Can Australian Shepherds be Working Dogs?

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a blue Merle Australian Shepherd with one blue ye and one brown eye looking straight on at the camera
Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM author of Can Australian Shepherds Be Working Dogs
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Australian Shepherds are very popular dogs among farmers or ranch owners. Many of these people need a working dog to help with their farm animals. Many people may wonder if an Australian Shepherd can be a good working dog.  

Australian Shepherds would make a great working dog for your farm or ranch. They can also be great service animals. This article will explain about Australian Shepherds and how they would be a great choice for a working dog.


What is a working dog? 

A working dog can do many different tasks. They are commonly used as a service animal or can work in a more laborious field like farming and herding. Working dogs are usually well- trained, obedient, and always in control while they are on the clock.

Many people have working dogs for a specific task, as any type of working animal should be trained to do their task. If we are talking about service animals, they will be trained and certified by the ADA to assist people. If we are talking about on a farm, these dogs are trained by their owners to herd animals.  


Can Australian Shepherds be working dogs

There are many wonderful aspects of the Australian Shepherd that would make them be a great choice for a working dog. These are some of the wonderful qualities of Australian Shepherds:

  • Bred for hard work and herding. When the Australian Shepherd breed was first developed in the 19th century, they were bred for farm and ranch work. Today, many of these dogs are still used to herd animals or help out on the farm.  
  • Highly intelligent. These dogs are very intelligent and can quickly learn new tasks. According to the AKC, these dogs need a job to do to stay busy, or they get bored, which can lead to them being destructive. If you are not planning on using your Australian Shepherd as a working dog, you will have to give them plenty of exercises to keep them entertained and not destroying things in your house.
  • They were bred with the urge to herd. These dogs are naturally bred with a nearly irresistible urge to herd and guide. This makes these genuinely excellent seeing-eye dogs. Many of these dogs will start herding other pets, people, or farm animals as soon as they are big enough to walk. Many of these dogs do not need any training to learn how to herd as they are naturally born with herding tendencies.

These qualities are what many people are looking for in any working dog. When trying to find a working dog for your needs, these qualities need to be considered, and you will find a perfect dog to fit your working situation. There is no one breed that will be best for everyone. You must consider what work you need to be done and if your new dog can handle this task.

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Other Qualities of Australian Shepherds to consider

A blue Merle Australian shepherd running in a field while the sun is out

While there are many great qualities that make an Australian Shepherd a great herding dog, there are other qualities and features of this breed of dog that you need to consider. These qualities are:

  • Short tails, many of these dogs have their tails docked shortly after birth, especially if they were going to do farm work. This helped protect the dogs and keep them safe around large animals. Cows and horses are known to bite at dogs tails that could injury your Australian Shepherd.
  • Come in two different colors, red or blue. According to breeders, red-colored dogs tend to be more aggressive and will usually make better herders. This is not ideal for a service dog where the blue colored dogs make for a great service dog.  
  • Some may be hard to train. Some of these dogs can be very stubborn and, at times, hard to train. Once an Australian Shepherd enters the adolescence stage around 18 months of age, they can be very stubborn. They will need constant training from puppy to adult to learn what they are to do fully. While they can be quick learners, you have to stay on top of their training to make sure that they are not doing what they want to instead of what you want them to do.
  • Find a specific breeder. Most of these dogs are bred specifically for work. You will need to look for a specific breeder that understands these dogs and breeds dogs for their working abilities. Many times, these breeders many not be near you, and you would need to travel to get your new puppy. These breeders will make sure that the best working dogs are being produced.
  • Take charge. Most of these dogs are an authoritarian dog by nature. They will take charge in many situations. While this can be very good when out on the farm working or leading a blind person around. Sometimes the take-charge mentality is not wanted.

When looking for a working dog, Australian Shepherds would make a great choice. There are many wonderful benefits of owning one of these dogs that you need to consider. When owning an Australian Shepherd, you will need to be prepared for a high energy dog that will need lots of play and exercise.  

These dogs can make great family dogs as well as be terrific working dogs for many years. By keeping these dogs active and working, they will stay out of trouble and be a much happier dog.


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Meet The Author 

Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM

Since she was a little girl, she knew that her dream was to become a veterinarian. With a tremendous passion and love for animals that makes her a great source of knowledge for others. She lives happily with her husband Greg and her babies Ruby the Schnoodle, and Bam-Bam the bunny.