Australian Shepherds cost $650 to $850, but why do they cost so much?

How Much Does an Australian Shepherd Cost? – 4 Factors of Australian Shepherd Prices

You’ve thoroughly researched all the available candidates for your new puppy and you’ve picked the Australian Shepherd. Good choice. There are few dog breeds as loyal, affectionate and entertaining as the Aussie. But, how much does the Australian Shepherd cost?

The average price of the Australian Shepherd ranges from $650 to $850. However, an Aussie can cost anywhere between $300 to $1,800+ USD depending on breeder reputation, coat colors, pedigree and location. 

Let’s further examine why Australian Shepherds cost as much as they do.

RECOMMENDED: Smart Owner’s Guide to Australian Shepherds

Australian Shepherd Price Factors

In my opinion, there are five main factors that affect the price of an Australian Shepherd. It’s why you’ll see some dogs go for $350, while others go for well above $1800. It’s important to understand these factors when shopping for your new puppy. By going in with knowledge, you’ll rest easy knowing you’ll get the best deal.

1. Breeder Reputation

Not all Aussie breeders are equal. Some are more knowledgeable, while others are less. Many are casual breeders and few are “professional” breeders. If you can afford it, it’s always best to go to a professional breeder.

It’s usually quite obvious which breeders are reputable and which are not. As a general rule of thumb, you get what you pay for. In other words, the higher the price the more reputable the breeder (usually).

However, this rule of thumb is not a hard fact. Many breeders may try to overcharge.

Finding Reputable Australian Shepherd Breeders

This may be the most common question among new owners looking for their puppy. The good news is that there are many ways to find reputable breeders.

Take for example, AKC’s Breeder of Merit Program. They clearly state that their program aims to honor responsible breeders who go above and beyond. This means extra detail and attention to health, temperament, genetic screening and care during pregnancy/postnatal periods.

Ask your breeder if they’re part of the prestigious program. If they are, you can do a quick search from them here.

Asking the Right Questions

Merit programs aren’t the only way to find reputable Australian Shepherd breeders. And just because a breeder isn’t part of AKC’s list doesn’t mean they’re not reputable.

The best way to find a reputable breeder is to put on your detective hat and start asking questions. You should actually go to the breeder’s facility to examine how they’re treating their Aussies.

Always make a list of questions before you go. Through their answers, you can generally feel out how knowledgeable the Aussie breeders are. If they give great answers and seem knowledgeable, then there’s a good chance they’re reputable.

Ask questions regarding their process for taking care of the mother/puppies during pregnancy and post pregnancy. Request any official documents they have pertaining to the parents’ health. Follow up with questions on how to take care of your Australian Shepherd pup.

The more questions you ask, the better chance you have at spotting a fraud.

Search Online for Reputation

In this day and age, we’re lucky enough to be able to search reputable of any establishment or person online. With a simple Google search, you may be able to find all kinds of reviews from previous customers and their experience with a particular breeder.

If there is limited or no information about a person, there’s a good chance they’re just casual breeders looking to make a quick buck. I’d avoid them at all cost.

This seems simple enough, but a lot of potential owners skip this crucial step in the process. Pro-tip: reputable Aussie breeders may have a Yelp page, so check that out too.

2. Aussie Colors and Price

This factor in Aussie prices is sort of a gray area topic. For the most part, many would think reputable breeders do not charge extra for different coat colors. However, supply and demand would say otherwise.

It’s not uncommon for breeders to charge extra for say, tri-colored or merle Australian Shepherds. This is because they’re higher in demand. Although not everyone, many potential owners prefer the unique looks of merles and tri-colors. So, breeders are often left with black Aussies, or other “less desirable” puppies.

Sometimes, instead of charging more for preferred coat colors, they may simply charge less for those puppies harder to sell. At the end of the day, reputable Australian Shepherd breeders are running a business. It’s their livelihood, so I can’t blame them.

Some may even argue that this practice gives the breeder less credibility. For example, some breeders may be breeding for coat colors (to make more money), instead of breeding for quality dogs (temperament, health, etc.). This may be the case with some, but it’s certainly not the case with all breeders.

If you’re curious about the different coat variations of the Aussie, check out my guide to 14 Australian Shepherd colors here.

3. Pedigree of Australian Shepherds

What exactly is an Australian Shepherd pedigree? In a nutshell, it’s the family history of the puppy along with more detailed information. In other words, all dogs have pedigrees – at least from reputable breeders.

In order to form a pedigree, dogs of a particular line must be registered with a Kennel Club, such as the AKC. However, just because dogs are registered on a pedigree doesn’t mean that they are quality dogs.

How Pedigree Affects Price

A dog pedigree can tell you many things, some of which, you should definitely be aware of. For example, many pedigrees will tell you how great a dog is at a certain skill.

When looking at a pedigree of the Aussie pup, you may notice the symbol “CH” next to an early ancestor. CH stands for champion, and means that dog competed in a competition and won. This can be a show competition, agility or herding competition.

Not surprisingly, the more champions the puppy has in its line, the higher price they’ll generally be. If you’re looking for a companion Aussie but the pup has a long history of herding champions, then it may not matter much. Still, it will affect the price of the dog.

Healthier Dogs Cost More

Although not present on all pedigrees, some health factors will be documented with recent dogs. Of course, the healthier the dog the higher the price.

For example, the abbreviation “OFA” records a dog’s status with hip dysplasia – a relatively common deformation of the hip socket. Dogs are examined and graded: E (excellent), G (good) or F (fair). Other health information such as eye conditions and elbow dysplasia are found on the pedigree as well.

4. Location

The last (but not least) factor in Australian Shepherd prices is location. With technology, we’re able to see prices of Australian Shepherd puppies all over the country. But markets for specialized breeds are still localized markets.

Most people can probably find better deals with an equally reputable breeder. However, are they willing to go to them if they’re on the other side of the country? Probably not.

I’m not suggesting you fly across the country to find a cheaper Australian Shepherd, but location does affect the cost of these dogs. Certain areas where Aussies (or dogs in general) are higher in demand could see a premium on prices even with the same quality dog.

However, if you happen to live in an area with many competing breeders, it’s a good idea to take a quick drive around to check them out. Remember, it’s best to physically visit the facility and ask questions to judge how responsible an Australian Shepherd breeder is.

Comparing Australian Shepherd Prices

Even if you don’t plan to buy a puppy online, it’s still a great idea to check out listings to get a good idea of baseline quality for price. Fortunately, there are many resources that you can check out during your research.

The first place i’d recommend is the USASA directory of breeders. Keep in mind, these breeders are paid sponsors and not endorsed by the organization. However, if they’re willing to spend money on advertisement, there’s a good chance they’re professional breeders and reputable. Check their websites and call in to get pricing to compare to your local breeders.

AKC has a great market place for Australian Shepherds, where they tell you basic pedigree information and merit reputation. In order to get the prices, you’ll need to contact the breeders by phone or email.

Although there are a bunch of free classified listings for Aussie puppies, I would not pick one out from here. Most of the time, they’re casual breeders and you’ll also find a lot of mixed Aussies. For these reasons, the prices of these dogs are much cheaper and can range anywhere from $100 to $500. If you’re looking for a healthy puppy, then these prices aren’t great for comparison.

Price of Adopting an Aussie

If you can, I would always recommend adopting an Australian Shepherd. It’s more economical (good for your wallet), but more importantly, you’re providing a loving home for an Aussie that needs one.

The first place to look would be your local animal shelter. It’s close by and convenient for you to take a look (you can also call in first). I’ll admit, it’s rare to find an Aussie in your local shelter but it’s possible. If you find one, the dog will likely be an Aussie mix.

However, the best place to adopt an Aussie is from an Australian Shepherd rescue. There are many of them, including Aussie Rescue. In almost all major cities, you’ll be able to find a local rescue for this specific breed. Do a quick Google and Yelp search to find them in your area.

Adopting an Australian Shepherd can range anywhere from $50 to $250 for an adult, depending on the organization. I’ve seen them go for over $300 for an Aussie puppy.

Why Adopting is “Expensive”

You may be wondering why it costs so much to adopt an Aussie. On the high end, you can probably get a new puppy for a few hundred dollars more. Keep in mind, these organizations are generally non-profit.

Dog rescues have their own set of costs and a relatively high overhead. Not only do they need to pay for housing and food of these dogs, but also vet bills. Some Australian Shepherds come in with major health problems. The organizations need to provide treatment before they get adopted. In some cases, this can mean surgery.

I fully support what rescues are doing and, in my opinion, the cost to adopt is well worth it. You’re not only saving a dog, but also helping these organizations save future dogs.

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