Australian Shepherds are wonderful dogs. However, through the craziness of raising my Aussie for 5 years now, I’ve learned that these dogs aren’t what most people think.
I mean, there’s a reason why they’re infamously called, “Auss-holes.” Or why popular memes like this “raptor stage” meme exist. And don’t worry, we’ll get to that meme later.
From the silly antics of the breed, to their personality changes, and unique necessities – here are all the things I wish I knew before getting an Australian Shepherd.
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1. Australian Shepherds are weird dogs with a lot of quirks.
Aussies are calm, predictable, and ordinary…said no Australian Shepherd owner, ever. In fact, these are all the traits that describe the opposite of an Australian Shepherd. They’re all a little bit weird in their own right, with quirky behaviors.
Some Aussies may “talk” and have specific barks for different situations. Others will be overdramatic for the sake of gaining their owner’s attention. Then there’s those that must have a special little ritual before eating a good treat (like mine).
However, the weirdest one I’ve seen is when Australian Shepherds blow bubbles in their water bowls, the toilet, or wherever they can. Believe it or not, this happens with way more Aussies than you’d think.
The point is, all Australian Shepherds will be a little bit weird, quirky and silly. Each Aussie will have their own individual quirks that’s unique to them – but that’s part of the reason why we love them so much.
So if you’re looking for a “normal” dog that’ll just do normal “dog things,” then the Aussie probably isn’t for you. However, this next one is a quirk that nearly all Australian Shepherds share, and the reason behind it is actually heartwarming.
2. The Aussie’s “wiggle butts” and body curls mean something heartwarming.
When my Corgi greets me, she’ll paw at me, give me licks or kisses, do a zoomie around the table, and maybe go for a quick spin or two – like a normal dog. But that’s not the case with my Aussie.
Whenever my Australian Shepherd gets excited to see me, he’ll curl his body and point his butt towards me…all while wiggling his butt like a “wiggle worm.”
I’lld admit, I thought this was unique to Olympus. But after talking to other owners and reading forums, we soon found out that wasn’t the case. In fact, this is an Aussie’s way of showing affection, excitement and submission…all rolled into one weird quirk.
The best part is that nearly all Australian Shepherds do this, and we have no idea why! It’s like their way of saying, “I’m very excited about what’s going on here, but also, here’s my butt.”
3. Australian Shepherds need a crazy amount of physical exercise.
Australian Shepherds are highly active and energetic. In fact, they’ll punish you if you don’t give them plenty of physical exercise on a daily basis. I was moderately active before I got an Aussie, but now I’m practically a marathon runner.
If you didn’t already know, Australian Shepherds were bred for herding. In other words, they would run around for long durations at a time chasing livestock. So when you put them in a domesticated setting – like your home – they need to expend that energy somewhere or on something.
Of course all Aussies are different, but most need at least 1 to 2 hours of physical activities to remain healthy and happy. This can be a game of catch, long hikes, multiple walks, doggy play dates, and even a good swim every now and then.
But what happens if you don’t do this? Well, like I said, they need to get rid of all that pent-up energy. They’ll probably show some destructive behaviors and tear up that new pair of shoes that you love so much.
That said, lazy people should stay far, far away from Aussies. However, here’s something that may be better than just regular exercise.
4. Your Australian Shepherd may need a “job.”
On farms, the job of an Australian Shepherd is to herd sheep. But the problem is that most Aussies don’t get this opportunity, which can really stress some dogs out. The solution? Give them a job. And by job, i’m not saying make them your tax accountant.
In actuality, this can be a specific daily task, such as getting through a round of obedience training, practicing agility courses, or even frisbee trick training. Or it can be something as weird as holding a stick in his mouth for the duration of his walks.
You see, Aussies are people-pleasing dogs. They really do seek approval from their owners. So by giving them a job and praising them for doing a good job, it’ll really go a long way in maintaining their mental health and overall happiness.
Many times, your Aussie will naturally create this job for themselves. For example, one owner on Reddit says:
“My Aussie picks up things I drop, by accident or on purpose. When he was a puppy, he naturally made it his job to pick things up and hand them back to me, so I reinforced it.”– fatchamy (reddit)
As for my Australian Shepherd? His “job” is essentially to go for practice ball-catching practice everyday. And on days where I forget, you can bet he’ll have the ball in his mouth, tugging at me to get out there and let him do his job.
5. Australian Shepherds are too smart for their own good.
Have you ever asked yourself the question, “are Australian Shepherds smart? Well, the answer is yes. In fact, owning an Aussie is like having a four-legged genius as your best friend. However, having a smart dog isn’t always a good thing.
They’re so brainy that sometimes, it feels like they’re outwitting you. You give them a command…and they’ll give you the, “where’s the treat” look. Planning a clever way to sneak out for a walk without your dog noticing? Good luck! They’ve already got their leash in their mouth, waiting at the door.
Because of high intelligence, they can sometimes come off as stubborn, when in reality, it’s just independent thinking. In fact, one owner says, “My Aussies are smart enough that I watch them actively decide whether or not they want to listen to me.”
However, that’s not all. Smart dogs need much more than just physical exercise – they need mental stimulation too. Without it, they might just redecorate your house in a style I like to call ‘Post-modern Chewed Shoe’.
Dog puzzle toys, obedience training, and interactive games will be essential to keeping your clever Aussie out of mischief.
6. Your Australian Shepherd may go through the “raptor stage.”
Now, back to this raptor Australian Shepherd meme. The reason why us owners find this both hilarious and traumatizing is because there’s truth to it.
When you first get your Aussie puppy, they’re energetic and playful like with any other puppy. But shortly after, they enter what we call the “raptor stage,” where they morph into the closest thing to having a wild beast in the home.
In this phase, they’ll chew everything they can get their paws on, they’ll run circles around the house, and they’ll even start ignoring your commands.Think of it as their rebellious teenager stage. Keep in mind, this is completely normal and most Aussies go through this phase.
But, there is light at the end of the tunnel. When they exit the raptor stage, it’s like their personality has completely changed. For example, a raptor-Aussie that never liked to cuddle may suddenly start enjoying it. Or, they may become much sweeter dogs, and more responsive to your commands.
The reality is, there’s no exact start and end time for this stage. Just know that it’ll end some day.
7. Your Aussie is going to be a “velcro dog.”
Have you ever had a shadow that barks? Well, that’s an Aussie for you! They’re called ‘Velcro dogs‘ because they stick to you closer than a postage stamp. Leave the room for a second, and whoosh, there’s your Aussie, tail wagging as if you’ve been gone for years!
Because they were bred to work closely with humans, they’re hardwired to be your constant companion – even if it means checking up on you every 5 minutes. But remember, with great stickiness comes great responsibility.
Their need for attention means you’ll rarely have a moment alone. Bathroom breaks? Forget privacy. Just make sure to step carefully – you don’t want to trip over your four-legged sidekick!
8. Herding Aussies may nip at your ankles and herd small kids.
Think your kids can run wild? Just wait until you see an Australian Shepherd in action! These dogs are born herders, and they take their job seriously. Ever felt a little nip at your heels? It’s their way of saying, “Hey, get in line!”
So don’t be surprised if they try rounding up your kids in the backyard like a fluffy sheepdog with a babysitting gig. Aussies use gentle nips, not to hurt, but to direct – in fact, it’s their way of keeping their ‘flock’ safe and in check.
And while this behavior is primarily seen in young puppies, it’s important you train this out of them early on. If they’re still nipping as an adult, or in the raptor stage, things could get ugly real quick.
But because you’re essentially trying to suppress the instincts of these dogs, it could lead to this next problem.
9. Australian Shepherds tend to have more anxiety than other dogs.
Australian Shepherds are a breed that tends to have more anxiety, mostly because they were bred for herding. As herding specialists, Aussies are very attentive to their environment and sensitive to their owners.
The thing is – these dogs see their family members as their “herd” in a family setting. So when you put them in a situation where they don’t have control over their herd, they can become very anxious.
Aggression, destruction, restlessness, and compulsion can all be signs of anxiety in an Aussie. But don’t worry – there are ways to help with the anxiety. Keep them stimulated with mental exercises and fun activities.
Both mental and physical stimulation may be the best way to keep your Aussie calm and collected. However, while anxiety is primarily due to their environments, this next common issue is mostly due to genetics.
10. There may be some health issues with your Aussie.
When it comes to Australian Shepherds, their eyes aren’t just mesmerizing – they’re also a window to their health. One common issue in Aussies is the “Collie Eye Anomaly.” Imagine your Aussie’s eye like a camera that’s got a bit of a glitch.
It might not always affect their vision, but it’s like having a smudge on your favorite pair of sunglasses – definitely something you want to keep an eye on! Then there’s cataracts, turning their clear lens into a frosty winter window.
And unfortunately, these are all relatively common health issues in Aussies. This means that regular vet check-ups are crucial. Keeping an eye on your Aussie’s eyes will ensure they keep gazing lovingly at you for years to come. And let’s face it, who can resist those Aussie eyes?
11. The Aussie’s shedding will get crazy.
And finally, the shedding of Aussies can get out of control. It’s like living in a furry snowstorm! These pups could practically knit you a new sweater with the amount of fur they lose. They’ve got a double coat, which means double the fluff, and double the fun of vacuuming!
Shedding season for Aussies is like a fur festival. Spring and fall are the main events, where they shed their old coats to make room for the new. During this time, you’ll find more hair on your furniture than on your dog.
But keep in mind, you’ll NEED to brush their coat daily. Without proper grooming, ticks and parasites can easily hide in their thick coats, especially since Aussies are always outside.
So with all these issues, is the Australian Shepherd still worth the trouble? Absolutely. As long as you have the patience and commitment, they’re going to be wonderful companions for any owner.
So what did I miss about the Australian Shepherd? Let us know in the comments section below!
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