Australian Shepherd temperament has been bred for generations to create the perfect working dog. Lively and smart, these popular ranch dogs are also loyal and affectionate. Herding is the Australian Shepherd’s favorite activity and they need active, engaged, human companions to channel their instincts, drive, and energy. Australian Shepherds’ personalities can be a good match for older kids, in families that enjoy training and interacting with, their dogs.
- Australian Shepherd temperament traits
- Are Australian Shepherds good with kids?
- Are they as smart as they seem?
- Protectiveness and aggression
Today I’ll share top tips for managing the Aussie Shepherd’s behavioral traits, and to see what sort of lifestyles are the best fit for this very clever pup. It’s easy to fall in love with the Aussie dog’s looks. But it’s important to understand the Australian Shepherd personality you will be bringing into your home. This dog is no couch potato!
Australian Shepherd Temperament Traits
Australian Shepherds are a herding breed. That means that they have been bred for certain personality traits that are useful in a working dog. And those Australian Shepherd personality traits are still carried in most Aussies today, even though your puppy’s ancestors may have been pets for several generations.
There are three key aspects to your Australian Shepherd temperament that are specifically affected by their origins.
- Drive / energy
Dogs that are bred to work with humans are usually highly co-operative and this characteristic is seen in both our herding and our sporting dog breeds. This ability is vital in a dog that is often obeying commands at great distances from their handler. Intelligence is of course important in any dog that has to learn and work with people.
Like other herding breeds, Australian Shepherd have a lot of energy and a lot of ‘drive’. And that acts like an energy pump, increasing the dog’s inclination to be active busy, and generally race around a lot! That can have an impact on your family.
The Australian Shepherd is a highly intelligent breed. These dogs are good at problem solving and quick to learn. Their origins as a working breed mean that many generations of dogs have been selected for theses abilities. But pet Aussies are smart too.
Being smart is not just about inherited intelligence. It’s also about confidence, and the willingness to have a go at solving new problems. And can enhance this by training your Aussie puppy from an early age.
Are They Easy To Train?
Australian Shepherds were first used for herding. In many places, they still do this! Working dogs need to respond well to training and commands. This breed forms strong bonds with their owners. They are also very eager to please. So, they can take really well to training!
In 2018 Wilson studied the behavior of over 82 breeds. He used results of the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ). He suggests Australian Shepherds are very open to training. This is a great study if you want to compare the Australian Shepherd to the other breeds studied. But, were these findings supported by others?
A study by Eken Asp used over 3,500 questionnaire results. They compare the temperaments of working and non-working dogs. Their findings suggest working breeds are easier to train than non-working dogs. In fact they suggest working breeds were actually around 10% more open to training than non-working breeds.
Active training is a great way to burn energy while also getting a well behaved dog! Train your Australian Shepherd from a young age for best results. But keep putting time and effort into training, even as your dog grows. This is just as important as an ability to learn when training a dog!
Are Australian Shepherds Friendly?
If you have a big family, or want a dog to take everywhere, you’ll need one that is friendly. If well socialized your puppy could end up doing well in this respect, but they are always likely to be more interested in their families than random strangers. One major fear with nerves around strangers is aggression. Especially when your dog is territorial, like the Australian Shepherd often is.
Are Australian Shepherds Aggressive?
Dogs who aren’t socialized can be aggressive in new situations. But the reaction to bark or even bite when afraid isn’t just something that comes from being kept away from new experiences. Aussies are slightly naturally nervous of novel experiences, and people they haven’t met before.
What is great though, is that they don’t tend to be aggressive towards people they know and trust. They have lower than average incidences of biting or growling at their owners, due to their intense levels of loyalty. But this does come with a few downsides, like protective traits and territorial habits.
Reactions to Other Dogs
Australian Shepherd dogs have higher stranger aggression, dog aggression and dog rivalry. That means they are more than averagely likely to pick fights with dogs they don’t know, as well as those in their own household.
The Australian Shepherd And Kids
Is an Australian Shepherd with kids, a good mix? Well the answer is, it depends partly on the age of the kids, partly on whether you are adopting an older dog and how well socialized that dog is. Or on whether you are bringing home a puppy.
A high energy dog can be a great companion for older children but may be a bit much if you have a toddler. Especially if the dog is under a year old. Young dogs tend to be clumsy and careless and fast. This means inevitable collisions and falls. Raising a puppy and a baby together is something that many people find appealing. And further down the road it can work well, but be warned that the first couple of years can be very hard as both puppies and babies need a lot of attention.
Herding instincts can involve nipping at ankles and if often misplaced to young children too.