6 Reasons Why Australian Shepherds Are Good Guard Dogs

6 Reasons Why Australian Shepherds Are Good Guard Dogs

For some people, they choose to own a dog not just for the cutesy cuddles and companionship, but for protection as well. If you’re looking for a dog that can keep watch over your home and its inhabitants, one breed you might consider is the Australian Shepherd. Are Aussies good guard dogs?

Aussies excel at guarding the household for these 6 great reasons:

  1. Herding ancestry
  2. Large, somewhat intimidating size
  3. Lots of barking
  4. Very protective of their owner
  5. Alert and perceptive
  6. Nearly boundless energy

Although Australian Shepherds will not violently attack like other guard dogs–putting them more into watchdog territory–they fit many other characteristics expected of a good guard dog. Keep reading to learn more about why the Aussie could be the perfect pet to keep your whole family safe and sound!

6 Reasons Australian Shepherds Excel at Protecting Your Family

Strong Herding Ancestry

The Australian Shepherd has always been known for its herding, all the way back to when we only had oral descriptions and storytelling to pass on the legacy of the breed. Most Aussies of the 19th and 20th centuries worked on farms where they’d collect livestock and send them towards once place, such as a corral.

Even though we’re a long ways away from the origins of Aussies in today’s time, the Australian Shepherd has not forgotten its roots. His undying herding instinct will translate to your Australian Shepherd wanting to keep all his favorite people–your family–in one place where they’re safe.

Another element of the Aussie’s herding background that comes in handy for guarding is the breed’s fearlessness. Think of all the common predators that try to pick off livestock animals like sheep or goats. We’re talking about ferocious creatures such as wolves or bears. The Aussie would not back down against these larger animals, showing that in a real threat today, you could similarly rely on your Australian Shepherd. Talk about a dependable dog breed!

Large, Intimidating Size

We’ve all seen the little dog that thinks it’s ferocious, but its bark is not worse than its bite. Dogs like these scare no one.

To qualify as a guard dog, a canine must be bigger than the animals it’s herding. It also helps if the dog is large enough that when predators come around, the dog’s size is intimidating and can encourage the predator to back down.

The Australian Shepherd fits those descriptions to a T. Although it’s a mid-sized breed, adult male Aussies are between 20 and 23 inches tall and females 18 to 21 inches. Males will also weigh 55 to 70 pounds and females 35 to 55 pounds.

Sure, you look at your Aussie and see an adorable sweet baby, but predators will not view the dog in the same way. The Australian Shepherd is large and weighty enough that he can fulfill the role of guard dog and watchdog for the whole family.

Barks Often

A dog standing around looking tough is rarely enough to scare off many predators, especially bigger, more ferocious ones. The dog must also be primed to intimidate the predator, and they can do that through a strong, vocal bark.

Aussies are far from stoic. We’re sure you’ve heard your Aussie bark, probably a lot. Unless they’re just a puppy, then your dog will have a throaty, angry bark that’s meant at a warning cry against those trying to attack its family.

When an Australian Shepherd begins barking, it’s not always easy to get them to stop. The reasons this breed will bark are multiple. Some Australian Shepherds begin barking up a storm to burn off energy. Others do so as a reaction to threats, such as when a car drives down your street, a thunderstorm rumbles in the sky, or a squirrel is on the lawn. In some cases, Aussies even bark out of boredom.

Let’s go back to why your dog might bark at outside stimuli. In the eyes of your Australian Shepherd, your mailman coming up to the porch or that cat across the street are threats. Your dog begins sounding off to warn you that hey, something is near your property that shouldn’t be there. In the case of a real threat, you can rely on your Aussie to begin barking for the same reason.

Their barking is beneficial in two ways. For one, all the commotion your Aussie makes will alert you to get to that room and see what’s going on. Also, your dog barking so mightily could scare off a threat such as a burglar.

Protective Streak Towards Their Owner

We’ve discussed this on the blog before, but an Australian Shepherd will do whatever it can to protect you, its owner. You’re their favorite person, and your dog will love those you most closely associate with as well, including your partner and your children.

By default, your Aussie will be wary of people they don’t know, including criminals who could be threats to your family’s livelihood.

You do want to make sure this doesn’t go too far in the other direction though, where your Aussie trusts absolutely no one but those people it lives with and sees every day. Then, when you want to have friends over or you need to let in the plumber because your toilet is broken, your Australian Shepherd could misbehave and even act aggressively in some instances.

Alert and Perceptive

You know how some dogs will bark at seemingly nothing? That’s not a trait of the Australian Shepherd. Before they start barking, they’ll watch what they perceive as a threat and gauge it. Then, if they feel uncomfortable about the potential threat, they’ll start barking to let you know.

This alertness goes back to their herding ancestry, as it was the duty of the Aussie to watch a field of livestock and ensure the safety of all. That doesn’t mean their perception is necessarily spot-on, though. For example, you don’t view thunder and lightning as a threat, but your Aussie might.

With a bit of training, you can teach them when to bark and when not to so their alertness can be another means of keeping the family safe.

Lots of Energy

The last reason we think the Australian Shepherd makes such a great guard dog is that he’s very energetic. Most Aussie owners have the problem that their dog has too much energy. You need to give your Australian Shepherd things and do and ensure they get at least an hour of exercise every day to begin to drain their batteries.

Even still, those batteries are almost never empty. Some dogs can sleep through anything, but not the Aussie. If they hear a strange sound in the middle of the night, they’ll be up and on their feet in moments, ready to sniff out what the threat could be. They also won’t stay quiet about things, as we’ve mentioned.

Most household threats don’t happen in broad daylight, but rather, in the dark hours of the night when you and the rest of the family are asleep. You’ll slumber more easily knowing you can depend on your Aussie anytime since their energy is never completely expended.


Australian Shepherds are herding dogs through and through, so they’re great at monitoring threats and warding off those threats when they arrive. The other traits that make Aussies so adept at protecting the family include their astute awareness, boundless energy, vocal barking, a large size, and their protectiveness, even obsession towards safeguarding their owner.

To reiterate, the Aussie won’t viciously attack a home invader like some other dog breeds will. You can safely rely on your Aussie to do everything but turn to violence though. For all those reasons, the Australian Shepherd is a fantastic four-legged friend to have!

Ryan Wood

Over 20 years ago I got my first Australian Shepherd. Ever since then, my family and I have been constantly learning and immersing myself with these wonderful and intriguing dogs. Now with 6 Aussie's and a couple Australian Cattle Dogs (aka Blue Heelers) in the family tree, We've learned from on-the-ground experience what makes the Australian breeds different than "regular dogs" and what doesn't. This is the site where we share everything we've learned.

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