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Old 05-19-2011, 07:40 PM
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sillysally sillysally is offline
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Default Australian Shepherds??!!

So I have recently become interested in aussies. They are a breed that I never really thought about before, so I was hoping to hear from chazzers that own them, have owned them, have experiences with them, etc.
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Old 05-19-2011, 07:47 PM
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*most* of the aussies that I've known have been DA, or at least dog reactive. Mini aussies included.
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:05 PM
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I Luff them!
I will never be without.

Abe is my 3rd and we walk regularly with at least 4-5 others. None of them are dog reactive. We have met hundreds through our club and i think they are a fantastic breed.

They need a fair amount of exercise. Abe is up there in terms of drive an energy for an Aussie so he may not be the best to go on. My others were slightly lower key.
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:08 PM
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I'm not even going to touch on mini-Aussies since I'm in the camp of they are a totally separate breed, they're not Aussies, they shouldn't be categorized as such and apparently that's an unpopular opinion 'round these parts.

Aussies can be reactive, though a lot of it stems from "OMG movement! Make it stop! *barkbarkbark*". It's not all pre-aggression reactivity, though those dogs do exist. Some can be pretty snarky and have their breed biases. Sawyer really cannot stand yellow labs, but adores huskies, mostly. Typically, they are decent dog park candidates.

They should be reserved with strangers, to the point that show a distinct lack of interest in anyone new and they will get really uncomfortable if someone goes and forces the issue. Some are downright HA, though that's not as common as it used to be. Mostly, they should have a good amount of watchfulness with a dash of guardian. There are plenty of Aussies these days that are essentially Golden Retrievers in multi-colored coats, so if that's what you want, you can find it. It's just not to standard and IMO shouldn't be encouraged.

They bark. A lot. You can train for an "enough" command and you can train to not bark at every freaking little thing, but you will never train an Aussie to not bark at all times. They're control barkers and when they get excited, they're going to start yelling, at least for a few seconds.

They shed, though not quite as badly as people think for the length of coat. If you get a dog from lines that still contains some good working lines, you should be getting a good moderate wash n' wear coat. Other lines, especially show and ESPECIALLY AKC, have loaded up the coat to stupid amounts and it seems to have gone really cottony soft at the same time, so they're going to require a lot more upkeep. I can get away with brushing Sawyer about once a week and have stretched his baths to about every six months, but the undercoat is definitely a lot more manageable when I bathe him every month. Expect a big blow twice a year. Buy stock in lint rollers.

They are high energy and hellions from the 7th circle as puppies. They will find ways to get into anything possible and can be extremely creative in those endeavors. Because they were bred to be with their people pretty much 24/7 on the ranches, separation anxiety is quite common. It can be dealt with, but just be prepared. They will follow you EVERYWHERE if given the chance. I know most people claim their breed is "the velcro breed", but it's extremely true with Aussies. Sawyer will be dead asleep and will wake up to follow me to the bathroom, and into it if I let him. Otherwise, he'll lay outside the door and wait for me. He's never more than 5 feet away from me if he can help it.

They can be trained for almost anything; one of the top SAR dogs in the country right now is an Aussie. Obviously they're great at herding; they also excel at agility, hiking, obedience, rally, etc.

That's all off the top of my head...
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:20 PM
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Assuming a normal, well bred, non-AKC Aussie:

They are surprisingly good watchdogs, too, and can be fearless without being stupid.

Everything Zoom said.

They are intelligent enough to have a good off switch, too.
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:58 PM
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They are awesome dogs and I adore them, but certainly not for everyone! They are high energy, very intelligent, and sweet dogs. I have never met a Human aggressive Aussie, personally.

The ones I have met have been stellar with people; the more socilization with people, the better. They can be snarky with other dogs, like any breed.

They are also very sensitive dogs, so keep that in mind too. They also have a lot of heart and are very willing to please their owners but they also need a job.

Sure you can find a low-key Aussie, but physically and mentally they still need the stimulation and some kind of job whether it be herding, flyball, agility, dock-diving, etc to be happy. Even the "Mini" Aussies I have met have been wild.
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Old 05-19-2011, 09:01 PM
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They should have a good off-switch and know how to settle, even without constant exercise, though the length of time is going to vary between dogs. For example, Sawyer is sitting at my feet being quiet, but he's got that look to him that lets me know that if I would just quit being a pansy about the pouring rain and intermittent hail and take him to the park, that would be much appreciated, thank you very much. He went on a good long hike Monday and then it's been pouring every day since.
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Old 05-19-2011, 09:10 PM
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I haven't owned an Aussie but fostered one and have been around many (many!) over the years. Their good and bad traits are both pretty similar to many other herding dogs. On the plus side they are very smart, super trainable, driven, athletic, very devoted and they tend to want to stick close to their people. On the negative, they can be reactive, shy, sharp, overly territorial, sight/sound sensitive and obsessive. There is a huge split between working and show lines in both temperament and looks. The show line dogs tend to have blocky heads, tons of bone, tons of hair and lots of white markings. I had a show line black tri Aussie in a class at the training club and the member who was assisting me thought it was a Berner who had it's tail docked for weeks. Aussies and Berners probably shouldn't be able to be mistaken Plenty show line Aussies do well in performance. They do tend to be lower drive and much more laid back, although I have met some that were super hyper, not high drive but hyper. The average show Aussie would probably be an easier pet for the average person. The working line Aussies are more BC-ish in appearance (working BC not show BC, show BCs kinda look like show Aussies LOL). They are higher energy and higher drive but overall always strike me as very "reasonable" dogs.

My foster Flash was from a known show breeder who wasn't interested in taking her back. She was a really nice dog, very smart, great with other dogs, good with cats but killed one of my ferrets when he accidentally escaped She was very loyal to her people, "squishy" submissive but wiggley happy and quickly learned to play with toys. Her biggest issue is she was sometimes fearful of some strange men. And she was definitely barky. One of her previous owners, a guy admittedly beat her multiple times for chasing sheep. The person I got her from was threatening to shoot her because she was "stupid". She felt Flash was stupid" because she wouldn't make friends with the hubby. Flash was extremely well mannered with very little real training. She would not run away, even when given plenty of chance to. She originally belonged to an elderly woman with Alzheimer's and did relatively well in her house, although she did go to daycare every day. She had a really rough life all in all but she was a great dog and the people I adopted her to adored her.

There is a breeder in my area who seems to have a real issue with dog aggression in her line but otherwise, I don't notice any more dog aggressive or dog reactive Aussies than I do other herding breeds (well except for Collies ). From the dogs I have been around, shyness seems to be the most widespread temperament issue I have seen. Like with most herder, early socialization and training is pretty important. IME most Aussies are more of watch dogs than guard dogs but I have known some who got into trouble being overly guardy too.

FWIW I've liked most Mini Aussies I have met that actually looked like Aussies. They really were like small versions of an Aussie.
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Old 05-19-2011, 09:12 PM
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Someone with a very HA one trained with us at PP training for a while last summer. He a great dog! He was so much happier with a good outlet for his natural drive.

Yes, the pups can be insane. My aunt's current dog is an Aussie/BC ranch dog mix and she was literally like the tasmanian devil cartoon as a puppy. She's a super mellow awesome adult though, she works in the fields and pastures with my uncle and comes home to sleep on the floor by the recliner.
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Old 05-19-2011, 09:29 PM
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I've known so many different kinds of aussies. There is a lot of variation out there as far as energy and such goes. I knew one young aussie that was in summer's UKC agility classes that was a riot and a real handful. He had energy to burn and lacked the focus of some of the BCs. Plus he seemed to expel his energy via jumping up and down. He was a very overwhelming dog for me but he was young. I would really like to see him now, I think he'd be just grand. He had so much potential and a really awesome, caring owner. His owner was a novice dog owner and his dog was really putting him through his paces to get his dog what he needed.

That said a few of the calmest, most well behaved dogs I've ever met are aussies. They of course belong to owners that know their stuff. My neighbor has a smallish blue merle and he is the absolute epitome of just a good all around dog.

I have actually noticed in agility though that I see more issues in aussies with lack of drive versus too much drive and energy. My past classes in Texas had 4 Aussies (one in Summer's class, 3 in Mias) and the problem with all of them was lack of drive. They were just blah on course. No spunk at all, they'd just walk everything. I've seen that more and more in Aussies although I have known some that are killer in agility (and the breed really SHOULD be drivey and fast)

I would really like to have an aussie one day still although I do prefer BCs in general.
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