What dogs can compete in agility? Get Your Pet Thinking

Australian Shepherds

What dogs can compete in agility?

A bit bigger and goofier than Border Collies, Australian Shepherds have a lot going for them as agility companions.

They’re similarly bred for learning complex herding behaviors, listening to their owners in distracting scenarios, and working all day on the farm. They’re also, in my opinion, one of the most photogenic dog breeds out there. Most Australian Shepherd mixes tend to be gorgeous as well!

However, when their tails are docked (as is common at a young age in the U.S.), they often lose out on balance and speed compared to Border Collies.

Standout Traits: Intelligent, happy-go-lucky workhorses. Generally a bit more outgoing than Border Collies with dogs and people.

Off-Course Behavior: Australian Shepherds are lovers of stimulation and adventure, making them a bit too high-energy for some owners. They can be quite boisterous and clingy, following their owners everywhere and barking at just about everything.

But unlike Border Collies, Aussies are generally known for being wiggly and friendly with others. They still aren’t as stranger-loving a most Retrievers, but they’re not quite as reserved as some other herding breeds.

Common Health Problems: Merle Aussies, especially “Double Merle” Aussies, are prone to serious health problems. Deafness and blindness are unfortunately common in these blue-eyed or white-faced Aussies. Otherwise, this is generally a hardy breed.

Can neutered dogs compete in agility?

Yes, neutered dogs can compete in agility. In fact, in AKC agility it is a requirement that non-purebred dogs are neutered or spayed in order to enter an event. In other venues such as USDAA, competitors are allowed to show intact dogs of any breed or mix.

In the USA, most organizations currently do not allow females in season to enter competitions. (In many other countries, females in season are welcomed to shows.) For many aspiring competitors this is a reason to spay their female dogs if they want to become more serious about competing, because even if the owner qualifies for a big national event such as the AKC National Agility Championship, they would not be allowed to compete if the dog is in heat.

Jack Russell Terrier

What dogs can compete in agility?

Spunky and athletic, the Jack Russell Terrier (and its close cousins, the Parson Terrier and Russell Terrier) always makes a strong showing in the small-dog class of agility.

While terriers can be a bit headstrong, they love to work and do very well with motivational training methods. They’re also smarter than they let on sometimes!

Standout Traits: A low-slung body and innate musculature make the Jack Russell a natural fit for fast and furious agility competition.

Off-Course Behavior: Like most terriers, Jack Russells enjoy digging, adventuring, and destroying things. To be pleasant roommates, they often require a skilled trainer. They can also be “snarky” with other dogs in many cases.

Common Health Problems: Legg-Perthes Disease, a hip joint disease, is common in this breed. Jack Russells and Jack Russell mixes may also suffer from inherited eye problems and deafness.

Best of 2022 Masters Agility Championships from Westminster Kennel Club | FOX Sports