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Will an Australian Shepherd Protect You?

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A black tri Australian Shepherd with blue eyes

Otherwise known as Aussie, the Australian Shepherd is deemed one of the smartest dog breeds on earth. In addition, the breed often appears on lists of the world's cutest dog breeds. Aussies' intelligence and cuteness make them a trendy breed in the U.S., Canada, and France. Part of the herding group, Aussies are full of energy and are happiest when they are given a job to do. Like other shepherd dog breeds, Aussies also excel at many dog sports, especially herding.

Given their intelligence, will an Australian Shepherd protect you? Or, will an Australian Shepherd make a good guard dog for you? Usually, Australian Shepherds are not good protectors. However, they will bark to alert you of a potential danger and let you handle the situation yourself. To learn why Australian Shepherds are not deemed good guard dogs, read on.

Why is The Aussie Not Deemed a Good Protective Dog?

Before I answer this question, let’s look into the purpose of Australian Shepherds. What were they initially bred to do? Aussies were originally developed in California in the 19th century as herding dogs. Like other herding breeds, the Australian Shepherd is livestock-oriented. Their primary jobs included mustering and droving livestock. They can also protect the animals they are herding to some extent. Nevertheless, the Australian Shepherd is not considered a true guard dog because its primary instinct is to move livestock not guard them.

There are livestock herding dogs and livestock guardian dogs, all of which are nonetheless classified as herding dogs. The Australian Shepherd is a livestock herding dog. Some examples of livestock guardian dogs include the German Shepherd, the Great Pyrenees, and the Anatolian Shepherd Dog. Livestock guardian dogs possess powerful protective instincts as opposed to livestock herding dogs, who have strong herding instincts. Furthermore, guardian dogs are extremely loyal, often of intimidating size, and exhibit fearlessness. For example, the German Shepherd, which belongs to the herding group, is renowned for its loyalty and fearlessness.

Australian Shepherds, on the other hand, are renowned for their intelligence, good looks, and affectionate nature. They are also known for bonding strongly with their owners and being protective of them. However, the extent to which an Aussie will protect you is lesser than that of a true guard dog, such as the German Shepherd. Given their instinct, an Aussie will bark to alert you to something unusual occurring outside your home. However, an Aussie will not typically attack unless it's specifically trained to do so.

Australian Shepherds are better served as watchdogs, thanks to their alertness and willingness to bark if an unfamiliar person approaches.

A watchdog such as the Aussie is alert and will keep a watchful eye on you and your property. Watchdogs typically do not attack but will bark to alert you of out-of-the-ordinary something so you can take care of the issue yourself. Conversely, protective dogs such as the German Shepherd will guard your home, alert you to danger, and often attack an intruder.

If someone attacks you, an Australian Shepherd may hesitate to bite the assailant but a German Shepherd won't. Aussies are sweet-natured dogs and won't attack someone, even if it’s their first time seeing a particular person.

Can an Australian Shepherd be Trained to Protect?

Australian Shepherds are extremely smart and biddable and can be trained to do just about anything. Due to their high intelligence, Aussies are quick learners and will listen to whatever their owner asks. So, yes, you can train an Australian Shepherd to protect you. Moreover, Aussies are a high-energy breed that requires a lot of mental stimulation so training them as protective dogs may be a way to keep their mind active and alert.

However, even if you train your Aussie as a protection dog, it likely won’t be as great as a true guard dog. Aussies simply do not have the instincts to supplement this training. Though they are known to be reserved and cautious around strangers, Aussies aren’t as distrustful of new people as true guard dogs. However, an unsocialized Australian Shepherd that isn't used to meeting new people may become fearful of strangers and overly protective of their owners.

They will even become fearful of and aggressive toward people you wouldn’t necessarily want them to become fearful of. As a result, it is not advisable to not socialize your Aussie so as to make it a better protective dog.

What Breed of Dogs Make the Best Protection Dogs?

If you are looking for a dog that will protect you, there are breeds that are specifically bred to protect. These breeds, which make excellent guard dogs, include but are not limited to:
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Anatolian Shepherd
  • German Shepherd
  • Kuvasz
  • Tibetan Mastiff
  • Pyrenean Mastiff
  • Carpathian Shepherd Dog
  • Kangal Shepherd Dog
  • Central Asian Shepherd Dog
  • Caucasian Shepherd Dog
  • Spanish Mastiff
  • Akbash
  • Tatra Shepherd Dog
All of these dogs possess strong guarding instincts and look intimidating, therefore make good protection dogs.


Unlike true guard dogs, Australian Shepherds do not have strong protective instincts. Plus, they look cute rather than intimidating. Aussies have a sweet disposition but are in earnest when herding. They will nip at the heels of and bark at whatever livestock they are herding.

When kept as pets, Aussies are known to exhibit their herding instincts by nipping small children and other dogs in an attempt to herd them. However, this is not a bite and therefore not an aggression issue. Ultimately, it is safe to say that Australian Shepherds are not aggressive enough to be good protection dogs. However, they make great watchdogs and will try to protect their owners.


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