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Australian Shepherd Adoption

Breed Photo

What do you need to know before you adopt an Australian Shepherd? We asked the experts!
 

Colorado Aussie Rescue says:

Aussies are working dogs.  They are bred to herd sheep, cattle, and other similar animals.  They are capable of running very fast, jumping up to 6 feet from a standing start, and have a cat-like agility.  Like any good herding dog, they nip at the heels, and will attempt to herd kids, ducks, chickens, or anything else that looks to them like it should be gathered together and guarded.  Though not an overly large breed, they are ferocious when they guard because they were specifically bred to counter the coyote as a predator.   This can make them very aggressive when guarding your yard, or your person, and one of the reasons why they are sometimes used as guard animals.

As puppies, and even as adults, they are compulsive chewers.  They chew on shoes, they chew on books, they chew on the furniture.  You can train them to chew only on appropriate items, but you cannot train chewing out of them as a behavior.  That means that you must be willing to invest a fair sum of money in durable chew toys, and you need to spend the time required to redirect their chewing behavior.

The Aussie energy level is infamous.  They will play at Warp 9, running, bouncing, jumping, and then drop wherever they are and sleep.  As puppies they play "speed racer" wherever they find themselves.  This high an energy level is exhausting for most humans.  It is one of the primary reasons for inexperienced owners to give up on an Aussie dog, and why so many Aussie Shepherd pups are abandoned.

Even if you have a fenced back yard, you need to provide an Aussie with extensive walks to curb some of the energy that they are generating.  When we  say walk, we don't mean the up to the end of the block and back kind of walk.  Aussies need to be able to exercise, and their idea of a walk is measured in miles, not yards.  Aussies also need socialization with other dogs.  Play with other dogs is important.  Play with you is important too, though you need to understand Aussie play to be prepared for it.  As puppies, they nip, they bite, they growl their very best puppy growl, they attack moving objects, bark excitedly, all in play.  You will become the recipient of plenty of sharp love at the hands of puppy teeth and claws.  They will jump up and nip your nose, grab your lip, and maul your arms.  The lip grabbing is unsettling at first, but that is one of the things they do to redirect the path of a sheep.  They just need to understand that you are not a sheep, and it only takes being scolded a couple of times before they quit.  It is important to understand that it is part of their nature, not them trying to be aggressive or vicious. As adults, they love to fetch balls and Frisbees, or virtually anything else that you can throw.   

Aussies have been used as service dogs for the blind and handicapped, and are one of the best breeds for this kind of work.  In northern climates, they are even used as short haul sled dogs.  The tremendous versatility of the breed is one of the main reasons for their popularity today.  Unfortunately, popularity has its price.  As a result of the popularity, they have become one of the most sought after pet dogs, and that has led to over-breeding to fuel the pet trade, and to thousands being abandoned each year in shelters nationwide.

More about the Australian Shepherd

Best friends

Here are a few other breeds which might interest you:

Beagle Pug
Australian Kelpie  

Thinking about adopting an Australian Shepherd puppy? Here are three reasons to adopt an adult instead:

1. You have kids.
Like most people, you’ve probably heard time and again that if you have kids, you should adopt an Australian Shepherd puppy (or, gasp! find an Australian Shepherd puppy for sale). The rationale is that an adult shelter dog is an unknown quantity, so buying or adoptingan Australian Shepherd puppy is safer. Actually, the opposite is closer to the truth. Puppies are not usually a great choice with kids; they have very limited control over their biting/mouthing impulses, and when you mix that with lots of energy and unbelievably sharp little teeth, it’s a recipe for your small fry to be in tears. Puppies are tiny chewing machines and can destroy a favorite stuffed animal or security blanket in short order.  Adult dogs, on the other hand, are generally calmer, and their personalities are already fully developed and on display.  When you meet an adult dog, you can see how they are with kids and with other animals.  This takes the guesswork out of wondering how a puppy will turn out as a full-grown dog.

2.  You value your possessions.
Puppies teethe.  They have a biological need to chew, they want to play constantly, and they can’t discriminate between appropriate chew toys and, say, your favorite pair of Manolos.  Puppies eventually can be trained out of this behavior, of course, and there are exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking, an adult Australian Shepherd (or any adult dog) is much less likely to shred your drapes like coleslaw or function as a “helpful” canine document shredder.

3.  You work, or otherwise leave the house.
Pop quiz: how often does a two-month-old puppy need to be taken out to do his business during the day?  A) every six hours; B) every eight hours; or C) every two hours?

If you answered B, or even A, you’re an eternal optimist! The correct answer, though, is C: every two hours. When you’re housetraining a puppy, the general rule of thumb is that they can hold their bladder one hour for each month they’ve been alive (up to a max of about eight to ten hours).  So a three-month-old Australian Shepherd puppy needs to go outside every three hours, a four-month-old needs to go every four hours, and so on.  If you’re retired, or you work from home, or you’re taking the puppy to work with you or to a doggy daycare (make sure your puppy is up-to-date on all vaccines before considering that last option), great! But if you’re planning on leaving your dog alone during your workday, you’ll definitely want to adopt a full-grown dog, ideally from an Australian Shepherd rescue that can help you find the right dog for your lifestyle.

Let’s bust these myths about adopting an Australian Shepherd

  • Time to get real: when we ask people what reservations they have about Australian Shepherd adoption, we hear the same things over and over again.  If you’re operating under any of these mistaken beliefs, you just might be missing out on meeting the best friend you’ll ever have.   So it’s time for us to set the record straight:
  • You CAN find purebred Australian Shepherds for adoption in an animal shelter or rescue group.
  • Australian Shepherds and Aussie puppies for adoption are NOT in any way inferior to or different from those for sale.
  • The dogs in the shelter are NOT there because they’re bad dogs.
  • If you want a puppy, you DON’T have to buy a Australian Shepherd puppy.  Australian Shepherd puppies ARE available for adoption.
  • If you have children, adopting a dog is likely the SAFEST option.

Here’s the truth: you absolutely can find an Australian Shepherd, even an Australian Shepherd puppy, for adoption in an animal shelter or rescue group.  And they don’t end up there because they’re bad dogs.  In fact, often the only difference between the dog in the shelter and the one on your couch is a bit of bad luck.  Think about it: let’s say you buy an Australian Shepherd puppy for sale by a breeder. Your new dog is great; you immediately enroll the two of you in obedience classes, and soon your best pal is housebroken and well trained. But what would happen to your wonderful Australian Shepherd if, tragically, something happened to you? What if he escaped from your home and ran away? Your best pal would very likely end up in an animal shelter.  The lucky person who adopts your Australian Shepherd would be getting a great dog!  Animal shelters are filled with wonderful, healthy, well-behaved dogs who have been in homes before, but whose owners have fallen on hard times.  Many of them are housebroken and trained. Australian Shepherd rescue organizations often care for their adoptable dogs in foster homes, which means their foster families will be able to tell you if the Australian Shepherd you want to adopt is good with other animals or kids, and if he or she is housebroken and knows any basic commands. As you can see, adopting from a rescue organization is likely the very safest way for people with children to add a new Australian Shepherd to their family!

Breed Photo

Rescues and shelters near you

Dogingham Palace Rescue/Ashburn
Ashburn, VA

FOHA - Dogs
Aldie, VA

Pet Rescue Foundation, Inc.
Gloucester, VA

Virginia German Shepherd Rescue
Sterling, VA

With Our Regards, Inc.
Sterling, VA

Dogwood Sheltie Rescue
Sterling, VA

Blue Ridge Border Collie Rescue
Herndon, VA

PAWS Rescue of Northern VA
Reston, VA

SCMR - VA
Herndon, VA

Furry Suits Rescue
Herndon, VA

New Love Animal Rescue
Herndon, VA

Humane Society of Loudoun County
Leesburg, VA

Open Hearts Rescue
Leesburg, VA

Friends Of Homeless Animals - Cats
Aldie, VA

Love Shack Dog Rescue
Aldie, VA

New Rattitude - Maryland
Poolesville, MD

NBRAN-Virginia
Reston, VA

Akita Rescue Mid-Atlantic Coast, Inc.
Silver Spring, MD

Boxer Rescue and Adoption Inc.
Reston, VA

Dogingham Palace Rescue/Great Falls
Great Falls, VA

A Forever Home Rescue Foundation
Chantilly, VA

Collie Rescue, Inc.
Chantilly, VA

Potomac Valley Pekingese Club - Chantilly
Chantilly, VA

Blue Ridge Great Pyrenees Rescue & Education
Fairfax, VA

Little Buddies Adoption and Humane Society
Centreville, VA

Home At Last Sanctuary, Inc
Potomac, MD

Healing Hearts Animal Rescue Group
Catharpin, VA

Loudoun County Animal Services
Waterford, VA

Sweetheart Sanctuary
Vienna, VA

Loudoun SPCA
Middleburg, VA

Middleburg Humane Foundation
Middleburg, VA

Annies Orphans
Gaithersburg, MD

Dewey Animals, Inc.
Centreville, VA

Independent Animal Rescue
Germantown, MD

Rescue BC
Germantown, MD

United Maltese Rescue
Germantown, MD

Mutt Love Rescue
Fairfax, VA

PetConnect Rescue
Potomac, MD

Nova Rottweiler Rescue
Germantown, MD

Lab Rescue LRCP - Purcellville VA
Purcellville, VA

City of Fairfax Animal Shelter
Fairfax, VA

The Commonwealth Humane Society
Fairfax, VA

The Humane Society of Fairfax County
Fairfax, VA

Whitney Foundation
Fairfax, VA

Dachshund Rescue of North America Inc.
Manassas, VA

Raleigh County Animal Rescue, Inc
Manassas, VA

American Lhasa Apso Club Rescue - Northwest Region
Gaithersburg, MD

Westie Rescue MidAtlantic
Dunn Loring, VA

Forever Homes Animal Rescue, Inc.
Rockville, MD

Gentle Creatures
Rockville, MD

Hedgesville Hounds
Rockville, MD

K-9 Lifesavers
Rockville, MD

Montgomery County Humane Society
Rockville, MD

Chesapeake Area Alaskan Malamute Protection, formerly Potomac Valley AMR
Virginia, Maryland, DC, MD

Sheltie Haven Sheltie Rescue, Inc.
Adamstown, MD

Hope for Donghae Paws
Fairfax, VA

Appalachian Great Pyrenees Rescue
Clifton, VA

Blue Ridge Border Collie Rescue
Mclean, VA

Montgomery County SPCA
Gaithersburg, MD

Pet Pros Maryland
Bethesda, MD

BB&G Pomeranian Rescue
Lovettsville, VA

Friends Of Montgomery County Animals
Germantown, MD

Jasmine's House, Inc. - MD Chapter
Clarksburg, MD

Ambassador Pit Bull Rescue
Gainesville, VA

Blue Ridge Doberman Rescue
Bluemont, VA

Promises Animal Rescue, Inc
Gainesville, VA

Saint Seton's Orphaned Animals
Falls Church, VA

Lab Rescue LRCP - Frederick MD
Buckeystown, MD

Empty Shelter Project
Manassas, VA

Mid-Atlantic Chinese Shar-Pei Rescue Operation
Bethesda, MD

Tailed Treasures of MD Inc.
Rockville, MD

Bull Terrier Rescue of Virginia (BTRVA)
Manassas, VA

Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue, Virginia Chapter
Manassas, VA

DC Area Weimaraner Rescue
Manassas Park, VA

on the rebound bulldog rescue foundation
manassas, VA

HART (Homeless Animals Rescue Team)
Fairfax Station, VA

Best DAWG Rescue Inc.
Bethesda, MD

Doberman Assistance Rescue & Education
Arlington, VA

Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation
Arlington, VA

Maryland Bichon Frise Rescue
Rockville, MD

American Maltese Assoc. Rescue--Virginia
Bristow, VA

Mutts Matter Rescue
Rockville, MD

Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue Inc. District of Columbia, Virginia
Washington, DC

Allbreed Rescue & Referral Inc
Gaithersburg, MD

Lab Rescue LRCP - Falls Church VA
Falls Church, VA

Bring Home the Brindle Dog Rescue
Ijamsville, MD

Lonely Hearts Animal Rescue
Frederick, MD

MerryLea Rescue
Frederick, MD

Operation Paws for Homes - MD Chapter
Frederick, MD

Dog World Rescue, Inc.
Alexandria, VA

Mid-Atlantic GSP Rescue
Arlington, VA

Grand Dogs Rescue 2
Silver Springs, MD

Homeward Trails Animal Rescue
Arlington, VA

SPCA of Northern Virginia
Arlington, VA

Chow Chow Rescue of Maryland
Silver Spring, MD

Roxie's Fund, Inc*
Silver Spring, MD

USNMC Rescue
Jefferson, MD

Lucky Dog Animal Rescue
Washington, DC

Capitol Canines Animal Rescue
Washington, DC

Caring Hearts Rescue
Springfield, VA

To The Rescue Inc.
Springfield, VA

Ozark Mutts and Stuff, Inc VA
Springfield, VA

Pups 2 Luv Rescue
Springfield, VA

Purrs, Paws, and Claws - Springfield Chapter
Springfield, VA

Capital Animal Care
Arlington, VA

Dogs Deserve Better - Virginia Chapter
Arlington, VA

Dogs Deserve Better, DC Metro Area
Arlington, VA

Dogs Deserve Better-DC Metro Area
Arlington, VA

Rescue Angels, Inc. - Virginia Chapter
Arlington, VA

Tara's House Animal Rescue, Inc. - Silver Spring Chapter
Silver Spring, MD

American Brussels Griffon Rescue Alliance, Inc. - VA
Alexandria, VA

Animal Welfare League of Alexandria
Alexandria, VA

Webberpack Animal Adoption And Getaway
Delaplane, VA

Washington Humane Society - GA Ave
Washington, DC

Animal Welfare League of Arlington
Arlington, VA

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