Dog Breed Profile: Australian Shepherds - Lilly Brush
Lilly Brush

Dog Breed Profile: Australian Shepherds

All About Aussies

Given their name, it’s easy to assume Australian Shepherds originated in Australia. Instead, the breed’s origin is the western United States! Mysteriously enough, there are no clear answers as to why the breed is named after the Land Down Under. They were originally bred to herd livestock during the California Gold Rush of the 1840s, hence the name Shepherd, and were later accepted as faithful pets. 

Despite their more common lifestyle as household pets, Aussies (their common nickname) live their best life when they have a job to do. They need significant space for running and playing, while their highly energetic nature requires consistent time and attention from their owners. Although young Aussies require more attention, their need for it doesn’t diminish much as they grow older. 

Australian Shepherds are one of the most loyal and loving dog breeds, and are well worth the time and effort put into caring for them. However, if you’re thinking about adopting an Aussie, make sure you have more than enough time and energy to devote to this loving dog– otherwise, choose a different breed of a less energetic demeanor. Too many Aussies are adopted based on looks, and end up in shelters because their owners were unable to give them the proper care and attention they need.

From the Lilly Brush Community

To get an inside scoop from Aussie owners, we collected insight from some of our top Australian Shepherd Instagram accounts! These Aussie owners have years of experience, and while some of them don’t consider themselves “experts,” they have a wealth of knowledge about this loyal, devoted breed. Aussies are known as one of the most energetic yet loyal dog breeds of all, and these owners are here to tell you all about it.

Are Aussies well-behaved, or mischievous? 

skyeblu_aussie: Both ???? they’re extremely intelligent dogs and pick up on things very quickly, even bad behaviors so they think they can get away with anything. But with proper and consistent training, they can be extremely well behaved and loving pets!

storm_theausshepherd: I think their behavior depends on the amount of exercise and fulfillment they get each day. Storm is pretty laid back but some Aussie’s will get into trouble at home if their instinctual needs aren’t met each day. 

remremthetoyaussie: Aussies, like other dogs,  can be very mischievous if you do not give them structure everyday. They are super smart so they can think of things to get into if they are bored ???? 

apollothelilaussie: I think they’re a bit of both! They are very smart so can be trained to behave well but if they get bored they can get mischievous! 

bunnyandclydetheaussies: Easy to train- so – well behaved when they’re in training mode, but very mischievous and naughty ???? (depends on the individual dog and their personality. Both of my dogs are soooo different!) 

oakleyandsaige: I think this depends on the dogs personality / age. Our puppy was a nutcase out of the gate and we’ve had to put in a lot of time into training her! I’d say she’s naturally more mischievous which I think is more common for the breed. Our older boy, who is a rescue, has always been timid and shy and more on the well behaved side but has a lot of anxiety about the outside world which I think is because of his previous owner neglecting him. Once he’s accepted you into his circle he’s the biggest love bug. Aussies unfortunately end up in shelters a lot because people buy off looks and are surprised by the energy level ☹️ 

What should someone know before adopting an Australian shepherd?

skyeblu_aussie: Be prepared for A LOT of energy!! Make sure you have ample time to give them the attention and exercise they need.

storm_theausshepherd: definitely research the breed! They are  typically high energy and if you aren’t going to be compatible with the breed, you will most likely develop some issues.  They’re also “velcro dogs” and love to follow you around everywhere. They will be a loyal member of the family. 

remremthetoyaussie:  They NEED to run! Not just walk everyday.  They need a ton of exercise.  We walk ours about 2-3 miles a day but we play fetch an hour plus a day! They need it all, they have a ton of energy! 

apollothelilaussie: Know they are high energy dogs that require a lot of exercise and stimulation. Their coats also can require a lot of brushing, especially in shedding seasons. 

bunnyandclydetheaussies:  THEY TAKE A LOT OF WORK AND TRAINING! Also- socialize, socialize, socialize. They are very loyal to their family and owners, but can often be very protective. They also can show signs of resource guarding too. Also, Aussies tend to be shadow dogs and don’t do well being left home alone for hours on end. They need not only exercise, but lots of mental stimulation. They love to work! Also, they shed like crazy!!!!!! So be prepared to brush and vacuum all the time. Also- Aussies tend to get potty cling ons – so doggy potty wipes are a must!

oakleyandsaige: They need a lot of exercise, training and love. Mental stimulation a must! They are “Velcro” dogs and will pick their people. They are very loyal but can be weary of strangers in certain situations. They can also be protective over their home. Lots of barking to alert.

What can Aussie owners do to be the best dog parent possible? 

Skyeblu_aussie: Consistently is key. Aussies like to be worked or given a task – so the more one on one training time with them the better! Other than that, adventure with them, care for them, and give them all the love in the world!☺️

storm_theausshepherd: Again, I can’t stress enough how important it is to research ANY breed before getting a dog. It’s to important to make sure you’re compatible. This will make you the best dog parent. If you love to be adventurous and get exercise, your Aussie will be right by your side having a great time with you! 

remremthetoyaussie: Learn what your dog needs. Listen to their needs. Aussies especially need exposure to ALL situations. Anything new they are super nervous, but also can be super guarded of their person. If they are doing undesirable behaviors it is prob because they need to run and play to get that herding energy out. 

apollothelilaussie: Aussies owners can make sure to give their dog lots of stimulation, good training and tons of love to be the best dog parent! 

bunnyandclydetheaussies: Find what makes their pups happiest. Teach their pups new tricks, give them a new challenge like having them jump up on things or make an agility course, give them puzzles or snuffle mats. Make them work for their food! They are sooo happy when they feel they earned their meals. Most importantly give them all the love and cuddles because they’re super needy and affectionate dogs. They love human attention.

oakleyandsaige: Exercise and mental stimulation! If they are bored they become destructive and their worst selves ????. Also, when out and about, learn their body language and know when they feel uncomfortable. Aussies tend to be on the sensitive side so you never want to negatively impact their emotions and cause a fear based aggression. Positive reinforcement training is a wonderful tool!

What makes Aussies unique from other dogs? 

skyeblu_aussie: Their coating, stamina, loyalty and intellect!

storm_theausshepherd: They are a very intelligent breed, love to work and herd which is very fun to watch!

remremthetoyaussie: Aussies are true “Velcro” dogs they have their human. They can be very protective of that person. But they LOVE that person with every ounce of their being.  They are amazing dogs to have. 

apollothelilaussie: Aussies are unique because they are a herding dog so can be suitable to be put to work. They can also be great family pets with the proper exercise! Aussies also come in many unique colours. Some Aussies have docked tails and some breeders now leave their tails undocked.

bunnyandclydetheaussies: They are seriously the most loyal dogs. They are so in tune to emotions and feelings. They know love to be companion dogs so bring them everywhere with you if you can! They are also so stinking cute! 

oakleyandsaige: They are like people to me ???? they have so much going on in their brains and they are constantly thinking and processing information. They are incredible companions and will make you feel like the most special person in the world. Oh and the fluff is amazing. 

Is there anything else you think people should know about Australian shepherds? 

skyeblu_aussie: I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – SO. MUCH. ENERGY!

storm_theausshepherd: They are a very loyal and loving breed. They call them the velcro or shadow breed because they will follow you around everywhere. Very smart easy to train. There are great Aussie Rescues out there with awesome pups for adoption. If you get from a breeder, do your research and make sure they are a reputable and humane breeder ☺️

remremthetoyaussie: Aussies are just amazing and silly dogs, they make everyday interesting and different in a good way❤️

bunnyandclydetheaussies: if you can’t invest 14-16+ years of hard work, training, and dedication then an Aussie is not for you. My almost 11 year old Aussie still acts like she’s 5. The training never ends. The challenging them never ends. But they are so worth the hard work!

oakleyandsaige: Don’t get an Aussie because they are pretty dogs. They eat up a lot of free time and do take work. Lots of training and socializing is a must.   Ideally from a young age. They need to be brushed often too. Also get a Lilly brush! Their hair will get everywhere once their undercoat comes in ????

Read our previous Dog Breed Profile: Huskies!