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Thread: Australian Shepherds

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    WA
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    9

    Default Australian Shepherds

    Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum and am in the process of researching breeds for our family. We lost our beautiful golden last year to an unexpected heart attack, and we're slowly moving through the sadness. We'll be looking at getting a new pup later this year or early next year, so I have lots of time to research breeds and speak to breeders, before waiting for our right pup.

    Dogs I have had before include a goldie, lab, and a border collie. We have young children (4, 3 and 20 months) so we're looking for a pup that will grow up with our children and be an integral part of our family. I feel like my kids are really missing out at the moment by not having a family dog.

    At the moment my husband is very keen on a border collie, and I am very keen on an Australian shepherd. Having owned a BC before I know about them (although, our boy was very placid and probably not a typical BC). So I was wondering if anyone can give me some advice and or suggestions/stories and information about Australian shepherds?

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    VIC
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    Default

    Hi Elle-M, first off I must applaud you on doing the right thing and putting a lot of thought into your next dog instead of just going out and getting the first cute puppy you see... a dog can be a 15 year commitment, so its nice to see someone doing their research

    I've currently got an Australian Shepherd boy, Koda, he's around 4.5 years old now.

    I grew up with Border collies and I still work with them regularly (grooming). When it comes to comparing Aussies and Border Collies, you have to keep in mind that every dog is an individual, so they won't ALWAYS fit in with the listed characteristics of the breed... but if you go to a good breeder, most should

    In general, Aussies take life much less seriously than BC's do. Aussies are huge clowns, very silly and bouncy. They tend to be a bit of a 1 person/family dog, so they can have the tendency to be a bit aloof with strangers... this is something that you will have to work on when they're a puppy, make sure that every interaction with strangers is positive, with lots of treats and praise for good behaviour I'd suggest you do the same with interactions with other dogs/animals. But if you find a breeder with good lines and dogs with wonderful temperaments, I think you'd be fine I think most Aussies are great with dogs/strangers... you can just sometimes get the odd one that has issues... like mine, haha

    If I'm honest with myself, I don't think i researched into finding a good breeder as much as I should have, my boy a few behavioural issues when it comes to meeting new dogs. (Most likely a mix of me not stamping out the behaviour as soon as it started showing, as well as his genetics and natural instincts to guard).

    Everyone talks about Aussies being herding dogs... saying that they'll herd everything... However I've had a different experience with that. Koda has no instinct to herd, he does however have a strong guarding instinct. Aussies were also bred to protect livestock as well as herd them, so they can be a bit protective of their territory/family.

    In general, Aussies aren't quite as hyperactive as BC's are. Aussies love activity and burning energy, but personally I don't think they're as full on as BC's. My boy is quite happy to skip a walk for a lazy time just hanging out... although the next day he'll have extra energy to burn

    They need their mind to be worked too... but having owned a BC before, i'm sure you're familiar with this. Food dispensing toys are good for this, and short training sessions throughout the day are good too They're just as smart and trainable as a BC is, and they're very eager to please dogs!

    Check out this link to find a breeder in your area -

    Australian Shepherd Breeders, Australia

    Find one you like the sound of, get to know them, maybe even meet their dogs and see what you think of Aussies Any good breeder will be more than willing to help you decide if an Aussie is the right dog for you!

    Hope that helped answer some of your questions... if you want to know anything else, just ask

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    WA
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    Thank you so much for your reply. I have spoken with a breeder over east (on another forum) and he said very similar things to you. We got our BC from a breeder who breeds Aussies as well (I'm in WA), and this breeder has been recommend to me again by both my friend who is a vet and has a BC, as well as the breeder from over east who got one of his dogs from them.

    The one thing that concerns me is that with a young family we have visiting kids over here ALL THE TIME. Kids running around, riding scooters, playing with the hose, playing chasey, kicking balls etc. I really love these dogs but I'm worried about the potential issues with strangers (particularly other kids). I'm fine and firm with basic training but I don't have much experience with anything more than that (i.e. problem behaviours).

    It's a tough decision, I change my mind almost daily.

    The other breeds we have on our list are gun dogs - like GSP's and vizslas. Similar in energy levels but without the herding instinct.

  4. #4
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    VIC
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    If you get the right pup, from a really good breeder. And you put in lots of effort from day 1 to make sure that your dog will be happy to have visitors enter the house and spend time there. I'm sure you'd be all good. Perhaps you could consider an older dog who you know for sure is good with strangers? Sometimes older Aussie shepherds come up for sale.

    I'd suggest you contact that breeder you mentioned and see what they think about an Aussie fitting in with your family

    I know hardly anything about gundogs... but we do have a member on here who has a GSP, so they might pop in here and give their thoughts.

  5. #5
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    Mar 2015
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    WA
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    Thank you, that's a good suggestion and I have also been considering older dogs (in fact the breeder we got our BC from had an older BC a while ago, so she may have Aussies from time to time as well). Thanks again for your help.

  6. #6

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    It must be me that ‘maddogdodge' is talking about ?

    I am a tad biased about GSPs – have now my 6th one. I love the breed and have only ever owned GSPs. Not that I don’t love other breeds of pups – but GSPs are the breed for me.

    GSPs are ‘goofballs’, fun, affectionate, loyal, intelligent, short-haired, easy to train and really don’t get a brain until ~ 3 years old – if then !

    I have never had a problem with my pups and kids – from babies and all other ages of kids. They can be very gentle – but they can also be absolute ‘fruit loops’ – so supervision is necessary at all times. Because of their size, they can knock a kid off their pins very easily.

    With these pups – and with any other breed of pup - you need to start their training from the second they come in your door.

    BUT – as with any breed of pup – you must do your homework and your research very diligently. It took me 3 years to find what I wanted and was happy with in my latest pup. Her nickname ATM is ‘Tu$d’ – used to be ‘Shark’ when she was very little ! She has reached the teenager age and must have read the book about teenager pups !

    If you can – go to a Dog Show in your area and have a good look around at all the breeds of pups. If there are particular pups you like the look of – then introduce yourself to the breeder and ask heaps of questions. Also, if the breeder doesn’t ask you a heap of questions – then continue your search for one that actually cares about their pups.

    The health of the sire and dam was very important to me this time around in my search for a pup. GSPs are generally a healthy breed – but there are some things that need to be tested before breeding a litter of pups.

    Health areas I would expect a responsible and ethical breeder to know about and tested where applicable are - hip and elbow dysplasia, eye problems such as entropion and PRA, epilepsy and heart.

    Lupoid Dermatosis (LD) has really raised its ugly head in Australia with GSPs and this was a deal breaker for me. If the parents of the prospective pups had not been tested for LD via blood and were cleared, then I continued my research.

    This link is based on USA data – but is still relevant for all breeds of pups.

    Disorders by Breed - German short-haired pointer - LIDA Dogs - Faculty of Veterinary Science - The University of Sydney

    A good place to start your research for any breed of pup is:

    German Shorthaired Pointer Breeders, Australia
    Good Luck in your search and research for your new pup ! smiley-eatdrink004.gif

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    WA
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    Thank you so much for all this information, I find speaking to owners really useful and they can give practical, objective (mostly!) opinions. I know pups can vary a lot within a breed (and even within a litter), but I figure it's best to at least give us the best chance of getting a good match for our family.

    My kids do run around a lot and we have a huge backyard, and they are LOUD. They also fight a lot and play noisy games, so this pup will grow up to not mind noise hopefully. My kids adore dogs and are gentle with them, it's just each other they try to kill all the time. The silliness of a GSP doesn't bother me (we had a goldie who was similar until he calmed down), in fact it would make him or her fit right in. I've had some owners tell me that their GSP is very aloof with strangers? Have you found this? We have a lot of visitors over to our house, so this is a consideration. We also look after my sister and sister-in-laws dogs all the time when they go away, so dog friendliness is important (obviously our pup will be socialised daily with other dogs from day one).

    There's a brilliant park near us that has a huge fenced dog play area, and then right next to it is a fenced kids play area. It is PERFECT and we already spend a lot of time there.

    On the exercise front, I assume with training that both Aussies and GSP's will be fine as jogging companions, for between 5-15km runs? That a couple of times a week plus a daily run off the lead at the park, would that be enough?

    Also, have you both noticed any differences between male and female Aussies and GSPs (in general, as far as temperament goes?)

    Thanks

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Adelaide
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    The GSP here - are all over every human - everybody's friend.

    Hard to imagine one that's aloof without a lot of training.

    Most of the Aussies here are all over me too - but I think that's more something about me because their owners always seem surprised and I have to say sorry for saying hello to their dog without asking (the dog starts it...)

    Have you also considered a nova scotia duck tolling retriever? Eg a GSP is a gun dog, and An Aussie is a herding dog, and a toller is a gun dog in a herding dog's body... GSP are slightly harder to train at sports like agility but it's do-able. Tollers love having a job to do. And Aussies are a bit more laid back.

    If you can find the breed club in your state - that's a good start or visit an All breeds show - you get to meet breeders and their dogs and find a good match.

    Note - not every ANKC breeder is responsible - you do have to make your own checks. And not just by reading testimonials on their website. A breed club is a good place to start. Avoid the breeder who bitches about everyone. Listen to the breeder who can say nice things about most of the breeders...

    Make sure you get any important promises in writing.

    There's an agilty competition (ANKC) and a championship show (pretty dogs) coming up next weekend
    DogsWest - Home - check the events.

    Agility shows are great places to meet lots of different breeds and get opinions about who has nice ones.

    And once you have chosen a great breeder - it can take 12 months for them to organise a litter ready to take home (health tests on parent dogs, wait bitch in heat, pregnancy + 8 to 12 weeks before puppy is old enough to go home)

  9. #9

    Default

    I did warn you that I was biased very much towards GSPs.

    I have had both males and females – like I have now – 1 of each. Being a female owner – I find the boys are sooks and fall in love with you, whereas the girls are bit$hes and love you anyway. I am sure a male owner would probably say the opposite to me.

    As far as pups being aloof – I have not found it in my experience with mine. It really depends on the owner of the pup and what they are like and how much time, training and socializing they do with the pup. Reap what you sow is something to remember.

    Finding pups with good temperaments is very important. Always try and see the parents and other pups that the breeder has bred. Once the pup arrives at your place – then it is really important to properly socialise and train the pup.

    Having a lot of noise and people around is no drama for a well socialized pup. Your normal becomes theirs.

    GSPs are great running partners – but don’t start that until they are fully grown at ~ 18 – 24 months old and then obviously build up the distance gradually to suit the pup’s fitness level.

    It is important with these pups that you also get them to use their brains. Just exercise alone will not tire these pups out.

    Did that answer some of your queries ?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    WA
    Posts
    9

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    Hyacinth - thank you for that information, I hadn't considered a tolling retriever, but I will do some research. They look like beautiful dogs, and as you say, a good mix of herding looks and gun dog personality. The breed and agility shows are a great idea, it would be a fun day out for the kids to see all the dogs too, it would be good to involve them in the process. We're not in a hurry which is good.

    RileyJ - Yes you did, thank you, and I would be biased too! One other question - when people say GSPs can be needy, what do they mean here?

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