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Australian Shepherd Protectiveness: What You Must Know

Let’s take a look at whether Australian shepherds are protective and whether or not they would protect their owners in a confrontation. Everything will be answered below.


Are Australian Shepherds Protective?

Australian shepherds are fairly protective over their owners and close family.

While most Aussies have some level of protectiveness, they are not reliable guard dogs. and for some this trait might be harder to see.

  • I have friends whose Aussies are not particularly protective over them or their families, even when confronted by strangers…

The level of socialization your Aussie receives as a puppy can have an influence over this.

Pups that are constantly meeting new dogs and strangers are likely to be less reactive in these situations when older.

Why Are Australian Shepherds Protective?

Since the breed originated in the 19th century, they’ve been used almost exclusively on ranches herding (and protecting) livestock.

While most are well aware that Aussies are herders, only few know that part of their responsibility was to protect the livestock too.

This is almost certainly the reason why Aussies have a protective streak in them today.

An additional reason can also be due to the fact that Aussies are highly intelligent, sensitive, and connected to their owners and family. Most breeds like this (even if they aren’t herders) tend to have some level of protectiveness over their loved ones.

Will An Australian Shepherd Protect Its Owner?

Most Australian shepherds will not protect their owners with physical force. They may bark, growl, and act protective, but it’s unlikely for an Australian shepherd to provide physical protection.

It must be noted that Australian shepherds are not guard dogs, and they lack the aggression necessary to follow through with a physical attack.

For a dog to physically protect their owner, they must have at least some amount of aggression/guard dog qualities. And Aussies don’t have that naturally.

Of course, I can’t generalize here, and some Aussies may very well have what it takes to protect their owner, but this is likely to be only very few.

Are Female Australian Shepherds More Protective Than Males

There is a belief that female Australian Shepherds tend to exhibit slightly more protective behavior towards their puppies and owners compared to males, although this claim hasn’t exactly been proven.

The truth is that there is no substantial difference between females and males when it comes to protectiveness. Apart from when a female is nursing an offspring, to which there will be a heightened level of protectiveness coming from them.

But in general, the answer is no. More on the differences between male and female Aussies here.

Can I Train My Australian Shepherd To Protect Me?

While it’s possible to train an Australian shepherd to protect you with force, it’s not advised. Aussies are not guard dogs by nature, so this is not an appropriate role for this breed.

For those that want protection, it’s best to choose a breed that this comes naturally to. True guard dogs are far better suited and will be reliable when you need them to be.

A big problem when trying to train a breed to guard (that isn’t naturally like that) is that they can be unreliable when the time comes.

Do Australian Shepherds Turn on Their Owner?

Very rarely will an Australian shepherd turn on its owner. Aussies (when raised correctly) always respect and love their owners, and turning on them would be the last thing they do.

However, the chance of this happening increases when an Aussie is specifically trained to be a guard dog, or protect their owner.

Again, yet another reason why Aussies should not be trained to be more protective than they already are. They aren’t guard dogs and shouldn’t be made to be.


Most Australian shepherds have a protective streak. But this only goes so far. While Aussies will typically act protective (barking, growling, snarling) when confronted, very few will actually back this up with an attack.

Australian shepherds may act protective, but remember, these dogs are not aggressive and they have no history of being guard dogs.

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Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.