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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

Green Lake Animal Hospital
Seattle, WA

Northwest Airedale Terrier Rescue
Seattle, WA

Saving Great Animals
Seattle, WA

Seattle Animal Shelter
Seattle, WA

Washington Alaskan Malamute Adoption League
Seattle, WA

Washington German Shepherd Rescue
Seattle, WA

Royal Hounds Greyhound Adoption
Seattle, WA

Spots of Seattle Dalmatian Rescue
Seattle, WA

New Rattitude - Washington
Seattle, WA

Tough Love Pit Bull Rescue - Seattle Chapter
Seattle, WA

Georgia Peaches Puppy Rescue
Seattle, WA

Lady's Hope Dog Rescue
Seattle, WA

Shilshole Bay Pet Rescue
Seattle, WA

Fox Terrier Fanciers of Puget Sound Rescue
Seattle, WA

Little Blessings Pet Rescue
Seattle, WA

NBRAN Washington
Seattle, WA

Pet Pros Seattle WA
Seattle, WA

Seattle Area Feline Rescue (formerly Animal Talk Rescue)
Seattle, WA

6dogrees Rescue
Seattle, WA

Angel Paws Pet Rescue
Seattle, WA

Healthy Paws Foundation
Belluvue, WA

Red Waggin' Rescue - Connell Chapter
Seattle, WA

Emerald City Pet Rescue~ Seattle
Seattle, WA

Washington Rescue Dogs
Seattle, WA

Pit Bull Project
Seattle, WA

Charlie's Guardian Angels
Seattle, WA

Finally Home Humane Society
Shoreline, WA

Ginger's Death Row Dog Pet Rescue
Seattle, WA

Mikey's Chance - West-Side
Seattle, WA

AnimalDefense Rescue
Bellevue, WA

Red Waggin' Rescue - Kirkland Chapter
Kirkland, WA

Saint Bernard Rescue
Seattle, WA

Seattle Humane Society
Bellevue, WA

Ferry Dog Mothers
Bainbridge Island, WA

The Furrytale Farm
Bainbridge Island, WA

Pacific Crest Keeshond Club Rescue
Seattle, WA

All Paws On Deck
kenmore, WA

Animal Aware Northwest
Redmond, WA

Animal Aid & Rescue Foundation
Seahurst, WA

Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue
Seattle, WA

Lil' Waif Puppy Rescue
Bothell, WA

Northwest German Shepherd Rescue
Bothell, WA

Forever Home Dog Rescue
Mountlake Terrace, WA

S.A.F.E. (Saving Animals From Euthanasia) Dog Rescue
Mountlake Terrace, WA

CARES
BURIEN, WA

Tiny Tails Toy Dog Rescue
Seattle, WA

Academy of Canine Behavior Adoption Dogs
Bothell, WA

Collar of Hope
Kitsap County, WA

Italian Greyhound Club of America Rescue - Puget Sound, WA
Bremerton, WA

Puget Sound Italian Greyhound Rescue IGCA
NE Bremerton, WA

Northwest International Pet Rescue
Lynnwood, WA

Basset Rescue of Puget Sound
Woodinville, WA

Greyhound Pets, Inc.
Woodinville, WA

Homeward Pet Adoption Center
Woodinville, WA

Animal Rescue Families
Bremerton, WA

People United for Pets (PUP)
Issaquah, WA

Ribsey's Refugees
Issaquah, WA

Animals In Need
Kingston, WA

Project Buddy Rescue
Kingston, WA

Rescue Every Dog
Seattle c/o Kingston 98346/ Washington State, WA

Irish Setter Club of Seattle Rescue
Port Orchard, WA

Vashon Island Pet Protectors
Vashon, WA

Motley Zoo Animal Rescue
Redmond, WA

Boxer Rescue
All of Western Washington, WA

Tiny Dog Rescue
Poulsob, WA

Rescue Pup
Mill Creek, WA

King County Animal Control
Kent, WA

CJ's Dog Rescue
Snohomish, WA

Vizsla Rescue & Referral - Washington
All Cities, WA

Kitsap Animal Rescue & Education (KARE)
Silverdale, WA

Kitsap Humane Society
Silverdale, WA

The Big Dog Project
Silverdale, WA

Love A Mutt Pet Rescue
Lynnwood, WA

P.A.W.S. Progressive Animal Welfare Society
Lynnwood, WA

National English Shepherd Rescue
Olalla, WA

BMDCGS Rescue Program
Kent, WA

Bulldog Haven NW
Everett, WA

Top Dogs Rescue
Burley, WA

Rockey's Rescue
Covington, WA

Second Chance Ranch
Maple Valley, WA

Coonhound Opportunites Organization Northwest
Bremerton, WA

PVCA Seattle Washington
Gig Harbor, WA

Petsavers
Bremerton, WA

Prison Pet Partnership
Gig Harbor, WA

S.A.F.E. (saving animals from euthanasia)
Everett, WA

Chihuahua Rescue and Referral
Seattle, WA

Heart To Heart small dog rescue - Auburn Chapter
Auburn, WA

K9 Rescue & Rehab
Auburn, WA

Ratbone Rescues (WA Chapter)
Seattle, WA

Rescuing Animals In Need (RAIN)
Federal Way, WA

Wolf Pack Animal Rescue
Tacoma, WA

MuttShack Animal Rescue & Response
Monroe, WA

Friends Of Rescued Mastiffs Reg. 10
Gig Harbor, WA

Friends Of Rescued Mastiffs Region 9
Gig Harbor, WA

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