Is an Aussie Right for You?
Buying a puppy of any breed can be a 12-15 year commitment. So often people fall in love with a cute puppy for all the wrong reasons and end up with a lot of heartache or a dog that is not suitable for their lifestyle. If you are considering buying or adopting an Australian Shepherd, you first need to learn as much as possible about the breed and then decide if it is the right kind of dog for you. We hope the following discussion will help you with your choice.
The Aussie was developed as a farm and ranch dog, not only to work livestock, but also to be a companion and guardian of the family and the family’s possessions. He is equally happy whether working or simply being with his owner or family, to whom he is very devoted. Because the Aussie must be able to take his masters command in order to control livestock, he is very trainable, intelligent and willing to please – without these traits he would be useless as a livestock working dog. A versatile working dog, he is used across America to work cattle, sheep, goats and even poultry. Aussies have long been popular with small farmers who need a dog to help them, but don’t have enough work to keep the dog continually busy. The Aussies’ bond with his owner is a part of his heritage. Early day Aussies were often depended upon to guard the children while both parents were in the field. Valuable equipment and livestock were safe when the family Aussie was there.
Many Aussies are friendly with everyone, but the Australian Shepherd generally tends to be reserved and cautious with strangers. Reserved dogs can be encouraged to accept people with some success, but some never accept strangers. Aussies tend to form a stronger bond with their family and owners than some other breeds. This trait causes some dogs to become protective against what they perceive as a threat. Remember that dogs of any breed may become aggressive if they are poorly socialized and untrained.
Because these dogs were developed to manage livestock, their intelligence and energy needs to be used elsewhere if they are not to be worked. Obedience training is highly recommended, and Aussies will learn quickly. When raised with children, Aussies love kids and quickly become a playmate. Aussies don’t necessarily need a farm to exercise on, but they do need daily exercise and attention. Young dogs of any breed will require more exercise the first year of their life than an older dog. Most Aussies love to play ball and Frisbee, and many love water and swimming.
If you are looking for a dog with an intense desire to please and who is very loyal to you and your family, the Aussie will make you a wonderful companion as well as a great working partner if you have livestock. You should be aware of his territorial instincts and that he may be naturally possessive and protective of his owners and home. You and your environment will greatly determine the dog you end up with.
The ASCA Breed Standard describes the Aussie this way: “The Australian Shepherd is intelligent, primarily a working dog of strong herding and guardian instincts. He is and exceptional companion. He is versatile and easily trained, performing his assigned tasks with great style and enthusiasm. He is reserved with strangers but does not exhibit shyness. Although an aggressive, authoritative worker, viciousness toward people or animals is intolerable.” This says it all. If this dog fits your lifestyle, enjoy your Aussie!
Reprinted from the ASCA