Topeka, Kansas, United States
Posted February 15, 2009
I absolutely adore this breed. I find it very upsetting that so many people feel the need to manipulate (mainly, make smaller) a--in my opinion--perfect breed. Of course, keep in mind that there is a perfect breed for everyone. Australian Shepherds are certainly not for everyone.
I have had 3 in my 34 years of life :) They have all been excellent dogs. They are all extremely energetic, always going, going, going. Since we've always had country homes with plenty of space to run and romp, it has never been a problem for us. I believe Australian Shepherds can survive (even thrive) in town or suburban enviornments, if given enough exercise and mental stimulation, and a job to do. Living in a city might be pushing it, but it can possibly be done--with someone who knows the breed well enough to provide.
Aussies are extremely smart. They learn their tricks quickly, and are very often willing to please, but they can have a stubborn streak. They are silly, comical dogs that always cheer me up with the things they do. Of course, these things are things like opening closed doors, opening a complicated rabbit cage (the cage was moved and the rabbit unharmed), and things like that. Most people would find them very unattractive--but I love to be kept on my toes!
Australian Shepherds, in my experience, can be friendly with people, but wary of other dogs (especially if under-socialized). They might be too much for younger children--they are extremely friendly, and I have had children cry when a puppy (3 months old) started wiggling, and jumping, and licking. They need to be kept away from younger children, not because of aggression, but because of that friendliness, when paired with their size as adults can be overwhelming, unless the dog is very calm around the kids. Around adults, they are perfect, but need to be trained not to jump up. Also remember that they are herding dogs, and nipping at heels especially is a very common breed trait, it can be managed but don't get a herding dog if you don't want a herding dog.
As for downsides to the breed, I really only see shedding. Of course, any of the things I see as positives (energy, intellegence, friendliness, etc) could easily be downsides for someone who wants a quiet, well-behaved dog. They are very gorgeous dogs--they need to be regularly brushed--but there is more to them than just a pretty face, so to speak.
I have had three Aussies in my lifetime--a black tri named Jake, whom I got when I was 14 years old, now deceased. I have also had a blue merle named Midge, who is 13 and living on my parent's farm, and I currently have a blue merle named Blitzen who is 3. I have loved every dog I have had of the breed, and hope to have Aussies for the rest of my life.