Fluffy, Scruffy & Tough as Nails: Meet the One-of-a-Kind Idaho Shag Dog

One of the most uniquely American dogs, the Idaho Shag Dog is a mixed breed that boasts at least four or more parent breeds including Airedale Terrier, Border Collie, Kelpie, and Australian Cattle Dog (Heeler). No one knows exactly who produced the first Idaho Shaggy Dogs or when, but we know they originated in Eastern and Central Idaho where ranchers began crossing their working dogs. 

Idaho Shag Dog

Many dog breeds have been nicknamed “shaggy dogs” unofficially, but these are mostly purebred dogs. The Idaho Shag Dog—also called the Idaho Fuzzy, Idaho Shaggy, the Idaho Dog, or the Pahsimeroi Fuzzy—may not be purebred, but individuals of the mix all have the same key characteristics that make them valuable teammates for ranchers and loving companions for pet owners. 

Let’s get to know the Idaho Shag Dog and the people who love them, and learn more about “shaggy dog breeds” that might get confused with the Idaho Shag. 

Meet 6 Idaho Shag Dogs From Instagram

What could a dog with four different parent breeds possibly look like? Well, imagine no longer, let’s meet a handful of Idaho Shag Dogs with their very own social media accounts!

1. Bogey

Idaho Shag Dog
Source: @JRCummings_PGA

Bogey is an adorable scruffy Idaho Shag Dog living in Utah with his human, a PGA golf professional who gives Bogey plenty of time to play outside. 

2. Jack

Idaho Shag Dog
Source: @GiuliaBartolotta

Jack is an adorable Idaho Shag Dog living in his ancestral lands of Boise, Idaho! This sweet boy enjoys lots of time in the great outdoors and even loves to swim. 

3. Shag

Idaho Shag Dog
Source: @IdahoShaggy

Called The Shag by his humans and adoring fans, this pup is an Idaho Shag Dog living in Montana who is happy to play outside even when the snow is taller than he is!

4. Trillium

Idaho Shag Dog
Source: @Trill.The.Fluff.Puff

In case you were wondering if Idaho Shag Dog puppies are shaggy just like adults…the answer is yes! Adorable Trillium is still growing but she’s an absolutely adorable puppy. 

5. Brutus

Idaho Shag Dog
Source: @BasketCaseBrutus

Brutus is an Idaho Shag Dog with a unique obsession: baskets! Brutus loves to nap in baskets—the smaller the better. If he fits, he sits!

6. Freya

Idaho Shag Dog
Source: @Freya_The_Idaho_Shag

Beautiful Freya is an Idaho Shag Dog living in the Pacific Northwest! This smart girl is amazing at tricks and obedience and loves training sessions with her human. 

Idaho Shag Dog Basic Info

Unlike designer mixed breed dogs who are bred purely for looks, the Idaho Shag Dog was likely bred for function and temperament. The Idaho Shag Dog is a mix of herding breeds—Border Collies, Kelpies, and Heelers primarily—and the giant and courageous Airedale Terrier. This combination of breeds has proven to be successful in creating a dog with strong herding instincts combined with the tenacity and stamina of a terrier. 

Though mixed-breed dogs like the Idaho Shag can vary enormously from individual to individual, the Idaho Shag Dog is fairly well established. Here’s what we know for sure about this mysterious but much-loved breed. 

Idaho Shaggy Dog Temperament

Primarily owned by ranchers and farmers, the Idaho Shag Dog is described as friendly, cheerful, and determined. A fearless herder with a healthy stubborn streak, the Idaho Shag Dog loves to work and has the intense focus and determination needed to move cattle and other livestock. 

Idaho Shag Dogs love to work, and thrive when given a job but can also be loving family dogs. Like all herding breeds, Idaho Shags can be a little mouthy and their herding instincts can be so strong that they try to herd children and other family pets. 

High-energy and athletic, Idaho Shag Dogs need regular exercise and mental stimulation. A quick walk around the block isn’t enough to keep this breed satisfied—Idaho Shag Dogs like to run, chase, and solve problems while they exercise. 

Relatively easy to train compared to other herding breeds, Idaho Shags are biddable, meaning they can easily be motivated by treats, praise, and positive reinforcement. This said, this breed can be mischievous and may get into trouble making their own fun if not given enough enrichment and stimulation. 

Idaho shag dog
Source: @Idaho Farm Bureau Federation

Idaho Shag Dog Size

A medium-sized dog, the Idaho Shag Dog typically stands around 18–22 inches tall and weighs an average of 40 pounds

Idaho Shag Dog Health

A mix with multiple parent breeds, Idaho Shag Dogs have almost enough genetic diversity to be considered super mutts. Mixed-breed dogs are, on the whole, healthier than purebred dogs. Idaho Shag Dogs rarely develop serious health issues, but may experience some of the same problems as Airedale Terriers and herding dogs. For example,

  • Joint issues (e.g. hip and elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation)
  • Ear infections
  • Eye and vision problems (e.g. progressive retinal atrophy)
  • Dental disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Epilepsy

Where To Find Idaho Shag Puppies for Sale

Unlike Golden Retrievers, Poodles, or French Bulldogs, you won’t find hundreds of breeders advertising their litters of Idaho Shag puppies. The best place to find your very own Idaho Shag puppy is from a breeder of working dogs. Shaggy Idaho Dog breeders are a bit difficult to come by, but if you know a ranch hand, you might be able to find a litter of Idaho Shaggy puppies!

If you live in a rural area or near farmland, you might be able to find an Idaho Shag Dog available for adoption at a local shelter. In urban areas and most major cities, Idaho Shag Dogs are uncommon but mixed-breed herding dogs are not—visit your local shelter or humane society and you’ll very likely find your own shaggy dog. 

7 Purebred “Shaggy Dog” Breeds

Breeds colloquially nicknamed “shaggy dogs” are usually given this name for one thing: being shaggy hair dogs! 

Two movies—The Shaggy Dog and The Shaggy D.A.—also popularized using the name “shaggy dog” for the Shaggy D.A. dog breed, an Old English Sheepdog. However, the term is usually used loosely for any dog with shaggy hair. 

Let’s take a look at some breeds that commonly fall under the shaggy dog breed umbrella. From large shaggy dog breeds to small here are seven breeds that should be on your radar. 

1. Bearded Collies

Idaho Shag Dog
Sources: @Fairhaven.Bearded.Collies, @Wendy_TheBeardie, and @Valdor_Beardie_Boy

Bearded Collies are big shaggy dogs with beautiful long fur and bouncy, charismatic personalities! Originally bred in the Scottish Highlands, Bearded Collies have been dedicated herding dogs for centuries. 

2. Border Terriers

Idaho Shag Dog
Source: @Nara.The.BorderTerrier, @DukeTheBorderTerrier, and @Pepper_BorderTerrier

If you want a small shaggy dog with high energy and lots of personality, you’ll adore the Border Terrier. Sweet, affectionate, but full of mischief and playfulness, the Border Terrier will keep you on your toes at all times. 

3. Briards

Idaho Shag Dog
Sources: @Cle_Briards_Pauline, @Briard_En_Voyage, and @Morenoviezzer

Compared with colors like black, blue, and white, brown shaggy dog breeds are relatively uncommon. The Briard—also called a Chien Berger—is a giant shaggy dog breed, reaching weights of 100 pounds, and their incredible size helps make them a powerful herding breed. 

4. Old English Sheepdogs

Idaho Shag Dog
Sources: @Shaggy_Dog_Diary, @Bailey.Evan_, and @TheDreamDogs

The titular Shaggy Dog in the hit movie series was an Old English Sheepdog, which some people think makes this breed the original large shaggy dog. A super shaggy sheepdog variety, the Old English is a double-coated breed with some of the thickest, most cloud-like fur in the world of fluffy dog breeds. 

5. Polish Lowland Sheepdogs

Idaho Shag Dog
Sources: @MollyTheSheepdog, @BowTieDoug, @Pompon.The.Traveller

The Polish Lowland Sheepdog is one of the lesser-known big shaggy dog breeds, but these clever dogs deserve more attention! Delightful 30–50 pound pups, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog may more accurately be described as a medium-sized dog with big shaggy coats. 

6. Pyrenean Shepherds

Idaho Shag Dog
Sources: @PyrShep_Adventures_Zazu, @Sam_PyrShep, and @Swiff_Du_Pic_De_Pioulou

You probably haven’t heard of many small shaggy dog breeds, so let us have the honor of introducing you to the Pyrenean Shepherd! Tiny compared to the average Shepherd dog, adult Pyrenean Shepherds weigh just 15–30 pounds and have feathery long coats of fur. 

7. Spanish Water Dogs

Idaho Shag Dog
Sources: @WaterDog_Charlotte, @Spani_shWaterDog, and @Spanish_Water_Dog_Molly

One of our favorite medium shaggy dog breeds is the Spanish Water Dog. Sometimes described as curly instead of shaggy, Spanish Water Dogs have gloriously thick fur that curls in long shaggy strands. 

Idaho Shag Dog FAQ

Have more questions about the Idaho Shag Dog? We’ve done our best to answer the most common questions from dog lovers like you so you can get to know this fascinating mix a little better. 

Are Idaho Shags good family dogs?

Yes! Like any dog breed, it’s important to supervise both your children and your Idaho Shag Dog whenever they are together. It’s also good to know that Idaho Shags have an intense herding instinct and love to chase. Sometimes this can turn into the dog chasing and trying to herd your kids, which can be a little scary and overwhelming, especially for younger children. Some Idaho Shags are also mouthy, another reason adult supervision is necessary.

Are Idaho Shag Dogs smart?

Yes! Idaho Shag Dogs are extremely smart, easy-to-train dogs with incredible natural herding instincts. 

How long do Idaho Shag Dogs live?

Most Idaho Shag Dogs live to be about 10–16 years old.

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