Australian Shepherd Temperament
Photo by Tomas Dolezal

Australian Shepherd Temperament

Australian Shepherds are a beloved breed. They are extremely popular with dog lovers and official organizations like the Kennel Club.

A huge reason for this popularity is their temperament. Aussies are known for being very loving, loyal, and energetic. Their intelligence and resilience makes them stand out as highly desired dogs.

However, even though Australian Shepherds have numerous good traits, they are also very high maintenance. These dogs make great pets, but their owners need to know that adopting one will mean putting in a whole lot of work.

Additionally, getting your dog to remain well-behaved and retain his/her positive qualities can be challenging. A lot of work needs to be put in for Aussies, but all Aussie owners can agree that the effort is totally worth it.

Traits Of An Australian Shepherd

There are many aspects that make up an Australian Shepherd’s temperament. Their attitude and behavior can also change a lot depending on their environment.

There are some traits that most Aussies possess, but they cannot be generalized to all dogs of this breed.

We will go through some of the most apparent features of an Aussie’s temperament below:

Personality

The personality of any individual dog varies. Despite being of the same breed, no two Aussies will have the exact same personality.

Almost all Aussies are very intelligent and sensitive to their owner’s needs. They are considered one of the smartest breeds, and they love spending time with humans.

An Aussie is bred to be a dominant figure on the farm. They are built to be the ones controlling livestock. Your Aussie might try to apply these roles in your home and become the leader. And while their confidence and assertiveness is supposed to be helpful, in this case it would be bothersome. Nonetheless, this can easily be avoided with proper and regular training.

For these reasons, most advise that a first-time dog owner should not get an Australian Shepherd, as they might get overwhelmed by their personality and find them hard to control.

Outgoing Nature

They have an outgoing nature and are very friendly. A few Aussies can be reserved and timid. However, most really enjoy being with their families and the people they are familiar with.

They need company, stimulation, and activity in order to be the energetic, fun-loving dogs that we all know and love.

The downside of this need for company is very present. Aussies do not like being alone, especially for long periods of time. They can become very depressed if separated from their families for extended periods of time.

So, if you are the kind of person who likes going on long trips without your dog, then you may find it difficult to care for an Aussie. If you have a very hectic work and social life, then too your dog may soon begin missing you and become unhappy.

High Energy Levels

Another trait that Aussie owners love is their high energy levels. These dogs were bred to be herders and to work long hours on farms. Due to this, they need to have a healthy amount of stimulation and exercise.

Australian Shepherds need to perform tasks, so a good amount of training is beneficial for them. It is in their blood to be active outdoors. Because of this, you will need to take your dog out quite often. Aussies are great to take on hikes, camping, hunting, and more.

Aussies work well with families that are extremely adventurous and active. They can play all day and keep you on your toes.

So, if you decide to adopt an Aussie, you better be ready to take on a load of activities and give your Aussie a lot of attention.

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Need For Activity

Australian Shepherds need around an hour of exercise every day. If they do not let out energy in this way, they can become irritable and destructive.

Activities like playing fetch or running are perfect for this breed.

They can make use of their strong bodies and agility to perform sports. For this reason, they are very suitable to be sports dogs.

Without this exercise, your Aussie will become bored, and this may cause them to not sleep properly at night. An agitated dog is a nuisance that many would like to avoid.

They might even make up their own tasks like chasing your kids or cars and other animals. They could mess up or tear up your home and furniture.

To ensure that your dog is not destructive, activity is absolutely essential. If you fulfill their needs, these dogs are very well behaved. So, it basically falls on you to keep them calm.

Highly Intelligent

Since herding dogs need to be intelligent to perform all their required tasks, Australian Shepherds have a very high mental capacity. Which is why, they need to use these capabilities often.

These dogs can get bored very easily if made to just lie around with no stimulation for a long time.

Working breeds, in particular, are difficult to keep engaged. In order to keep your Aussie mentally stimulated, you should give them challenges and tasks.

These capabilities make Aussies very suitable for jobs like assistance dogs, guide dogs, police dogs, hunting dogs, sports dogs, and more. They are known to be very helpful and can even save a human in a life-threatening situation.

It is, thus, important to keep your Australian Shepherd occupied with work and learning. You will need to teach them more tricks than the standard bark, fetch, and sit. An Aussie can and should do much more. This will not only be a great showing-off point for you, but it will also help keep your dog healthy and happy.

Daily tasks also work well for Australian Shepherds. Maybe you could teach them to fetch the post every day or take your shoes to the closet. This would not only be helpful for you but would make your dog enjoy their time with you more. All in all, it will create a sense of fulfillment in them that they crave.

Honestly, who wouldn’t want a furry little helper to aid them with their daily routine?

The downside of this high intelligence is that if understimulated, the Aussie will become destructive. They can also use their intelligence against you. If they do not get enough love and attention, they may resent you and show you a bit of an attitude.

For an Aussie, no amount of work is too much. You get your little buddy going with their little chores and tasks.

Form Close Attachments

Aussies really love their families. They form very close attachments and bonds with them. They would enjoy every second of time that they spent with their families. They enjoy feeling connected to other people and so are really not comfortable being alone.

This loving nature can sometimes transform into clinginess. You might get annoyed by your Aussie’s need to be by your side constantly. With our increasing need to put a lot of time into work to survive today’s world, this might present an issue.

A work/life/play balance can be difficult for anyone to maintain with an Aussie. Having a needy Aussie that needs to fit into that schedule as well can be overwhelming to some.

But if left alone for too long, your little bud can suffer from separation anxiety. And they might react to this by howling or barking excessively.

If you live in a congested residential area, this will disturb your neighbors greatly.

So, if you want an Aussie, be prepared to give them a good chunk of your time and energy.

Enjoy Routine

Australian Shepherds value consistency. Being a herding dog, they had to do the same task every day for years, so they have it in their genes to appreciate routine.

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When you get an Aussie, you will have to establish a schedule for them. They would enjoy working with routines, and it is actually imperative for their well-being. They will be able to stick to this routine pretty easily after being trained sufficiently.

Soon enough, your dog will remember what time you get home from work, what time you go to bed, and when their playtime is. Having a consistent eating and sleeping schedule would be great for them. Having this surety will help your Aussie and keep them from getting anxious or agitated.

You will also have to stick closely to these scheduled activities as if you miss them, then your Aussie might get confused and anxious. A sudden change in routine can upset an Aussie. So, gauge if you as a person are very organized and consistent.

If a dog’s routine clashes with your own lifestyle, it would be good for either of you. If you are looking to be a bit more organized, getting an Aussie can help with this.

Everyone loves their dogs and would like to see them happy and so you might just use your Aussie as a source of motivation.

Very Protective

Australian Shepherds are very protective. Their strong bonds with families will encourage them to want to safeguard them.

Due to this, they can be wary of new people and animals. In order to minimize this, socialization is required. Get your Aussie to be familiar with different people and animals at a young age. An antisocial puppy might grow up to be a shy and anxious dog.

Aussies can also, at times, become aggressive to newcomers. If you move into a new space or make new friends, make sure you introduce your Aussie to them. Getting them accustomed to meeting strangers at times will also be helpful.

They can also find loud sounds jarring and get terrified during a storm or when sirens blare. This would make them want to get close to their family to ensure that everything is okay with them.

A beneficial turnout from this is that you can use this sensitive hearing to your advantage. You can train your Aussie to be a watchdog. They would then alert you to suspicious activity and protect you if someone tries to break into your home.

This protectiveness can lead to these dogs barking quite a lot. So, it is important to train your Aussie puppies not to be too disturbing and to not view every single thing as a threat to their families.

Require Training

Aussies have all these positive traits, but they need to be properly developed by you. Training is an important part of any dog’s life. With an Aussie, their good traits can be amplified with the right training.

Australian Shepherds’ high intellect lets them be very fast learners. Training an Aussie will be quite easy when compared to some other breeds. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, you may come out of training with a wonderfully well-behaved dog.

You should begin training your dog when they are around 4 to 6 months old. This training should persist until they are a couple years old. It will mean a lot of patience, but it is worth it for your lifetime furry friends. Your dog will be thankful to you and will be so excited to learn with you.

Positive reinforcement works very well to train any dog. You do not need to be overly stern with your Aussie as they are people pleasers. They themselves will want you to praise them and, of course, give them treats!

You can begin training your puppy in small ways as soon as you welcome them home. Those little furballs will be so excited to learn and spend time with you. Try your best not to get distracted by their adorableness!

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It is best to begin training young. An older dog might be more stubborn in their ways and will resist change.

Additionally, a complete lack of training would make the dog’s instincts kick in. They might engage in the activities they were bred to do. They might begin trying to herd your children in your home. Or would chase small animals. This can be very destructive, and undesirable so go get that training done.

Socialization should be a part of their training and should begin while they are young. They should be in contact with humans as well as other dogs- most importantly, other puppies. After socialization, you can begin with obedience training.

After this, more advanced training methods can be used. This provides a good linear education for your dog and will help them be the best version of themself.

Aussies and Kids

Since Aussies have such good temperaments, they are great with kids. If the child is well behaved, your Aussie will love them. They enjoy playing with children because both have very high energy. They would also be protective of the child because of their nature.

An adult should still remain present at all times when a dog is with a young child. However, you will not very often face any dangers with an Aussie.

If your Aussie is used to other people and children, then introducing them to a new one should be a breeze.

At times an Aussie may try to herd children and might scare them. But, if you give them enough exercise, training, and love, they should not engage in this behavior.

Aussies are still quite large and get excited easily. Due to this, some people with younger kids do not opt for this dog. Toddlers may get scared of an overactive Aussie, and their playtime may disrupt the kid’s rest time.

So maybe consider putting off on adopting an Aussie if you have young kids.

Aussies And Other Dogs 

Socializing your dog may take some time. But an Australian Shepherd that has been socialized will most likely not have too many issues with other dogs.

An Aussie is a good option if you want to have a multi-dog household. After some time, they will be able to adapt to having other dogs present.

Introduce them slowly to the other dogs and try to remain present when they are together. This is to avoid any fighting and injuries.

Remember that if you have multiple dogs, each one needs love and attention. Do not neglect an Aussie in a multi-dog house as they will see this as a threat and may become aggressive and depressed.

Aussies And Cats

An Aussie is capable of sharing a home with a cat. Since they are herding dogs, they may try to herd the cats, so you should train them to avoid this.

Make sure to keep the cats separate for feeding and litter time as they may get scared of the large Australian Shepherd.

Also, consider installing perches for your cats. Put them in high-up spaces so that they can feel safe from your dog when on them.

Cats enjoy the space and security, so this is really more about keeping your cats happy than your Aussie.

Are There Any Differences In Temperaments Of Male and Female Australian Shepherds?

Most professionals and Aussie owners do not say that they find any differences between the two genders of Aussies, as nothing major stands out in their temperaments.

Conclusion

And so, we can conclude that an Australian Shepherd is a handful. If you are an inexperienced dog owner, this is probably not the dog for you.

However, if you decide to get an Aussie, get ready to put in some time and sweat.

It will definitely be worth it in the long run as Australian Shepherd temperaments are so wonderful to work with. For that reason, they grow up to become loyal, trusted, entertaining, and lifelong friends.