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Are Australian Shepherds Good Family Dogs?

If you and your family are on a puppy search, having a compatible dog is essential. If your family is growing or you have a multi-pet household, you want a dog that will fit in like a puzzle piece. If you’re looking for “family-friendly” breeds, the Australian Shepherd is sure to show up.

These dogs are incredibly interactive and devoted to their families. They can mix well with kids and other pets, but there are a few things to consider before you buy one. Let’s take a look at all the details so you can decide if an Australian Shepherd is a good candidate for your next pet.

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Why Are Australian Shepherds Good Family Dogs?

Australian Shepherds make excellent family dogs because they are very loyal, trainable, and loving.

australian shepherd
Image Credit: Ksenia Raykova, Shutterstock

Kid-Friendly Energy Levels

They are very high energy, always ready for playtime. Because of their boundless vitality, your kids will have fun wearing them out—or vice versa. They will never resist a game of tug of war or playing tag.

Love for Outings

These dogs will be pumped for any adventure, whether it’s a family vacation or a trip to the store. They tend to integrate well with your existing pets and with dog park visits. Once your dog is mannerly on the leash, you can take them pretty much anywhere dogs are allowed.

Agreeableness

Early socialization is critical to creating a well-rounded, adaptable pooch. But Australian Shepherds seem to have a naturally charismatic attitude that fits in well with people of all ages and other animals. Their eagerness to please helps with training, too—even if they struggle at first.

Excellent Workout Buddy

If you’re a person who loves going on runs, walks, or sporting events, this breed will be able to keep up with no issue. They will gladly run off some steam with you and keep you in your best shape.

Awesome Herding Potential

If you live on a few acres and own livestock—these dogs are bred for herding excellence. Since it’s so naturally developed in their genetics, they will soak up direction in training. If you could use an extra hand (or paw) on the farm, these dogs are experts in their field.

australian shepherd herding dog
Image Credit: Alexandra Morrison Photo, Shutterstock

What Are Some Potential Deal-Breakers?

Now, just because they’re classically a family dog doesn’t mean they will fit in anywhere they go. These dogs require care specific to their breed. Their personalities, tendencies, and physical attributes might not work for you.

So, what are some potential problem areas?

Energy

Australian Shepherds are pulsating with energy all the time. If your household is more low-key, it might not match the overall atmosphere. They will need lots of space to run, frequent walks, and activities to occupy their time.

If you don’t have as much time to spend catering to their needs, they might develop unwanted behaviors like excessive chewing, destruction of belongings, and even nervousness.

Intelligence

This breed has incredible intelligence, which can also pose problems. They can be stubborn, resistant, and hard to work with if they don’t feel up to it. If you’re a person who lacks patience, this might not be the right breed for your home.

australian shepherd lying in the forest
Image Credit: torstensimon, Pixabay

Size

If you have an apartment or condo, these dogs might not match the specific weight requirements for your home. Many rentals have maximum weight limits and other specifications. Even though this breed is only medium-sized, it might still be too big when fully grown.

Environment

On the same note of apartment or condo living, space is a big deal, too. These dogs require lots of time and space to run until their hearts are content. If you don’t have a fenced-in yard, ample living space, or time to walk them, they can become unhappy.

Prey Drive

Australian Shepherds are herding dogs and might naturally chase after smaller animals. They are incredibly visually sensitive, chasing after things like cats, squirrels, and even cars. Even though Aussies aren’t an aggressive breed, they might hurt another animal or get hurt themselves in the process.

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Buying vs. Adopting an Australian Shepherd

When you’re ready to bring your special new pal home, there are a few avenues you can take to find one.

Australian Shepherd
Image Credit: Jametlene Reskp, Unsplash

Breeder

Many reputable breeders produce quality pups ready for their forever homes with appropriate vet care. You have to ensure breeders are legitimate, having the dog’s best interest at heart. If you buy from a breeder, you can expect to pay roughly $600 to $1,000.

Pros
  • You get to pick your special Aussie from puppyhood
  • You can take your time shopping and preparing
  • Your Aussie can acclimate with your family at an early age
Cons
  • Purebred dogs are typically very expensive
  • Not all breeders are legitimate

Shelter or Rescue

If an owner cannot care for their Aussie, they might surrender the dog to a rescue or shelter. Adoption costs are significantly less than buying from a breeder, but there are some downfalls, too. If you adopt, you’ll likely spend between $150 and $350.

Pros
  • You can give an Aussie a second chance
  • All vetting and exams are complete
  • The dog will already come spayed or neutered
Cons
  • You might not get a puppy
  • The dog might have encountered abuse, neglect, or unique health issues

Previous Owner

Sometimes, owners look for another family to rehome their dog. This situation could develop for a few reasons, but most of the time, it has to do with personal lifestyle changes or basic incompatibility.

Pros
  • You can get firsthand history on the dog
  • Save the dog from potentially ending up at the shelter
  • You might pay less than a breeder
Cons
  • Not all people are trustworthy
  • The dog’s temperament could be uncertain

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Australian Shepherd Breed History

Contrary to its name, Australian Shepherds descend from British herding dogs in the United States. The actual origin is muddy, but their development is thought to have developed from cousins like Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs. Their early roots date back to the 1500s.

The prominence of this talented herding breed is quite apparent. Today, they rank 13th on the AKC breed list, making them a canine favorite.

Australian Shepherd on the field with flowers
Image Credit: Petra Heike Laicher, Pixabay

Australian Shepherd Temperament

Australian Shepherds are fun-loving, curious dogs with an innate desire to run. They enjoy many games like fetch, frisbee, and other agility exercises. These dogs are the happiest when they’re at work or play.

Australian Shepherds are pretty hyper puppies, so if you don’t channel their energy appropriately in the beginning—look out. A bored Aussie can be destructive, and it’s a behavior they don’t need to pick up.

As young dogs, Aussies should have regular stimulation, both mentally and physically. They will happily accompany you on an evening stroll, morning run, or playing games around the yard. They love activities that put their mind to work and they love a good challenge.

Aussies are very keen observers, spotting the slightest movement on the drop of a dime. Because of this, you might notice they take a particular interest in windows and doors where they can see all of the busy activity outside.

Aussies form intensely strong bonds with each person in their family. They aim for acceptance from everyone they love. Many Australian Shepherds are welcoming of strangers, although it does depend on the dog. Others might be slightly reserved or indifferent towards guests or passersby.

Australian Shepherd Physical Traits

Australian Shepherds are medium-sized dogs with athletic, lean bodies. They have medium-to-long, wavy-to-straight fur that varies in color. Aussies always have white or tan markings in addition to any other coloring.

Many Australian Shepherds have a beautiful blue-eye gene. Some eyes might be blue, while others have one blue eye only. This condition is known as heterochromia, where one eye lacks melanin.

Height: 18 – 23 inches
Weight: 35 – 70 pounds
Coat Colors: Merle, red, black, red, tricolor

Australian Shepherd Care

Here is some basic care information when you own an Australian Shepherd.

smiling australian shepherd waling in the field
Image Credit: Daniel Albany, Pixabay

Diet

Because Aussies are so high energy, they benefit from a high-quality, calorie-dense, protein-rich food. Steer clear of commercial foods with fillers like corn, wheat, or soy. These dogs aren’t stricken with any genetic food-related health issues, but they need nutrient-dense food that fits each life stage.

Exercise

Australian Shepherds require a minimum of 1 hour of strenuous exercise a day—but they will gladly do more.

Training

Australian Shepherds are highly trainable, but they can be stubborn and distracted at first. Because Aussies notice everything, puppies might get a little off track when you’re trying to get them to focus. Don’t fret—these dogs are brilliant, and they will pick up on any concept with adequate training.

Grooming

Aussies have thick double coats necessary to protect their sensitive skin from harsh temperatures and thick foliage. Because of their unique fur, they require daily brushing. They will benefit from monthly baths, nail trims, and teeth brushing—maybe even a professional spa day occasionally, too.

Health

Australian Shepherds are generally healthy, but they can run into a few issues. The most common problems in the breed are hip dysplasia, eye problems, and epilepsy.

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Just for Fun

Here are some interesting facts about Aussies you might not know.

1. Australian Shepherds might nip heels.

australian shepherd dog and female owner are walking together
Image Credit: Anna Pozzi – Zoophotos, Shutterstock

Because of their herding roots, this breed might nip at the heels of children and other animals to “keep them in line.” You can train them to channel this impulse productively. Or, you can hand them the task of wrangling the kids—up to you!

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2. They were once rodeo dogs.

In the 1950s, a group of trained Australian Shepherds performed in a trick-style rodeo act.

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3. Their tails are naturally short.

australian shepherd playing on sand
Image Credit: dfaen, Pixabay

No docking is required—these dogs have naturally short tails that reach about 4 inches.

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Your Family Might Love an Australian Shepherd If…

  • You have plenty of time to walk, run, and play with them
  • You are prepared to socialize them early with different faces and critters
  • You make sure you have a secure fence and restraints on walks or at play
  • You have an adequate amount of space both indoors and outdoors
  • You can be firm and devoted to training
  • You have an active household
  • You can keep up with regular vet visits and care expenses

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Final Thoughts

Now you can see, Australian Shepherds make fantastic family members for many. If you and your family have an active lifestyle and want to include your dog in that, an Aussie will happily oblige. These intelligent, energetic beauties will acclimate well, even in multi-pet households.

If an Australian Shepherd feels like a good match, remember to buy from a reputable breeder. You can also find many Aussies in shelters and rescues. If you buy a full-grown dog, meet and greets can help you figure out if the dog is a good fit for your family.

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Featured Image Credit: Altrendo Images, Shutterstock