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Are Australian Shepherds Typically Protective? Traits & Temperament Facts

Sarah Psaradelis

By Sarah Psaradelis

Red Merle Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd was bred as a hard-working farm dog for herding livestock. Not only were these dogs fearless and determined, but they were protective over their owners and the animals they were herding. Their protective nature makes them great pets and loyal members of the family, and they will do their best to protect you.

If you are looking for a protective dog breed that is not known to be aggressive, then Aussies meet these requirements. Australian Shepherds are very protective of their families and want to keep them safe.

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How Protective Is An Australian Shepherd?

Although they are not known to be aggressive, they can bark and try to protect you from strangers or unfamiliar animals. They get attached to their owners quickly and form a strong bond that makes them instinctively want to protect those they love.

A major reason the Australian shepherd is so popular is their temperament. These dogs are affectionate, loyal, intelligent, resilient, and protective. Even though they are high-maintenance dogs, many Australian shepherd owners praise how protective their dogs are to them.

However, although being protective is one of the main personality traits in Australian shepherd dog breeds, some are not as protective as others. The way your Australian shepherd shows their protectiveness varies depending on how they grew up and their environment. Some Australian shepherds are not very protective, whereas others can be protective over their owners with even the slightest unfamiliarity in the environment.

australian shepherd lying in the forest
Image Credit: torstensimon, Pixabay

A Herding Guard Dog

The Australian shepherd is not only protective over their owners, but also over the animals they herd. Since this dog breed was bred to hunt and guard livestock on a farm like cows and sheep, they have a naturally protective nature.

Their job was to watch for potential predators and threats that could harm the animals they were herding and caring for. From working alongside farmers and livestock as a herder and guard dog, they carried these qualities into the home.

They might not be the best guard dog because of their warmth and affection towards people, but their overly friendly nature didn’t get in the way of their role on the farm.

Even though Australian shepherds are protective over their livestock, they are not known to have an aggressive temperament. However, some Australian shepherds can be reserved with strangers and especially other animals that they deem a threat.

Do Australian Shepherds Protect Their Owners?

Yes, Australian shepherds are excellent watchdogs that will protect their owners and other animals in the household. They have an instinct to herd and protect, which makes them loyal watchdogs that will alert you to danger or hazardous situations.

They might not be an overly aggressive type of guard dog, but they will be on the lookout for potential threats and bark to alert their owners. They are also great on farms and smallholdings with livestock such as chickens, sheep, cows, and horses, as they were bred to be herders and guard dogs for these animals.

So, your Australian shepherd will protect both you and any other larger animals you have. Any suspicious activity will bring out your Australian shepherd’s protective side, whether it’s a strange animal on the property or a stranger entering the home.

short-haired australian shepherd dog standing outdoor
Image by: VKarlov, Shutterstock

Do Australian Shepherds Herd Their Owners and Other Animals?

Australian shepherds are known for trying to “herd” both their owners and other animals like cats and dogs. You may notice that your Australian shepherd tugs at your clothes or rubs against your leg to get you to move to an area they want you to be in.

This is because their instinct is to herd livestock, and even though you are not what they were bred to herd, they will still try to. They can also be seen herding cats and dogs by circling them and encouraging the other animal to move.

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Australian shepherds have a wonderfully affectionate and protective nature, and they will become loyal and devoted parts of the family. They make excellent watch or guard dogs that will alert you to any danger thanks to their protective nature. Aside from protecting their owners, they may also protect and try to herd other animals such as dogs and cats in the home.


Featured Image Credit: Eve Photography, Shutterstock

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