What’s your favorite dog breed? Most casual dog enthusiasts can name a handful — maybe 10 or 15, on a good day. Golden Retrievers. Labrador Retrievers. Border Collies. Poodles. Cocker Spaniels. Beagles. German Shepherds. Rottweilers. Take your pick.
Many of the most prominent dog breeds have been made famous by high-profile enthusiasts or pooches themselves. Others, for whatever reason, simply have a long and celebrated pedigree.
The American Kennel Club recognizes more than 180 dog breeds, and it occasionally adds more to the list. In other words, there are a lot of breeds out there that don’t get the press they deserve.
One such breed is the Australian Shepherd — recognized in 1991, in case you’re keeping track. Philadelphia lawyer David DelCollo is one of a growing number of proud Aussie Shepherd owners who’s practically evangelistic about the breed’s comportment and suitability.
If you’re willing to listen, DelCollo is more than willing to speak. Here’s his take on the 10 best reasons to adopt an Aussie Shepherd.
- They’re Born Herders
Aussie Shepherds are herders, through and through. That means they get along great with other animals, even if they can be bossy at times.
“My Aussie Shepherd is incredibly social,” says DelCollo. “That’s what makes it so fun to visit local dog parks and interact with other animals. She’s the perfect combination: a born herder who’s also a team player.”
- They’re High-Energy
Herding dogs tend to be high on energy. According to DelCollo, there’s rarely a day when his Aussie Shepherd doesn’t want to go for a run outside or head to the park to blow off some steam. This is good news for active puppy parents, or puppy parents with active kids. As long as you’ve got a yard or easy access to a local park, you’ve got it made.
- They’re Not Too Big
Aussie Shepherds are technically medium-sized dogs. They’re fairly tall, but they don’t have the imposing mass of some large dogs — and they’re definitely not the largest of the herders. Aussie Shepherds’ middle-of-the-road size make them ideal for urban, suburban and rural settings — again, as long as they’ve got a place to blow off steam, they’re happy to come home to just about any environment.
- They’re Very Task-Oriented
As herders, Aussie Shepherds love having jobs to do. They’ll play fetch until you’re blue in the face, and are only too happy to inspect the landscaping wherever they happen to be. If you work outdoors, bring your ‘Shep along; they are the perfect helper for a long day of drudgery.
“Whenever I’m working on bikes in my shop, my Aussie Shepherd is there,” says DelCollo. “She’s not quite at the point where she’s handing me tools, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we got there eventually.”
- They’re Loyal to a Fault
Sure, all dogs are loyal. But according to DelCollo’s admittedly anecdotal experience, Aussie Shepherds take loyalty to another level.
“I’ve lived around dogs before, and they were all great companions,” he says. “But, frankly, I’ve never had a pup quite like my Aussie Shepherd. She and I are almost inseparable.”
- They’re Extremely Smart
Given their herding backgrounds, it shouldn’t be any surprise that Aussie Shepherds are off-the-charts intelligent. They’re quick to recognize patterns and pick up the rules of engagement, making them great play pals.
- They’re Great with Kids
Having such natural intelligence makes Aussie Shepherds great with kids. They know when it’s okay to play — and when it’s time to dial things back and regroup. Once your kids are old enough to stand steadily and interact with agency, they’re old enough to live alongside an Aussie Shepherd.
- They Have Few Known Genetic Conditions or Health Risks
Aussie Shepherds are generally healthy dogs. They have few known genetic conditions or predispositions to specific health problems. As long as they exercise regularly and have tasks to complete, they tend to remain healthy and active well into their senior years.
That said, Aussie Shepherds are prone to the same common conditions that affect other dog breeds as they age. Don’t let their natural robustness lull you into a “set it and forget it” approach to their care. Watch carefully for signs of distress and notify your vet whenever necessary.
- They Let You Know How They Feel
Many dog owners prefer laid-back pets that seem cool with virtually anything. Intellectually speaking, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, DelCollo says laid-back pups put attentive pet owners at a distinct disadvantage. If you don’t really know what your dog is thinking, how can you make sure you’re giving them what they need?
“From the very beginning, I never had trouble figuring out what my Aussie Shepherd wanted from me,” says DelCollo. “She’s not bashful about telling me just how she feels. And while that can sound demanding, it’s better than the alternative.”
- Their Grooming Needs Won’t Take Over Your Life
According to the American Kennel Club, Aussie Shepherds require weekly grooming. That’s no surprise; they’ve got thick, fairly long wiry fur that can easily get tangled without proper care.
But their grooming needs are a far cry from those of curly-haired breeds like poodles. An experienced parent can dispense with his or her Aussie Shepherd’s grooming regimen in 10 or 15 minutes — not an outrageous time commitment by any stretch.
Are you sold on the merits of Aussie Shepherds?