Do Australian Shepherds Make Good Family Pets – Ultimate Care Guide & Facts

The Australian Shepherd is a loving family dog for owners who are experienced in high energy dogs. If you decide to own one, you need to realize your dog will have a high energy level. He’ll require a lot of exercises each day to wear your pet down to a manageable level.


Aussie Shepard History

Most sources agree that the Australian Shepherd came about during the land rush of the late 1800s. When settlers came from Europe, they brought with them their favorite herding dogs. Many flocks of sheep arrived with the settlers, and some of the sheep came from Australia.

Even though sheep, herding dogs, and shepherds came to North America from Australia, the belief is the Australian Shepherds ancestors were from another source. The theory is that the dogs came from Germany or the Pyrenees Mountains of Spain.

Once the Basque shepherds arrived in Australia before continuing to North America, their dogs, and other herding dogs were likely interbred. In the gene pool of the Australian Shepherd are Border Collies, English Shepherd, and Scotch Collie.


Physical Characteristics, Lifespan, Height, Size, Weight

The Aussie has a medium-length coat that is weather-resistant and can be either straight or wavy. Your dog may have feathering on the back of the forelegs, with a shorter smooth coat on his head, legs, and ears. The most common color is Merle, but there are four colors total and three marking styles that are associated with this breed.

If your pet is a male, he could weight between 55-70 pounds. If your dog is a female, then she could weigh between 33-55 pounds. The male is between 20-23 inches tall at the shoulder, and the female will be between 18-21 inches tall. Your dog’s lifespan may be between 12-15 years.

The colors of the coat of your dog could be black, red, red merle, or blue. The base color is solid, with some marbling. There could be tan points and white markings. The white markings could be on the legs, chest, under the muzzle, neck, and part of the facial blaze.


Do Aussie Shepherds Make Good Family Pets?

Yes, an Aussie Shepherd will make an excellent family pet with proper training. Because this breed is a herding breed, your dog may try to herd family members, especially children. He might try to herd squirrels, birds, other dogs, your cat, and even the neighbors. When your dog herds, he may nip because this is how he gets sheep to move where he wants them. You will need to correct this behavior early in his training.


Aussie Shepherd Temperament – Are They Aggressive?

It’s not that your pet would be aggressive, but he is born with a herding instinct. Every dog varies with some breeds being more mellow than other ones. But these dogs are very social, and your pet will want to be by your side always. This breed is also known as “Velcro dogs.”

The breed can be aggressive and authoritative and will want to take action when challenged. Your dog will not like being alone for long periods and will love attention.


Good Guard Dogs?

Yes, an Aussie has a strong guardian instinct to protect their family members. An Aussie doesn’t accept strangers easily and isn’t interested in affection from a stranger generally.


What Environment Do They Need – Lots of Space

Because your dog is from a herder breed, he may be very sensitive about territory and his space. You may find that your pet will bark when an overly friendly dog invades what he considers his personal space.

An Aussie is a highly intelligent breed, so if your dog sees something interesting on the other side of the fenced-in yard, he’ll figure out how to scale it. Letting your Aussie alone in the yard for long periods isn’t something you should do.


Do They Need Lots of Exercises?

Yes, your Australian Shepherd needs at least two to three hours a day of physical exercise and mental stimulation. If you don’t meet this need with your dog, then he can become snappy, destructive, or high-strung.

Because your dog is a working breed, he’ll have lots of excess energy, and he’ll need your help to get rid of it. Hiking, playing fetch, running, and agility training are all the perfect exercise for your pet. He will continue with his high endurance long after you’ve run out of energy.


Are Australian Shepherds easy to train?

The earlier you start to train your Aussie, the better off you’ll be. Because of their intelligence, if you don’t train your pup, he will begin to train himself, which will lead to bad habits.  Positive training methods are what will work best for your dog.

If you apply forced training, it will ruin the bond you’re trying to establish with your furry friend. He will learn better when he’s not afraid to make a mistake and then try again. When your pet responds to training correctly, reward him with a hug or a treat. He’ll learn to repeat those behaviors to please you.


What Do They Like to Eat?

There are different options of food to feed your Australian Shepherd. Listed below are those options:

  • Kibble: kibble is a ball-shaped dry food that you can purchase at various locations. The difference in the food can be from the food at the grocery store to the premium quality food at pet shops and pet stores.
  • Moist food: moist food is usually in a can or container and can be found in the same places that kibble is bought.
  • Prepared raw: prepared raw is found in pet stores and goes with the back to natural food movement. It isn’t much work to make, but it is expensive.
  • Raw food: raw food takes some work to ensure your dog is eating a balanced meal.


Here’s a link with further information:


Do Australian shepherds bark a lot?

Your Aussie may exhibit some guarding behavior and will bark at what he perceives to be a threat. Usually, his guarding behavior won’t go beyond an alert to let you know that something is going on outside that he feels is a threat to his family. He barks to communicate his concerns.


Are They Hyper?

Because an Aussie is a herding dog, he will have high-energy levels. Because of those high energy levels, if he isn’t given something to do, he’ll find something. It could be barking, pacing, digging, or other destructive behaviors.

Because your Aussie needs to be always busy, you should involve him in as many activities as you can. Something as simple as going with you running errands will give him something to feel useful. Treat your dog as a partner in whatever you do so he doesn’t get bored or destructive.

You will have to teach your dog when it’s time to quit being on the job. If you choose a command to teach him, such as “done” it will let him know that his work for the day is complete. Give him a treat and show him it’s ok to relax and not do anything at all. He’ll learn that it’s fine to take a break and not be on duty all the time.


What Age Do They Calm Down?

Your Aussie should calm down between the ages of 2 and three years old as long as he is getting exercise and attention.


Are They Affectionate?

Yes, Aussie’s are very affectionate with their family members.


Do They Attach to One Person the Most?

An Aussie will attach himself to one person if permitted. If you don’t let your pet interact much with other members of your family, then he will be shadowing your every move.  Encourage other members of the household to feed and exercise your pet, and everyone will be much happier.


How Are They with Kids?

Aussie’s are very protective of the children in the household where they are living. You need to teach your dog to accept new people and situations. Your child’s playtime interaction with another child may seem to be a threat if there is roughhousing involved.


How About Other Pets?

Aussie’s like to herd other animals, if you have a cat, this may present a problem. To have your dog get along with other pets, you need to make an introduction as early as you can. When your pet is socialized early, it will help other pets become more comfortable and boost your dog’s confidence.


Are Australian Shepherds stubborn?

No, usually, an Aussie isn’t stubborn unless they aren’t getting enough attention or affection.


Do They Shed A Lot?

Yes, these dogs shed a lot and all over everything. You’ll need to brush your dog thoroughly at least two to three times a week to try to keep it under control. It’s because your pet has a double coat to keep him warm. The coat won’t need a lot of trimming, but you will need to brush him often to stay ahead of the mats.

You’ll also have to groom your pet’s ears because the back of his ears will become matted. You might want to use thinning shears to remove and thin his hair behind his ears.


How often should I wash my Australian Shepherd?

Many Australian Shepherds like baths and enjoy their time in the water. If your pet spends a lot of his time indoors, then he will only need to be bathed about every 3 or 4 months. If he is a working dog, then your dog will need to be bathed every 4 to 6 weeks.

You need to give your dog a bath indoors using a bathtub or shower. If the day is warm and sunny, then you can bath your dog outside with a hose.


Why Do Australian Shepherds Smile?

When your Aussie grins at you, it’s a sign of appeasement. He’s trying to calm you down if he thinks you’re angry or if he’s stressed or unsure. Your dog uses it as a calming signal that he’ll use with people and other dogs. Your pet will grin if he’s excited to see your or guests too.


What Type of Health Issues Do Australian Shepherds Have?

The Aussie, like other purebred dogs, have a set of health issues. The best way to minimize the issues is to talk to a breeder who specializes in Australian Shepherds. Some of the more common problems which can occur later in life are hip dysplasia, cataracts, epilepsy, double merle, MDR1, and autoimmune disorders.

By buying your dog from a breeder with responsible breeding practices who will screen for conditions and common diseases, it will help minimize health issues. All the above are genetic disorders, and if you notice them, your pet needs to go to the vet for proper care.


Difference Between Aussie Shepherds and Mini Aussie Shepherds

The miniature Aussie Shepherd is a registered breed by the AKC that is separate from an Australian Shepherd. The miniature Aussie was bred from two smaller Australian Shepherds.  At maturity, the Mini’s are between 15 to 18 inches at the shoulder and only weighing between 25 to 40 pounds. The male minis are larger than females.

Besides the size of the Mini Aussie, the dogs look exactly like a standard version of the Australian Shepherd.


An Australian Shepard is a wonderful family dog if you have experience with dogs. These dogs are loyal to their family as well as being protective. This breed needs a lot of exercise and mental stimulation and can be destructive if their needs aren’t met.

When you commit to a dog of this breed, he can be an excellent companion. You will need to have the patience and dedication to raise an Aussie properly but will be rewarded with a friend for as long as your dog lives.


For more information on Australian Shepherds, click the link below:









Linda Rice

Linda is an expert in everything pet related from owning dogs such as Labradors to Doberman Pinchsers. She has also owned a horse, an iguana and some geckos and of course some cats. She once worked in a pet store and has a fishtank of both fresh and saltwater fish. She is also considering a new dog for her house at the moment!

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