Australian Shepherds, affectionately know as “Aussies,” are becoming more and more popular as more and more people discover the breed. Understandably, many people are attracted by their looks and intelligence.
They absolutely do make great dogs for the right people. And, like Border Collies, they definitely aren’t for everyone.
If you’re considering an Aussie, please take to heart the following information I’ve posted with permission from ARPH. Too many good Aussies wind up in Rescue because their owners don’t really take the time to learn about the breed first, and then aren’t able to handle the energy and intelligence of their very normal Aussies.
If you don’t have a lot of dog experience, or you’ve never had a herding breed before, you might want to consider starting out with a Sheltie first.
Australian Shepherds …
… are first and foremost herding dogs. The traits and skills that make them excellent herding dogs are often interpreted as bad habits that can cause people to give them up. As working dogs, they need a job to do. That could be helping with yard chores, bringing in the newspaper, pulling your groceries into the house in a cart, making therapy visits to local hospitals and retirement homes, etc.
… may herd whatever moves, including small children, bicycles, and other animals. A cat that runs can be great fun to chase! Some Aussies will try to herd the kids, nipping at their heels to keep them under control. Others are very bouncy and exuberant and may unintentionally knock over or frighten smaller children. For these reasons, Aussies may not always be the best choice when there are young children in the household.
… are NOT a non-shedding breed! Aussies shed year round and may blow their coats twice a year, so regular vacuuming is a must.
… are NOT maintenance free. Regular grooming is necessary to keep their coats free of mats.
… require firm, consistent discipline. Aussies definitely need training. In the inexperienced home, they may decide to take control. Aussies need a confident, assertive owner who is not afraid to be in charge.
… require daily exercise. This breed has a high energy level and needs adequate daily exercise. A walk around the block will not satisfy the needs of the average Aussie. They require regular, vigorous activity such as Frisbee, ball playing, or agility. Aussies are NOT couch potatoes.
… may bark excessively. Their strong guarding instinct can cause some to feel it is their job to warn their people of any dangers, real or imagined. Some may bark with enthusiasm or when they’re bored.
… are highly intelligent. This intelligence requires adequate mental stimulation or Aussies may resort to inappropriate activities such as chewing up your house, digging up your yard, or worse.
… need socialization. The breed standard calls for Aussies to be reserved with strangers. Their guarding instinct can make them overly protective of their family. A puppy without adequate socialization may develop behavior issues such as fear of strangers or even fear aggression.
… are NOT everyone’s friend, unlike most Labs and Goldens. Some Aussies are extremely outgoing and friendly, but generally speaking, Aussies are reserved with strangers.
… love to be with their family. Aussies will follow you from room to room, even to the bathroom. They are not a breed that enjoys being left alone in the back yard. Aussies are affectionately referred to as “Velcro” dogs due to their strong need to be with their humans.