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Australian Shepherd vs. English Shepherd

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Australian Shepherd vs. English Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd (commonly referred to as the Aussie) and the English Shepherd are two distinct herding dog breeds. They are both energetic dogs, renowned for their loyalty, intelligence, and adaptability. What's more, both breeds are biddable! They have several similarities as well as differences and are often mistaken for each other.

For instance, both breeds are medium-sized dogs and have moderately long double coats. In addition, both breeds aren't pets for everyone. As I mentioned earlier, the Aussie and the English Shepherd are both energetic dogs that need jobs. Working dogs at heart, both breeds are pretty much good at everything, except sitting still. If you're looking for an intelligent, tireless, and easy-to-train companion for work or sport, your search might end with one of these two breeds.

Below, you'll find the distinct physical and behavioral differences that set these two breeds apart. Additionally, you'll discover the similarities shared by both breeds.


Both breeds have a similar history! Despite their names, the Australian Shepherd is not native to Australia, and the English Shepherd is also not native to England. These are all-American dogs named after other countries.

The Australian Shepherd was developed in California in the 19th century and was so named by Americans who believed the dog's forebears came from Australia. It is believed that sheepdogs and collies brought to the US by immigrants from Australia are Aussies' ancestors.

Likewise, English Shepherds were developed in the U.S. in the 19th century and were so named because they were bred from English and Scottish settlers' dogs. According to Wikipedia, the English Shepherd shares ancestry with the Australian Shepherd.

Unlike the Australian Shepherd, the English Shepherd is not recognized by the AKC, although the UKC has been registering the breed since 1927.


As I mentioned earlier, both breeds are medium-sized dogs, with Aussies being slightly larger than English Shepherds.
  • Male Australian Shepherds: 20–23 inches in height
  • Male English Shepherds: 19–23 inches in height
  • Female Australian Shepherds: 18-21 inches in height
  • Female English Shepherds: 18–22 inches in height
  • Male Australian Shepherds: 50-65 pounds in weight
  • Male English Shepherds: 45–65 pounds in weight
  • Female Australian Shepherds: 40-55 pounds in weight
  • Female English Shepherds: 40–50 pounds in weight
As you can see, Aussies are somewhat taller and heavier than their English counterparts.

Aussies' coat comes in an array of colors, including blue or red merle. They are also seen in solid black or red with white markings or tan points, or a mixture of all.

Variations of English and Australian Shepherd colors

Similarly, English Shepherds boast a gorgeous coat that comes with many different colorations. Their coat is typically a combination of black and white, black and tan, sable and white, tan and white, or tricolor (black, white, and tan). There are also tricolored English Shepherds.

Merle Australian Shepherds commonly have Butterfly noses, a phenomenon where parts of a dog's nose have no pigment. As a result, there are pink spots on the nose. While some merle Aussie puppies with Butterfly noses fill in over time as they mature, others never develop a completely pigmented nose. Tricolored and bicolored Aussies commonly have brown or black noses.

Most English Shepherds have black noses with oval-shaped eyes, which are generally brown. Some sable-coated English Shepherds, though, can have brown noses.

Both breeds weren't bred for their appearances. On the contrary, they were bred for their functions as working animals primarily used on farms. As such, their appearances can vary from one litter to the next. Overall, the hallmarks of these all-American herding dogs are their athletic builds and intelligent natures.

Personality and Temperament

When it comes to personality and temperament, both breeds are described as smart, devoted, loyal, and gentle dogs. In addition, they are extremely agile when it comes to herding livestock and fearless when it comes to protecting their family. They are both renowned for being wary of strangers, which can make them great guard dogs. As a fun fact, both breeds often try to herd their owners as well as other pets through nudges and nips.

Both breeds are patient and biddable dogs that tend to have a unique type of kindness towards their owners. One of English Shepherds' primary standout qualities, when compared to Australian Shepherds, is their independent nature. According to the US Service Animals, English Shepherds can herd all types of livestock independently with little or no direction. This is because the breed is quick to learn routines, according to the US SA.

On the other hand, Aussies don't usually do well on their own. They tend to form strong attachments to their owners and always want to be with them. They are more like velcro dogs, sticking to their owner's side through thick and thin. Although English Shepherds do like their humans and want to be with them, they aren't as clingy as Australian Shepherds.

Overall, both breeds are naturally intelligent and biddable, which makes them suitable partners for owners willing to take the time to exercise and train their dogs.

Health and Lifespan

Both Australian Shepherds and English Shepherds are generally found to be healthy dogs with an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 years.

Nevertheless, the American Kennel Club recommends that newly adopted Aussies be tested for potential hip, elbow, and eye conditions. The same recommendation goes for English Shepherds as well.

In addition, it is recommended that both Australian Shepherds and English Shepherds be tested for allergies before they are given any canine prescription drugs.

Overall, both breeds are sturdy and healthy and tend to live long and happy lives when well cared for.

Exercise and Activity Level

As working breeds, both the Australian and English shepherds have quite high energy levels and are happiest when they have a job to do. They tend to become easily bored and resort to acting destructively when they don't have a job to do or get enough exercise. Both breeds require at least two hours of exercise daily. Their exercise needs can make them too much dog for inactive families. Both breeds make great running companions for those who like jogging or spending a lot of time outdoors on trails or in the backyard.

7 Dog Breeds Similar to Australian and English Shepherds

  1. Bernese Mountain Dog
  2. Shetland Sheepdog
  3. Rough Collie
  4. Finnish Lapphund
  5. Australian Cattle Dog
  6. Border Collie
  7. Miniature American Shepherd


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