I've always LOVED the breed. I'm in a place where I can consider adopting a dog and this is one of the breeds that keeps popping up. I know they're high energy and have strong herding instincts.
How hard would it be to keep one around horses without going into full herding mode? Are they off leash friendly? Possible trail dog? I'm willing to put the work/training in of course.
How high energy? Would 1-2 walks a day (30-45 mins each) plus a fenced in backyard be okay? *Some* days I will be able to do more, have the dog at the barn, run, hike, train, etc, but it probably won't be 7 days a week, more like 5, occasionally 6.
It looks likes they're decently healthy except for eye issues and have a pretty good lifespan. Anything else?
How experienced a dog owner are you? They are smart dogs and learn quickly. I find them a little hard-headed sometimes so they are not my breed (collies are), but they are very trainable. If you are a hands-off dog owner they will make up their own rules and you will have hell to pay, but if you take the time to teach them the ground rules and be firm about them you should be fine.
As for being around horses and not being in full herding mode- it is up to you as the owner to teach a solid STOP and LEAVE IT. This is true for any dog for a million safety reasons so you should do it anyway. But herding instinct or no, YOU get to allow them to interact with stock. If you permit it, then they can turn on. If you do not permit it, they are required not to. If you think you are not up to the task, get help or get an easier dog.
My trainer has a Aussie, who she has at the farm most days and he is a great dog, but it is clear she has spent a tremendous amount of time training him.
She mostly has him on a leash because of the leash rule at the barn, but if it is quiet she will let him off leash near her tack room/cross-ties for a little bit.
Like scruffy said it is all about the training!
Aussies are smart, smart, SMART dogs. Our farm guy had one for 15 years - a lovely blue merle female he bought as a puppy. She was brilliant. I'm sure she could think 5 steps ahead of him any day of the week. I don't know if she ever felt a leash on her collar, but she didn't need one - she was stuck to him like velcro. I remember him crying - this big brawny man - when he told me she'd died in her sleep at the grand old age of 15. Never once was she ever sick.
I've seen so many Aussies at the obedience trials getting top honors and they do wonderfully at the agility trials - so that speaks for their biddability and trainability. I also know a few that do herding, too.
The number of walks you do, and your yard, sound perfect for the amount of exercise your dog would like. Aussies don't have the overwhelming herding instinct that border collies have. I don't think you will have any livestock issues as long as you train your Aussie (just like any other dog you'd have) to respect boundries when it comes to your horses.
One other COTHer just got an Aussie puppy. The picture was posted of the puppy and it was ADORABLE!
Mine was a great farm dog. She and my gelding would play and play - running back and forth - as long as there was the backyard fence between them. But, she was smart enough to not play when she was in the pasture - not one time. She was just a great dog around everyone and everything - she was genetically deaf with reduced vision, neither of which caused her any problems.
My brother's two are great on the farm, too, but they live in the city most of the time and go to the farm on weekends.
On ours and his, the being good on the farm just came naturally to them.
Oh, my good friends have Aussies for working on their cattle ranch - real herding dogs. Those are great dogs, too. Absolutely beautiful, great with horses and everything and they are good cattle working dogs.
My brothers are from the SE and I would go to that breeder first, though I don't think she has many litters. Her dogs are really nice, but they are a great breed.
eta My aussie was and my brothers are more show lines. My friends are working lines. They are both great on the farm - and I'm not sure that I see that much difference between the two in personality. Now, I will say that I know one family of mini aussies that I would avoid - but that's just those particular dogs. I've met other mini aussies that seemed very nice. Something added a lot of bark to them and bounciness.
Last edited by Coyoteco; Jan. 22, 2014 at 08:23 PM.
Let me add that like Border Collies and other working herding breeds, there tend to be working lines and conformation show lines. On average the working lines will have much more drive and energy, the conformation lines will be a bit more laid back.
Aussies? Best dogs ever. And mine always lived in the big cities until I retired.
best aussies......The Las Rocosa Aussies from Colorado. No hip displasia, no issues. No eye issues. I love the Hartnagles who breed the best and helped "start" the breed. (I even had one of "Hud's" daughters.) Buy the book, All About Aussies.
And yes, 1/2 aussies are just great also. I've known some of them who were just as smart as the purebreds.
They really sound like a great breed. I'm looking at a few from a rescue in my area. All super cute. Hopefully I get approved and can meet them!
I'm definitely a hands on dog trainer. I'd do a lot of obedience stuff and whatnot.
I've been around dogs my entire life but mostly lower energy ones.
I know it will take training and close supervision for a while to trust an aussie (or any dog) around horses. I don't have a ton of experience with herding dogs though so I didn't know how hard their herding instinct was to control. As long as the dog is trainable, it's all good!
I was going to say in other post that if you plan on rescueing, maybe see if you can foster first to be sure dog hasn't learned any naughty behaviors you can't live with. That is often why aussie are in rescue situations because original owner did not train/socialize dog and they taught themselves tricks/behaviors.
Depends on what your definition of "farm dog" is. Aussies are bred to be WORKING farm dogs, namely they do great if they spend all day working with their owner out on the farm. If your definition of "farm dog" is a dog that just hangs around the farm, not doing much, you probably won't be very happy with an aussie. Like most working dogs, aussies need far more than just exercise, they need work to do. And most herding dogs really don't take well to being stuck out alone in a yard to 'entertain" themselves- either they sit and do nothing waiting for you to come out and work them, or they do indeed find ways to entertain themselves, such as destroying things, chasing the livestock, barking nonstop, and other fun activities.
On the plus side they are very trainable, and easy to train to be reliable off-lead.
The breed is also very variable, far more than most breeds. You have wide variation in size, coat, temperament, energy levels, and drive, so select your line/breeder carefully. The "conformation" dogs don't really look or act like the "working" dogs.
Also re: health issues. A considerable percentage of aussies have epilepsy, and an alarming number seem to have temperament issues, with serious reactivity/fear issues. So again, be careful where you get the dog from.
Had two miniatures but no longer. A little over the top for me and that's saying something as I have Red Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) and while maybe more hardheaded, he is less OCD. Both were females and one was a very laid back little fattie who was happiest as a house dog but a little on the temperamental side; the other was the OCD barn buddy who loved to chase balls and roll in anything disgusting and the smellier, the better. Also could not take her horsebackriding with me as she would get too excited when we cantered, and would tag (nip) the horse. After she got me bucked off where I darn near broke my hip, her trail buddy days were over. Could never get her to stop rolling in disgusting things either: other animal's poo; deadthings; rotten eggs. She was bad. Whereas my Heeler happily trail rides everywhere and does not interfere with the horses. Research the temperaments of the parents/lines you will be getting a dog from a pet vs. working dog standpoint. They are very loyal but also very high energy.
Definitely not a dog for everyone... And not a dog that is right for every situation....
I had border collies my whole life, and when I moved out and got my own house by myself, I wanted something that was a little more protective.
And my aussie is just that. She is not going to let herself get stolen and she's not welcoming of strangers. It does take her a while to warm up to new people and new things. I am a 1 person household and that probably accounts for some of that. She doesn't like kids, but I bear the blame for that as I did't expose her to a lot of kids/ toddlers and she doesn't like their twitchiness. She's not a horse show dog, and doesn't like loads of people coming up and touching her. An aussie isn't like a lab that just loves everything all the time. They need you to show them that things are ok.
My dog has 9 acres and 4 horses to keep her entertained. She gets an hour of outside in the morning and several hours at night. She does chase the horses if they get into a frenzy, but knows the command "ENOUGH!" and high tails it out of the pasture. In the barn I call her my hall monitor, because she sits in the aisle and waits for someone to paw, or toss their head while waiting for dinner and she'll bark at them. They do have an instinct to nip at stock when they are out of line. Be very aware of that, because this can very easily translate into biting kids.
My dog is a dream to have around when I ride. If I'm riding in an arena, she just parks herself in the middle and watches. If I am out on a trail, she follows closely and if we get separated, she just heads back to the house and waits in the garage til I come home.
If you are buying from a breeder, my suggestion is to buy from someone who breeds dogs to work stock and not show dogs.
I have a puppy by a La Rocosa stud. She came with a bunch of guarantees (ie no hip displaysia, certified elbows, eyes, etc) When I was looking I saw a bunch of puppies with wonky eyes and several that I saw had strabismus.
Aussies are AWESOME dogs. Ditto that they need work to do. They don't need exercise so much as a JOB. My Aussie mix, when he gets bored - he will come and sit in front of us, stare, and do this low grumble that means "OMG, I AM SO BORED. GIVE ME SOMETHING TO DO." Above all, they need mental stimulation. You have to give it a job, tricks to learn, teach to go get things, herd cats out of the way (only on command), etc. If you don't give them a focus for their mental needs, they will invent ways to occupy themselves, and you don't want that!
I was debating whether to post this because I don't want it taken the wrong way, but, well,... Here it go.
Please do consider your situation carefully before getting an Aussie. Or,at least get an low energy Aussie (does such thing exist?)
We had an neighboring Aussie that came to visit our farm from time to time. Now I know it is frowned upon by some COTHERs but we have no problem with neighbors dogs visiting in general. Another neighbor's toy dog also came over from time to time. Nobody minds. However, this Aussie is really, really,... high energy, to the point of annoying. He is like a bumble bee on steroid, literally hopping, hopping, and more hopping around you NON STOP for hours to no end. He has free run of the whole neighborhood, including our 15 acres, so it is not like he had no exercises. Most neighbors have acreages too.
Now all these high energies are tolerable, except he is also a nipper, and would try to nip at the heels of our horses. To this point I'm so grateful to our Maremma, who literally ram him over and pinned him down for more than half an hour each time to put an end to the non sense. Our Maremma is the only one who can make him stay still, and yeah, after being put in "jail" numerous times, that Aussie finally stopped coming over, to my relief.
It may be just this particular Aussie, but I have been told that he was the norm and not the exception.
Oh yes, I'm definitely aware there is a big difference between and exercise and a "job". I fully intend to have plenty to mentally stimulate the dog. I've started to get into clicker training and I think it would be really fun to clicker train a dog. I tend to give the dog plenty to "do". I'd like to do some more advanced obedience type training as well as agility. I'm looking for a dog to have fun with and do stuff with, if that makes sense. This is definitely not going to be a dog to just have around!
I really like the more protective nature that Aussies seem to have. I'm alone a lot on my farm and it's kind of comforting to know the breed tends to have this trait.
I plan to do a lot of training. It's one of the reasons I'm looking into Aussies, vs say your average black lab. I like what the breed has to offer!
I've met more border collies that are like the one Gloria mentioned, than Aussies, but I can see it happening.
Gloria, I'm sorry you met an Aussie like that. Mine knows her property and wouldn't cross the line without me. I can leave her out all day (I don't unless I'm home) and she never goes exploring! They're not all bad, but it sounds like this one got stuck with a less than compatible owner.
Here's pics of mine. Lots of pics of her snuggling up with her doggie cousins and her cat. I promise, they are capable of laying down!