Australian Shepherd Care

The Australian Shepherd is one of the most intelligent, athletic, and adaptable breeds on the planet. These versatile, friendly, protective dogs are great work, activity, and even snuggling companions, and are cherished by owners around the world--in part because Australian Shepherd care and maintenance doesn't take too much work.

Below you'll find plenty of details on raising an Australian Shepherd: puppy care and development, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and more are all covered here. For loads of Australian Shepherd tips, keep reading!

Australian Shepherd Breed Development

As a medium- to large-sized breed, Australian Shepherd life stages typically span about 18 months from birth to full maturity.

Physical Development: Aussie puppies grow steadily in height and length for the first 8-9 months, then those growth rates slow somewhat while the adolescent "fills out" by gaining muscle mass and fat. And when do Australian Shepherds stop growing? The typical Aussie reaches its full adult size (an average of 21 inches at the shoulders in height and 55 pounds in weight) at 12-13 months of age.

Social Development: Aussie pups reach adolescence at about six months, sexual maturity at 10-11 months, and full mental maturity by about 18 months.

For specific milestones in Australian Shepherd growth and development, see the following:

Australian Shepherd Exercise Needs

These dogs are active, athletic, and task-oriented, so Australian Shepherd exercise needs are fairly extensive. With their long history as intelligent herding dogs, Aussies need a variety of activities that not only allow them to stretch their legs (walking, fetch, etc.), but will stimulate them mentally as well as physically (obstacle course or canine sports). They make good jogging and bicycling companions as well.

And specifically how much exercise does an Australian Shepherd need? An adult Aussie, depending on its age and overall activity level, will do well with 60 minutes of proper exercise per day--which you can accomplish with a couple of walks, jogs, or bike rides and a good period of play. You can start exercising your Aussie puppy at three months old by taking it on short (5- to 7-minute) walks, then you can increase the walks' length and frequency as the puppy grows.

A few things to keep in mind when exercising an Australian Shepherd: first, puppies younger than nine months old shouldn't participate in activities that include a lot of jumping, running on hard surfaces, or navigating of stairs, as doing so can injure their still-developing joints and bones. And regardless of age, the use of a leash is recommended when you and your Aussie are in public. These dogs have both high prey drives and strong herding instincts; they'll chase interesting-looking critters--birds, squirrels, cats--if given the chance, and they'll instinctively try to control moving objects--people, animals, even bicyclists and cars--if allowed. A leash will help you control your Aussie in these situations. Even when exercising in your own yard, the area will need to be securely fenced to keep the dog from running off. Otherwise, Australian Shepherds are healthy and hardy, and can exercise in a variety of environments and weather conditions.

Precautions aside, it's important to give your Aussie some exercise every single day. As natural livestock herders, these dogs have a very strong work ethic and need a job to do--and a bored or restless Australian Shepherd will become frustrated, disobedient, and destructive. So consistent exercise will be great for both the dog's and your own peace of mind! A few exercise ideas:

  • Walking/Jogging/Bicycling: Two 20-minute walks (or 15-minute jogs or bike rides) per day is a good target
  • Fetch/Frisbee: Aussies will chase a ball, stick, or Frisbee for hours
  • Tug-of-War: Great indoor, rainy-day activity; use a rope or old towel
  • Dog Park: If properly socialized, Aussies enjoy the company of other dogs
  • Canine Sports: Australian Shepherds can excel in obedience and agility trials, flyball, and other events
  • Hiking: Great bonding activity; bonus if you can find a remote area where the dog can be off-leash


If your Aussie spends a lot of time indoors, it's a good idea to give the dog access to one or more balls or toys that will allow it to burn excess energy. It's also recommended that you establish a regular exercise schedule for the dog, such as walks, jogs, or bike rides after breakfast and dinner and a play period in the afternoon.

Australian Shepherd Maintenance

In terms of shedding and drooling, these dogs need little to moderate care. Australian Shepherd shedding is fair for most of the year, but heavier during the spring (and sometimes fall) shedding season; drooling isn't an issue.

Aussies have medium-length, double-layered, water-resistant coats. And do Australian Shepherds shed? They do, a fair amount all year long--but when they "blow" their undercoats in the spring (and often the fall as well), the shedding can be heavy. Owners will need to brush 1-2 times per week (and more often, of course, during shedding season) to stop an Australian Shepherd from shedding too much. Even so, hair cleanup--vacuuming the floors and lint rollers on clothes and furniture--will be needed from time to time for owners of these dogs.

The good news: an Australian Shepherd almost never drools. If your Aussie is drooling excessively, it might be a sign of a medical issue, in which case a veterinarian's care is recommended.

Australian Shepherd Diet

As a highly active breed, Australian Shepherd food will need to contain nutrients including:

  • Animal proteins and carbohydrates for energy
  • Vitamins and minerals for digestive and immune health
  • Omega fatty acids for coat and skin wellness


This means the best Australian Shepherd dog food is the premium dry kind, particularly brands that are formulated for active breeds. This high-quality food contains balanced portions of the above-listed ingredients, which will keep your Aussie much healthier in the long term--and will probably extend the dog's lifespan.

And though this premium food is expensive, your Aussie won't eat too much of it. The typical adult Australian Shepherd, depending on its age, size, and activity level, will need about 2½ cups of premium dry food per day, divided into two meals. And how much to feed an Australian Shepherd puppy? In reality, not too much less: again depending on age, an Aussie pup will need about 1¾ cups per day, divided into three meals (not two) until six months of age.

For more info on feeding your Aussie from puppyhood through maturity, see this Australian Shepherd feeding chart:


*--Around this time, transition to adult food by first mixing in a bit of adult formula with the puppy formula. Over the course of a week, with each meal add a bit more adult food to the mixture, until the dog is eating it entirely.

If possible, try and stick to the above-listed portions. If constantly overfed (and under-exercised), these dogs will become overweight quickly--and a fat Australian Shepherd will have joint, breathing, and digestive problems, not to mention a potentially shortened lifespan. You can help control your Aussie's weight by having consistent feeding and exercise schedules, by not feeding the dog table scraps, and by not leaving food in the dog's bowl all the time, thereby allowing it to eat when it wants. It's better to put your Aussie's bowl down only at mealtimes--then pick it up a few minutes after the dog begins eating.
If you're worried your Australian Shepherd is overweight, give the dog this simple test: run a hand along its side, and if you can't feel any ribs, it's diet time. Reduce the dog's daily food consumption by one-fourth, and add an extra walk, jog, bike ride, or play period to its daily exercise schedule.

Living Environment

The ideal home for an Aussie is a home with a large, fenced yard. And despite its high activity needs, this breed will be much happier living indoors with the family it loves so much--which makes the Australian Shepherd a house dog for sure! Even so, Aussies don't do well in apartments, as their energy levels and temperaments are just too "busy" for such confined spaces.

In regards to climate: these dogs are highly adaptable. An Australian Shepherd in cold weather will be fine--and if provided enough water, it'll handle heat with equal ease.