for practical purposes.

You can check out this FAQ page by the Australian Shepherd Health and Genetics Institute if you want to learn about Aussie coat colors extensively.

Do Black Australian Shepherd Puppies Change Color as They Grow?

Generally, a puppy’s color is relatively similar to their adult coloration in many dog breeds. 

Most adult dogs maintain their colors for the rest of their adult lives. However, some black Australian Shepherds are considerably canine chameleons.

In particular, some black Aussie puppies will go through some remarkable color changes before reaching their adult color.

There are black Aussie puppies whose coat colors change until they reach one year old. Their dark coats are replaced by a grey-ish color, which can turn into solid black fur again. 

On the other side of the coin, some light-colored puppies can also darken by maturity.

The color change is rarer in adult black Aussies, but it does occur in some cases. There is gradual silvering of the muzzle and face in one bloodline of Aussies that is not caused by natural aging or geriatric effects. 

Hence, several types of color change can occur in the breed — and this may include your black Australian Shepherd.

Do Kennel Clubs Recognize the Black Australian Shepherd?

Black Aussie running around

Yes, most kennel clubs in the US acknowledge black Aussie dogs. The official breed standard by the American Kennel Club allows for “blue merle, solid black, red merle, solid red all with or without white markings or tan (copper) points.”

In short, an Aussie’s base color can either be blue, solid black, or red. Other specific white and tan-colored markings are also acceptable. 

The United Kennel Club (UKC) also recognizes the black Australian Shepherd, with their pitch-black fur a symbol of the breed standard. 

Their color also serves as a guide for other breeders who want to preserve and improve this particular quality of the Aussie breed.

READ NEXT: 16 Things You Need to Know About the Toy Australian Shepherd

Black Australian Shepherd Temperament: Are Black Aussies Good Family Companions?

Undoubtedly, they make for great family pets. If you have a big family at home or want a friendly dog to take everywhere, black Aussies are a perfect choice! 

Black Australian Shepherds are good-tempered family companions as they are known to be clever and with high energy levels.

A study on working and show dogs suggests working breeds such as the Australian Shepherd have a higher human-directed play interest than non-working breeds. Fortunately, they are an active bunch that needs to be busy.

Black Australian Shepherds adore their owners and enjoy spending time with them. Your new furry friend can quickly establish close bonds with your family. 

Typically, they love children and other pets easily, especially if it means more playtime and attention. 

They can also protect their family and territory, making them viable guard dogs for the home. Aussies aren’t naturally aggressive compared to other dogs of the same size, but they will alert you when a stranger approaches your home.

Their pitch-black coat color makes them look intimidating to just about anyone. Any ill-wishers will have to think twice about approaching them.

Black Australian Shepherd Lifespan and Health Issues: Are Black Aussies Healthy Dogs?

The black Australian Shepherd has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years on average. However, some dogs live significantly longer, which has been attributed to a healthy canine lifestyle.

Like humans, all dogs are susceptible to genetic health issues. While black Aussies are usually healthy dogs, they may develop various health issues in their lifetime.

Here’s a brief rundown of the health issues you should be aware of:

  • Hip Dysplasia: HD is a combination of hip joint laxity and joint degeneration. This multifactorial disease arises from both genetic and environmental factors. Some HD-affected Aussies may show little or no signs of lameness, while others are severely impacted at an early age. Orthopedic surgery can sometimes relieve the symptoms, but take note that the procedures can be expensive.
  • Epilepsy: This seizure disorder may be caused by various factors such as infections, head injury, toxic exposure, fever, brain disease, and body chemistry imbalances. If there is brain damage in your Aussie, the seizures may continue and require anti-seizure treatment.
  • Cancers: Hemangiosarcoma (HSA), an aggressive cancer of the vascular tissue or blood vessels, can be prevalent in the breed. Since it begins in a blood vessel, the disease spreads readily to the lungs or liver. Another common cancer type in Aussies is lymphoma, the cancer of the white blood cells. The most telltale sign is an enlarged lymph node down the jaw or in the limbs’ back (knee).
  • Cataracts: In Australian Shepherds, this is the most common eye condition. It may happen for various reasons other than genetics, such as injury, nutritional imbalance, or other diseases. It’s advisable to consult a veterinary ophthalmologist to have your Aussie examined for other genetic eye problems.

If you’re considering adopting a black Aussie puppy, ask your breeder about the ages and causes of death of the dogs in your pup’s lines. 

A reputable breeder would be honest about the breed’s possible health issues and the incidence of health problems in their genetics. 

Remember that after adding a new Aussie into your family, you have the responsibility to look after his health and well-being. 

How Much Does a Black Australian Shepherd Cost? Are They More Expensive Than Other Colors?

Black Aussie puppies for sale and adoption

On average, buying a black Australian Shepherd puppy from a reputable breeder can range between $400 and $1,800. The price depends on various factors, such as the coat color, bloodline, breeder reputation, and location.

Meanwhile, if you want to get a black Aussie without breaking the bank, you can consider adopting from a rescue for about $150 to $600. 

The adoption fee covers the rescue and primary care cost for the puppy’s duration in the rescue.

Since black Australian Shepherds are considered less desirable than merle dogs or other colors, the price for these puppies is in the lower range.

You may want to go for black Aussies if you’re a penny-pinching, genuine dog lover. They deserve all the TLCs as they are usually left behind than the Aussies in other colors.

RELATED: How Much Does an Australian Shepherd Cost? (2023 Price Guide)

Places to Find Black Australian Shepherd Puppies for Sale and Adoption

Finding the right Australian Shepherd that is a good fit for your preferences, lifestyle, and household can take a long time. Think of it as a trial and error process, as your adoption application might get denied because of various reasons.

To help you get started, here are some of the best places to find Australian Shepherd puppies for sale:

  • Watermark Australian Shepherds – Located in New York, this small hobby breeder can provide you with a healthy and well-tempered black Australian Shepherd. The puppies sold here are bred for three different roles: companion dogs (not for breeding), breeding-quality puppies (perfect for professional breeders), and performance puppies (for competing in the show ring).
  • Mountain Springs Kennels – Based in Texas, this Aussie breeder provides show-quality puppies with pleasant personalities. Parent dogs at Mountain Springs Kennels are show-winning dogs. They have undergone thorough testing to ensure they are in their prime condition with no genetic illnesses.
  • Sandollar Australian Shepherds – Located in Orlando, Florida, this breeder notably produces well-behaved Aussie puppies for everyone, regardless of whether you’re looking for a show-worthy dog or a family companion. Their parent dogs are of the highest breed standard to ensure your new pup will take after them as well.
  • Dogwood Lane Aussies – Whether you are looking for a potential show dog or a new furry pet, you can find a black Aussie puppy for sale in this small breeder in Southern Illinois. All of their parent dogs are registered with the American Kennel Club; hence all their available pups meet breed standards. 

RELATED: 10 Best Australian Shepherd Breeders (2023): Our Top 10 Picks!

If you want to avoid paying expensive breeds towards breeders, here’s a list of Aussie rescues that you can consider browsing:

  • A Purposeful Rescue – This rescue saves overlooked dogs from high-kill shelters in the Los Angeles area. If you choose to adopt from this rescue, you may give an overlooked Aussie a second chance in life.
  • Rescue Me! – This website has a dedicated page for Australian Shepherd rescues. You can easily view which states have Aussies up for adoption, as well as the number of dogs available.
  • Petfinder – An online, searchable database for black Aussies and other animals who need loving homes, Petfinder has helped more than 25 million pets find their families through adoption. You might find your next furry friend through their help!

RELATED: 10 Best Australian Shepherd Rescues for Adoption (2023): Our Top 10 Picks!

Frequently Asked Questions

Cute black Australian Shepherd walks in autumn

What Is the Most Common Australian Shepherd Color?

The most common Australian Shepherd color is tri-colored. A tri-color Aussie is a remarkably unique color variation of the well-loved breed. 

There are two types of color combinations for tri-color Aussies: red/white/copper and black/white/copper.

With their stunning coat, it’s no wonder they are one of the most popular coat colors of the whole Australian Shepherd breed.

What Is the Rarest Australian Shepherd Color?

Red-colored Aussies are considered the rarest Australian Shepherd color. With red being a recessive gene, it only manifests with the absence of the dominant black gene.

The coats of red Aussies can grow in different shades of red — with cinnamon as the lightest (almost gold-ish to the eye in some lights) and liver as the darkest shade, a color close to black or dark gray. Red Aussies can also have auburn, chestnut, and ruby coats.

Do Black Australian Shepherds Shed?

If you’re wondering if black Aussies shed, the answer is yes — they shed a lot. It is essential to keep in mind before adopting one, especially if your family members are allergic to dog hairs. 

Their hair will be on the pillows, carpet, and almost everywhere in your house, whether you like it or not.

Aussies shed a lot because of their long double coats. The inner coats are for their insulation, and they have heavy hairy outer coats as well.

Final Thoughts

If you have a preference for dark-coated dogs, black Aussies prove to be the best choice. They are a stunning variation of the energetic purebred. 

These dogs also come in different variations of black: solid black, black merle, black tri-color, black and tan, and black and white. It means there’s plenty of variations for you to choose from!

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