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Can Australian Shepherd Make a Good Service Dog? Breed Facts & FAQs

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

happy young woman cuddling australian shepherd dog while sitting on couch

Australian Shepherds were bred to work on farms herding livestock. Their human companions were proud of their hard-working temperaments. While hard-working, these dogs were (and are) sociable and family oriented. Today, some of these dogs live as herders, but most live as pets in family household situations. Still, many can have a robust, active lifestyle, including being a watchdog, a hiker, a hunter, and even a service dog. Australian Shepherds can indeed be trained as service dogs. The following is everything that you need to know about the topic.

Divider 7Australian Shepherds Are Intelligent and Attentive

Since Australian Shepherds are intelligent and attentive, they tend to take well to training of all kinds. They should start obedience training as puppies and behave properly in all social settings by the time that they are adults. Service training can start at any time but should never supersede obedience training.

Their intelligence makes it easy to teach them different signs that they should react to, and their attentiveness makes it easy to rely on them to always know what is going on with their human companion. They tend to understand when someone close to them needs a helping hand, and they can understand whom in the household they should be paying the most attention to.

blue merle miniature australian shepherd by the beach
Image Credit: Danielle W Press, Shutterstock

Australian Shepherds Thrive in Working Situations

Australian Shepherds were bred to work and they have the drive to do so. They want a job to be responsible for, whether that is herding livestock or making sure someone wakes up in the morning. Therefore, they thrive in the service industry because they are always needed and on call. Once they understand what their job is, an Australian Shepherd will not miss a beat. They will always complete their tasks no matter the time of day or month of the year.

Types of Service That Australian Shepherds Are Good For

Since Australian Shepherds have a high work ethic, are intelligent, and are eager to please, the breed can be used in a variety of ways when it comes to performing in the service industry. Not all Australian Shepherds are ideal for all situations, but depending on their temperament and personality, they could be good for:

  • Emotional support
  • Seeing-eye support
  • Hearing support
  • Anxiety support
  • Seizure support
  • Mental disability support
  • Physical disability support
  • Allergy detection
  • Diabetes alerting

Each Australian Shepherd should be observed and worked with to determine what type of service they would be ideal for. Some dogs can do several jobs, while others might be best suited for just one or two jobs. Still others might not be suited for any service.

Image Credit: Gabe Pexels

Not All Australian Shepherds Make Good Service Dogs

Just because a dog is an Australian Shepherd, that does not mean they will make a good service dog. It all depends on their genetics and their lineage. If you happen to obtain an Australian Shepherd that comes from a line of dogs that haven’t served or performed in generations, chances are that training them to become a service dog would be more trouble than it is worth.

Conversely, if you have acquired an Australian Shepherd that comes from a strong bloodline of working and service dogs, chances are that you can train them to be an outstanding service dog in a variety of different ways. Regardless, training takes more work than just thinking about it or trying out ideas that you have read about.

Training an Australian Shepherd to Be a Service Dog

Training a service dog is not an easy task. You can attempt to do so yourself, but you likely will not be able to obtain service credentials unless you work with a professional trainer who specializes in the service industry. A professional trainer understands what a dog needs to know and what paperwork you must present to gain official service designation for your Australian Shepherd.

yellow australian shepherd in a field of flowers
Image Credit: Ermolaeva Olga 84, Shutterstock

Getting an Australian Shepherd Certified as a Service Dog

There are a few stipulations to consider when it comes to getting your Australian Shepherd certified as a service dog. First, you must be able to certify through a doctor that you have a physical or psychiatric disability that could benefit from the help of a service dog. Second, your dog must be trained to do specific tasks that can help you get through your day, especially in public settings.

Also, your service Australian Shepherd should be well-socialized and be able to handle multiple types of social situations. You, as the handler, may also be required to confirm your ownership of a service dog by answering a variety of questions for the ADA.

Divider 7Conclusion

Australian Shepherds can make excellent service dogs, especially when they are bred and trained to do so. Still, it is important to know what kind of lineage your dog comes from when trying to determine what kind of service training to put them through. Even with a background check, you never really know where your dog will thrive without trying all the options!


Featured Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

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