Five Facts You Need to Know Before Choosing an Australian Shepherd

Kiera Australian Shepherd

She’s beautiful, isn’t she?

She’s also smart, athletic, a snap to train, devoted, telepathic, and my right-hand girl. In fact, she’s everything you could want in a dog — and more.

It’s the “more” part that gets most people into trouble. The truth is — for as beautiful and brainy as Australian Shepherds are — they aren’t for everyone.

The question is: Are they for you?

Let me walk you through a few key points to help you decide.

In order to live with and raise a healthy, happy Aussie, you really do only need to know a couple of things. If you get a book on Australian Shepherds, these points will be covered, albeit a bit casually. It’s just that these couple of things are huge.

Way back at the beginning of my love affair with Australian Shepherds, I wish I’d known the depth and breadth of the importance of these points. It would have saved me a lot of trouble. I hope that by stressing the vital and critical need to do these few things if you do decide you still want an Aussie, I will have set you down the right path for many years of trouble-free, blissful enjoyment with your incredible dog.

1. Research breeders and lines. Unless you plan on herding, don’t get an Australian Shepherd from working lines.

First, finding a reputable breeder is key to finding a healthy dog. (Aussies are known to have some health issues that are more likely to show up in litters of backyard breeders and puppy mills.) Start by checking with the AKC website. Then check with your vet and local dog trainers. These guys are usually fountains of information on such things. Talk with a few breeders before you make your selection. The breeder should be more than happy to answer as many questions as you have. In fact, a good breeder will have just as many questions to ask you.

Also, research the lines (the genealogy of both sire and dam going back a few generations) from which you’re getting your Australian Shepherd. Working lines (as opposed to show lines) are bred for having a very strong mind and strong herding instincts — neither trait is well-suited for the average family home. Unless you plan on herding (yes, as in sheep, cows, or ducks) with your Aussie and/or you’re a very experienced dog owner, it’s best to stay away from working lines. If you have children, definitely stay away from working lines. (If you have young children, consider a non-herding breed altogether.) If you don’t have time for a high-energy, strong-minded dog, you don’t have time for Aussies.

2. Socialize, socialize, socialize. And then socialize some more. And then some more. I’m not kidding.

While some Australian Shepherds are friendly goofballs, most are pretty reserved. In fact, that’s the breed standard — they’re not bred to be everyone’s bud. In order for them not to become shy and/or suspicious, they need to be socialized.

Books and breeders concur that socializing is important. That’s very true — of all dogs. But just exactly how much socializing are we talking about? A couple of strolls down Main Street? A few kids over? That might be enough for an easy going Lab, but it’s not even close to a beginning for an Aussie. I’m here to tell you that you need to make this your #1 priority in a big way. In fact, this is the single most important thing you can do for you and your puppy.

What books and breeders are often remiss in mentioning is what happens if you don’t do a good job here. Let me fill you in. As herding dogs and protective herding dogs at that, getting your dog used to all kinds of people and situations in and out of your house is key for her while she’s young. Otherwise, you’ll have a dog that’s wary of people and new situations, or worse.

By worse, I mean having a dog that won’t let people onto your property or into your house without at least intimidating the heck out of them. Or, at most, winding up with a dog who will bite (a herding nip is considered a bite by the law) to keep anything she finds unfamiliar — and therefore suspicious — away from her people.

Get her used to different people coming and leaving, people petting her, people flapping their arms, people moving quickly, people with umbrellas, funny hats, sunglasses–you name it. Take her to other locations–downtown, the park, etc. Find a good, positive trainer and take her to puppy training classes. Not only to get her started with obedience but to socialize her with other dogs as well.

Start early! Even if she doesn’t have all her shots yet, you can still carry her places with you to help her get used to different sights and sounds.

3. If you don’t train your Australian Shepherd, she will train you!

I’ve had several breeds of dogs over the years, most from the herding/working category. So I’ve known some smart dogs in my day. Kiera blows them all out of the water. By far. By scary far. An Aussie’s intelligence is something to be reckoned with. So start training the day you get your pup, and don’t stop. Period. If you get lazy, she’ll start seeing how well she can train you.

Aussies are bred to work and think. If you don’t give your Aussie something to think about, she will find ways to amuse herself. And you might not be happy with what she comes up with. So give her direction. The great thing about Aussies is that they learn so fast that it makes them fun to train. Because of their versatility, you can get them into any dog sport and they’ll shine.

Or just train her to be useful around the house. For instance, teach her to go get people instead of yelling or using an intercom. By working regularly with your Aussie, you’re also putting yourself routinely in the position of leader. Aussies do best with a good leader. Otherwise, they tend to take over.

While Aussies will endure quite a bit of physical pain without complaint, they tend to be soft dogs emotionally. That is, they’re really tuned into their owners and are easily affected by their moods and tone of voice. So I recommend that you find and work with a positive trainer. These dogs are such a snap to train that harsh methods are not required or advised. (There’s a difference between being clear and consistent, and harsh.)

4. Australian Shepherds need a lot exercise.

Aussies come in a range of energy levels. Some are energetic busy bees and some are moderate. Most fall somewhere in the middle –neither crazy whirligigs (except some from working lines) nor couch potatoes. That is to say exercise is important for this breed to be happy. Depending on your dog’s energy levels, a long walk may be enough. Most Aussies will need significantly more. They also do best when they have space — inside and out. In other words, if you live in an apartment and are gone most of the day, consider another dog.

These dogs make wonderful companions on runs, or hikes, or any outdoor activity. The key word here being activity. Because they are such extraordinary athletes with keen minds, there’s literally no dog sport at which that they don’t excel. Find one that the two of you can enjoy, and you’ll have years of fun together.

5. Australian Shepherds need a job even more than they need exercise — which is saying something.

While exercise is important for a healthy Aussie, a job is mandatory for a happy Aussie. These dogs live to work. Their work can be as simple as keeping an eye on you, or another pet, or the kids, or the house while you’re gone. Or as complex as running agility, herding sheep, or doing Search and Rescue work. Again, because these dogs are highly intelligent, if you don’t give them a job, they’ll make one up for themselves.

Kiera has given herself the job of watching me, the property, and policing Finn and Graidy. The jobs I’ve given her are to help me around the house and to babysit Cait when I need to make a quick store run and she doesn’t want to come. And, for fun, we’ve done obedience, agility, and we like to herd together.

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Australian Shepherds are not for everyone. They require clear communication, consistent discipline and leadership, and an outlet for their minds and athletic talents. Heed these needs seriously. There are already too many Aussies in rescue because people just like the way they look without considering how much time and energy they require.

If you can provide these few conditions, you’ll be blessed with the companionship of an extraordinary dog who will go to the ends of the earth and back for you.

[Posted at ProBlogger group writing project.]

 

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By |2018-05-09T08:13:38+00:00May 9th, 2007|.My Dogs and Me, Dog Training, Dogs in General|111 Comments

111 Comments

  1. Cindy November 2, 2018 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    THANK YOU! Hubby & I are getting a 12 week old Aussie in a couple of days. It’s a rescue situation but I did have a choice between male or female. Female is beautiful (same markings as your fur baby). We have a 10yr old black lab mix female… after reading this post I dang near had a break down… I instantly got on the phone & called owners… explained I couldn’t have 2 dominant females… long story short… I’m getting the male. Sadly I have no idea about this puppies parents. I got 7 out of 10 on your list from another post. We will be getting a invisible fence put in. My husband & I are both retired. I am looking forward to getting active with this puppy. Our lab gets jealous easy but we know how to handle her on that front. Off to read more of your great posts!
    Cindy

    • Karen Shanley November 3, 2018 at 8:36 am - Reply

      I hope you have many wonderful years of enjoyment with your new Aussie. They are truly amazing dogs. But remember–socialize, socialize, socialize, and then some more. And train, train, train, and don’t stop. : )

  2. Ruth M. October 27, 2018 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    We will be getting our Aussie puppy on November 16th. We had a 14 1/2 year old Samoyed who we had to put down several weeks ago.

    Our Bengal cat and our dog were the best of friends. I know that this breed is high energy and needs a lot of exercise. That is why we chose her. My husband is a young retiree who needs companionship as well, while I work full-time.

    Our cat has never been aggressive. He has no aversion to dogs in general. He gets much more upset if another cat invades his space.

    Can you give us any advise to help the introduction of our 6 year old cat to our new pup?

    Thank you,
    Ruth

    • Karen Shanley October 28, 2018 at 11:43 am - Reply

      Ruth, this post may help. Even though it’s from the point of a new kitten to an older dog, this should give you the gist of steps for introduction. http://www.karenshanley.com/how-to-introduce-a-kitten-to-a-dog/

      Main thing is to keep initial introductions brief. And to keep the puppy on a leash with plenty of escape routes for your cat.

      Good news is that you have a cat that has felt positive about dogs, and your puppy is young enough to learn to like cats.

      We have 2 dogs and a cat and all three are inseparable. I’m sure you can make the magic work again for your guys too. It’s not that unusual.

  3. Jaimie Shirley October 17, 2018 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    Hi

    We got a beautiful Aussie about 3 weeks ago. He is very smart and overall a great dog. He is pretty good with our 4 year old, has really reduced the jumping and nipping with him and he is totally submissive to my husband, plays with him without biting, gives him love and will lay there while he lets him. With me, it’s a bit of a different story. I am the primary person to feed him, take him out to go to the bathroom (including middle of the night) etc, but he is showing dominant behaviors towards me. Jumping, biting, herding me. If I try and be dominant like my husband he becomes more aggressive with me. Obviously I need to figure out our relationship and how to get him to see me as the leader as well as my husband but looking for ideas, not sure what I am doing is working?? Or maybe it will take a bit more time with us?

    • Karen Shanley October 28, 2018 at 11:38 am - Reply

      Jaimie, kudos to you for wanting to get any issues that pop up straightened out. I recommend you ask a good positive trainer to come to your home to watch your interactions with your Aussie. You may be giving mixed signals in voice tone and body language, which may be contributing to your Aussie’s response. A trainer can very quickly get you on the right track.

      Good luck! And I always love hearing from such dedicated, thoughtful Aussie owners.

    • Luz R November 12, 2018 at 6:17 pm - Reply

      Jumping and biting are not dominant behaviours in a puppy. It just means he hasn’t been trained not to jump, and even possibly been encouraged to do so by your body language or otherwise, while biting is typical for a puppy, specially if he’s teething. Just train and redirect to a toy or remove yourself from the situation for him to get that biting equals to the fun stopping (ie. you leaving). Perhaps your husband is firmer in his training, but the point is not to intimidate your puppy, that doesn’t really help long term training, it just teaches your puppy to fear you or not be confortable around you. It doesn’t mean he won’t misbehave when you’re not there.

      Contact a positive trainer for proper guidance.

  4. Matt October 3, 2018 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    Hi, I have acquired a 3 year old female Aussie. I got her from a lady that had gotten her for her elderly mother (i have no idea why ahe thought that was a good idea) but needless to say she didnt have much training or socialization when we got her.I have worked with her a lot and ahe has become a great family sog. She gets along with or 3.5 poind yorkiepoo and our cat even if she gets jealous of someone getting pet other than her. The one thing that I was hoping was to play frisbee with her. She wants absolutely nothing to do with frisbee or fetch in general. Ive tried for months and ahe having none of it. Any other suggestions on activities we can do together that can work her out physically and mentally than just taking her on my runs with me?

    • Karen Shanley October 13, 2018 at 11:58 am - Reply

      Hey Matt, Yeah my Aussie also had zero interest in retrieving games. Because Aussies like using their brains, try teaching her tricks. Even better, if you have the time you can try her at agility or herding. Aussies tend to excel at both.

  5. sue September 28, 2018 at 11:39 am - Reply

    we are currently re homing our Border/Aussie, we have had her since 8 weeks. She is from strong working lines, we have taken her to puppy class and have her working with a trainer 2 days a week. She has also spent several weekends and one week with our trainer over the summer. We have brought in a behaviorist she has been resource guarding her food and bed. We have a 3 year old and 10 year old, she has bitten my 3 year old a few times.She is high anxiety and we have been working on letting her chill in the house.

    We love her and I do everything to try and stimulate her, but just don’t have the time as I have small children. She bit me recently in the truck while we were driving, it wasn’t resource guarding as she tried to warn me 2 more time that same day.

    We are giving her to our trainer who works at an amazing facility for agility, disc, sent training,basic obediance etc…we know she will find her a great new owner who can train her and keep her stimulated in the way she
    needs.

    Your write up is very accurate and I hope more people who read it really consider the dedication it takes for such a smart dog!

    • Karen Shanley October 3, 2018 at 1:53 pm - Reply

      Sue, I’m sorry to hear of your circumstances. And bravo to you for trying to do what you could to make it work. I couldn’t agree more that she is not the right dog for your family circumstances.

  6. Jean September 9, 2018 at 8:44 am - Reply

    Loved reading your responses and having had 2 aussies, 1 male 1/2 aussie /1/2 border collie (long passed) and a female ‘purebred'(passed of lymphoma 6 years ago), their personalities were THE best…but not for everyone! I’m dying to get my third one but until my older chow/rottie mixes cross over the rainbow bridge it wouldn’t be fair to anyone. The female mix and my aussie were complete opposite alphas..one very primitive wanting to chase and kill while the other wanted to herd and protect…the ‘spats’ were damaging and a nightmare to live with. The aussie loved our cats and they played nonstop some days. I’ve always had at least two dogs but this round have to wait. That said, I’ve been talking to a couple breeders and am concerned they’re just glorified puppy mills since they get rid of the dams after a few litters and have continuous marketing. The other places on line look like ‘amish’ puppy mills with loads of very cute photos. Do you have a suggestion for a current reputable network that is breed not greed driven?

    • Karen Shanley September 9, 2018 at 12:46 pm - Reply

      I can totally relate to the 2 female alpha spats. So difficult… And I applaud your decision to wait for the sake of your older chow/rottie.

      I don’t know where you’re from, or how far you’re willing to travel, but I can highly recommend the breeder I got Kiera from. Georjean Hertzwig and Gefion Hall Aussies. This is a breeder who thinks generations ahead to make sure the mental and physical health of her dogs remain solid. Here’s her website: http://www.gefionhall.com/puppies/

      If she doesn’t have any puppies when you’re ready to look, I would trust her recommendation for other breeders who might.

      Best of luck to you!

  7. krysten July 18, 2018 at 10:35 am - Reply

    omment: I am currently looking to get a third dog. I have read your article and I would like your opinion. I currently have two Brittanys. My female is 2 1/2 and the male is 1 year old. They are great together they can get a little much with each other but they settle down when I tell them enough. My male is odd around other dogs at times. He does like other dogs running up to me all crazy but does well with puppies when they run next to him. He isn’t into playing much except for his sister and my brothers dog. He backs down from other dogs that challenge him and is passive. He doesn’t like violence neither does my female. My female is highly submissive and has never had a problem with other dogs. I have considered the financial addition and I am ok with that. We have a house with a backyard. I work three days a week at night and have a dog walker while I am sleeping during the day. Both of my dogs are highly trained I just can’t let my male off lead in the woods due to his strong hunting instinct, but Molly is great and stays right with us. I am the alpha in the house hold, while my husband isn’t as strong with training. We are currently looking to add an Australian Shepherd to switch it up. I love Brittany but I always wanted a Aussie. I have researched them for a long time and I feel a female would fix into our active lifestyle. I look forward to hearing from you .

    • Karen Shanley July 18, 2018 at 11:44 am - Reply

      The main thing with Aussies, that is always worth repeating, is that they need intensive socialization. Sounds like you already understand the value of a well-trained dog.

      And making the switch from a hunting dog to a herding dog is like night and day. Their drives and instincts are very different.

      But I believe that you have done your due diligence with your homework and if you still want an Aussie, I would actually recommend that you go with a male. Less likely to have any issues with dominance. If you absolutely only want a female, make sure you speak with the breeder to avoid alpha females.

      Good luck!

  8. Russel July 11, 2018 at 10:18 am - Reply

    >While exercise is important for a healthy Aussie, a job is mandatory for a happy Aussie. These dogs live to work.

    That just shows how smart these dogs are. It takes a certain level of intelligence to not be content with simply lounging around doing nothing all day.

  9. Teresa July 9, 2018 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    Hi Karen, I adopted a 13 year old mini Aussie about three months ago. I know the breed fairly well as i owned two some 30 years ago. That is why I chose to adopt an older Aussie. Kaya is a smart little cookie and seems to have been well taken care of. She is ball obsessed and I’ve had to slow down her fetching given her age and wear and tear on her legs and joints. I’m trying to work with her and hide the ball and have her find it as opposed to running after it, and that’s working well. I still play fetch with her but shorter times, as it seems to be what she so enjoys. Of course when you’re obsessed it’s probably not really a joy, it’s an obsession! The biggest problem I have is that she won’t let me touch her paws or feet. She also won’t let me look at her teeth. She goes to nip when I do try. I’ve been working with massaging her and slowly working my way to her feet, and it’s a very slow process and I’m not getting to far along. And she had a sore on one leg and there was NO way I could even look to see how bad it was or to clean it. She’s getting better at letting me get closer to her mouth and I’m hoping on her six month vet visit she will let the vet take a peek at her teeth. Any suggestions to help me along with this or is it possible I might need to look into using a muzzle? Right now if something happened to her, she wouldn’t let me get close to her. She had a vestibular episode a few weeks ago and would not let me come close to her, it was so scary. It all worked out ok, but I was concerned about if something else happens and she wouldn’t let me even pick her up to take to the vets, what do I do? This worries me. Other than those two issues (teeth and paws) she’s a gem. We walk daily and I’m home full time, so we are outside quite often keeping each other busy. She knows basic commands and I have no other worries. We are both establishing trust and I just wonder if over time she will let me touch her feet/paws and trust me. Is it just too soon or will this be a forever problem? Thanks for any insights.

    • Karen Shanley July 10, 2018 at 9:13 am - Reply

      Teresa, kudos to you for taking in an old dog. And I have to laugh because people who’ve never owned Aussies wouldn’t get that a 13-yo still wants to run like a 3 yo! They never slow down completely.

      Three months is not a long time for Kaya to be with you. So, yes, it’s too soon. And some dogs just hate having their feet touched. I have 2 at the moment with that issue. What’s worked for me is to use a distraction. If I coat a spoon with peanut butter and let them lick that, I can clip their nails. Otherwise, forget it.

      I would start slowly and let her lick a spoon with whatever treat she prizes and then gently pet her leg down to her foot. Just once for the first time, and let her finish licking. Do that for a few days in a row. Then if she seems ok, move to stroking twice, and so on and so on.

      So you’re essentially looking at building trust and desensitizing both at the same time. Once paws are okay, move on to teeth. At her age, anything more could overwhelm her.

      Good luck!

      • Teresa Sielsch July 10, 2018 at 1:16 pm - Reply

        Thank you Karen for your response. And yes, it seems most folks don’t realize the intricacies of the Aussie breed. The NW Mini Aussie Rescue is where I adopted Kaya and she told me that most folks want an Aussie because they are so beautiful and they disregard the work it takes to truly be true to the Aussie’s nature. It’s sad. She was saying the Toy and Teacup (which I didn’t even know were being bred now) Aussies are showing up in rescues sites, etc. because folks think it’s a lap dog not realizing there are still herding instincts in these little creatures. Anyway, I will try the peanut butter piece to see if that might help me along too. She’s come a long way even in the three months, it’s wonderful to see her build more trust in me. This is my first dog that I’ve had that I am home with 24/7 and I was wondering do most Aussies constantly watch your every move and follow your every move? Or is this just her getting acquainted still. She truly “watches”, not just follows. She is just an inquisitive little beast. Which makes her SO aware of everything. She is fearful of loud noises too, July 4th was a nightmare for both of us, so glad that’s over. And yes, you are so correct about staying young forever, she is still quite active physically and mentally and I keep trying to come up with new games we can engage in. Again, thank you for your response, it’s nice to hear from someone so familiar with the breed.

        • Karen Shanley July 10, 2018 at 2:16 pm - Reply

          Yes, it is normal for Aussies to constantly watch your every move. And to want to be where you are. They aren’t called “velcro dogs” for nuthin! :)
          Hope you get to enjoy your girl for a few more years. She’s lucky to have you.

  10. karla May 30, 2018 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your articles. I am enjoying reading more about the breed and hearing all of the personal stories. My husband and I researched the breeds we were interested in, and felt that the Mini Australian Shepherd would be a good fit with our active family. We have chosen two sister Mini Australian Shepherds that will be 8 weeks old when we bring them home. We plan to have our two boys each be the primary person to each dog. My husband and I plan to also split up and each work with a dog and boy to make sure that the dogs are properly socialized and trained from the beginning. We have found a breeder that has socialized this litter with 3 toddlers, and the parents are the most calm, mellow and sweet Mini Aussies that I have ever met. Not an anxious or overly protective bone in their bodies – even the nursing mother.

    We have a large, fenced yard and a park around the corner. In addition to obedience training, in order to help satisfy their need to work, we would like to find a ‘job’ for each pup. It sounds like being a frisbee dog or going through agility training could be enough. I work entirely from home, and with a few exceptions can be at home all day until my kids get home from school.

    My question to you really has more to do with the two puppies at once and our plan to train them. Does the way that I’ve (tried!) to explain seem like a good plan? Meaning, my husband and oldest son take one pup as their primary responsibility and my younger son and I take the other? Since I am home with them during the day, will that time with them override our desire to have each boy be their ‘primary’ human? Many sites give advice to keep the siblings separated in enough activities. They will be going on separate walks and training, but would you also recommend separate crates as pups? Or one to share to start then move into separate ones as they get bigger? We also have a 3 1/2 year old toddler, and I would like to try to do what I can to help her from being dominated by the dogs. Any advice there?

    Thank you!

    • Karen Shanley May 30, 2018 at 7:09 pm - Reply

      Karla, I’m going to throw a wedge in your plans, so get ready. Having lived through starting out with 2 sister Aussies before I knew better and being devastated by their sibling rivalry, I can’t believe this breeder is letting you get 2 female siblings the same age. This is a recipe for disaster.

      Maybe you’ll get lucky and things will go fine. But it’s way more likely that things won’t go fine, and you won’t believe the nightmare world you will enter. If you have not heard of this very well-documented problem, please google “female dog siblings fighting”. Even if they seem fine together now, at about 3 to 4 months, one or both will try to start asserting dominance over the other. Please don’t be naive and think this is something you would be able to fix. If they don’t wind up literally tearing each other to bits first, you’ll wind up having to rehome one of them.

      If there is any way that you can switch one of the females for a male, I strongly urge you to try to do that. Especially with a 3 1/2 yr old toddler in the house (which is a little too young to be able to handle having herding dogs around–aren’t you glad you asked? :) But I would be doing you a gross disservice if I didn’t warn you ahead of time. The best thing I can recommend is that you employ the services of a positive dog trainer familiar with Aussies to work with your family on how to help your dogs and your toddler be safe together.

      If you do go ahead with your plans for getting 2 from the same litter, hoping that one is a male, I agree that having each boy train their own dog separately is a good idea. I would also recommend you get separate crates for each from the start.

      Wishing you great good luck!

      • karla June 2, 2018 at 1:19 am - Reply

        Thanks for the advice! I will make sure we have a good trainer on hand from the start. I will talk to the breeder about a male. Thank you!

        • Karen Shanley June 2, 2018 at 4:12 pm - Reply

          Hoping you have many happy years of joy and laughter with your Aussies!

      • Renee June 7, 2018 at 8:08 pm - Reply

        Hi I’m trying to decide if i should get an australian shepherd or not because my whole family won’t be home for 8 hours for 5 days a week but when we are home we can definitely provide the llove exercise and mental simulation an aussie needs.

        • Karen Shanley June 8, 2018 at 8:07 am - Reply

          Hi Renee– 8 hours/5 days a week is a long time for any dog breed to be alone, but especially so for an Aussie. There are a couple of factors to consider. I always ask people to try not going to the bathroom for an 8-hour stretch during the day, and almost everyone then understands how difficult and painful this becomes. Then think about that being just part of your life–everyday living in uncomfortable bladder pain. Secondly, that length of time for any dog to be alone leads to boredom, and for an Aussie boredom leads to trouble because they’ll find ways to entertain themselves that you may not be happy with. So the short answer is that this setup would not work well for an Aussie.

          Hopefully, you can find a more mellow breed and find a doggie daycare situation or get a dog walker to come at least once during the day.

          Best of luck!

    • Pete July 8, 2018 at 11:31 am - Reply

      Hi Karen how you going I’m deciding if I should get an Australian Shepard puppy or not I’m very excited to get this puppy and want to be the best owner I can be the thing is I have a small yard and I work 8 hours 5 days a week I was wondering if you think it’d be a good idea to bring her to work with me I would also walk the dog twice a day and throw a frisbe or something for her thanks

      • Karen Shanley July 8, 2018 at 5:38 pm - Reply

        Bringing her to work would be a help. If you find that you can’t bring her to work, pass on Aussies. That’s too much alone-time for them.

        The most important thing you can do is to make sure you put in the time to really socialize her and to train her well. The payoff in benefits to you and your Aussie are huge.

        You also don’t mention whether you are a first-time dog owner or not. If you are, this isn’t the best breed to start with because of a learning curve with the intensity of the breed.

        I applaud your desire to be the best owner you can be. That’s exactly the attitude you need to build the bond that makes having a dog such a joy.
        Best of luck to you.

        • Peter July 12, 2018 at 4:35 am - Reply

          thanks for your response another question I don’t kind of understand what you mean by giving him a job What can she do?

          • Karen Shanley July 12, 2018 at 10:36 am

            Essentially anything the two of you actively do together qualifies as a job. One of Kiera’s favorite jobs was “taking me for a walk” every day. Literally, she would grab her leash and bring it to me at the usual time we walked every day. Because Aussies also need to be mentally stimulated, anything that requires thinking is good for them — Agility, herding, therapy dog, obedience training, etc. Teaching your Aussie tricks will even make them happy. They need a chance to work their minds as well as their bodies.

            I should add that just watching you constitutes a job for an Aussie. As herding dogs, they need to keep an eye on you to make sure you’re safe in their orbit. But long-term, this isn’t enough activity for them if their owner is a couch potato.

  11. Nataly May 29, 2018 at 1:20 am - Reply

    Hi Karen! Thanks for the great post! I have been reading all about the puppy we are about to get and goodness there is tons of information!
    On June 9th we are picking up our Australian Shepherd/catahoula mix puppy, who will be 9 weeks old by then. I’ve read everything I could think of from training to types of food, etc. Originally my husband and I were looking for a labradoodle but came across this adorable little puppy and we decided to put a deposit on him.
    Now that I’m finding your site and it’s getting close to pick up, I am getting a little anxious/concerned that we’ve made the right choice (mostly because I think now I’ve read too much!)
    Most of what concerns me is the overprotective nature, and getting attached to one person as I want our dog to get along well with others, and other dogs as well and not freak out when people or other dogs come over.
    Another concern is that we are newly married, and don’t have kids yet, but plan to have them within the next 2 years or so, would this Aussie mix handle that well?
    We have a huge yard and a pool and we would be able to take him on walks and give him the exercise he needs, however what do you recommend for when he is home alone when we are at work? (Im usually gone mon-fri for about 6 hours, my husband’s schedule constantly changes)
    Because I would be the one probably spending more time with him, would that create attachment issues, where maybe he won’t listen to my husband or be too protective of me?
    We have 2 weeks before we pick him up, but since we only put a deposit on him, I want to make sure he is the right choice for a long-time family dog to grow with us before we actually pick him up and pay the rest.

    Truly appreciate any advice!!!

    • Karen Shanley May 29, 2018 at 8:38 am - Reply

      Hi Nataly, I agree, this sounds like a very adorable puppy. But “adorable” is what lands many a dog in Rescue because “adorable” in this case doesn’t come close to trumping all the reasons why this breed combination is not a good fit for you.

      From the concerns you’ve expressed and for what you are hoping for in a family dog, this puppy is not it–not by a long shot. Both the Aussie and Catahoula are herding dogs (not good for small children at all without serious training and constant monitoring) and protective of their people. While they can be family dogs, both are inclined to get attached to one person. Neither would do particularly well with long stretches of time left alone.

      I’m going to strongly urge you to go back to your original plan and wait for a Labradoodle. You will be glad you did.

      • Nataly May 30, 2018 at 1:56 pm - Reply

        Karen, thank you so much for your time and feedback. Thanks to your blog and response we decided to get more feedback and keep researching. I’m so glad I came across this blog! After you replied we randomly found out a friend has a catahoula who he described as the most wired and crazy dog he has ever had. Obviously that’s intimidating as first time dog owners. We decided to pass on the Aussie mix we had a deposit on, and keep searching for a dog that fits us and our lifestyle better. Thank you so much.

        • Karen Shanley May 30, 2018 at 3:12 pm - Reply

          Nataly, I am so happy to hear of your decision. I have no doubt it was the right one for your family. Best of luck finding the perfect family dog!

  12. Todd May 7, 2018 at 1:16 am - Reply

    Your blog is informative, interesting and appreciated. What I appreciate as well is I see you have been responding and helping folks for 11 years. Well done!

    I have owned English bulldogs for the last 25 years. I lost one of my best ones on his 7th birthday in February. The breed is a great loving breed but is riddled with health issues and for this reason my wife and I have decided to seek out a new breed.

    We are wanting a healthy, energetic, weather tolerant, smart, companion, fisherman, swimmer, and devoted dog that will be by our side and ready to go. The Aussie breed appears to be able to fulfill all these things and more. In addition my wife is retired and I have just retired as well. Our home is in desperate need of a dog as our hearts are still broken from the loss of our last one.

    We have found a very responsible breeder with great health records and proven pedigree and have selected our dog. Now we just have to just make the transition from a bull dog bus to an Aussie Porsche. We have the skill let’s just hope we have the matching stamina!

    • Karen Shanley May 7, 2018 at 9:25 am - Reply

      Todd, thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated!

      Sorry for the recent loss of your wonderful companion. Going from a bus to a Porche will require a bit of a shift in your driving style, but I have no doubt that you’ll successfully make the adjustment.

      May you enjoy many fulfilling years with your new Aussie!

  13. Beth A March 29, 2018 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    I meant to say the breeder answered ALL questions WE asked.

  14. Beth A March 29, 2018 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    Hi Karen! I found your blog while looking for something to help me re-train our three year old male Aussie. We have had him since he was 8 weeks old, and I think he was the runt of the litter. I do not have concerns about the breeders, they were very open and honest and asked all questions and still keep in touch and want updates.

    Our first Aussie was a rescue female. Bayley was 2 or 3 years old and pretty mellow and withdrawn at first. She blossomed into a great family pet and was not a barker nor did she have any anxiety issues. She lived with us for 15 years after we adopted her. My children (adults that they are) still lived at home due to college and were devastated and wanted another Aussie. So we now have Harley, our male.

    Harley is smart, very energetic and has anxiety issues. I am sure it is because we all loved and spoiled him during his formative years. He gets super excited when I come home. He is attached TO ME!! He gets wound up and anxious when other people come over, We did not leash train him as a puppy because we were so busy with life and school, but played with him all the time. When he gets loose, he runs. I believe he is from a working line, as Bayley was from a show line, as their coats and temperaments were so much different.

    So..to wind this up….is there any way I can reverse this behavior in Harley? Get him to not bark at me when I do not play long enough with him, whine when he is done with his treat because he wants another one (and usually gets it) Get him to leash train easy, not get anxious around others and when he gets into the car. And is there a way to stop his barking at everything outside? HELP! We adore him and he adores us. He is super smart, attentive and alert. Mostly in the house with us instead of wanting to be out in our nice sized back yard. We have totally spoiled him and is our fault he is this way…so I need to fix it!!

    Thank you.

    Any suggestions you can give would be greatly appreciated.

    • Karen Shanley April 9, 2018 at 7:56 am - Reply

      Hi Beth, yes there’s a lot you can do to help Harley but it requires time and consistency. Finding a good positive trainer to work with you is the first best step. Also you might find these books very helpful. When Pigs Flyhttps://www.amazon.com/When-Pigs-Fly-Training-Impossible/dp/1929242441/ and How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves https://www.amazon.com/How-Behave-Your-Dog-Behaves/dp/0793806445

      I’m sure with a little effort you’ll have Harley moving in the right direction so you can enjoy him for 15 years too!

  15. Kathryn H March 18, 2018 at 1:04 am - Reply

    Hi
    Ill bet my pup will be handful once i get him in June 2018.
    question, Can I make my aussie into service dog? He will be 4 months old by then.
    I love energetic dogs. They tend to be good helping me to exercise like jogging and fast pace walk and hiking.
    I am deaf , thats why i ask if i can make my aussie a service dog.i heard aussie can be helpful around house or maybe listening to doorbell if anyone rings it.
    sorry if my question sound stupid

    • Karen Shanley March 19, 2018 at 11:53 am - Reply

      Hi Kathryn–Absolutely, Aussies can make wonderful service dogs. You would need to go through the training and get him certified, so that he can go everywhere with you. Best of luck!

  16. Steven van der Vegt February 15, 2018 at 11:25 am - Reply

    Hi Karen,

    Your article and all the comments here are very helpfull to get a better perspective of what it’s like to have an Aussie as your dog companion. My girlfriend and I live in an appartment at the moment, but we’re planning on looking for our own house in the suburbs this year. And along with the house, we’d love to expand our family with a dog. And after a lot of reading into it, we’d love it to be an Aussie.

    I’d like to know if it would be good fit for the dog though, so I hope you can give me some advice. So let me tell you a little about ourselves and our situation. We’re both currently in our twenties, both animal lovers and we both like to be outdoors and active. Even more so, we think it would be great to have a dog that gives us a reason to be more outdoors and active. We’d prefer a dog that challenges us, not a dog that’s a couch potato. At the moment we have a cat, who is very social with people but doesn’t get along with other cats because he’s very dominant. He got along well with dogs so far, he mostly met huskies and a sarloos wolfdog. Ofcourse we hope these animals could become buddies. We have no kids yet nor or we planning them at the moment, but within a few years we do want to have kids. Next to that, we’re both active with making music and we both enjoy driving our motorbikes. I don’t know if that would be a problem with Aussies in some way.

    The biggest problems I see for us so far, are mainly two thing: 1. None of us previously owned our own dog (though we had ones in our families) which means no real previous experience, and 2. we both work fulltime.

    The first point is something I hope we can handle purely by putting our time into preparing for a dog like this. My girlfriend is the kind of person that would be happiest on a ranch, because she really loves all sorts of animals and spending time with them, and she’s really good with all of them so far. She also likes to help out at our local animal shelter. My main experience is managing four rather difficult shelter cats (including the one living with us now) into sweet buddies. I love animals as well and I’m quite determined when I put my mind to something.

    And regarding our working hours, I hope there’s a way we can find to manage this. If we find a house close enough to our work, one of us can go home for lunch and spend time with the dog. We also both have one work week consisting of 5 days, and the next consisting of 4. Now we spent one friday every two weeks off together, but we could change that so that one of us is always one day more at home every week, or I could work lesser hours each day and give up the bi-weekly off-day. Also, we’re looking for a home with enough backyard space and we’re willing to fence it, so the dog can spend time outside as well when we’re not home.

    The reason an Aussie interests us so much, is their personality, not just their looks. To us they seem like smart dogs, with their own personality, who are protective but also loyal and sweet. Dogs that like to go hiking or playing outside with us. A labrador or retriever might seem too laid back and lacking of own will for us, where a border collie or ACD might be a bit too challenging. I’m sorry for the long story, but I’d like to be informed well. Do you think an Aussie might be a good fit for us in the future, or maybe a mix-breed of an Aussie? I’d like to hear your what you think :)

    • Karen Shanley February 17, 2018 at 10:59 am - Reply

      Hi Steven, I appreciate your thoughtfulness in making this decision. I wish everyone did as much thinking before they got a dog! I do have a couple of thoughts for you.

      There are a few points you outline that make me think you would do better cutting your teeth with a step down from an Aussie for your first dog. Then think about an Aussie as the next dog you take into your family, after you have a little more dog experience and you have your work lives more defined.

      I am always nervous when someone mentions that they are hoping their dog will give them a reason to get out more or be more active. The reality is that seldom works. Get more active first and sustain it for several months until it becomes a way of life, and then you are ready for a dog who is very active.

      Also that both you and your wife work full time is a concern. Aussies are called velcro dogs for a reason. They get very attached to their humans and unless they have another dog or people around, they will get bored and/or develop separation anxiety. Thinking that you can work out between you and your wife getting home at lunch is a testiment to your good intentions and concern for your dog. Again, you have to be careful of that life thing getting in the way of best intentions.

      What I ask anyone to do who works fulltime before they get a dog is to go 10 hours without going to the bathroom. And do that for several days in a row. Then you will know what you are unwittingly putting your dog through. A possible solution, if you were to put in a really secure fence in your backyard (Aussies are both climbers and diggers–a regular fence will not keep a determined Aussie contained), would be to put a dog door in your house so your dog can get out to relieve itself as needed. The possible downside of that is that Aussies can be barkers, and a bored dog can be a very barky dog. If you had neighbors, they wouldn’t appreciate that.

      And lastly, Aussies are very sound sensitive, so playing or working with loud music would be something you would have to introduce to your dog gradually to aclimate her. But it may always remain a problem for her.
      If you’re thinking of mixed, maybe an Aussie/Lab mix might be a good combo for you.

      Good luck with whatever you decide.

  17. Leila January 7, 2018 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    Hi Karen,
    We are a family of six but our kids are starting to leave home. Our 17 year old plans to stay home another year for upgrading, our 15 year old has already left to play hockey, our 12 year old has Down syndrome, is non-verbal, and LOVES animals but is loud and sometimes unpredictable, and our 10 year old daughter would luv to do obedience classes with a dog but really just wants a snuggle buddy. We have been searching for a dog for sometime since our little “mutt” dog dived into traffic last fall. My husband works long hours and I work part time. I first became interested in an Aussie mix when my coworker raved about hers. Then I saw an ad about Aussiedoodles and their adeptness at being a great thereapy dog for people with special needs. That hooked me. We were on the wait list for one but it didn’t get a clean bill of health so we declined that pup. Now I’m not sure if that was a blessing or if we should still pursue the breed. I found a 3/4 Aussie/Poodle pup who is 6 months old and needs a new home on the same day that we got our deposit back. We have a 1/4 acre fenced yard with a lovely insulated dog house (from our old lab) but could I leave an Aussie in our house while I’m at work? I work 2-3 days a week and come home at lunch. My husband, reluctantly agrees to help me exercise the dog. I walk and jog but not on a regular basis so that is why I had to get him to agree to help with exercise. Although, I’ve tried to ignore my boys’ suggestions of “sick,”high, energy dogs because they’re leaving home, I still end up coming back to this one. What do you think?

    • Karen Shanley January 8, 2018 at 9:56 am - Reply

      Hi Leila, I really appreciate your thoughtfulness as you go through the process of trying to find the best fit for your family. Good for you! And good for whatever dog joins your family. There are a couple of points you mention that may not work well with any kind of Aussie mix. That your 12 yr old sometimes can be unpredictable could be an issue for hyperalert and hyper-responsive Aussies. And your daughter is young enough that she and her friends still probably like to run around. Again, herding dog and running or any quick movements usually not a good combo. 1/4 acre yard is small for these high energy dogs if there is not some other guaranteed method of exercising. Aussies are also known for being velcro dogs–as in they really do best when they can be with their person a majority of the time. All of these could be overcome with expert and persistent training, and an exercise plan.

      From what you’ve told me, I would recommend that you look for a more low-key, low energy dog. Perhaps a labradoodle or a King Charles Cavalier Spanial? Though depending on your weather, these are not dogs that could live outdoors.

      Good luck with finding the perfect dog for your family!

  18. Tejal Jhaveri December 15, 2017 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    Hi Karen,
    Any advice for a Australian Shepard mini , 2 months old, breeder litter box trained her, never been outside. We are trying to crate train her, but she whines and barks, so we are puzzled on how to train. Seems like we can’t leave in crate. We take her out and spend 45 min waiting for her to do the deed , but comes inside and poops on the floor. We tried giving her praise and a treat when she pees outside, but still poos inside. How long does it take to crate train an Aussie shepherd mini, should we give in when she cries and whines, and should we be training her a different way? Help!

    • Karen Shanley December 21, 2017 at 8:41 am - Reply

      Hi Tejal,
      Because she has essentially been trained to go in the house “litter box trained,” your challenge is to get her to learn to go outside. I would start by getting a litter box and moving it outside to see if you can get her to start going in that outside, to help her start transferring “inside” to “outside”. Once she gets that concept, then you can start putting the litter on the ground without the box. Then remove the litter.

      The other option is to create a chart with times of when she poops. Dogs are usually fairly regular. And then keep her out 15 min before her usual times, until she goes.

      Also, while you are training her, when you think she is close to going, keep her in a smaller area of a room (not the crate), like a sectioned off area of the kitchen, where you can watch her. As soon as she starts to squat, say a loud “Ut” for no, to interrupt her, quickly pick her up and get her outside, and then massively praise her for going outside.

      She should start getting it pretty quickly.

      Good luck!

  19. Pearl September 25, 2017 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    Hey there! I got a rescue Aussie Shep from a shelter. He is currently 4 months almost 5 months old but I am afraid of taking him to dog parks or other areas since he is not fully immunized with PARVO yet since he was a rescue, and has yet to get his RABIES until after he gets fixed by the end of the week. He is currently just at home for now, but I want to start socializing him, but until we get all his shots it is extremely hard to take him out places. We also don’t get a lot of visitors over to our home as we are still new to the area. Any suggestions on helping to socialize our pup?

    • Karen Shanley October 5, 2017 at 11:24 am - Reply

      Pearl, even driving your pup to where he can see people bustling around is a start. You can have him on a leash with the door open and people will probably come over.

      Whatever friends you do have, get them over and have them move about so your pup can get used to quick movements without going into herding or nipping mode.

  20. Laurel Toukan July 18, 2017 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for your informative blog and website about Aussie’s! I have a training question about something that I haven’t had to deal with before. I just got a 2-yr-old (or so) Aussie that was picked up as a stray. She’s a sweetheart but virtually untrained. I crate-trained our other Aussie for house-training (he just died last month at 14 1/2) but I had him from the start. I’ve tried my usual steps with Callie, i.e., taking her out 1st thing in the morning, a short time after she eats, and frequently during the day and have gotten to know my yard extremely well! The problem is, she doesn’t like to go potty while on the leash. She’s not had any peeing accidents inside, even though I leave her out of the crate most of the time when I’m home. At 1st I followed her pretty closely and now she follows me. :) Eventually she does pee on the leash outside and I’ve realized she can hold it a long time, so I’m taking her out a little less often for my own sanity. But she has had 2 incidents of pooping inside when she got upstairs past the barrier I had up. I’ve limited her to the main area of the house for now. I think the leash is the main issue because this morning I let her off the lease and she pretty quickly ran into the tall grass (we live in the country) and peed and pooped. However, I’m afraid to have her off-leash much outside because she isn’t well-trained yet and I’m not sure she wouldn’t run. And she’ll not come immediately when I call her so I don’t want to reinforce that behavior. Any suggestions??

    • Karen Shanley July 18, 2017 at 3:05 pm - Reply

      Laurel, your new girl sounds like a sweetheart.
      2 quick thoughts. Try to make sure she doesn’t have to hold it for “too” long before breaks–that sets her up for incontinence as she gets older. Think 4-5 hrs max.
      And 2nd, try a really long lead, like 20ft or so. Long enough for her to “sneak” off into the tall grass without feeling that she’s “pulling” on the leash, but still connected to you so she can’t run off.
      Good luck!

      • Laurel Toukan July 18, 2017 at 6:19 pm - Reply

        Thanks so much for the suggestions! Is the 4 to 5 hours max for getting her out to potty including during the night?? She’s about 2 1/2.

        • Karen Shanley July 20, 2017 at 9:55 am - Reply

          She should be able to make it through the night. But each dog is different. My BC can only make it about 6-7 hrs through the night. Our Cavelier could make it 8-9 hrs. My Aussie could make it 7-8 hrs. Keeping an eye on noticing if/when she gets restless at night should give you a clue as to what her max is for night time. : )

  21. Annika July 4, 2017 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    How right you are, I loved mine very much, she worked as a therapydog. I still miss her very much.

  22. Laurie Knowlton July 3, 2017 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    I own or should I say my Aussie owns me lol. Best decision I ever made was getting Kashmir he is a blue merle standard. He will be a year old the 7th of July. We play Frisbee, ball, tag, keep away. His job is on the semi truck, he’s herding cattle when we are at work calves to be exact little go go girls. The home time is very active, keeping him busy is the key to a happy healthy relationship with your Aussie. I feel like the luckiest Aussie owner ever, I’d never had one and he has done many things to help my health. At 54 I was suffering with high blood pressure but now it’s normal without medicine. When my companion Chihuahua passed away he sat with me giving me snuggles while I cried. The Aussie is very happy to conform to any situation but are not the type of dog to be tied up day after day. For walking I use a gentle leader and positive reinforcement for walking correctly. They are vocal dogs too, on Facebook there is a video of Kash saying hello. Yes I found my soulmate in Kash. He doesn’t know that hands can hurt him he only knows hands are full of love. I went to a dog park and watched Aussies in action and talked to their humans. Good luck if you decide on an Aussie.

    • Karen Shanley July 4, 2017 at 8:00 am - Reply

      There is nothing like a well-loved, well-trained Aussie!

      • Laurie July 4, 2017 at 8:12 am - Reply

        He is very much loved, my soul dog I’ll never get another breed im hooked. And trained, we both trained one another, he taught me patience and understanding and to be more active the rest was easy. I am in love with my boy. Silly maybe but I don’t owe anything to anyone so I give my all to Kashmir. Hope you can find a place in your heart for another buddy.

  23. Christy Berry July 3, 2017 at 7:22 am - Reply

    Great read! We got our first Aussie 33 yrs ago before they were a papered breed. She was a blue Merle and of course at that time they were all working dogs. She was such a part of our family that when she left us after 17 yrs we couldn’t bear to get another.
    We tried a couple of blue heelers , also not dogs for everyone, charming dogs and smart but the dog human connection is not the same. When they passed my son bought a papered Aussie for us . A red tri- he’s what I call a mega Aussie he’s 80lbs and huge not fat. We have had him now for 6yrs. Just last yr we rescued a small Aussie pup that was begging on a movie set in downtown Atlanta . He went through 3 family’s who tried to keep him in crates like a city dog . We finally broke down and took him. He has been a challenge because they bond so completely to their families. He’s finally after a year connected with me and won’t leave my side. We named him Oliver Twist.

    Great dogs! Not for the timid owner or people who work all the time. Great with kids if raised around them.

    • Karen Shanley July 4, 2017 at 7:58 am - Reply

      I feel the same way about my Kiera. She’s been gone 4 1/2 years, and I can’t bring myself to get another Aussi. I still miss her too much.
      Oliver Twist sounds like a perfect name for your new addition. How lucky for him that you finally broke down and took him! : )

  24. Ariadna May 17, 2017 at 10:00 pm - Reply

    Hey, I truly love the Aussie breed and my family and I ( 4 of us ) ( 6 and 9 year olds) would love a companion to last us years to come. However I have one concern. My husband and I both work and we are gone from any where from 6-9 hours a day is there anyway we could make it work ? The dog would have to be left alone on our property witch is pretty big but there is a chance she could wonder off ( like our previous dog did ) should we consider a different breed if so what are your suggestions? As far as excersise she would get plenty after school and work.

    • Karen Shanley May 18, 2017 at 8:41 am - Reply

      Hi Ariadna– Aussies are notorious escape artists. Unless your entire property has at least a six-foot fence with 2 feet buried in the ground, any Aussie would eventually find a way out. And if you don’t have a fence, absolutely any dog will wander off. Also given the fact that you and your husband are gone for much of the day, and your children are still on the younger side, you’d be better off staying away from Aussies. Any other more mellow breed could work for you. Labs are always a good option for a great family dog. But please consider fencing your yard, as there are just too many temptations that could lure your dog off your property.

  25. Sam May 9, 2017 at 11:54 am - Reply

    Hello,

    Thanks for the article! I have a quick-ish question-
    We (my husband and I) “adopted” our Aussie when she was 3yrs old (so now about 3 yrs ago). I say “adopted” because we got her from a known family who was moving into an apartment that didn’t allow dogs. Then, I couldn’t even get her to walk with me, she was VERY scared of pretty much everything-ears pinned back, eyes dilated, cowering body posture, the whole works. Since then, she’s come a very long way, but as you can imagine has a long ways to go still. She now wants to be with us, play with her toys, and has become best friends with our other dog who is just a couple years younger than her (we had our other one first and he has actually helped her out a lot, which is pretty cool).
    Now that she has come so far she’s starting to show her typical Aussie self. Super energetic (but will also conk out at the end of the day) eager to learn and explore the yard, wants to be with us, all of that fun stuff. However, she is having a really hard time with the socializing. I understand that their breed isn’t meant to be all lovey dovey with everyone they meet but if she’s in the house and it’s someone she doesn’t know (be it them visiting or people walking) she BARKS. Like not a woof here or a woof there, but more like crazy barking. Please keep in mind that she’s not an aggressive dog at all, in fact she’s the exact opposite. She wasn’t socialized really at all with her former family so we’ve been trying to work on that as well as really trying to build her confidence. We’ve gone through 3 levels of obedience with her (which has been great but she gets bored with the repetition obedience stuff). I think agility would be a little too stimulating for her at least for now because of the other students and such. As for herding, she was under the impression that it was okay to try and herd the kids in her previous family, which is not something that I am okay with.
    So-finally to my question-in your opinion and experience, do you think it would be okay to someday try out herding with her? Or do you think we should look for something different because she had 3 yrs of thinking it was acceptable to herd people? We’re so wanting to provide a good, stimulating outlet for her to really build up her confidence but don’t want to “feed the dragon” if you know what I mean.
    Thank you so much! I apologize for such a long post!!

    • Karen Shanley May 10, 2017 at 9:03 am - Reply

      Hi Sam– it always thrills me to come across thoughtful, devoted dog people like you.

      My first thought is to find a positive trainer who has experience with clicker training to come and help you work with her with strange/new people entering the house.

      A quick tip that can help in the meantime. When someone comes in, make sure they have treats that they can throw for your girl when they come in. And as soon as they enter, they should stand sideways to your Aussie (not straight on) looking down (not at your dog). They should stand MOTIONLESS and not try to pet or move until your Aussie can sniff them if she needs to. Then, as soon as she takes a breathe and is not barking (even for a second) they should gently throw a treat for her. As soon as she stops barking again, they should throw another treat. They should not try to lure her to feed her, but throw food away where she can “safely” get it.

      Then they should take a couple of more steps further into the house. Rinse repeat.

      The idea is to move as slowly as she needs in order to feel okay.

      As for herding, I think it’s a blast. And no harm in trying her out on it to see if she might enjoy it. You can teach the difference between “okay to herd sheep” and “not okay to herd people”.

      Good luck. : )

  26. John April 22, 2017 at 11:11 am - Reply

    100 % dogshit, mine is the “goofball” loves everyone and other dogs ALL THE TIME

    • Karen Shanley April 22, 2017 at 11:16 am - Reply

      John, you lucked out! Sounds like you got the easiest possible version of an Aussie. I’m truly happy for you.

  27. Anne March 15, 2017 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Sorry for the missing info!

    These two dogs are her first dogs she’s never had any dog experience before. She lives in a suburban home (detached house) but not a huge backyard and neighbours all around. The Maltese is a female the Golden a male. The new mini Aussie will be a male. She’s had zero experience with working breeds before and is convinced that they aren’t as hard as people say. She does take the other two dogs to obedience and social classes. She also is not fit and the Golden has taken a toll on her physically but she doesn’t think that the Aussie needs more than a couple walks a day! She also own 2 cats which she bought at the same time as well as has a husband who is against an Aussie and 3 kids who are in and out of the house at school who also don’t want one. She believes that when she’s too busy she can just take all the dogs to daycare and that’ll be good enough. I tried explaining that everyone needs to be on board with the training otherwise the dog will run the show.

    She wants the Aussie to be here therapy dog and is convinced that bringing it to work and leashing it away from customers will be good enough! Ummmmm….?!?!

    I know with my little man introducing strangers to him carefully and not making him feel overwhelmed was important! They need a ton of socialization but it’s also good to make it always a positive experience. My Aussie doesn’t love everyone but I know the cues well before and I always ensure no one just walks up to him and grabs him or touches him. I also live in the city and I’m aware of his needs.

    • Karen Shanley March 16, 2017 at 4:26 pm - Reply

      YIKES!!!! None of this bodes well… :(

      I suspect your friend is about to learn a very hard lesson that ignorance is not bliss, and hubris often has a way of biting you in the butt.

      • Anne March 16, 2017 at 5:16 pm - Reply

        ?? haha! I hope it works out but it’s so difficult raising one and my boyfriend has had experience with Aussies! I can’t imagine raising one along with two other younger dogs (no matter how mellow the other two are!)

        The “breeder” who breeds horses and isn’t a true miniature American sheperherd breeder “guaranteed” her that the Aussie she will get will be extremely calm and will definitely get along with other dogs and is absolutely ok for invididuals with ailments because her Aussies aren’t from any working lineage so they don’t get crazy or wild!!! I don’t know much about the lineage differences, I am doing a lot of research on it, but I can’t see the differences being that dramatic! Especially to guarantee it as a breeder seems extremely irresponsible!

  28. Anne March 15, 2017 at 2:39 pm - Reply

    I have a question! Love the article! As I proud Aussie mom I know the effort it takes raising a well rounded well mannered Aussie.

    I have a friend who has a nine month old Golden and a 6 Month old Maltese. This person fell in love with my Aussie is just purchased a mini Aussie. I tried explaining the effort it takes in raising one and it isn’t an easy task and they are convinced I am over reacting and it’ll be a breeze like their other two dogs. They want an Aussie for the bond it creates and because they are cute….argggggg. I was just wondering if anyone has any experience in how the Aussie will do with the other two young dogs? Will it create a stronger bond to them since they are all very young? I can’t give advice to someone when it’s not wanted but I would love to know what others think! Am I just being a crazy Aussie mom??? They did say the breeder said it’s been bred with no herding lineage but that doesn’t mean they require less effort or a strong positive leader to guide them! Thoughts?!?

    • Karen Shanley March 15, 2017 at 7:46 pm - Reply

      Anne, you don’t mention your friend’s level of dog experience or whether (s)he’s had herding breeds before. Especially since Goldens and Malteses couldn’t be more at the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of temperament. You also don’t mention what sexes any of the 3 dogs are, or what kind of outdoor space they have available to them.

      This would all be helpful to know in order to provide possibly helpful information. Without that info in hand, and looking at throwing 3 puppies together–this person might get lucky and they all could do great together, or this person could have a mess on their hands. Time will tell…

  29. Liz March 8, 2017 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    Hello!

    Thanks for posting this wonderful information! So, here is the story of my furry companion Clover. Clover is a purebreed Aussie, but most definately comes from a working line (in other words, one someone else bought from someone who “had puppies). I consider her a rescue even though I had her since a puppy. It’s a long story but not an ideal situation regardless. She is smart and for the most part, the friendliest dog ever. But she has an incredibly high arousal point. We have done 2 basic obidence classes and i tried to do agility with her. The problem, she can’t sit, stay or focus and so we were limited on how far we can go in agility because she couldn’t follow basic commands when around other dogs. I want to keep her active, we do a lot of walks, frisbee and hikes as well as having lots of interactive toys. My struggle, I can’t get consistant training! We keep going forward and then backward when stimulation happens. I am concerned we won’t be able to do agility due to not being able to focus on the task at hand. I know Aussies need a job but I am struggling to find a good job for her. Any suggestions would be helpful! I am a pretty small person with a 55 lbs of crazy, hyperactive energy and when she goes into one of her “fits” I am afraid she is going to hurt me (she has body slammed me a few times, I am not sure if this is a play behavior or herding behavior).

    • Karen Shanley March 8, 2017 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      Liz, I think your best bet is to try to find a positive trainer who is intimately familiar with Aussies. Suzanne Clothier’s website and blog also has a lot of helpful information. http://suzanneclothier.com

      You may be better off trying something like a sheepherding class, if there is one available around you. Usually those classes are one-on-one and you’d be dealing with less arousal from other dogs and people. That’s what I would up doing with my Kiera and we loved it. I had the same problem with agility being a little too stimulating.

      Good Luck!

  30. Chris January 31, 2017 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    Hi, great and very informative article. I’ve been doing a lot of research and strongly considering an Aussie. I have an active lifestyle but also like to kick back and relax at times so Im wondering if they can just relax as well or if they are always amped up rearing to go?

    I plan to start looking into breeders and want to ask them questions to help me determine the best choice between those I speak with. What questions would you make sure to ask in order to learn the temperment/health of their litters is top notch?

    Thank you,
    Chris

    • Karen Shanley February 2, 2017 at 11:47 am - Reply

      Hi Chris, yes, most Aussies (from non-working lines–and you should only get a puppy from non-working lines) can relax. They don’t need to be non-stop on the go. But they do definitely need a few times every day where they get to exercise their bodies and their minds. They would not do well days on end with little or no activity. The way I got around those times when I wasn’t able to get my aussie out every day for a good stretch was to have 2 dogs together so they could play and help exercise each other.
      As for questions:
      1. Any know health issues with the sire or dam.
      2. Any know issues with skin problems, hips or eye problems in their lines.
      3. Average lifespan of their dogs.
      3. Average energy level of their dogs.

      Good luck. Your thoughtfulness bodes well for you making a good choice, and if that choice does turn out to be an Aussie, plan on getting to experience the love of a lifetime. : )

  31. Ed May 18, 2016 at 9:05 am - Reply

    Fun article, thanks for posting. We’ve had our Aussie for 2 years now. He is totally and completely a part of our family. We always had Shelties before, but with 2 boys about to become teenagers we wanted a breed that was a little more robust and able to keep up on outdoor adventures. Boy did we get that!

    Scout’s job is frisbee. I live in Florida, so it’s usually too hot except for early morning and late in the evening. I usually take him to the park every evening right as the sun starts to go down. He can also tell time, and starting at about 6pm he is crawling in my lap or staring a hole in my head. It only takes about 15 minutes of frisbee to wear him down, but that is misleading, because that is 15 minutes of dead flat-out sprinting without pause. I throw it as far as I can, which is about 50 yards, and give him zero rest in between throws. He catches about 4 out of 5 throws in the air, usually with spectacular leaps. I stop when his tongue is hanging 6 inches out of his mouth. The look of bliss on that dog’s face on the truck ride back from the park is a sight to behold, and he is perfectly content for the rest of the night. My wife supplements with ball playing and a quick swim every morning.

    Overall this advice is excellent. Aussies are a wonderful breed, but their good looks are a side effect, not the reason to get one. You must understand you are getting an olympic athlete. They will thrive in rural areas, but you don’t need a farm. They will do perfectly fine in a suburban environment as long as they have a park where they can run off leash. IMO walks on leash are not enough. That is like test driving a Porsche in your driveway. You could even do well with an Aussie in an urban environment as long as you had access to a dedicated environment for frequent (daily) dog sports like frisbee, flyball, agility, etc.

    I cannot imagine crating one all day. They are so disciplined, focused, and willing to please that they will do it for you without complaint, but don’t fool yourself into thinking the dog is happy or content. They are cowboy dogs. We put up a few child gates to confine ours to the kitchen when we are gone, and that has been fine. Now that he is past 2 years old and done with the puppy gnawing phase we’ll probably give him free run of the house.

    One comment on the working vs show lines. Among the show lines there is a group who continue to breed for working attributes. Our breeder, for example, is clearly a show breeder, but lives on a farm, owns a flock of sheep, and puts her dogs through herding trials. I am not an expert but I will say that in our case, the result was nearly the perfect dog. He has the athleticism, work ethic, and enthusiasm of a working dog, but the demeanor of a show dog. Friendly to all animals and people, calm, and rarely barks unless something is seriously alarming to him. He will woof 2 or 3 times to get our attention, and then he’ll watch us and take his cues from our behavior.

    • Karen Shanley May 18, 2016 at 9:39 am - Reply

      Ed, my first jump to Aussies was from a Sheltie too–and what a big jump that was, as you say. There are so many great lines in your post:

      “You must understand you are getting an Olympic athlete.”

      “IMO walks on lease are not enough. That is like test driving a Porsche in your driveway.”

      And very good point on working vs show, and the group with show lines that continue to breed for working attributes. That was Kiera, too. And I completely agree that for people like you and me, “the result was nearly the perfect dog.”

  32. Rich September 26, 2015 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Do you find a big difference in the temperment btw males and females? Do you find that they are incessant barkers? Is it possible to keep the shedding under control with something reasonable brushing like once a week?

    Thanks for the help. Great advice and helpful comments from all.

    • Karen Shanley September 28, 2015 at 1:21 pm - Reply

      Rich, it depends more on good breeding and where each dog falls in the pack hierarchy, more than on male/female. Though some people will tell you that neutered males are a little more laid back –that being a relative term with Aussies. Kiera was our alpha dog and she was an absolute sweetheart. One of the best dispositions of any dog I’ve had the pleasure of sharing my life with. But she was a herding dog through and through. She was always working to keep sudden movements under her control.

      She was not an incessant barker at all. But she would always let me know when anything entered the perimeter of our property that she thought deserved my attention. I usually agreed with her assessments. But I also put in a tremendous amount of time both socializing and training her. She thoroughly understood what I expected of her.

      If you brush once a week, you should be able to pretty much stay on top of the shedding. When they’re blowing coat (in active summer shedding mode), may need to brush more often.

  33. Britt July 27, 2015 at 9:19 am - Reply

    Hi. I recently (two weeks ago) adopted an Aussie mix and we have a pyrador mix too(he’s older). I was wondering if I should keep them away from each other since when they play, she (my Aussie- claire) sounds like she’s fighting with him. He doesn’t hurt her but she bites everyone now. I know she’s just teeething but it’s a bad habit. I also think he’s teaching her his bad habits. But that’s just me. No one else sees it. What should I do?

    • Karen Shanley July 27, 2015 at 1:24 pm - Reply

      Brittany, let me be very specific. GET HELP NOW! :)

      It doesn’t matter whether any one else sees a potential problem or not — you do! So get a good positive trainer who’s familiar with herding dogs (or someone who is very familiar and knowledgeable about Aussies) involved to help you evaluate and train ASAP.

      You will be very glad you did.

      Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

  34. Peggy H June 3, 2013 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    Hi. My son just got a Rottweiler Australian Shepherd mix. The puppy is 3 months old. He is active and totally loves my son. After reading the posts I see how already he is Trevor’s dog. Guinness is smart, and eager to please. I have a larger dog who plays with him. Is it okay that they wrestle and roll and play? They run and chase one another and then when both are tired they have their nap. How can I be sure that playing with my dog will not cause Guinness to be aggressive. My dog is a beagle retriever mix and a gentle giant. He is also eager to please and very obedient. I have worked hard to train him and he responds amazingly. Boba is almost three years. He loves the little guy but I need to remind Boba to play gentle. Please let me know what I should be doing so that both dogs remain smart and not become aggressive. Guinness comes to my place during the day while me son is at work (better than being crated all day).

    • Karen June 9, 2013 at 8:27 am - Reply

      Hi Peggy. If their play is mostly playing tag, involves no growling or snarling, and no one is yelping or getting hurt, and body posture is staying in play mode and not switching to “Ok now I’m ticked off and you’re going to get nailed mode” then I’d say they’re doing fine. But I would still monitor their play because of the size, age, and strength difference. A little bit of this will go a long way for Guinness.

      How lucky for Guinness that he has you for a babysitter. So much nicer than a crate! : )

  35. Angie May 4, 2013 at 11:08 pm - Reply

    I have been researching Aussies for over a year now. I have found a breeder I feel comfortable with who luckily only lives 45 mins away. I will be doing competitive sports with my Aussie plus lots of long walks, hiking, lots of outings together and an occasional horseback riding adventure. I work 7 mins from my home. I would come home for lunch everyday. My hours are varied with 2 days off a week sometimes in a row. I have a pretty big yard with 6ft privacy and chain link plus a pool. My friend also owns her own dog training facility where I sometimes work. He will have lots and lots of socialization. We have 3 great fenced dog parks in my area too. My worry is my time at work. He will bed to be crated in his own room until trusted loose. Will this be enough exercise and mental stimulation for him?

    Thanks

    Angie

    • Karen May 4, 2013 at 11:25 pm - Reply

      Angie, in many ways you sound like the perfect Aussie person. But you’re right to be concerned about the long hours at work where you’ll need to crate your pup. Maybe you’ll get a low key Aussie that can handle that amount of crating. But if you get a typical Aussie, that could lead to some neurotic behaviors. Do you have any friends who could pop in to take your Aussie for walks while you’re at work?

      Good luck!

  36. Mia Caspersonn April 7, 2013 at 5:52 am - Reply

    My mum says I can hve a dog. My favourite one by far is an Australian shepherd and I have read all the interesting information you have given me. I think I need a dog from a non-working line and possibly an aussie or a boarder collie cross. I don’t want a small yappy dog or a labrodor but I want a faithful and moderate dog, that is always happy to be with me. Can you think of any others?
    Thanx
    Mia

    • Karen April 7, 2013 at 6:27 pm - Reply

      Mia, you sound like a very smart, balanced girl! I can see why your mother would trust you with the huge responsibility of dog rearing.

      You don’t mention how much indoor or outdoor space you have, or how many other people are in your family, or how many hours a day your dog will be spending alone because family members are at school or work. All of that should also be factored in selecting a dog.

      Yes, an Aussie mix can be very nice, if you can find one. This is one of those instances though, where I would not recommend getting a dog from a shelter or rescue (unless someone really knowledgable and skilled is available to help you evaluate temperament), because the first several months of life really set up the quality of life you’re going to have with your dog–so you really don’t want to miss out on that.

      I personally also really like Goldendoodles. The mix often gives a gentle, smart disposition, and moderate need for exercise and grooming.

      Good luck, and let me know what you finally get!

  37. Jenny Farn May 27, 2012 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    I loved your post and all the comments. We’ve had an Aussie lab cross now for about 3 months. We rescued him from an animal sanctuary (although his previous owner was really loving – he had to go back to Australia and couldn’t afford to take his dogs, so sad). He’s about 6 and is the most beautiful character. We have three small children, noisy boys at that, and the first time he met us he sat with us, enjoying our cuddles and comPletely ignoring the children who were running round him noisily!
    I’d reccommend Aussie lab crosses!

    Jenny

    • Karen May 28, 2012 at 8:15 pm - Reply

      Jenny, that sounds like a perfect combination!

  38. Courtney April 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    We got an Australian Shepherd/Lab mix puppy 2 days ago. We adopted her from a lady that was giving them away at the gas station because she “couldn’t take care of them.” We took her to the veterinarian the very next day and she has sarcoptic mange and worms. The vet said that during the next few weeks she can play with our two other dogs, but that they can not lay down together or have prolonged physical contact because this type of mange is contagious. So for now she is having to spend some time alone, but is able to socialize with our other 2 dogs frequently throughout the day. Is this going to be adequate for the next few weeks until she is no longer contagious? We love our little Lola!!! Neither of us have had an Australian Shepherd before, but she is so sweet and loving! Our yorkie loves her and Lola is smitten with our chihuahua (who acts totally annoyed with all of us). Her personality is so sweet! I know all the dogs want to be together more right now, but the vet stressed the importance of not letting them have prolonged physical contact to keep them all healthy for now. Do you think this will be okay for Lola, socialization wise? Is there anything supplemental we can do in the meantime? Also, where she we begin in terms of training?

    • Karen April 22, 2012 at 8:26 am - Reply

      Courtney, I hate hearing stories like this– irresponsible people breeding or allowing their dogs to breed, and then looking for somewhere to dump them. How great for your new puppy that you were driving by that day!

      Yes, the sarcoptic mange trumps worrying about perfectly socializing your puppy with your dogs. I’d go with whatever time frame your vet was comfortable with.

      You don’t mention how old your Lola is, so I don’t have a reference to be able to suggest other age-appropriate activities or training you can do with her, except to say that Aussies are so darn smart, that you can start training her at home immediately to build obedience. To great books to start with are Click for Success and Positive Training.

      As soon as Lola is healthy, puppy obedience class and walks around town to introduce her to new sights and sounds would be great.

      Good Luck!

  39. Mark April 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this informative post.

    Aussie’s are great dogs. Our boy Gibson is the best dog in the world and would love to meet and play with your sweet girl Kiera.

    He likes to take care of us and his brother Victor the cat. He’s always ready to play and run, but most of all, he’s always ready to please. His intellect is very high and when you speak to him, he listens intently and you can see him thinking about what you’re saying. He’ll always let me know when he needs something and wants to go outside etc.

    He has trained me just as much as I’ve trained him, but there is no doubt in either of our minds who the leader is. He has never had any formal training but he instinctively picks up commands and is always eager to obey.

    To put it simply…. he is the light of out life and we love him very much.

    Mark
    http://www.facebook.com/AustralianShepherdLove

    • Karen April 7, 2012 at 10:49 am - Reply

      Mark, you sound like you’ve been totally smitten by the Aussie bug! They truly are incredible dogs and I’m happy that your guy has a person who is so able to appreciate and love him!

  40. Stacie January 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    My daughter brought home a 2 month old aussie pup. I had never had one or didn’t know anything about the breed. I have 2 dogs that got along great and just need affection and some backyard time and they are fine. I have some major medical challenges and am trying to make this work with the new pup. He ,as everyone says is super smart but I’m just not sure I can provide what he needs in energy. We are working with a trainer and he knows tons of stuff. But his energy is killing me! I can only walk him every other day for about 20 mins. I try to play with him in the back yard but he will only chase a ball a couple times or I play soccer and he will only do that for a bit too. I know he is young and we already love each other but my question is will his energy likely be controllable? Can I make it work with backyard time and games or will he and I be unhappy? He is in a pen most of the day per the trainer because he is so out of control if he’s out. He has toys all over the floor but only chews on furniture, me, and rugs. He bites my legs constantly even though I doing everything the trainer says! It would kill me to give him up, is this just a typical puppy stage for the aussie.I have had other puppies and they were not like him. I don’t want him to be unhappy if I can’t give him what he needs:( What do you think??? Thanks very much!!!! Stacie

    • Karen January 8, 2012 at 8:58 pm - Reply

      Stacie, first, let me say that all of the behavior you are describing is pretty normal for an understimulated Aussie pup. I’m not sure keeping him penned is going to help anything and not sure why the trainer recommended this for most of the day. Aussies need exercise, they need to use their minds, and they need to be with their people in order not to become neurotic and/or destructive.

      Do you know if your daughter get your Aussie from a breeder? If so, that breeder will be a great resource for you. First question I would ask (if there is a breeder to ask) is how their dogs age — do they mellow, do they stay really active? Most dogs do calm down as they grow into themselves but that can take a couple of years. If you don’t know where your puppy came from, then I wouldn’t assume that he’s going to mellow all that much. A little bit, for sure. But Aussies are typically high energy dogs.

      With your medical issues, you may be facing a tough decision in figuring out what’s best for both of you. It sounds as though you are trying to do the best you can, given your circumstances. And if that isn’t working, as hard as it may be, it may be that the best thing you can do is to try to find the right home to help this puppy achieve his full potential.

      If you absolutely feel you can’t part with him, then I would suggest that you try to find a jogger willing to run with your puppy to help him get energy ( not more than a mile at this age) or find a 4-H kid who would be interested in training your dog for agility. Essentially, there are lots of people who love dogs who can’t have one, who would be delighted to help you out. Ask trainers, vets, 4-H groups, girlscouts, boyscouts, etc. if they know anyone. You’ll find someone who will be able to pitch in.

      Good luck and keep me posted.

  41. Laura Noelle July 15, 2011 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    Hello! I found this very informative!! But I am left with a few questions.. you see I read this article a little late & already have a 3 month of tri colored Aussie named Larkin. She is incredibly smart & learns so incredibly fast! My concern is that I think she may be from the working lines as you mentioned above.. she has very strong herding instincts (she herds my mom’s huskies around as well as some of her playmates that is once she gets to know them) Also she is VERY strong minded!! VERY!! When she is trying to herd my mom’s dogs & they don’t listen or try to fight back she let’s them have it! & she is only 3 months!! Also her fur isnt as fluffy as some of the other aussie’s & I have been told that she has a “working coat”. So adding all this up I now believe that she must be from a working line.. so here’s my question.. NOW WHAT?? how do i work with my working line Aussie? Do you know where I can find some good info or do you have any tips for me? If so i would very much be in debt to you because this little girl is definitely a handful!

    • Karen July 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      Hi Laura,

      My sympathies :) Having a working dog is like having Ferarri. Sounds like fun in theory, but hard to handle in reality. So, yes, you’ve got a really high performance machine that’s easy to spin out of control if you’re not super vigilant in handling.

      I would recommend you get in touch with your local chapter of the Australian Shepherd Club of America and find out who they recommend for training. You really need to be working with a trainer who specializes in herding dogs. Better yet, consider finding someone who can help you train your dog on sheep, and get into sheep herding. It’s really fun, and Larkin will love you for it.

      The main thing, which it sounds as though you’ve already figured out, is that you need to find the right trainer to help you work with your girl ASAP. If you learn how to handle her strong-mindedness now, you’ll get to enjoy one of the most incredible dogs you’ll ever own.

  42. Laurel July 8, 2011 at 8:47 pm - Reply

    Hi and I hope someone can help me with Ellie. My son picked her up off the road about 3 weeks ago. As my sister had australian sheps, I believe that is what Ellie is. When I ran the found ad I listed her as such. Now I wonder if she is a Border Collie. I’m struggling with the difference in physical characteristics. She is Blue Merle, her tail is not docked, love her one ear cocked -up, long coat. As for social, well she was lethargic initially, but with alot of love and food and 5 other rescues, she has come around to being very lovable.. My son said it appeared she walked into the middle of a highway and laid down to die. sigh…. We resuce the worst of the abused and neglected and permanently injured, so she fights in just fine here.

    The first week she didn’t bark at all. We removed numberous burrs and about 50 ticks from her. I could use some insight on getting the badly matted undercoat under control. We used tail and mane conditioner on her and trim as close to the skin as we can on the worst of the knots. Along way to go….
    She protects the food bowl, hunches down and herds the Plott hound (who suffers from attention deficit disorder and is very vocal). I love the way she is perking up. She has a vet appt. next week for shots and a physical.

    Any insights, comments would help.
    Laurel

    • Karen July 12, 2011 at 11:47 am - Reply

      Hi Laurel,
      It can be tricky to pick out the differences between Border Collies and Aussies. Especially when there is a tail. But I would have to say that I would look at the bone structure. Aussies tend to be a bit heavier boned than Border Collies. They also have what I would consider to be a heavier undercoat. Since you describe the matted undercoat, I would be inclined to go with an Aussie. But then you say she hunches down when she herds your Plott hound which is more Border Collie herding style… I’d be interested in hearing what your vet thinks.

      It also sounds like she has a little bit of resource guarding going on with her food bowl — to be expected if she was abandoned — and usually easy to fix with some good training. How lucky for her that you found her! Here’s hoping she gets to have a long and happy life with you.

  43. Shannon April 24, 2011 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    Hello my name is shannon! i have been wanting oe of these dogs forever! i have a couple of questions!
    -Are these outside or inside dogs?
    -Do you get there tail clipped?
    -Are they usally a pet you want to take every where with you!
    THANKS- shannon

    • Karen April 25, 2011 at 7:22 pm - Reply

      Hi Shannon,
      Great questions! These are dogs who want to be wherever you are. Think of them as your partner, who has no interest in working or living without you. So I guess the answer is that they are both outside and inside dogs. That being said, they would not do well as solely inside dogs because they need a lot of daily exercise. Their tails are clipped by the breeders a few days after they’re born. I wish this wasn’t done because it’s not necessary, and I consider it cruel and unnecessary deformation. But if you talk to a breeder, they’ll say that’s the breed standard. YES! With good training and socialization, they are definitely a dog you’ll want to take with you everywhere!
      Thanks for visiting and let me know if you find a Aussie with whom to share your life.
      Karen

  44. cliff March 16, 2008 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    well… my wife got a pup, the owner said it was lab husky mix. ha, i knew he was an aussie/? mix. he is super smart and energetic. luckily i just got out of the army and i can train him, but he is HARD to socialize. he is just 3 months, and he is house broken, can sit, stay, lay down, leads ok, and shake. this is after having him for 3 weeks! he is a handful, and we live in d.c. in an apt., but i still think he’ll be the best dog i’ve ever owned.(but i think our well herded cat thinks otherwise.)

    Cliff, I can relate. LOL. Best of luck! And I’m betting that he will wind up to be one of the best dogs you’ve ever owned. Eventually, even your cat will agree.  :)

  45. Cindy March 8, 2008 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    This was so informative for me.
    My husband and I have “adopted” an aussie from my son, who is in college. He didn’t do any research before getting the dog and he lives in a one-bedroom apt. About 9 mos into the dogs’ life, my son couldn’t handle him. AND~ he was not socialized. I don’t know why he took up with my husband and me, but he did.
    Fortunately, we live in the country with lots of land, and he’s thriving. He looks more like a border collie, tho, except for the bobbed tail.
    Thanks for an informative site~

    Cindy

  46. Dori May 17, 2007 at 10:52 am - Reply

    We’re on our 3rd Aussie…they’re so fun. But you’re absolutely right, they can be a handful. In the future, if I get another dog (always a temptation) I would get a mixed breed. We used to have an Aussie/yellow lab mix, and she was wonderful. Smart, easy to train, mellow and cooperative.

    We ended up with purebred Aussie’s after that because we saw an ad for a litter and couldn’t resist. They are challenging though. They can be so rascally and I swear they’re laughing half time when you try and train them. Luckily I enjoy a good sense of humor.

    We live in a rural environment, and I think having one in the city would be really hard. Right now we go for long hikes and throw a frisbee for her about 1000 times a day, and that’s barely enough exercise to satisfy her. But what a personality! Mooka, our current Aussie, was the mellowest one of her litter, and that has been a godsend. I’ll look for that quality in puppies in the future. Thanks for the great post!

  47. Blaine Moore (First Time Home Owner) May 11, 2007 at 9:09 am - Reply

    I love Aussies as a breed; my uncle had one. However, I know that I don’t have the time to devote to properly train a puppy right now, so I am waiting for a few years before we get one. Once my wife is out of law school and I have (hopefully) begun working from home, we are planning on getting one.

    Thanks for the great tips; I had gleaned a lot of this out of my uncle (hence waiting and not having a dog yet) but its nice to see more specifics.

  48. mosilager May 11, 2007 at 5:23 am - Reply

    Ha ha I was just about to say that you could switch BooBoo for Aussie Shepherd in this post :) but I see the other border collie people felt the same way.

  49. Karen May 10, 2007 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    LOL! Yeah, I didn’t even bother getting into the “minor details” like being part goat and eating anything and everything under the sun.

    And, I have to agree with you, a good rottie has a wonderful disposition. I know some really great ones.

  50. Jessica The Rock Chick May 10, 2007 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    I rescued my dog, Book ‘Em (all my animals get police related names) from a shelter and they thought he was a rottweiler mix. I love rottweilers (when they’re trained and taken care of correctly) and this one had the sweetest face and disposition so I took him home. He didn’t look real “rottie” to me. When I took him to the vet, he said that the dog, in his opinion, is an Australian Shepard mix.

    He is so smart. I just love him…..the only problem I have despite all my training is he will eat anything. Bees, flowers, plastic wrappers…if it’s there, he will eat it. I told the vet I think he’s part goat!

    Thanks for stopping by my site :)
    Jessica The Rock Chick

  51. Karen May 10, 2007 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    Theda, you’re right, Border Collies aren’t a great match with small kids in the house –though they’re also a favorite of mine.

    Helene, you could switch “Border Collie” for “Australian Shepherd” in this post. Pretty much the same difference.

    Yes, the adventures… anyone with Aussies or BCs can fully read between these lines. LOL!

  52. Helene May 10, 2007 at 11:19 am - Reply

    I wish I had your knowledge before adopting my second and third border collies last year. Yes, I have 3 border collies and like Aussies, they are far toooooo intelligent.

    Unfortunately, the two younguns are rescues and didn’t get the socialization they should have. So, to say the least, I’ve got my hands full with remedial training.

    My 3 year old collie is a force to be reckoned with. I am his work and he follows me EVERYWHERE! He also tries to train me – barking at me when he wants food, water or anything else he fancies!!! Some days he’s in charge, most others, I am.

    Oh the adventures…but how dear they are!!!
    Best,
    Helene

  53. Theda K. May 10, 2007 at 10:35 am - Reply

    Hi! I’m eventually planning to get a dog, so I’m glad to know that this isn’t a breed I could handle with my toddler. Also, as a former pet-sitter, I enjoy reading about dogs. Wish I had gotten more advice about certain breeds before sitting for them.

    I’m also a writer mom, and I used to have a possible Maine Coon. Nice to meet you, and I’ll be coming back to read about Border Collies (one of my favorite breeds, but maybe not great for a toddler too since it’s a herder, right?)

    Thanks!
    (found you on ProBlogger)

  54. jan May 9, 2007 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    She is indeed beautiful. I can only hope people research carefully before they acquire a dog that is smarter than most of the population.

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