Australian Shepherds are easily recognizable medium-sized dogs that have skyrocketed in popularity. Their merle coats are gorgeous and make them highly sought after. They also have friendly dispositions and a permanent smile etched on their muzzles that makes them super likable.
They are a medium breed with a convenient size and at around 60-pounds and only 23-inches, they easily fit in your car and won’t be much trouble to have around the house. They also have great lifespans and can live as long as 15 years. That means your beautiful pup will be running many happy miles by your side.
The Australian Shepherd was developed in America, and not Australia as their name suggests. Nonetheless, they are excellent heard dogs with a great sense of adventure. They love to be loved and give love in return and that makes them excellent family pets. What more do you want? But beware of some of the pros and cons of Australian Shepherds that you must be aware of.
Pros of Owning an Australian Shepherd
1. Great Activity Partner
The Australian Shepherd’s name says it all. They were bred to herd cattle and other livestock and are born to run. This makes them perfect partners for someone who lives an active lifestyle.
Your dog will happily run with you for miles or join alongside your bike ride. They will take long walks on the beach and most of them are fond of the water and will join you for a swim. Aussies adapt well to both hot and cold weather and your dog can join you outside at all times of the year. They will happy dash through the snow or frolic in the waves on the beach.
2. Great Family Dogs
Aussies are highly adaptable pets that get along with other pets too. They are also not very sensitive towards children and enjoy playing with active young children, a huge pro of Australian Shepherds. They are a family dog through and through and will adjust to your routine and the family’s needs.
These dogs are very friendly towards their family members and won’t necessarily favor one owner over another. It is another plus that you can welcome strangers into your house with little trouble and they play well with other new doggy friends.
3. Highly trainable
These dogs are highly intelligent and that makes them easy to train. They often compete as show dogs and love to participate and please their owners. You will have lots of fun teaching these eager pooches new tricks which they will be more than willing to learn.
They have even been trained as guide dogs and they are excellent search dogs. A big pro of owning Australian Shepherds is that they have an inherent need to follow orders and your dog will do great with hand signals and complicated commands. Reward systems work great when training them as they respond well to positive reinforcement. Therefore, as a working dog, you must make sure they get the feeling of accomplishing “work” even if it is solving a puzzle or playing a game of fetch.
Cons of Owning an Australian Shepherd
1. Labor intensive grooming
Aussies have distinct fluffy coats that come in attractive patterns. But these coats need lots of work to keep them looking great. Especially because they are so active, their coats will pick up lots of dirt and debris. You will need to brush your dog often to keep it from matting and maintain its shine, a disadvantage of owning an Australian Shepherd. They also have double coats that protect them against extreme temperatures but this tends to shed a lot. These coats will experience heavy shedding twice a year which will require even more attention.
Grooming might also prove tricky as your dog might not enjoy sitting in one place for very long. Regular grooming helps to keep their coat maintained and keeps grooming times shorter. You will also need to invest in a range of grooming brushes to fully maintain their thick fur.
2. Needs a lot of exercises
Even though these dogs make great outdoors partners, this also means exercise is not optional. You will need to have strenuous daily activity built into your routine. Failure to do so could leave you with an anxious hyperactive dog. They can become destructive and a nuisance if you do not do your part.
Exercise does not stop with a run around the block. These highly intelligent dogs also need lots of mental training and stimulation, a potential con of getting Australian Shepherds. You will need to keep them entertained with puzzles and games that will feed their desire to learn. Beware of obesity in this breed as people often underestimate how much activity these dogs need. Too little activity will quickly lead to your dog being overweight.
3. Health Problems
Australian Shepherds are famous for their piercing blue eyes and even often display heterochromia. Unfortunately, their eyes are one of their biggest weaknesses too. They suffer from illnesses such as colobomas and cataracts. In some cases, they can also suffer from detached retinas.
Medium and large dogs are prone to hip dysplasia and this condition can cause severe pain and discomfort in your animal. The dog will often need surgery later in life to relieve the pain. As with all breeds, a reputable breeder can ensure your puppy is in good health and comes from a healthy bloodline.
4. Behavioral Issues
Like mentioned previously, if these dogs are not exercised, they will develop destructive tendencies. Above and beyond that there are a few other behavioral issues that might rear their ugly heads if your dog is not trained well at an early age.
As herders, they have an inherent habit to nip at who or whatever do not follow their orders. That might include you or your children. It is rarely harmful but nipping behavior needs to be curbed. A con of Australian Shepherds is they also enjoy chasing after almost anything and will quickly set off after a car or squirrel if your yard is not fenced in or if they are not on a leash. Their bark is also loud and they won’t hesitate to become vocal if they feel they are not being heard.
I hope that this article on the pros and cons of Australian Shepherds was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Dog Category!