Pros and cons Australian Shepherd
Although Australian Shepherds are becoming more and more popular, potential owners need to be aware of cons and pros associated with owning this dog breed. Australian Shepherd is also known as Aussie and the breed completed its development in the United States of America as a herding dog. Herding breeds such as the Australian Shepherd have some specific attributes that are necessary for good herding dogs and some of the attributes include the dog's strong work ethic. Working dogs such as the Australian Shepherd were helpers on farms and served mainly to help manage livestock, which requires lots of running and endurance. Aussies are very high energy dogs that need to stay busy during the day and that can be a con for people who don't have the time or aren't physically active enough to keep an Australian Shepherd physically and mentally stimulated during the day. For an average family with at least one adult working, keeping an Australian Shepherd sufficiently occupied during the day can be next to impossible and that is one of the reasons why Australian Shepherds aren't recommended as family pets.
Another drawback to owning an Australian Shepherd is that this working breed is prone to destructive behavior when left alone frequently with no purpose or job to do. This breed was developed to work hard both mentally and physically during the day, otherwise the dog will try to stay occupied by doing things that might not be desirable. Leaving an Australian Shepherd at home alone for long periods of time without sufficient exercise can lead to unpleasant discoveries of ripped up furniture, scratched doors and neighbors complaining of a loud dog who won't stop barking when the owners aren't at home. These are some of the side effects of keeping a working dog in an unsuitable environment without enough daily exercise to keep this intelligent and active dog in best behavior.
Other cons associated with Aussies is that this breed is prone to chasing anything that moves. Cars that are passing by, street cats or even kids running around may be seen as targets for herding by this herding dog. This natural behavior for Australian Shepherd can be a disadvantage especially in a city environment with lots of things moving around. Can owners manage Australian Shepherd's desire to chase moving things? Yes, but that will take a lot of patience and specific training focused on helping the dog to overcome the natural desire to chase.
Another disadvantage to owning an Australian Shepherd is the dog's inclination to nipping. The root of this behavior is again from the herding past - Australian Shepherds are able to herd sheep and other livestock by nipping on sheep's calves, thus helping to drive the herd in the appopriate direction. Nipping behavior can happen when an Aussie is running around the family kids and the dog may try to herd kids by nipping on their heels which can be unpleasant at the least. This undesirable behavior can also be corrected with appropriate training.
What are other cons associated with owning an Australian Shepherd? Australian Shepherds can be vocal, which can translate into a dog that barks out of boredom or loneliness. Australian Shepherds have a herding history which required the dog to bring the attention of the handler to any issues that may happen during herding. Barking is a way of communicating with other dogs and with the handler during herding. Expecting an Australian Shepherd to be a quiet pet who is locked in a small city apartment can lead to lots of problems that can be avoided by the potential owners by learning about the breed and understanding where the destructive behavior is coming from. Providing an Australian Shepherd with plenty of exercise, both mental and physical every single can help to avoid lots of problems that are reported by owners of this incredibly intelligent breed with very specific needs.
Australian Shepherd breed is easy to train because Aussies enjoy pleasing their owners. Some of the challenges of training a highly intelligent dog is that an Aussie may have difficulty focusing during training. These smart dogs are constantly analizing the situation and noticing everything that is happening around. It is the handler's job to be able to train an Aussie to pay attention and once this step is accomplished, training the dog any other commands is much easier to accomplish. As with any dog breed, consistent and reward based training approach works best.
Australian Shepherd can be a wonderful companion dog for the right person. There are some special qualities about Australian Shepherd breed that include the dog's above average intellectual abilities, strong work ethic and working versatility. Australian Shepherds excel at many jobs, including agility, search and rescue and even as guide dogs for the blind. In the right hands an Australian Shepherd can be trained to a high standard. People who own livestock and need a dog who can help as a herding dog can count on Australian Shepherd to get the job done. Of course, the dog needs to be trained to follow directions on the field and to use his or her own mind to solve any problems that can occur during herding. Aussies are naturally predisposed for being herding dogs and can blossom under experienced supervision as they are doing what the breed was developed to do - being a superb working dog.
Cons and pros to owning an Australian Shepherd - video
Australian Shepherd sizes
Another positive about Australian Shepherds is that this breed comes in three different sizes that include Standard Australian Shepherd, Miniature Australian Shepherd and Toy Australian Shepherd.
Standard Australian Shepherds are the largest of the three Aussie types. Standard male Aussie can reach up to 23 inches in height and up to 65 pounds in weight. Miniature Australian Shepherds are smaller in size and males can reach up to 18 inches in height and up to 40 pounds in weight. As for Toy Australian Shepherd - they are the smallest of the three Aussie types and males can reach up to 14 inches in height and up to 17 pounds in weight. Smaller Aussies are more suitable for people who love this breed but have a limited space where a standard Australian Shepherd would not be comfortable. Active families with younger kids who are looking for a super active pet that is not not fragile and can run around with kids all day long often decide that a smaller Australian Shepherd has the same energy but comes in a more convenient size than a standard Aussie. Even a Mini or Toy Aussie needs plenty of running space and needs a fenced yard to get exercise. Can an Australian Shepherd live in an apartment? A Miniature Australian Shepherd or a Toy Australian Shepherd can live in an apartment, provided that the dog has an access to a dog park and gets to spend all day with a very active owner who enjoys taking the dog for long walks several times a day as well as getting involved in agility or any other dog training program that helps to keep the pet mentally and physically stimulated. A standard size Australian Shepherd is not suitable for apartment living.
Miniature Aussies and Toy Aussies are more suitable for active families with children as these smaller versions of Australian Shepherd have the same energetic nature and desire to work as the largest Standard Australian Shepherd, just in a smaller package. Regardless of the size of an Australian Shepherd, this breed is not suitable for lazy owners who do not know what to do with an active dog that needs hours of physical and mental stimulation during the day. Australian Shepherds are suitable for active people who have a lot of time to dedicate to their pet, train the dog and get involved in different dog sports that may include agility or obedience to keep this working dog busy. Not providing enough exercise and intellectual stimulation will result in the dog looking for an outlet for their high energy that usually results in many unwanted or destructive behaviors that can make life rather difficult for their owners.
Another requirement for this breed is a large fenced yard where the dog can get a good exercise. Australian Shepherds, even the Toy variety need to have a healthy outlet for their abundant energy and aren't suitable for staying indoors all day long. This dog needs at least three long walks daily with mental activities included. People who are at work all day long and only have some time in the morning or in the evening to dedicate to a family pet should consider a different breed. Australian Shepherd, whether Standard, Miniature or Toy variety needs to spend most of the day with the owner, staying busy and active to live a happy life.
How many puppies do Australian Shepherds have?
Australian Shepherds can have a litter size from 3 to 9 puppies, depending on the type of the Australian Shepherd. Toy and Miniature Aussies usually have smaller litter size than do Standard Australian Shepherds.
Australian Shepherd lifespan
Australian Shepherds live from 12 to 15 years on average.
How much does an Australian Shepherd cost?
Australian Shepherd prices start at $700 and up depending on the dog's pedigree, size, color, training level and many other factors.
Australian Shepherd temperament
Australian Shepherds can be described as the ultimate working breed that has a lot of energy, highly intelligent, active and capable of learning many different skills. With strangers Aussies tend to be reserved and they take their time before they offer their friendship to new people in their life. With their families, Australian Shepherds are affectionate, loyal and known as velcro dogs, meaning that this dog will follow the owners from room to room and enjoys being close to their family. Australian Shepherds are intelligent and have a strong desire to use their minds. Activities such as training, interacting with their owners and learning new skills are very important for Aussies. Australian Shepherds hate to be left alone or bored. This is the type of dog that needs to be involved in all family activities and thrives in active family that can offer plenty of time, exercise and a suitable job for this dog breed. Whether it is a herding job or staying busy doing any active dog sport such as tracking, agility course or anything else that keeps the dog busy, for this breed it is necessary to have something that keeps the dog doing something constructive every day. Running and getting daily exercise is something that Australian Shepherds need to do every day as their endless energy needs a healthy outlet that also helps to prevent bad behaviors that stem from boredom.
Young Australian Shepherds and puppies are very active and need not only to be supervised during the first year or so, but they also need to start their obedience training and learning good manners. Socialization is very important for this breed and the more time an owner invests into socializing the young Australian Shepherd, the more comfortable the dog will be in different situations.
How to groom an Australian Shepherd
Australian Shepherd grooming includes taking care of the dog's coat, dental care and trimming the dog's nails. Australian Shepherds have a beautiful double coat that requires proper care to keep the coat healthy and tangle free. Brushing an Australian Shepherd daily helps to remove any dead hair from the coat and to prevent mats from forming. Do Australian Sheherds shed a lot? Yes, there is a considerable amount of shedding associated with this breed. Using a furminator deshedding tool can be very helpful in removing most of the dead hair from the dog's coat. Investing in a pet friendly vacuum cleaner can be another good way to manage Aussie's shedding.
Here's a video tutorial that provides grooming tips for Australian Shepherd owners.
Australian Shepherd owners need to have several different grooming brushes that accomplish different purposes. Undercoat rake, for example is an excellent tool that helps to remove the thick undercoat that Aussies are known for. See the video below where an undercoat rake is compared to coat comb and see the difference in the results when used on an Australian Shepherd dog.
Start getting your Australian Shepherd comfortable with having teeth brushed while your dog is still a puppy. Be sure to only use canine toothpaste that is safe for dogs. Taking good care of the dog's teeth helps to keep Aussie healthy overall. Brush your pet's teeth daily to prevent plaque and bacteria from forming on the dog's teeth.
Australian Shepherd health issues
Most purebred dogs have certain genetic diseases associated with each breed and Australian Shepherds are not an exception. Although most Australian Shepherds are born healthy, there are some diseases that Aussies are predisposed to. Good breeding practices that are designed to test for any genetic issues of the breeding stock help to minimize the risk of these health issues. Some of the genetic health issues associated with Australian Shepherds include eye diseases, allergies, hip dysplasia, autoimmune diseases and issues with thyroid.