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Australian Shepherd Pros and Cons: Is This The Dog For You?

Written By: Sharon Waddington

Last Updated:

Despite its name, the Australian Shepherd is an all-American breed originally developed to herd livestock. Since then, these dogs have moved into our homes from the meadows where they used to run around and protect all day long. However, should you get one if you don’t have livestock?

If you’re interested in this unique and beloved breed, here are some Australian Shepherd pros and cons to consider. 

Australian Shepherds’ pros that they’re fiercely loyal, intelligent, and hard-working. They are ideal for families and can live up to 15 years. However, before getting an Aussie, you should also consider their disadvantages. They can be destructive, territorial, are high-energy, and shed a lot.

So, if you’re considering getting an intelligent, affectionate pup and Australian Shepherds have made your shortlist, this handy list of Australian Shepherd pros and cons is for you. Before taking in one of these fiercely loyal dogs, I’ll review everything you need to consider.

Australian Shepherd Pros and Cons
Australian Shepherd Pros and Cons

What are the Pros and Cons of Australian Shepherds?

Whenever you decide to buy or adopt a breed, you look at basic attributes and check if the breed is suitable for your family. If the Australian Shepherd is your preferred breed, you should know the pros and cons.

Here you go!

Australian Shepherd ProsAustralian Shepherd Cons
Australian Shepherds are extremely intelligentProne to certain health issues
Aussies are great guard dogsAussies are high-energy dogs
Australian Shepherds are very lovingAustralian Shepherds shed a lot
They’re ideal for familiesAustralian Shepherds are needy
Aussies are highly personable
Australian Shepherds are adaptable
They’re of moderate size
Australian Shepherd Pros and Cons

Let’s get into detail about this breed.

Australian Shepherd Pros

There’s a reason why Australian Shepherds have repeatedly made their way into the AKC’s top 15 ranking of the most popular dogs in the US. They’re smart, trainable, hard-working, and extremely affectionate — what more could you want from a dog?

If you’re looking for insight into all the joys you’d get as an Australian Shepherd owner, read on!

Aussies Are Extremely Intelligent

Given that they were bred to be herding dogs, it should be no surprise that Australian Shepherds are among the smartest breeds out there – after all, they’ve been working for almost a century!

As a result, they’ll be able to catch on to commands much faster than other breeds, making training a breeze. So, if you’re an inexperienced pet owner or simply don’t have the time and energy to spend months teaching your pup the most basic commands, getting an Australian Shepherd might work to your advantage.

The faster you start the training process, the more progress you’ll make, although these brilliant dogs can still learn new tricks and commands even as they grow older. So, don’t hesitate to start teaching your pup desirable behaviors by using positive reinforcement, to which Aussies respond wonderfully.

Great Guard Dogs

If you live in a sketchy neighborhood or want to feel safe when on your nightly jog, an Australian Shepherd is a great idea.

Since these pups were bred with a protective instinct, they make for wonderful guard dogs. Not to mention that their impressive intelligence helps them do their job that much better, as they’re highly attentive and can spot an aggressor long before you.

Moreover, because they were originally herding dogs, they were trained to raise their voice as soon as they sensed something off. So, you can rest assured that once your Aussie senses a threat, it’ll go off barking immediately, alerting you and any potential bystanders of approaching danger.

“As the owner of another herding breed, the mighty German Shepherd, I can certainly relate to how protective herding dogs are!”

World of Dogz

On the flip side, this fierce loyalty can quickly turn into territorialism and aggression toward all unfamiliar faces, but I’ll discuss this later.

Loving Australian Shepherd
Loving Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds Are Very Loving

Most dog lovers would agree that affection is one of the most important traits to look for in a potential pet. Luckily, Australian Shepherds are among the most loving breeds out there.

Once they get attached to a person or household, they’ll become the most fiercely loyal companions you could ask for, and they tend to show that affection through lots of kisses and cuddles as well.

Keep in mind, though, that what one person might consider affectionate, another might see as needy. These dogs need to receive as much love as they give, so if you’re not up to the task of spending hours of quality time with your pup, an Australian Shepherd might not be the best choice for you.

However, once you provide these pups with the love and attention they crave, they’ll do just about anything to see you happy or cheer you up when you’re having a bad day. Though Aussies are good with the whole family, they tend to pick a favorite person they feel closest to.

Aussies Are Great for Families

If you have young kids living in your household and are apprehensive about introducing a new pet, I’ve got good news for you. Australian Shepherds are some of the best family dogs you can find, as they’re naturally protective and careful around the young.

That’s why they’re especially great to have around young children; however, it’s important to note that if you want to build a strong, trusting relationship between your pup and children, a lot of training and education needs to occur. That way, all parties know how to behave around each other in a safe, loving manner.

That said, I want to note that an Aussie’s natural instinct to herd can sometimes be too aggressive for young children. So, if you have babies or toddlers in the house, it’s best to supervise all of their interactions with these dogs until you gauge their behaviors or they grow a bit older.

Australian Shepherd Personality
Australian Shepherd Personality

Australian Shepherds Are Extremely Personable

Just like humans, dogs have vivid, unique personalities, which we owners love them for. And, again, like humans, some breeds are simply more personable and approachable than others; luckily, Aussies have some of the best personalities out there.

As long as you keep your pup mentally and physically stimulated, you’ll see how sweet and loving these dogs can be.

They aren’t prone to aggression, love to express their affection through cuddles and kisses, and will gladly tag along for any outdoor activity. In short, they’re the perfect companion personality-wise.

Here’s a great video about this breed:

Aussies Are Adaptable

Many breeds are constrained by their genetic makeup when it comes to the climates or environments they can live in. Fortunately, that’s not the case with Australian Shepherds.

They have a double coat and an excellent temperature-control system that allows them to thrive in all climates. The firm outer coat acts as a barrier against the elements, be it wind, rain, or snow. On the other hand, the soft undercoat serves as an insulation layer, keeping the body warm or cool depending on its needs.

These physical adaptations slowly developed over the years, as Australian Shepherds have had to spend a lot of time outdoors protecting livestock.

As a result, they had to find a way to adapt to different weather conditions, and even though not many of them are used as herd dogs today, their ability to thrive in all environments makes them much more popular as a pet.

Aussies Are Moderate Size

When choosing a dog, finding one that is just the right size can be tricky. Dogs that are too small can often be seen as toys or unable to keep us safe should the need arise, whereas bulkier breeds are simply impractical.

Luckily, Australian Shepherds boast a moderate size that seems to be perfect for most dog owners. They’re strong and sturdy, but they’re not so big that they can’t be managed on a leash or transported in a standard car.

The average weight of an Aussie is between 40 and 65 pounds (18–29 kg), so if worse comes to worst, most adults can comfortably carry a fully-grown Australian Shepherd. Moreover, since they have so much energy to burn off throughout the day, weight management is rarely an issue.

Australian Shepherd Size
Australian Shepherd Size

Australian Shepherd Cons

Though intelligent and downright adorable, Australian Shepherds aren’t exempt from a few downsides. After all, their lively, overly-affectionate personality isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

So, if you’re considering getting one of these dogs for yourself, here are some potential drawbacks to consider before making a long-term commitment.

Aussies Are Prone to Certain Health Issues

All breeds are prone to certain health issues; however, if you want to add a new furry member to your home, it’s still a good idea to know precisely what you’ll have to look out for.

Here are some of the health conditions that are most common among Australian Shepherds:

Hip or Elbow Dysplasia

These are usually genetic conditions that affect some of the most commonly used joints in a dog’s body. As they can cause a great deal of pain and mobility issues, they should always be addressed head-on by a professional.

Unfortunately, Aussies are genetically prone to these issues and likely to sustain them due to physical injuries since they run around so much.

Eye-Related Problems

Aussies are prone to eye anomalies, progressive retinal atrophy, and cataracts. Most of these conditions are congenital, and, unfortunately, further research is needed to determine whether they’re actually detectable or preventable. Signs that your dog is suffering from eye-related issues include:

  • Bumping into objects
  • Puffy, red, or cloudy-looking eyes
  • Pawing at face
  • Hesitancy to move


Many dogs suffer from allergies; however, breeds with longer, heavier coats are even more likely to suffer from irritation, itchiness, and other uncomfortable symptoms. Their fur can trap a lot of allergens. The same goes for skin-related issues (e.g., dermatitis).

Unfortunately, if your Australian Shepherd suffers from an allergy, it can be tricky to determine its cause.

The only way to make a reliable diagnosis is through a dietary elimination approach. Though the process can take some time and needs to be supervised by a professional, it’s currently the only way to make an accurate assessment.


Australian Shepherds have been known to develop epilepsy, which can cause seizures and many other serious side effects, which can even lead to death. Unfortunately, this is an inherited condition for which no genetic testing is available. Your only solution is to seek professional help to treat and control the symptoms.


Like all dog breeds, Aussies are unfortunately prone to specific types of cancer, most commonly hemangiosarcoma.

This fatal cancer variation is uncharacteristically common in Australian Shepherds, so it’s essential to carry out regular screenings for it. Some of its first symptoms include bleeding, weakness, and pale gums. The sooner you catch it, the better your pup’s chances.

Australian Shepherd needs attention
Australian Shepherd needs attention


This is a pretty interesting concept, as certain genes that affect an Aussie’s coat color can also determine the quality of its hearing. For example, dogs with a noticeable lack of pigment in their ears (white, but the rest of their coat is color) are likely experiencing hearing-related issues, which can ultimately progress to deafness.

Australian Shepherds Are Very High-Energy

While some may consider Australian Shepherds’ seemingly endless energy levels endearing, most working adults living in urban areas find it challenging to keep up with that kind of lifestyle. Aussies need plenty of training in a day to feel mentally and physically stimulated; otherwise, they become destructive.

You’ll want to take them on at least two long daily walks to keep them happy and healthy.

Aussies They Shed a Lot

If you’re allergic to dog fur or don’t feel like cleaning up after your pet all day, getting an Aussie is not the best choice. These dogs are the furthest thing from hypoallergenic, as they regularly shed and also shed their undercoat during specific months.

You also need to brush them every couple of days during shedding season to remove fallen hair.

Australian Shepherds Are Very Needy

Needy Australian Shepherd
Needy Australian Shepherd

As mentioned, these dogs’ affectionate personalities also come with a huge downside — they can quickly become needy. Australian Shepherds need to feel mentally stimulated, loved, and cared for at all times; otherwise, they might start to act out.

In some cases, they might even develop separation anxiety. So, unless you can meet all of their emotional and mental needs or live in a large household where everyone pitches in when it comes to caring for the dog, getting an Aussie might not be the best idea.

In the same vein, they can sometimes become overly territorial, which leads to aggression. However, as long as you socialize and train your dog from a young age, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Final Thoughts

There are many Australian Shepherd pros and cons, and after reading this article, you should better understand them.

There are reasons why Americans seem to love Australian Shepherds so much — they’re intelligent (and thus, highly trainable), loving, good with children, and fiercely loyal.

However, as with all other breeds, there are some potential drawbacks that come with getting an Aussie. They’re needy, high-energy dogs that require a lot of your time and attention. They can get territorial, especially if not trained from a young age.

That’s why the answer to the question “Would an Australian Shepherd make a good pet?” is ultimately a personal one.

Photo of author

Sharon Waddington

Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs.