Red tricolor Australian Shepherds are beautiful animals.
This article is a guide to answer frequently asked questions about red tri Australian Shepherds: everything from how they got their coloring to what to feed them and how they got those amazing colors.
What does “tri” mean, and how do Red Tri Australian Shepherds get their colors?
“Tri” refers to three solid colors: red, white and copper/golden. This coloring is different from “merle” coats which may be red, but have some spots with a mottled appearance.
How do Red Tri Aussies get that beautiful coloring?
Genetics. Genes determine coloring. Dominant genes always block recessive genes. The red (also called “liver”) gene is recessive, in contrast to the black gene which is dominant.
This means that red Aussies are rarer than black ones. The only way that a dog gets that coloring is if they have two red genes and no black genes.
What is the difference between “red tri” and “red merle”?
The red tricolor consists of three solid colors: red (or “liver”), white and copper/golden.
Picture of Red Tri Australian Shepherd
Merle coats are described as “mottled”: they have some undefined spots with a speckly and marbled or variegated background.
Picture of Red Merle Australian Shepherd
How much does a Red Tri Australian Shepherd Cost?
An average Aussie puppy costs $600-$800 from a reputable breeder.
Tricolors are highly sought after, and not as common, so expect to pay towards the higher end of this range.
What is the height/weight and lifespan of a red tricolor Australian Shepherd?
The red tricolor Aussie has the same vital statistics as the breed standard:
Male: 55-70 lbs
Female: 35-55 lbs
Average Life Span: 13-15 years
Are there personality differences that are unique to the red tricolor Australian Shepherd?
There is no scientific evidence that indicates that red tri Aussies are any different from any other strains of the breed. Genetic research is always continuing, but at the moment, experts see no reason to believe that the coloring of the Australian Shepherds affects their personality.
It is essential to understand the temperament of Australian Shepherds:
- They are very smart. They will need mental stimulation. To thrive, they need training and interaction with their humans.
- In addition to being smart, they are eager to please, bond and interact with their humans. Their desire for bonding makes them easy to train.
- They are bred to be working dogs. Their traditional work was herding and protecting. There are lots of ways to “give them jobs” if you don’t have a herd of livestock handy.
- While being protective, they are not overly aggressive. They are known to be an “all-round” farm dog because they are great with children and generally do well with other pets.
- They are energetic. Bred to work all day without tiring, these dogs need to get out and run. We will talk more about that when we look at health and care.
Choosing a Red Tri Australian Shepherd Breeder
As with any breed, there are unethical breeders and puppy farms prepared to sell you an unhealthy dog, often claiming to be a “deal”. They’re not.
To avoid the potential health issues we’ve discussed, find a reputable breeder. Not all conditions are apparent in puppies. A good breeder will have certified information for the puppy you are looking at
regarding genetic and non-genetic conditions or illnesses in their lineage.
A weird caution: Be careful about purchasing Aussies with white ears. Oddly, deafness can be a result of lack of pigment.
This usually applies to merle Aussies rather than the tricolors, but beware. Avoid these dogs or ask questions from multiple sources if you are considering a puppy with white ears.
Red Tricolor Australian Shepherd Nutrition
- Feed your active Aussie an excellent diet of food for any dog, and adjust for their age and activity level.
- High-quality protein – If you are using Kibble get something very high in protein like Taste of the Wild (32%). If you are using canned food, make sure it is a minimum of 10% protein.
- You can find active working breed dog foods, a well exercised Aussie does well on these formulas as they are designed to be higher in protein as well as fats and quality carbs for energy.
- Healthy fats should make up 5% of an adult dogs diet. This gives them energy
- Carbs that are both nutritious and easy to digest. This provides a bit of fiber as well as vitamins/nutrients and energy they need.
Ask your vet for recommendations. Make sure that they are getting the right number of calories for their level of activity.
Grooming and Coat for Red Tri Australian Shepherds
Australian Shepherds have two coats:
- The outer coat is made of “guard hairs” and is what carries the color(s) of the dog. It is the most water/dirt resistant.
- The undercoat is white, dense and fluffy (for warmth). The guard hairs will shed a bit, but it is the undercoat that sheds the most.
How often should a Red Tricolor Australian Shepherd be groomed?
- Brush your Australian Shepherd once a week to maintain healthy skin and temperature regulation. There is air trapped between the undercoat and skin that regulates both cold and heat.
- If you don’t groom your Aussie enough, the undercoat can get matted, resulting in loss of the protection it provides, as well as give rise to skin problems.
- When your Aussie is shedding, they need brushing every day. This will prevent the matting as well as keep get the dead hair out of the way so the new can come in.
Can I just brush them with a dog brush or is there more I should know?
- Brush from head to tail – never backwards. Remember to include the back, sides, neck, chest, legs and stomach.
- Usually, the tricolor Aussies do not have super fluffy undercoats, but if your dog’s undercoat is very thick, it is good also to have a “rake” to fluff it up. Just make sure you don’t poke them!
- After the fluff, follow up with a bristle brush that is for the surface to capture any loose hairs on the surface.
How often should I give my Red Tricolor Aussie a bath?
You only need to give them a bath when they’ve managed to get super dirty, muddy or rolled in something disgusting.
The oils on their fur have evolved to keep them clean and healthy. Bathing too much can strip the oils off and cause skin problems as well as be drying to the hair.
Red Tri Australian Shepherd Health
Australian Shepherds are prone to some conditions. Careful choice of your breeder, as well as preventative care usually ensures you will avoid these problems.
Before we go into some common health concerns for Aussies, note that the most significant risk is obesity.
An Australian Shepherd needs exercise. A lot of exercise. They were bred in high mountain terrain to be able to herd animals all day without tiring.
That vigor runs in their veins! Your Aussie is best with at least 1-2 hours of exercise a day, and any less than 30 minutes to 1 hour will eventually cause health issues, both physically and mentally.
Under-exercising and overfeeding are the greatest risks to your Aussie, and these you can control.
Common ailments for Australian Shepherds that apply to tricolors are:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Eye conditions, including cataracts.
- Multiple drug sensitivity
After choosing a reputable breeder and doing your research, you’ve purchased what is most likely a healthy dog. Talk to your vet about how to avoid the most common conditions, and what you need to do to catch them early if they start to happen.
7 Fun and Interesting Facts about Red Tri Australian Shepherds
- The Australian Shepherd was not originally from Australia!
This breed was from the Pyrenese Mountains (between France and Spain), bred and trained by the Basque people.
- Many of these shepherds traveled to Australia in the 1800s and continued to change and fine-tune the breed. After a time, many of these Basques moved to California with their dogs.
- The California ranchers loved this breed and called these impressive herders “Australian Shepherds”.
- The Australian Shepherd was not recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1993 and is the 135th listed breed.
- Black dogs can give birth to red dogs because a black dog can have both a black and red gene and pass on the red to the offspring.
- It is typical to dock the tails of any Australian Shepherd. This practice is not for cosmetic reasons. It is to avoid injury when herding and to identify them as working dogs.
- They were originally bred as herders and protectors but now serve in other capacities as working dogs such as service dogs and sniffer dogs.
Is it possible to find a mini red tri Australian Shepherd?
Yes, and oh my are they cute! You will pay a premium price. The “average” cost for Mini Australian Shepherds is $800, but that includes disreputable breeders to make that average.
For a healthy mini tri aussie from a breeder with papers of pedigree and health lineage, you will pay $2300-$10,000.
The mini red tricolor Aussie is just as intelligent and easy to train as the full-size red tri, just smaller. They are friendly and affectionate family dogs, good with children and other pets at home.
The difference between a mini Australian Shepherd and mini American Shepherd
The answer is very confusing dog pedigree politics. Both are registered breeds in the American Kennel Club. So they are different, right? Some argue no.
The American Stock Dog Registry accepts the name Miniature Australian Shepherd.
The American Kennel Club has the Australian Shepherd as a breed on its own, and the minis are called the “Miniature American Shepherd”.
Temperament Differences in the Mini Red Tricolor vs. the Standard Size Red Tri Australian Shepherd
The beauty and wonder of this miniature breed is that they seem to have the same intelligence and temperament qualities of the full-size dogs.
Other mini breeds might exhibit nervous, anxious or hyperactive behavior, but not the mini Aussies. Some say they might potty train a little slower than their full-size counterparts, but that does not seem to be a big issue, generally.
Can I leave my mini red tricolor Aussie at home alone when I’m at work?
Mini Australian Shepherds do not do any better with being left long hours alone than the full-sized dogs do. Consider a different breed.
Are mini tricolor Aussies good apartment dogs?
They can be, but only if you have the time and a place to exercise them every day.
It is important to understand that you’re not getting the stunning beauty, intelligence and family/pet-friendly qualities and bonding of a tricolor Aussie without the need for exercise just because they are “mini”.
They might need less space, but they need just as much exercise as full-size Australian Shepherds.
The red tricolor Australian Shepherds are absolutely beautiful and make incredible companions.
It is vital to understand their needs and consider whether your lifestyle can accommodate their need for exercise, interaction and mental stimulation. If this fits in your routine, then you probably can’t beat this breed.
The mini Australian Shepherd has all the needs and qualities of the full-sized dogs. They take up less space, and need less space, but still require the same amount of exercise as well as interaction and mental challenges to keep them happy.
If you are looking for an active, fun, and deeply fulfilling relationship with an intelligent and gorgeous dog, look no further.
- How to Exercise an Australian Shepherd – 6 Unique Exercises to Try
- Are Australian Shepherds Good with Other Dogs?
- Are Australian Shepherds Good Family Dogs?
- Can Australian Shepherds Live Outside?
ASCA. “Coat Color.” ASCA | Australian Shepherd Club of America Information, 27 Oct. 2016, www.asca.org/the-australian-shepherd/about-aussies/health-and-genetics/color-coat
Flaim, Denise. “Australian Shepherd History: Behind the Breed.” American Kennel Club, 28 Sept. 2020, www.akc.org/expert-advice/dog-breeds/australian-shepherd-history-behind-breed
“Deafness.” Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute, www.ashgi.org/home-page/genetics-info/deafness. Accessed 12 May 2021
Martin, Nia. “Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds | Top Food for Your Active Aussie.” The Dog People by Rover.Com, 10 Dec. 2020, www.rover.com/blog/best-dog-foods-for-australian-shepherds