Australian shepherds are industrious yet gregarious dogs who make great companions for active families. Boasting coats that come in black, blue merle, red merle and red—often with white markings—their luxurious locks are also soft and cuddle-friendly. Despite his name, the Australian Shepherd originated in the western U.S., not Australia, around the time of the Gold Rush in the 1840s. Originally bred to herd livestock, he remains a working dog breed at heart; the Aussie, as he’s nicknamed, is happiest when he has a job to do. He can be a wonderful family companion if his intelligence and energy are channeled into dog sports or activities.