The Australian Shepherd: A Complete Guide

Last Updated:

Are you looking for a dog that loves being busy all the time and doesn’t like having a free minute in his day? A dog that is a great watchdog and will do everything to protect your family?

A dog that is also extremely intelligent and can even help you around with house chores?

The Australian Shepherd could be the ideal choice for you and your family.

The name suggests that this breed comes from Australia. However, the origins of this breed are actually from the western United States, and it was bred for livestock herding.

The work habits got stuck in this breeds DNA, and today’s Australian Shepherds are well known as being extremely happy when they have a job to do.

However, finding an Australian Shepherd puppy that is completely healthy and comes from a healthy family, can be a complicated task. This is where we jump in and save the day.

In this guide, you will get to know the Australian Shepherd breed much better and finally, know if this is a dog for you or not.

You will find out if the price of a purebred puppy fits your budget and if the temperament of this breed, both in the puppy and adult age, is something you are looking for.

Let’s start with the puppy stage.

The Australian Shepherd Puppies – Before You Buy…

A small Australian Shepherd lying on grass
If your Australian Shepherd feels loved, he will be your perfect pet.

As promised, in this section, you will discover what are the most important things you should keep in mind before getting to the part where you bring your Australian Shepherd puppy home.

For starters, let’s take a look at what is the price range you can expect.

What price are the Australian Shepherd puppies?

Let’s get something out of the way right from the start. You will find Australian Shepherd puppies online for as low as $500, but, this is everything but a bargain.

For that price, you will get a puppy without a single paper whatsoever. You won’t know if the puppy is healthy and if the parents passed on some genetic health issues that can surface later.

For a purebred Australian Shepherd puppy with all the proper health documentation, including the medical history of both the puppy and its parents, you can expect a price range that goes from $1K to $1.8K.

It might sound expensive for a non-designer breed, but in this case, you know that you have a healthy puppy without any hidden health conditions that might appear later in its life.

How to find reputable Australian Shepherd breeders?

The Australian Shepherd playing with a frisbee
The Australian Shepherd is an intelligent and focused breed.

The most important thing when finding the right puppy is finding the right breeder. If you find a reputable breeder, he will help you choose the puppy that is a perfect match for you.

Even without you asking, he will already have the necessary health tests and clearances ready. Reputable breeders are more interested in finding a perfect home for the pups than earning a profit.

Also, from a reputable breeder, you can expect an in-depth insight into the breed’s history, and an explanation of why a certain breed is better as, for example, a family dog than some other breeds.

He will likewise talk about the health issues that trouble this breed, and whether the pup’s parents have suffered from these diseases or not.

Those were the characteristics of good breeders. However, you will most likely have a chance to find breeders that are in the puppy-selling business just for the money and not at all for the love of the breed they are selling.

You will find many breeder websites. So, how can you tell if the one you are looking at is reputable or not?

One of the first red flags should be the non-stop availability of the pups. This can only mean that this “breeder” has many litters and that this is not a reputable breeder but a puppy mill owner.

The second red flag should be online payment and even delivery. Sure, that sounds great, but you should avoid such websites as you cannot simply have an insight into the quality and purity of the puppy that arrives at your doorstep.

In the end, the best way to know if the breeder you are seeing is reputable or not is to get armed with the knowledge of the breed upfront.

And, see if the breeder is interested in talking with you about the breed and how the dogs behave around him. This will tell you if he cares about the dogs and the breed in general.

If you notice that he doesn’t know that much about the Australian Shepherds, and the dogs don’t seem to be that happy when they see him, the chances are great that this particular breeder is in it just for the money and that the puppy you buy is a gamble.

3 Little-known facts about the Australian Shepherd puppies

In this part, you will get an insight into the facts about the Australian Shepherd puppies, that are not that widespread.

  • They are problematic teenagers

During the adolescence period, all dogs are problematic. However, with the Australian Shepherd, their puberty hits them when they are just 6 months old.

During this period, they are like any teenager, grumpy and don’t respond well to orders. But, with early training and socialization, these “teenage” meltdowns can be reduced and significantly milder.

  • Natural born protectors!

Even during his puppy days, your Australian Shepherd will have an enhanced protective urge and the fact that they are still small pups, will not stop them from protecting their family.

Well, at least it won’t from trying.

  • They are sensitive to sudden and loud sounds

The Australian Shepherd’s “built-in” alertness makes them sensitive to sudden and loud sounds such as thunder or fireworks.

They will display this behavior from their pup days and it will stick with them as long as they live. However, this sound sensitivity makes them excellent watchdogs.

They are like radars, nothing can get past them undetected.

Understanding the Pros & Cons of Getting a Second Dog

Physical Traits of the Australian Shepherd

Two Australian Shepherd's sitting together
The Australian Shepherds are loyal to their family.

This is the part of the guide where we talk about the physical traits of the Australian Shepherd.

Here, you will see what to expect when it comes to the size and weight, as well as how long can you expect your faithful companion to be a part of your family.

How big is a full-grown Australian Shepherd?

The Australian Shepherd is not the biggest of breeds, yet, it’s not as small as a Russell Terrier for example.

You are looking at a medium size, breed, and their height goes from 18 inches at the shoulders, up to 23 inches.

When it comes to weight, they can go from 40 to 65 pounds, so, not a chubby breed but more of an athletic one.

Of course, all of this implies under the assumption the dog is properly fed and developed.

What is the life expectancy of the Australian Shepherd?

When it comes to life expectancy, the Australian Shepherd can reach the old dog age. In human years, that means that your faithful companion will be with you from 12 to 15 years.

But, if your Aussie has a proper diet and regular exercise, that lifespan can go a few years over the expected range.

Intelligence, Temperament and Personality Traits of the Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd is an extremely intelligent dog specimen.

However, the breed’s livestock pushiness is inbuilt into the DNA. And, that domination can make your dog think that he is the Alfa of your household.

Of course, if you start training him early, and let him know that you are the boss and the leader of the pack, he will accept that and happily follow your lead anywhere you go.

Once they know their place, the Australian Shepherds become loyal to their family and will do everything in their power to please and protect the “pack”.

But, that protection urge can become too strong, meaning, your dog can get barky and aggressive with anything that moves or makes a sound and isn’t your family.

So, early socialization is a MUST! You need to expose your Aussie pup to many different sounds, experiences, animals, and people. This will help your puppy develop into a well behaved “citizen”.

Our suggestion would be puppy kindergarten classes, having your friends come around often, and taking your puppy to places where there’s plenty of people and animals.

But, before you do that, we recommend taking light walks through the neighborhood so that the puppy can gradually get used to other people and dogs.

When it comes to kids, again, these dogs are Shepherds. This means that they can see children as a herd they have to herd.

This means that your Australian Shepherd will chase and nip the kids if you don’t react and let him know that this is not a bad thing.

Once he realizes that, there will be hours of play and both the kids and the dog will be ready for bed after play time.

But, for the dog to behave well, you also have to “train” your kids. You need to let them know that tail and ear pulling is a NO NO, as well as they shouldn’t bother him while he is sleeping or eating.

No matter how well the Aussie is trained, such interactions will not be tolerated from his side.

When it comes to other pets, the Australian Shepherds will get along fine with them. The only problem might be the herding drive, and with cats, that won’t go well.

Just as with kids, teach your dog that the cat or other pets you might have, are not a herd, but a part of the family and he will leave them alone.

As for house chores, the Australian Shepherds love being occupied and they will gladly help you around with things such as taking the dirty laundry to the basket, or pulling the garden cart or bringing you newspapers.

After the chores are all done, your Aussie will be ready for playtime or a jog around the block.

All in all, the Australian Shepherd’s high level of intelligence allows him to be a great pet, especially if you train him well. And, he will be both a great nanny for the kids and a home protector.

The Australian Shepherd Diet

All dogs are different and there isn’t a standard set for how much will each dog eat. But, here is what you need to make sure your Australian Shepherd gets:

  • Protein
  • Healthy Fat
  • DHA
  • Calcium/Phosphorus
  • Grains
  • Carbs

When it comes to what you should avoid, here is what your dog doesn’t need in his diet:

  • Preservatives and artificial flavors
  • Excessive nutrients/protein

As for how to feed your dog, it would be better if you divide the daily portion into 2 meals. This is better than free feeding because the dog will not overeat, and won’t become picky about the food.

How much Exercise does the Australian Shepherd need?

The Australian Shepherds need around one hour of running or playing games that exercise both their mind and body.

On the other hand, while they are still pups, you should avoid long exercises.

Also, until they are one year old, they shouldn’t run and jump on hard surfaces because their still-developing bodies can get stressed and this can result in joint issues as they mature.

Australian Shepherd Health and Conditions

Just like us, humans can inherit diseases through DNA, the Australian Shepherds can inherit some of the diseases their parents had.

In general, this breed is known as a healthy one. However, certain diseases occur and that can be heritable.

When talking with the breeder, if he doesn’t show you health clearings for both parents for the following health issues, find another breeder:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Eye diseases
  • Sensitivity to certain drugs
  • Epilepsy

Also, the breeder should provide proof of puppy’s vaccination as well as a documented medical history of both the pup and the parents.

My final thoughts on the Australian ShepherdAn Australian Shepherd looking at you

With the health and conditions section, you have reached the end of our guide on Australian Shepherds.

By now, you have certainly realized that this is an intelligent and focused breed and that with proper training and early socialization, you will gain a friend that will not only love you and your family but also help you with everyday chores, as well as give its life to protect the family.

However, you have to be prepared to endure his energy levels and satisfy mental thirst.

This means plenty of doggie sports such as herding trials, agility, tracking, obedience, as well as helping you with the chores around the household after exercising.

Yes, you will invest plenty of effort and spend a lot of time keeping the Australian Shepherd occupied.

However, if you and your family live an active lifestyle and have the time and energy to provide fair and constant training, and if your Aussie feels loved, he will turn out to be a perfect choice.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3