The Australian Shepherd, also known by dog lovers as an Aussie, was first identified in the US in the 1840s. These animals are known to be loyal, energetic, and affectionate with their owners. Like many other dogs, the pros and cons of an Australian Shepherd are highly dependent on the expectations of the individual pet owners. This breed is categorized as a herding dog and is happiest when kept busy or entertained with a task. As highly intelligent dogs, Aussies are easy to train and are eager to learn.
Pro – Personable
Australian Shepherds have wonderful personalities and adapt well to families with children and other dogs. Despite being high-energy animals, these dogs are not aggressive and make ideal companions in an active household. While they tend to herd or nip people, these traits are usually well managed with early training and lots of exercises each day. Families may find these dogs as excellent partners in playing fetch or running alongside a bicycle.
Pro – Easy to Train
Aussies are one of the smartest breeds of dogs. This, combined with their high-energy personalities, make them ideal for learning tricks or tasks. Australian Shepherds do well with agility competitions or as active ranch herders. With any high-performing animal, owners must ensure a secured yard or leash is available, as the curious mind of an Aussie may lead to occasional escapes.
Pro – Loyal
Australian Shepherds have an innate protective streak and may be wary of strangers, making them excellent watchdogs. With appropriate and early socialization, these dogs can learn to adapt to household guests. Aussies thrive on human companionship and thrive when they are providing a service to their owners. They will make it their role to alert their pet parents to possible dangers or incoming strangers whenever possible.
Pro – Climate Adaptable
All Aussies have a double-coat of fur which effectively protects the animal against all types of weather. A tougher outer coat acts as a waterproof barrier, while the fluffier undercoat acts as insulation in either hot or cold temperatures. This makes the dog a hearty companion on farms or ranches, for outdoor sports, or for those living in regions with climate variations.
Pro – Size
These mid-sized dogs range in size from 40-65 pounds and may be as tall as 23 inches. This makes them a manageable size for on-leash walks or training, or to transport in a car. For families needing a smaller-sized animal, some breeders now offer miniature versions of the original Australian Shepherds. While Aussies can easily become overweight, their willingness and need for daily exercise make weight management easy to achieve.
Con – High-Energy
Australian Shepherds, bred to be working and herding dogs, are very high-energy animals and require daily exercise. Owners may find that a dog left alone or without adequate daily physical activity will bore easily and could cause destruction indoors. With a daily routine of outdoor stimulation, these dogs will be excellent household pets.
Con – Shedding Fur
Australian Shepherds have a lot of hair, and this means a lot of grooming. Most owners will find they need to do a thorough brushing each week to remove excess fur or release matted clumps. Also, twice yearly these dogs shed more excessively, so owners will want to increase the frequency of brushing, with frequent baths where possible. While some dogs enjoy the grooming process, others will struggle to squirm, but starting early as a puppy will likely help.
Con – Eye Issues
Aussies are genetically predisposed to some serious eye diseases. These can include colobomas, cataracts, detached retinas, and others. To avoid these disorders, the breeder can provide reports from the parents’ recent eye exams. Owners of puppies can also ask their veterinarian about routine ophthalmology exams. Just because a dog is more susceptible to a disorder doesn’t mean it will happen. Most Australian Shepherds live fully content lives with none of these eye issues, but it’s important for potential owners to understand the risks.
Con – Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is a common genetic malformation in the hip socket of some dogs, including Australian Shepherds. Over time, improper wear and tear on the hip joint can lead to arthritis pain, and sometimes surgery. Breeders should be able to provide medical confirmation of the parents’ hip health to potential buyers. Dogs who get adequate exercise and a healthy diet will also generally experience fewer issues.
Love and Friendship
The main reason so many of us have dogs is for love and companionship. While there are many factors to consider before choosing a pet, most owners would agree that the quirks, issues, and work involved with their dog were all worth it. Whether these issues are pros or cons in your mind, the real value is in the joy a dog brings to the family.