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Hi there - my husband and I are considering adopting a rescue puppy (10 weeks old) that's a mix of mini schnauzer and Australian cattle/heeler. How concerned should we about the reputation of the ACs to be aggressive with tendencies to nip and bite? The dog's current foster family said that he hasn't exhibited any of these behaviors and that he's laidback, but is there a risk that the aggression may emerge later in life?

Appreciate any insights - thank you.
 

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There has been lots of discussion lately about dog breeds labeled as "aggressive breeds." Although surely this puppy's personality will develop beyond what it is now at 10 weeks old, I don't think there's a strong reason to suspect that the puppy will become aggressive as an adult simply by virtue of its breed. I actually had not heard that ACDs had a reputation in that way, and so often with rescues they are really taking a shot in the dark at whatever breeds are mixed in there!

It might be more telling if you knew something about the puppy's parents and their temperament, but at the same time this is a very young puppy and if you're ready for the time and effort involved with a baby puppy, I think you're also ready to work through many personality quirks if they happen to pop up.

ETA: Plus, we have to remember that they are saying there's Miniature Schnauzer in there...generally expected to be the opposite of the things you're afraid of (friendly, obedient, eager to please...) so sounds like this is truly a "puppy surprise" we're looking at! :laugh:
 

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I would expect a very mouthy dog but not an aggressive one. Based entirely on breed description/mix. I would also highly be inclined to believe what I saw in the dog in front of me rather than worry about potential based on breed guesses.

(And yeah, ACDs have a REP for being mouthy puppies and 'take no crap' adults, but that's not the same thing as aggressive. Just, you know, they're not going to tolerate being treated unfairly or rude dogs or rough/inappropriate handling.)
 

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A few thoughts.

1) I'd be weary of making decisions entirely on breed labeling by the rescue. The breed guesses made by shelters and rescues are notoriously inaccurate. Crossbred dogs are hard to identify reliably, and breed guesses tend to be haphazard at best. Add to that that often they are being made by people without a great deal of breed knowledge. Unless both parents are known without a doubt, don't assign so much weight to breed guesses.

2) I agree strongly with making decisions based on the dog in front of you. Unfortunately, at 10 weeks old, that temperament/personality is going to change. That said- meet the puppy. See how he reacts to meeting strangers. If possible, see him out in the world somewhere and see how he interacts with the world. Starting with a puppy is something of a shot in the dark- whether they come from a rescue, shelter, or known breeding . You don't know beyond a shadow of a doubt what that dog is going to be like when it grows up. You do, however, have the ability to temper that dog from puppyhood. This means control of early socialization/experiences, control of early training, etc.

3) I disagree with describing cattle dogs as having "aggressive tendencies to nip and bite". I think that's an unfair assessment of the breed. They are certainly a "take no cr*p" kind of breed, and can be mouthy as puppies. They can be sensitive to motion, for sure. They also tend to express themselves with their mouths more than other breeds might. Some have trouble with guarding. They're more complex than just "aggressive tendencies". I think deciding against the breed is more about understanding the intricacies of the breed and knowing what issues are likely to crop up in raising one.
 

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3) I disagree with describing cattle dogs as having "aggressive tendencies to nip and bite". I think that's an unfair assessment of the breed. They are certainly a "take no cr*p" kind of breed, and can be mouthy as puppies. They can be sensitive to motion, for sure. They also tend to express themselves with their mouths more than other breeds might. Some have trouble with guarding. They're more complex than just "aggressive tendencies". I think deciding against the breed is more about understanding the intricacies of the breed and knowing what issues are likely to crop up in raising one.
I am going to say this not because I think it is necessarily relevant to this dog, because it may well not be based a lot on everything else in your post, but I really want to affirm this - a lot.

I have an ACD-X puppy. He uses his mouth more than pretty much any other puppy I have ever had, except possibly my GSD-X and at that it's basically a tie. He likes biting things. He just does. Shoes and pants legs and feet and hands and noses and tugs and toys. He got a lot better, has back slid some with teething. He has certainly made me bleed and sometimes those bites are HARD.

But.

He is also the sweetest freaking puppy in the WORLD. I have no doubt his personality will change with maturity, and he's definitely a confident, bold, puppy but he is super, super affectionate and equating his tendency to bite with any kind of aggression just doesn't work. His temperament is excellent. He is really sweet and friendly. He just also likes using his mouth a lot. Like he wiggles up to people to be loved on and I have to stop them sticking their face in his with a 'he will bite your nose and it will hurt' warnin.
 

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I've never had an ACDx but I have had many many Schanuzers; they as puppies bite on things as all puppies do; when out of the puppy stage I taught mine to mouth not bite if you handed them a treat, took a toy, etc. and yes the puppy bites can be hard and hurt, just teach him. My Molly is a Boston and believe me she has one of the most amazing bite strengths I have had in a dog I've had except my Doberman's and she holds on and locks her jaw; but it still takes teaching and constant reinforcement; she is now 16mths old and I thought it would stop when she hit a year, NOT !!!!
 

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The difference in my ACD/BCx (and the GSDx) and the other puppies, all of whom do puppy biting, isn't really even in intensity, though both made me bleed more regularly than others. It's in frequency. The other dogs would get playful and mouthy or would get curious about something and mouthy - it's how puppies play and it's how they explore. The two I'm talking about it's like 'I'm awake, my mouth is latched onto something, usually a person'. The GSD x has been fine for years, the ACD/BC is much better, but these dogs have extra 'USE YOUR MOUTH' bred into them. IT's how they work. All puppies sniff, too, but a beagle's going to be a little more dedicated, you know?

And yeah, my boston even at 11 is queen of being able to hold a bite in the house though she'd rather die than bite a person. Great at tug though.
 

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vscosta,

My own experiences with various breeds taught me that raising a pup correctly is much more important than worrying about things that might pop up. If you raise and socialize the pup properly you'll be able to spot undesirable behavior in an instant and be able to deflect or stop it.
 

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Hello,
I too have just decided to adopt a puppy of the same age and mix, I wonder if they're from the same litter? :) I was curious about the ACD in him as well and am excited to see what kind of personality he'll develop.
 
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