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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
TL;DR Active couple wanting to get an Australian cattle dog but live in an apartment looking for suggestions.

Long version:
My girlfriend and I have been looking at getting our first dog since we moved out of our parents houses and in together. We both have completed college and have been in the work force for around 1-3 years to give you a rough estimate of our ages. We recently moved in together and we have been together about 5 years, however we both agree there is something missing in our lives and that is a dog.

This wont be our first dog as we have both grown up with dogs in our families at all times. She grew up with labs and goldens, while I grew up with a slew of 2x goldens, 2x border collies, 1x german/husky mix, 2x labs and recently an ACD/collie mix.

We have been considering an Australian Cattle dog as our first dog together for a few reasons however we have one worry and that is we know ACDs are active little guys and we live in a 1 bedroom apartment (890ish square feet). Now trust me we have read everywhere people saying ACDs cant be apartment dogs they need a job 24/7 and we realize these dogs need lots of attention but alot of those people have never actually tried it just stating their opinion. My families ACD/collie pup is a fetch and bike ride machine and runs circles around our senior labs intelligence/trick wise. The intelligence is one of the main reasons we agreed we wanted an ACD along with its medium size. Here are our ideas and thoughts we would like to know if this would be ok to be done.

Since our apartment isn't too big we wanted something small-medium sized and I am not a fan of the small (barking cats) that are hard to train as cute as they may look but something like a lab or golden will be too big for our apartment with the cage being the biggest space eater.

I grew up on a farm and all the dogs I grew up with were trained pretty well by my dad, brother, and I to the point where we can take them places and not worry about them being off the leash. I will be training this ACD to do the same and learn plenty of tricks. I cant stand dogs that don't listen and I will expect highly of this dog, my girlfriend, and myself to make sure we all learn and teach correctly. My girlfriends dogs have been a mix of fetchers that wont leave you if you have their ball to dogs that are mamas boys and don't listen the best some times.

The dog will be crate trained and crated for at most 7 hours on certain days for the first couple years until it can be trusted to roam the living area. I work less than 15 min from the apartment so I will be going home on my lunch hour daily to let them out/potty/play. So max they would be crated 4 hours at a time.

We both love Fetch, Frisbee, games, and I enjoy roughhousing with dogs so the dog will get a daily walk and plenty of play time either at a dog park or behind the apartments playing fetch. We go on bike rides occasionally and especially when going camping with my family so they will get some jogging in. Of course there will be more bike rides when the weather is warmer.

Our current families dogs are pretty welcoming of new dogs and we plan to associate our pup with as many neighbors dogs and people as possible to keep it friendly. Currently we are one of the only people in our complex without a dog(s) so there will be lots of other dogs/people to mingle with. We also plan to take the dog everywhere we go when we visit family/camp/travel so the dog wont be kenneled unless its absolutely necessary.

We are hoping that raising a pup from a young age it will get use to the noises associated with living in an apartment so we can teach them commands like quiet early to keep them from barking while we are gone.

We have also considered a border collie since it is around the same size and intelligence, however we both would like an ACD way more. We are looking for input from people who have either done this or have suggestions that will help. Stories welcome.
 

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We have numerous "barking cats" on this forum that are well-trained and participate in sports, regularly hike, etc.

Owning a dog on your own is not like having a dog when you're a kid. Your parents did a lot you didn't realize. As for "well, nobody tried having an ACD in an apartment", well, I've never tried putting a potato chip up my nose, but I think you'd trust me if I told you it's not a great idea.

ACDs are a lot of dog. They have really high exercise requirements, can be really reactive, are incredibly smart (which is as much blessing as curse) and can get neurotic and out of control very quickly if left to their own devices. I'm not saying you can't do it, I'm saying you probably shouldn't. You'll ignore me.

I would suggest an adult mixed breed from a local shelter or rescue. Something nice, biddable and good with other dogs that doesn't have the insane drives and needs that working dogs like ACDs do.
 

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I don't have an ACD, but I have read a lot about them (we have some ACD enthusiasts on this forum) and the impression I get is that one of the most difficult things about them is that as an owner you need to be ON POINT all the time. If they think you're not on your game and they have a better idea, they're going to do their idea instead, which may not be something you like.

They demand a lot from their handlers, not just in amount of exercise but in being actively engaged with them. They don't leave a lot of room for handler error, compared to a more forgiving dog like a lab.

I do agree that they're the kind of dog that needs a job, whether that be herding or Frisbee, they have that drive to do the thing. If you don't engage their mind as much as their body you're asking for trouble.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Owning a dog on your own is not like having a dog when you're a kid. Your parents did a lot you didn't realize. As for "well, nobody tried having an ACD in an apartment", well, I've never tried putting a potato chip up my nose, but I think you'd trust me if I told you it's not a great idea.

ACDs are a lot of dog. They have really high exercise requirements, can be really reactive, are incredibly smart (which is as much blessing as curse) and can get neurotic and out of control very quickly if left to their own devices. I'm not saying you can't do it, I'm saying you probably shouldn't. You'll ignore me.

I would suggest an adult mixed breed from a local shelter or rescue. Something nice, biddable and good with other dogs that doesn't have the insane drives and needs that working dogs like ACDs do.
I see I may have struck a bad note with the barking cat reference and I apologize, to each its own when it comes to your 4 legged friend however this is my OP and we agree we could never own one.

As for the dogs I was raised with you jump to conclusions, I grew up with responsibilities. From the time my brother and I were 10 to the time I moved out the dogs were OURS so other than physically driving to the store to buy food (which we weren't able to do because we weren't old enough) everything was done by us. The dogs before were trained by our dad who taught us what to do. The dogs were not the only things we raised we had lots of other individual animal responsibilities from small rabbits and chickens all the way up to hogs and cattle.

We realize ACDs have high exercise requirements which is why I wrote about the planned daily walks, dog parks, and fetch/frisbee as well as games and learning commands in the apartment all night until bed time. We spent hours with our dogs growing up and plan to spend as much time with the new dog as we possibly can. We aren't looking for a dog just to say we have a dog to come home to then forget about.

We have considered adopting from a local place however most high end places require more background work than my drivers, hunting, and firearms licenses combined and the places that don't require insane amounts of background only have "Aggressive breed" mixes that aren't allowed in our complex.
 

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My recommendation would be that if you want an ACD, get an adult ACD or mostly ACD from a shelter or rescue, so you can pick one that's known to be a little lower-key than the average ACD, and you can skip the hyperactive adolescent years, which are the really rough ones with apartment life. If you get a pup and it grows up to be a really wound up example of a dog you're stuck with a decade plus of that with at least the first part of it stuck in a tiny living space, which isn't fair to you or the dog.

I'd much rather keep the average giant dog in a small apartment than the average ACD, tbh, regardless of size. A medium size highly active dog takes up a lot more physical and psychological space than even the biggest sluggier dog. Plus there's the noise level and neighbors to think of.

The only truly vicious dog I've ever personally encountered was an ACD that was continually understimulated and cooped up. It ended up mauling my mother and being put down. Obviously a really extreme example, not the norm, but they're definitely dogs that need to work, IMO.

I can almost guarantee there's a shelter or rescue in driving distance that will adopt to you. For every one that has crazy stringent requirements there are others that are like HERE TAKE A DOG THANKS BYE.
 

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The size of the house doesn't really matter. My dog is confined mostly to the kitchen and family room, and our bedroom at night, which is less than 1k sqft. It doesn't matter to him that there is another 1k+ sqft in the rest of the house because he's not exercising inside, he's exercising outside. It's all about how much time and effort you are willing to put into the dog, not how big your home is.

With that said, ACDs can be a lot of dog and require a lot more of your time and energy that you might expect. On a farm, with your parents doing most of the care, it might have been easy to just let the dog out. In an apartment, you're going to need to commit to at least an hour walking per day (all at once, at a good pace) at least while the dog is young. Trust me that this is very much not fun when it's freezing cold and dark outside after work, or you've agreed to meet friends at 6 so you have to leave work early, run home, and walk the dog before you can go out with them for an hour or two.

It's not impossible to have an ACD in an apartment, and I really don't think that the size of your dwelling really matters, but I don't think I would recommend one for your situation.

They are also not known for being dog friendly, which may be a problem since you talk about wanting your dog to be with family and friends' dogs.
 

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The size of the house doesn't really matter. My dog is confined mostly to the kitchen and family room, and our bedroom at night, which is less than 1k sqft. It doesn't matter to him that there is another 1k+ sqft in the rest of the house because he's not exercising inside, he's exercising outside. It's all about how much time and effort you are willing to put into the dog, not how big your home is.
This is a sentiment I hear a lot, but I think a small house is a lot different than a small apartment. So is a portion of a house, where you have additional non-dog space.

Having lived for a couple years in a small apartment with a very energetic, bouncy dog, I wouldn't do it again by choice.
 

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This is a sentiment I hear a lot, but I think a small house is a lot different than a small apartment. So is a portion of a house, where you have additional non-dog space.

Having lived for a couple years in a small apartment with a very energetic, bouncy dog, I wouldn't do it again by choice.
I guess I should have added that during week days I've been living in a small-ish 2 bedroom apartment with Watson and my parents, for the past 7 months, and it hasn't been a problem. He's pretty high energy, and it's nice to also have a house to go back to, but I could do it long term if I needed to and it wouldn't be a problem
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the input parus and elrohwen
All the points you bring up are ones we have read about and discused as possible issues of "what ifs"

My biggest worry was back home we could let the dogs go run around outside, without worry of them leaving the property in an apartment I cant exactly trust my dog off the leash everywhere some places less than others obviously.

The issue with dog size is we are in an apartment that sets weight limits and breed restrictions. Nothing larger than a lab (basically) and nothing considered "Aggressive".
Also the issue with us having a small apartment we have room for a medium sized kennel at most, so that kinda limits our breads a bit.

Doing a little research how do Aussie Shepherds stand on the needs list? My girlfriend is checking this from her work messaging me different spaniel breeds. Any other breads that would be a little better suited to apartment life without being haywire. I am spoiled our ACD/Collie mix Si as in uncle Si from duck dynasty is one of the best and smartest dogs I have ever had he listens better than any other dog I have ever had and will play for hours which I love but I dont know how he would do in my apartment now for a couple years.
 

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My biggest worry was back home we could let the dogs go run around outside, without worry of them leaving the property in an apartment I cant exactly trust my dog off the leash everywhere some places less than others obviously.
In an apartment, I would assume that you will never be able to let the dog off leash. Not that it won't ever happen, but the odds are a lot smaller when you don't have your own land. You might want to go to dog parks, but ACDs are not good dog park dogs in general so that may not be an option. So plan that you will be doing all exercise on leash, or having to drive a decent distance to get somewhere you can do off leash stuff.

Doing a little research how do Aussie Shepherds stand on the needs list? My girlfriend is checking this from her work messaging me different spaniel breeds.
Aussies are fun dogs. Probably more dog friendly and dog-park-dogs than ACDs though it depends on the lines and the individual. The energy needs are going to be similar.

Spaniels are super fun dogs. Off leash reliability can be iffy - they are hunting dogs and sometimes following their nose is their priority. It can be done and they don't tend to range as far as the pointing breeds, it's just not as easy as herding dogs. They are fun and engaging and love to be with their people though.
 

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Doing a little research how do Aussie Shepherds stand on the needs list?
Totally biased right here, Aussies are great! I (currently) live in a 3 bedroom apartment, and I've seen at least two others within the complex (we vary from 1 bedrooms to 3 bedrooms where I live) and there's also a lot of places I can walk my dog outside, etc, and my exercise plan looks a lot like yours (right down to the 'I live 15 minutes away from work so I will be walking my dog during lunch as well'). I think Aussies are a great choice if you want something that is intelligent with a lot of energy but is good with dogs, can be trained to have an off switch, and you can also get a dog from a "show" breeder instead of a "working" breeder to get a dog that isn't quite as high energy. They are similar to ACD in terms of intelligence and energy, but from what I've read between the two, the Aussie is more easy-going than the ACD. (People, PLEASE correct me if I am wrong here!)

PM me if you want more information on Aussies specifically, or talk to Keechak. She's helped me SO much in my quest to getting an Aussie, and I'm obsessed with doing research so I know all the text-book information regarding Aussies too.
 

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I agree an ACD is a bad idea unless you are going with an adult from a shelter with a known temperament. Puppies in an apartment are just an all around bad idea anyway. They cry and get you in trouble for noise complaints.

My Aussie would not do well in an apartment. While she has a fantastic off switch, she is what some would consider very BARKY. When she wants to play, she barks. When she is playing, she barks. Aussies like to bark and is not easily trained out. Also.. while they generally have off leash skills.. mine does not. Keep in mind that no matter how much training you do that off leash might not be an option because dogs are individuals regardless of breed and don't always live up to our standards. Not to say the right Aussie wouldn't work.

Since you are obviously interested in the herders.. I say look into adult/adolescent herding breeds in the shelter. Find an individual dog that fits what you want moreso than a breed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Aussies are fun dogs. Probably more dog friendly and dog-park-dogs than ACDs though it depends on the lines and the individual.

Spaniels are super fun dogs. Off leash reliability can be iffy - they are hunting dogs and sometimes following their nose is their priority. It can be done, it's just not as easy as herding dogs. They are fun and engaging and love to be with their people though.
See being off the leash is a huge deal to me, I want my dog to be not more than 10 feet away and never more and listen to commands while moving, wait at a crossing for me to cross and give the OK, not run off when it smells something and always bring the ball back during fetch without getting side tracked.

We keep Si on a leash while walking/biking at camp grounds for his safety from cars and other animals but any other place like walking paths, sidewalks, running down the road he knows no more than 10-20 feet away if we say his name he stops and sits, and if he reaches a crossing he stops and waits for us to catch up and check for cars. He wont even run across the road chasing his ball he sits and stares until we realize the ball bounced across the road and go get it for him. The dog is brilliant and I will want off leash security with whatever I have.

Like I said I have high expectancies of whatever dog we decide to get, which is also a reason I'm kind of leery about adopting anything other than a pup. Those first few months as a puppy are crucial when teaching them and word association.
 

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IME, whether or not your dog can walk off leash has a lot to do with how you train your dog, and also your dogs personality.
 

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See being off the leash is a huge deal to me, I want my dog to be not more than 10 feet away and never more and listen to commands while moving, wait at a crossing for me to cross and give the OK, not run off when it smells something and always bring the ball back during fetch without getting side tracked.

We keep Si on a leash while walking/biking at camp grounds for his safety from cars and other animals but any other place like walking paths, sidewalks, running down the road he knows no more than 10-20 feet away if we say his name he stops and sits, and if he reaches a crossing he stops and waits for us to catch up and check for cars. He wont even run across the road chasing his ball he sits and stares until we realize the ball bounced across the road and go get it for him. The dog is brilliant and I will want off leash security with whatever I have.

Like I said I have high expectancies of whatever dog we decide to get, which is also a reason I'm kind of leery about adopting anything other than a pup. Those first few months as a puppy are crucial when teaching them and word association.
Yeah.. I thought my Aussie would be very obedient since I had her as a puppy and be off leash reliable etc. Nope. She is an individual and a bit stubborn. I understand why the wanting a pup.. but getting one in an apartment can be a huge pain in the butt.
 

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Honestly, if those are your expectations, you are going to be disappointed in pretty much any dog. I know dogs with near perfect recall and they are still not that well behaved. Dogs are not robots. Those amazing great dogs are often born and not made. Putting those kinds of expectations on a puppy is going to be rough for you and the puppy.

Also, getting a puppy is more of a crap shoot for temperament than an older rescue in foster care. The dog I know with naturally perfect recall was adopted at 9 months old and had been a stray.
 

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Honestly, if those are your expectations, you are going to be disappointed in pretty much any dog. I know dogs with near perfect recall and they are still not that well behaved. Dogs are not robots.
Yeah. This is the vibe I'm getting. I see too many people that had perfect childhood dogs from a breed or mix, then want that breed they had growing up and are surprised when that dog is nothing like what they expected.
 

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Crasher, depending on your area there are a lot of ACDs and ACD type mixes available in shelters in some parts of the country. I've met all kinds of ACDs. Heelers are very popular here and not always bred to standard. I see huge 70 lb ones, tiny ones (15ish inches and purebred), docked tail, full tail, stocky, slim, high energy, low energy, some I meet are very shy and reserved, others friendly, others very protective. Just pointing out that they vary quite a bit like any breed that gets popular seems to do.

What I'm saying is that a rescue could be a great option especially if you're anywhere near Texas or neighboring states.

My dog is probably some sort of ACD x terrier thing from a shelter and he's great! He's smaller (21 lbs) and very fun to have around. Tons and tons of energy but a very good dog for an active person to own. I've been thrilled with him. I may be biased a bit ;)

With an adult or even a mix you can often find a dog that has traits that fit you better than the average member of the breed. An older puppy or adult is a good way to really get a 'what you see is what you get' kind of deal. Hank was 8 months when I got him.
 

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For the record, Hank is not okay off leash in many areas. He has too much prey drive.
 

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Like I said I have high expectancies of whatever dog we decide to get, which is also a reason I'm kind of leery about adopting anything other than a pup. Those first few months as a puppy are crucial when teaching them and word association.
This is exactly why people are recommending a more grown-up dog. The only way to guarantee you get the attributes you're set on, is to get a dog that already has the attributes you're set on.

Puppies aren't as malleable as people think they are, and breeds aren't that standardized in terms of temperament, so while one can get a sense of the possibilities and probabilities by looking at the parents and at the breed standards, it's ultimately a dice roll.

If there are attributes you cannot live without in the dog, a pup is generally not a good choice. (Additionally, with a pup you will probably not really get what you want until after adolescence, even if it's a fantastic pup destined to grow up to be the best dog ever, so you've got up to two years before the dog gets there. It can be a long two years, for someone who has an ideal in mind.)

Puppies are for people who like surprises.
 
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