Those of us who love Aussies can’t imagine a more perfect breed of dog. Unfortunately, the very characteristics we value in these dogs make them unsuitable for some homes and owners. Consider carefully if your lifestyle can accommodate the exuberance of a typical Aussie.
Australian Shepherds are a truly versatile breed. Not only are they agile working dogs, they are also extremely intelligent animals and wonderful family companions. A very endearing quality of Aussies is their intense desire to please their owners; this makes them quick learners and loyal friends. Aussies are naturally reserved with strangers, but they should never be shy, timid or aggressive. They do have strong territorial instincts and are naturally possessive and protective of their owners and home. When raised with children, Aussies love kids and quickly become a predictable and devoted family member. Aussies do not need a huge yard to run in, but they do need daily exercise and attention. They love to play ball and frisbee. It’s hard to keep most of them out of water.
If you are looking for a sporting dog. This breed is amazing. They are versatile, learn quickly and always eager to please. We currently do compete in Flyball avidly, dabble in Agility, St. John’s Therapy, freestyle disk, Herding, Conformation. We have even ventured into duck retrieval with one of our companions. We wanted to test the true versatility in this breed. If it makes you happy, they will try it! They are the true versatile dog with an off switch. They can be great foot warmers and lap warmers. Face hiders during that scary movie. They just want to be with there human companion.
The Australian Shepherd was developed to be a moderate-sized, intelligent, all-purpose stock dog of great character and endurance. Many Aussies today still do the work they were bred for, and even those that have never seen sheep or cattle usually have a strong herding instinct. This means that Aussies need fenced yards and leashes, as the temptation to herd dogs, children, and traffic can simply overwhelm some at times.
Being bred to work hard all day means that most Aussies are not content to be couch potatoes, although Aussies have individual characters and some are more sedate and quiet-natured than others. For the most part, however, these dogs do have energy that needs a purpose in their lives, a job as it were. Owners must be committed to give these dogs the time and attention they require through play and training, for as with any dog, undirected energy can turn towards destructive behaviors, such as digging and chewing. Running, jumping, and rough-housing are all a part of being a normal Aussie.
The great intelligence of these dogs, necessary to out-think and control livestock, can be detrimental when left untrained and unused. Aussies are quite capable of out-thinking their owners. Obedience training is highly recommended as a means of teaching owners how to channel the typical Aussie’s innate desire to please into appropriate behaviors. Aussies learn very quickly, so be certain you are willing to keep your Aussie occupied with walks, play, and training to benefit both mind and body.
Although many Aussies are friendly with everyone, the Australian Shepherd as a breed tends to be somewhat reserved and cautious around strangers. With Aussies of this nature, owners should encourage the dog to meet people but not force encounters. Aussies are often quite protective of their family and property, a desirable trait in some situations but not acceptable in others, and some dogs never accept strangers. As with all dogs, poorly socialized Aussies may become aggressive without proper training.
In general, Aussies are healthy dogs and can be expected to live up to twelve years or more, so ownership can be a lengthy commitment. Although minimal, there is some grooming required to keep the coat clean and conditioned, such as regular brushing and nail trimming. To maintain their high energy levels, typical active Aussies may eat more than other, more sedate dogs of similar size, so be prepared to feed plenty of high quality food.
Aussies are perfect for people wishing to own a highly-trainable, versatile, super-smart dog that can work/play “’till the cows come home.” If you have the time and commitment for an Aussie, you won’t be disappointed. These special dogs deserve special owners. Their loyalty, drive, character, and whimsical sense of humor place them in a class by themselves! It is truly hard to stop at one!