So You Think You’d Like an Australian Shepherd?

Black Tri Australian Shepherd 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.

8 thoughts on “So You Think You’d Like an Australian Shepherd?”

  1. Hi I’m a 72yr old disabled person. Most of my past yrs were with shelties as a pet. Having to move to care for dying spouse I gave up my loving Mr Mac. When I had settled in here in Pocatello &returned to get Mac he had become very close to the little girl so I gave him to her, returning here empty handed. My loving husband of 46yrs passed & I am told by my Dr to look into a service dog. I have spent last 5 yrs chasing away from cancer in various parts of my body.. I want a companion dog so of course I’m looking into a way to rescue a sheltie to help rescue me.
    I live alone in a 2 BDRM rental trailor. I have a 4 wheel scooter so we could get. Out together.
    I can not afford the type of companion she is referring to & have missed having my baby-boy Mac since my husband died. I can afford a dog & my landlord is agreeably on my getting a dog. Any info would help me get closer to my life long 4legged friend.

    Reply
    • Hi Carla Rae, I’m thinking an Aussie may not be the best fit for your circumstances. Having also had Shelties, I understand your love affair with them. And if I had to pick between the 2 for you, I’d go with another Sheltie.

      That said, I am no expert on support dogs or their training needs or requirements. I’m hoping you can reach out to a place that trains dogs for support who can give you better information based on your specific needs.

      Best of luck to you, and hope you have another dog to love soon.

      Reply
  2. I am getting a purebred show line aussie…i am so excited i can barely contain myself….i work outside all summer long in a campground…i had a golden that went with me everywhere….he was great but died of old age….will the aussie be able to handle all the people. He does not have to be buddies with everyone….but not bite…and should not wander too much…i would like a working buddy…..will this work? Breeder thinks this would work great

    Reply
    • Even show line Aussies have herding instincts and, if not trained, will chase and nip moving objects to get them to stop moving. The only way this will work is if you put in the time to train and socialize your Aussie. If not, you won’t be a happy camper–at all. And shame on that breeder for suggesting this “would work great” without a strong cautionary tale. This breed is so far from Goldens, it’s not even funny.

      And, if you just forgot to include that, of course, you plan on getting all that training and socializing in, then good for you!

      Reply
  3. I love Australian Shepherds so much, i tried to get one for myself too but unfortunately, it is not suitable for my country. What a sad case, i will definitely breed one when i stay in Aus.

    Reply
  4. Hello Karen! Thank you so much for the response and also for the advice on when must be the right time to own an Aussie. If the thing is dedicating a time for dogs in which I myself should be with the dog, I can’t promise that for now. But maybe, who knows, the next few months, I can manage my time already. I’m quite excited for ’em. I believe they do have high energy that requires me to have high energy too! Lol! Thanks a lot for the info about where can I buy this breed. Best regards, Lieza

    Reply
  5. The first time I checked out your blog, I have never ever seen an Aussie (Australian Shepherd), maybe because I was too busy with my own dog which is a Chihuahua. But when I searched and looked it on, it was really cute! I wanna have one of that kind now. Any information on where I can buy this breed? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Lieza,
      Aussies would be a BIG jump from Chihuahuas, and not just in size! :) Having had both, I’d say you’d really need to be prepared for a hyper jump in energy level and exercise needs. Aussies are high octane dogs who are ridiculously smart and big enough to get into lots of trouble if they’re not trained well, socialized to the max, and exercised often. If you have the time, the commitment and the space that an Aussie would need to be happy, then the best place to find an Aussie would be to check with the AKC for reputable breeders.
      Thanks for visiting,
      Karen

      Reply

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