Home of ASCA/AKC registered Australian Shepherds
Australian Shepherds are wonderful dogs and make awesome companions in the right home. However, with owning an Australian Shepherd comes a lot of responsibility; Aussies, especially Aussie Puppies, are a high energy animal, extremely alert, active, agile and protective, and one who need lots of attention and companionship and, most importantly, good training in their early puppy-hood, they need to be shown who is boss from the very beginning.
This is not a breed for a couch potato or a busy professional with little time to spend with their dog. Aussies needs to have a job to do, sitting in a house or pen all day long will not work for this breed. They need lots of space to run in and lots of activities to keep them busy and to keep their brain active and doing something other than making their own fun (aka mischief with a capital "M"!) When they are not busy they can become nervous, anxious, bored, and will develop their own job, sometimes one that is not good (chewing, digging, etc.)! Also, when bored, they can drive you crazy by pacing back and forth in the house or by constantly picking up toys or other things to get your attention. The owner of an Aussie always needs to be thinking at least two steps ahead of this dog because Aussies are amazingly smart. Often you will see them working problems out in their heads which can lead to many headaches for the rookie owner. With the right training and plenty of dog and people socialization at a young age an Aussie can be a perfect family pet and guardian.
Aussies can make a wonderful family pet due in great part to its easy trainability. The right dog can be as much at home, at the cottage or anywhere you choose to take them, as they are guarding a flock of sheep. In fact, they will adopt the family as their pack and the children as their flock. Although a medium-sized dog, an Aussie can be ominous to an intruder or to non-dog people visiting your home because they do tend to become protective of “their” family and property because of the fact that they become "family members", not just a dog.
Aussie coats require regular care since they are a double-coated breed, they do shed but the shedding and the semi-annual blowing of the coat is easily managed by routine brushing. They are generally healthy, although one would be wise to check with the breeder for a history of hip dysplasia, eye problems and/or a few other diseases which occasionally occur in the breed.
Aussies commonly live to a “ripe old age” and you must be sure you are ready for a 15+ year commitment to an animal. It would not be fair to either of you to change your mind after one or both of you had formed an attachment. A reputable breeder will question you about your plans for a pup in great detail since they feel responsible for all of their puppies for as long as they live. A good breeder will hopefully become your friend, and will provide you with help, information and resources for the life of your dog.
You definitely must have a fenced yard or kennel for your Aussie, with enough room for him to run and play and exercise. Remember some Aussies can jump as high as 6 feet with no problem at all, some are climbers, others are diggers, so you really need to think about what kind of enclosure you are going to need. You can, however, train your Aussie to not climb, though digging takes much more training!
We don’t recommend having an Aussie around small children unless you are with them all the time and are very dog savvy. Aussies sometimes will try and herd children (especially smaller ones) and sometimes the children will fall because of this. This can cause the dog/pup to be labeled as “mean with kids” but it’s really only following it’s natural instincts to herd and guard it’s “flock”.
We call our Aussies velcro dogs - they stick to your side as much as possible, so if you don't like a warm, wiggly buddy beside you everywhere you go you won't like most Aussies. We always make folks laugh when they hear how we always have an escort to the bathroom…sometimes you have to shoo them out just to get some peace and quiet…an Aussie never passes up the opportunity for an ear scratch or belly rub!
So, if you've read this far, and think you can live with all of the above, and are willing to work hard with your Aussie every day, you might make a good Aussie owner. We still highly recommend that you become familiar with more about Aussies through books and by talking to other Aussie owners and breeders. Do a lot of research about our breed before you buy and make sure the breeder is someone you feel totally comfortable dealing with…your relationship with them should last for many many years! But most important consider very carefully if your lifestyle can stand the constant exuberance of an Aussie.
Another Aussie owner really summed things up by saying “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!”.
For more information, and recommended books and videos about Aussies, please visit our Aussie Profile page.