Can Australian Shepherds Hunt? The Answer May Surprise You! (2024)

A merle Australian Shepherd standing in the middle of a small stream.

The Australian Shepherd originated from British herding dogs and wasn’t officially recognized by the AKC until 1993.

They are classified as working dogs, and while they are often used for herding livestock on farms and ranches, they are also becoming popular pets.

They are an extremely clever breed and are capable of learning a vast number of skills and commands, but is hunting something they can truly master? 

Can Australian Shepherds hunt? Australian Shepherds can be trained to hunt. They love the outdoors, are very intelligent and loyal, and have a high energy level that helps boost their drive and desire to hunt. They are also very fast, agile, and task driven, which makes them excellent hunters.

If you have an Australian Shepherd and you are hoping to train him to hunt, read on to learn tips that can help make the training process easier for you and your dog.

Can You Train an Australian Shepherd To Hunt?

Australian Shepherds can be trained to hunt. Because they have a herding instinct, they also have a desire to chase other animals.

Many Australian Shepherds chase other dogs and cats, but when taught to hunt, they use those same instincts for prey.

Why Australian Shepherd Can Excel at Hunting

Australian Shepherds may have been bred to be herding dogs, but many of their herding instincts also make them good hunters.

High Intelligence

Australian Shepherds are extremely smart. They love to work on tasks, please their owners, and easily learn commands and tasks.

They are also quick thinkers and adaptable, so they learn during hunts and in real-life situations. 

Easy To Train

Because of their high intelligence, they can be trained to hunt a variety of different animals.

They can learn different hunting commands, how to retrieve small prey, and how to run and corner larger animals. 

High Energy

Hunting requires a lot of fast movement and endurance, and Australian Shepherds have plenty of both.

They are capable of tracking animals and retrieving them, and they aren’t likely to tire or give up in the middle of a hunt.

Excellent Instincts

Australian Shepherds have strong instincts to chase other animals. They are very alert and can sense movement easily.

Their herding instincts help make them great hunters because the drive to chase is focused on their prey.

Athletic, Agile & Fast

Hunting can be demanding on a dog’s body, but Australian Shepherds are built for it.

They are very athletic, fast, and agile, so they can navigate tough terrain, run for long periods of time, and handle going up and down hills and valleys. 

Brave & Alert

Australian Shepherds love the outdoors, and they have adapted to be brave and fearless.

They are also very alert, so they can sense when other animals are around, including predators that could be hunting them.

Works Well in Tandem with Handler

Since Australian Shepherds strive to please their owners, they work well with them when hunting.

Hunting with dogs requires a special bond between the dog and the owner, and Australian Shepherds are very loyal and can focus well during training. 

Enjoys Following Commands & Working

Australian Shepherds are bred to be working dogs, and they enjoy completing tasks and obeying commands.

They learn quickly and enjoy being told what to do and following through to please their owners.

What Types of Hunting Are Best for Australian Shepherds?

A tricolored Australian Shepherd sitting in an idyllic woodland path.

While Australian Shepherds can be trained for all types of hunting, they are more suited for hunting certain types of animals than others.


Australian Shepherds can use their herding instincts to chase down rabbits and corner them. This is one of the easiest animals for them to hunt because rabbits are small and easy to chase.


Retrieving is a hunting technique that can be taught to Australian Shepherds to train them for waterfowl.

They can not only track ducks and birds to the hunting location but will bring the birds back to the hunter once they have been shot.


Small animals are the best prey for Australian Shepherds, and this breed typically prefers animals that stay on the ground. However, they will chase raccoons and even tree them during a hunt.


Foxes are fast and agile, and they can be a fun challenge for Australian Shepherds to hunt. Aussies are also capable of following them into tight spaces and even dragging them out of hiding. 


Australian Shepherds have really sharp senses, so they can even be trained to hunt animals that burrow underground.

They can pounce on the ground to show hunters where the animals are hiding and even dig them up.

Related Questions: 

Do Australian Shepherds Retrieve?

Australian Shepherds can be trained to retrieve for hunting and play purposes.

They are smart, learn quickly, and are extremely fast and agile. They also love to please their owners. These traits make them perfect for retrieving.

Are Australian Shepherds Good Off Leash?

Australian Shepherds love to run and explore, so they need to spend some time off leash. With proper training, your Australian Shepherd can be let off leash, though supervision will always be needed.

Because of their high energy and desire to run and chase, it may be best to only allow them off the leash in a fenced area until training is complete.


Australian Shepherds are highly intelligent and do well with all types of training. Their endurance, desire to please, and herding drive makes them ideal hunting dogs.

While Australian Shepherds are considered working dogs, with the right training, they can become successful hunters.