Are Australian Shepherds Good for Seniors?

Australian Shepherd playing

There is no denying that Australian Shepherds, also known as Aussies, are adorable and friendly dogs. The question is whether or not they are actually good for seniors. Given how active these dogs are and how much attention they require, most seniors will probably find it challenging to care for these dogs adequately. 

Australian Shepherds are not suitable pets for most seniors. These are traditionally herding dogs and require a lot of activity. When they are not busy protecting the yard or house, Aussies will need productive tasks or play time. This may be more physical activity than most seniors are able to do, if so it is best to consider an alternative dog breed. 

Australian Shepherds are born to be active. This is the way they are as puppies, and it continues right through adulthood. Continue reading to learn why they may not be the best choice for seniors and how to make a more appropriate choice that will benefit everyone involved. 

Are Aussie’s Good Companions for Seniors and Retirees?

Since most seniors and retirees are looking to slow down, Australian Shepherds may not be the best companion for them. When a senior wants just to relax and enjoy the day, an Aussie will be looking to go outside and play. 

It just is not fair to either party. Unless we are talking about a highly active senior who is willing to run around with their dog for hours every day, it is probably best to consider another option. 

What is Good About an Australian Shepherd?

To be fair, there is nothing wrong with an Australian Shepherd. These are playful and loyal pets who have made many an owner happy through the ages. They have a great temperament, but they are known to be energetic for much of the day. Sedentary behavior is not in their nature. 

When properly trained, Australian Shepherds are polite when around strangers. This bodes well when the grandkids come over for a visit. For the most part, they also play well with other dogs and even cats, but there are always exceptions to that rule. 

Here are some characteristics of the Australian Shepherd that tend to gel well with a senior’s lifestyle. 

  • Sturdy and not big – Australian Shepherds are not so small that they can easily cause an older person to trip over them, nor are they too big to be difficult to control. They are also tough dogs that can more than take care of themselves when needed. 
  • Beautiful – There is little denying that Australian Shepherds are beautiful dogs. This is why they consistently win awards at various types of dog shows. Any senior would be proud to call one their pet. 
  • Loves any form of exercise – If you have the energy, you will not find it difficult to find something that an Australian Shepherd enjoys doing. They are active and will probably run circles around anything that you try to do with them. 
  • Very smart – If you are looking for a dog that is easy to train, the Australian Shepherd would certainly fall into that category. They are intelligent and intuitive, meaning that you do not have to worry about too much mischief taking place behind your back. 

Unfortunately, many of the characteristics that make Australian Shepherds such good dogs who are highly sought after are the same traits that make them ill-suited for most seniors. While it will come down to personal preference, it is also important to point out what seniors may find difficult about this particular breed of dog. 

What Will Seniors Find Difficult About Australian Shepherds?

Now that you have read all of the good things about Australian Shepherds, you might be wondering why they are not recommended for seniors. It isn’t easy to claim that such a fun-loving dog is not appropriate for someone, but this is one case where the facts are clear. 

Here are some things about Australian Shepherds that seniors might find too difficult to manage. 

  • They require constant exercise and mental stimulation – This is simply more attention than most seniors are willing or able to give. 
  • They tend to bark a lot when ignored – This can be a problem, particularly if living in an area with noise restrictions. 
  • Tendency to turn shy when not properly socialized – If they are not properly looked after, Australian Shepherds can turn inwardly shy. This is the opposite of what a senior needs. 
  • They are stubborn and easily become dominant – Australian Shepherds like to get their way. This turns them rather stubborn and dominant if not handled correctly. 
  • They tend to chase anything that moves – If there are grandchildren involved, this could create a bit of a safety issue. They may even chase a jogger going down the street if you are not careful. 
  • They shed a lot – This makes for a lot of cleanup, which is something that many seniors are no longer able to do regularly. This breed also requires a lot of grooming. 
  • They are prone to health issues – Due to their level of activity and weak bone structure, Australian Shepherds, tend to have more medical issues than other comparative breeds. 

Because of these reasons and others not listed, seniors are probably better off with another dog breed. 

5 Things to Keep in Mind About Australian Shepherds

If you are still considering whether or not an Australian Shepherd is a good choice for you or a senior in your life, here are five things that you will want to keep in mind. 

They Are Meant to be Working Dogs

Australian Shepherds have work in their blood. They were never meant to just lie idly around the house. You will need to have the room for them to run around and get their energy out, or there will likely be many issues that you must encounter as a result. 

You Will Want to Socialize Them Early On

These are dogs that need to be around people in order to let their guard down. If you do not socialize them early on, they will become shy and fearful of both people and strange noises. This is not what you want to happen, so it is important to spend a lot of time with them from the very first day that they arrive at your home. 

Australian Shepherds Have a Mind of Their Own

Most Australian Shepherds are smart, almost to the point of being manipulative. They will quickly try to become the boss of the house if you let them. With seniors, this is not ideal, so it is something that you will need to consider. 

They Require a Great Deal of Grooming

While Australian Shepherds are beautiful, they require a great deal of care from the owner in order to stay that way. No matter what you do, they will also shed a lot. This combines to result in a lot of work that you might not be prepared for. It is not fair to the dog to neglect their hair, so you might want to think about that before bringing one home. 

Be Ready to Visit the Vet a Lot

Many Australian Shepherds develop allergies. Because of all of the running that they do, hip issues become common as well. All of this to say that you will probably be visiting the vet quite a bit with your dog. 

Wrap-Up

If you are looking for a dog for a senior, you may want to look for a breed other than an Australian Shepherd. While these dogs are playful and loveable, they are better suited for a family with members who can go outside and play energetically with them daily. For seniors, you might want to look for a dog that is a bit lower maintenance overall. 

Jacqueline Hamel

I’m a lifetime dog owner of several breeds and a recent Cattle Dog enthusiast after adopting two puppy siblings Bindi and Banjo. Now, I’m on a mission to better understand Heelers and other herding dogs. Hopefully, through this blog, I can share the joy and lessons learned from these intelligent, protective, loyal, athletic, and intelligent dogs.

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