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Are Australian Shepherds Aggressive? (& How to Stop Aggression)

Aggressive Australian Shepherd dog runs and barks in the snow

Are Australian Shepherds aggressive? This is likely the question you have in mind if you’re thinking of getting an Aussie Shepherd dog. If this is your concern about these intelligent dogs, you’re on the right page!

Australian Shepherds are not considered to be aggressive. Just like other dog breeds, an Australian Shepherd will only snap when threatened or provoked. Given the right training and positive reinforcement, an Aussie Shepherd can grow up to be a well-mannered companion.

In this article, you will know if Australian Shepherds are truly an aggressive breed and how to correct it. Keep on reading and find out about the beauty of this herding breed.

Australian Shepherd Temperament & Personality

Australian Shepherd temperament and personality

Being well-behaved is a typical Australian Shepherd temperament and personality. These wonderful dogs are friendly, highly energetic, and can have a protective nature toward their family members. 

The Australian Shepherd is not an aggressive breed. However, the herding instinct of your Aussie puppy may sometimes show up. But this is just a normal instinct common to herding dogs.

This behavior is sometimes misinterpreted as dog aggression or bad behavior. But given the right obedience training and early socialization, this dog breed will be molded into a loving and well-behaved dog.

Australian Shepherds were bred to become working dogs by herding livestock. With that said, an Australian Shepherd or even an Aussie mix is expected to be a high-energy dog that craves physical work.

Meanwhile, an Aussie’s temperament may also be affected by gender. A female Aussie usually plays the dominant role or the alpha dog. This can make an Aussie female more stubborn and independent. 

However, female Australian Shepherds are just as smart and caring as their male counterparts. Female Aussies are also highly trainable but may require more patience. 

Meanwhile, a male Aussie has a higher drive to please you. This makes the male Australian Shepherd more obedient and responsive during training. 

Are Australian Shepherds Aggressive Dogs?

Are Australian Shepherds aggressive dogs

Australian Shepherds are not naturally aggressive. But just like other dogs, this herding dog can display aggressive tendencies when faced with an uncomfortable and threatening situation. 

Most shepherd dogs are playful and may love to please everyone around them. Given the Australian Shepherd’s temperament, you will find below how your furry friend may interact with the different family members. 

With Babies

A properly socialized Aussie will never intentionally hurt a baby. However, you should never leave the two alone during playtime. Australian Shepherds are energetic and may accidentally jump and injure a baby.

Moreover, your Australian Shepherd or even a mini Aussie may be startled when a baby cries. This may end up in unwanted accidents, such as your dog accidentally knocking over your baby.

In general, you must keep in mind that loud noises, such as a baby’s tantrum, can be painful on your dog’s ears and may trigger an aggressive episode. 

If you have a baby and an Australian Shepherd or an Aussie mix together at home, it is highly suggested that you check out our guide for parents who own an Aussie Shepherd at home. 

With Toddlers

Australian Shepherds are known to be good with small children. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these dogs have a natural instinct to herd smaller animals, and this may extend to herding children as well. 

This typical Australian Shepherd temperament can be corrected by seeking help from a professional dog trainer or training your dog at a young age.

If you have an Aussie Shepherd and a toddler in your home, it’s important to supervise their interactions at all times.

You must also make sure that your dog is trained to follow commands and understand boundaries.

With Older Kids

With the energetic nature of the Australian Shepherd and the high energy of older kids, both will surely have a great time playing and running around the dog park.

The herding instinct of your Australian Shepherd is also unlikely to manifest towards older kids. Letting your teen bond regularly with your pooch can also help this loyal breed learn to socialize. 

With Adults

Given the loving and trusting nature of this dog breed, your Australian Shepherd can definitely get along well with other adults in the house as long as proper socialization and introduction are given. 

Letting other family members walk your Australian Shepherd will also allow your pooch to develop trust and build a connection with other grown-ups in the house. 

Encouraging other adults to give your Australian Shepherd treats can also provide a positive experience for your pooch. This way, your Australian Shepherd will be comfortable with other people at home.

Meanwhile, if you are an aspiring Australian Shepherd fur parent, it will be best if you check out our article about Australian Shepherds and new pet owners before getting one. 

With Strangers

Australian Shepherds are protective and can be aloof to an unfamiliar person. Meanwhile, your dog can also be accommodating to everyone you run into, depending on the puppy training your pooch received. 

Your friends are strangers to your dog. Keep a calm voice when greeting them. This is because your Australian Shepherd may perceive them as threats and can turn into a protective dog if you become too excited.

With Other Dogs and Pets

Australian Shepherds can get along well with other dogs and animals. However, just like other herding breeds, Australian Shepherds have a high-prey instinct and may chase other animals like birds and squirrels.

Aside from discouraging this behavior, keeping your Australian Shepherd on a leash during walks can also prevent your pooch from running after smaller animals. 

Your Australian Shepherd can also do well in socializing with new and unfamiliar dogs in the house.

By properly introducing other dogs to your Aussie, your pooch can definitely make friends with other breeds.

On the other hand, each Aussie will have a unique personality. Some will love to make new friends, while others won’t. Although generally, Aussies are friendly and can be good with other dogs

Sign of Aggression in Australian Shepherds

Australian Shepherd dog showing aggression against a person

Australian Shepherds are not just a pet. Your dog is also a member of the family whose emotions need to be recognized and respected.

Below are signs that your pooch is about to become an aggressive Aussie: 

  • Staring closely at someone or at another animal: You can easily tell that your modern Aussie is about to become aggressive towards someone when it unusually stares closely and deeply. 
  • Too much barking: A dog’s aggressive tendencies can easily be spotted through excessive barking. If you hear your dog barking nonstop, chances are there is a burglar or is catching prey. 
  • Growling or snarling: Growling is your Australian Shepherd’s way of expressing discomfort, anger, and pain. This is a signal of an aggressive dog that you need to step back. 
  • Showing teeth: Showing teeth is another sign of aggressive behavior, and your Aussie is about to lash out. Stepping aside to give personal space can help your pooch calm down. 

When Australian Shepherds start showing these signs of aggressive behavior, it is important to check what’s making your furry friend angry and uncomfortable. 

Removing things and situations that trigger your Australian Shepherd’s aggressive behavior will prevent your pooch from snapping or developing destructive behaviors. 

Seeking professional help may also be needed if you cannot determine what makes Australian Shepherds aggressive.

Keep in mind that no matter how sweet, Australian Shepherds bite when triggered. 

What Causes an Australian Shepherd to Be Aggressive? 

Causes of Australian Shepherds to be aggressive

There are different reasons that make Australian Shepherds aggressive towards certain situations and conditions. You must take note of these aspects so you can help your Aussie avoid aggressive behavior. 

Stress and Anxiety

An aggressive Australian Shepherd may only be acting this way because of stress and fear.

An uncomfortable environment, loud noises, and lack of exercise can also trigger aggression in Australian Shepherds. 

Pain

Just like humans, an illness or an injury can make Australian Shepherds aggressive and moody.

Keeping your dog’s health in good shape is a good way to prevent your pooch from becoming aggressive toward others. 

Food Aggression

Aussies have the natural instincts to be protective of their food. Use commands to teach your pooch that this behavior is not acceptable. Otherwise, it is best to leave your pooch alone during mealtimes. 

Lack of Training

Lack of early socialization and proper training can make your dog aggressive. This can also make an Australian Shepherd develop other unacceptable personality traits like overconfidence and over barking. 

An Australian Shepherd can also be fiercely protective of you and may show unexplained aggression towards a stranger if your pooch had an unpleasant experience with this person. 

However, an aggressive Australian Shepherd may always be taught good manners. Making sure that your pooch is properly trained can definitely prevent aggression.

Here’s a video of an Australian Shepherd undergoing basic obedience training: 

How to Train New Australian Shepherd! | First Lesson Amazing Results! | Obedience Training Aussie

How to Prevent Aggression in Australian Shepherds 

Dog training to prevent aggression in Australian Shepherds

One of every dog owner’s biggest fears is for their pooch to have new or unexplained aggression. An inexperienced Aussie owner may not know how to avoid aggression and may need professional help. 

In preventing aggression, it is important that an Aussie owner understands the kind nature of this breed. This way, it is easier to tell if an Aussie suddenly developed aggressive behavior.

Primarily, early socialization, obedience training, and proper exercise are your first line of prevention against this negative behavior. Aussies are active dogs and need mental stimulation. 

If not given the right level of activities, your dog may start biting and become moody. Giving your pooch toys and exercises that provide mental stimulation will keep your dog busy and calm down

However, when Aussies still snap when even their owners are done with training them, they may consult a dog behaviorist.

This professional will track your dog’s aggression level and partner with you in terms of what needs to be done to control your dog’s aggression.

Aside from this, make sure that you always talk to your pooch in a calm voice to give them a peaceful environment. 

Also, avoid long eye contact with your Australian Shepherd. They may interpret this as aggression from you toward them and may trigger their aggressive behaviors. 

Additionally, a veterinarian may be consulted for health issues that can be causing the aggression and help you to manage it. Your vet may also provide medicines if your Aussie has severe anxiety.

It is also important that you know what your Aussie can and cannot eat. Giving your foods that are not good for your pooch can cause health problems, which can also affect your dog’s behavior negatively. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Aggressive Aussie dog biting a rope

Are Australian Shepherds Good Family Dogs? 

Yes, Australian Shepherds make good family dogs. Famous for being energetic Australian Shepherds, friendly and good-natured, this breed is definitely one of the best furry companions.

Keep in mind that your dog’s gender may also have an impact when it comes to behavior.

While both male and female Aussies can be loyal and affectionate, there may be differences in terms of personalities. 

Are Australian Shepherds Protective? 

Are Australian Shepherds aggressive? Or are they just protective? You can tell that your Aussie is just protecting you if your pooch is standing between you and the stranger.

Aside from strangers, your Aussie can also be protective if there are unfamiliar dogs touching you or your belongings. 

Are Australian Shepherds Dangerous?

Australian Shepherds are not dangerous dogs. In fact, Aussies are one of the most popular pets in the United States. This breed is known for being playful and loves to be around the whole family. 

However, poor socialization, lack of obedience training, and traumatic experiences can make an Australian Shepherd dangerous.

It is best to visit your vet or a pet trainer if you see signs of behavioral issues in your dog. 

Are Australian Shepherds Biters? 

Just like other breeds, Australian Shepherds will only bite when placed in a very stressful condition. This includes being triggered or being maltreated. 

However, Aussies are not known for intentionally biting anyone. If you see your Australian Shepherd being stressed and has the tendency to snap, make sure to step aside and give your pooch some space. 

Final Thoughts

So, are Australian Shepherds aggressive? No, this breed is loyal, playful, hardworking, intelligent, and protective.

Aussies are not known to be moody; however, female Aussies can display alpha dog behaviors. 

Consult a veterinarian if you notice worrisome behaviors in your pooch. It is also important to make sure that your Aussie receives the right diet, exercise, and care to prevent stress and health issues. 

Have you ever seen an aggressive dog? How did you deal with it? Share with us your experiences and opinions on aggressive Australian Shepherd dogs in the comment section!