Australian Shepherd Vs English Shepherd – A Comparison

At first glance, the Australian Shepherd and the English Shepherd have some very similar traits and characteristics.

This is why a lot of people may mistaken one for the other.

Both the Australian Shepherd and the English Shepherd are sheepdogs that are medium in size and come in a few of the same coat colors and markings.

They are both very intelligent and highly energetic, and need plenty of physical activity.

Not only are these dogs great at doing jobs, but they are also very loyal and loving companions.

At the same time, while they form a strong bond with their owners, both of these breeds are reserved with strangers.

So is there any way I can tell the Australian Shepherd vs the English Shepherd apart?

What differences can I look out for?

This article will cover the basic information about both of these breeds, and discuss the differences in appearance and temperament.

AttributesAustralian ShepherdEnglish Shepherd
Good For First Time OwnersNoNo
Good Guard DogNot The Best ChocieYes
Apartment FriendlyPossible With Enough ExerciseNo
Good Family DogYesYes
SheddingModerateModerate To High
Barking And HowlingHighModerate To High
Height18-23 inches (46-58 cm)18-23 inches (46-58 cm)
Average Life Expectancy12-15 Years12-15 Years


Australian Shepherd – Dog Breed Information

In spite of their name, the Australian Shepherd in fact originated in the United States in the late 1800’s.

Their name comes from the fact that some of their ancestors were brought to America from Australia by Basque shepherds.

The Aussie descends from early collie dogs, which later developed into the Australian Shepherd and various other sheepdogs.

The Australian Shepherd primary role back in those days was to herd and guard flocks of sheep.

Herding is a job which these dogs still excel at even today.


An Australian Shepherd is a medium sized dog with a furry, dense coat that is of medium length.

They will have longer hair at the back of their legs and around their neck, which may look like a mane.

Most often these dogs have ears that break forward, also known as button ears.

Australian Shepherds may be born with long tails or naturally docked tails.

However a lot owners choose to have a long tail docked, as this is the breed’s standard. Some owners may also prefer a docked tail because of sanitary issues.

Aussies have a lot of hair on their bottoms and on their tail, which may lead to feces getting caught in it.

The coat colors which this breed comes in are most often blue or red merle and white, often with tan markings.

They also come in black or red tri-color, which is a combination of black, tan, and white, or red, tan, and white.

The eyes of an Australian Shepherds can come in blue, hazel, or any shade of brown.

They are also prone to having a harmless condition called heterochromia. This means that each of their eyes is of a different color.

On average, these dogs grow to a height of 18 to 23 inches, and weigh in at 35 to 70 pounds.

Females will be lighter and shorter in height than males.


Australian Shepherds are very intelligent dogs that need plenty of mental stimulation.

If they do not have enough things to keep them busy, they can become easily bored and even destructive.

This might lead to behavioral issues such as digging or chewing.

Aussies always like trying out new activities to take part in, and they love being outdoors.

Due to the fact that they were bred to work with humans, Aussies are loyal, affectionate, and form a strong and loving bond with their owner.

They like to be involved in whatever their owner or family is doing. On the other hand, they tend to be rather aloof with strangers.

They are very alert and watchful dogs, and can often be seen on patrol in the yard. They can also be protective of their owner and family.

As a working dog, the Australian Shepherd is naturally active and athletic, and has very high energy.

Due to this, they need around an hour of physical activity every day. They are also very agile dogs, which makes them outstanding jumpers.

They can jump up to 4 feet in the air, and can escape a yard fence or wall with ease.

These dogs are very obedient and trainable, and they enjoy working as a team with their human partner.

This sheepdog also naturally has a high prey drive. These instincts can sometimes compel them to chase after cats, smaller dogs, rabbits, or squirrels.

However, because they are fast-learning and bright, it doesn’t take them long to be taught that this behavior is unacceptable.

Australian Shepherds are good with children and can make great playmates and companions for them.

You must remember though that these dogs need to be socialized with children as early as possible while still in their puppyhood.

Why is this so crucial?

The lack of acquaintance with children at a young age might make them more prone to nipping or chasing them in later life.

This is because the Australian Shepherd’s herding instincts may liken children to sheep, and this can lead to behavioral problems.

Nonetheless, just as with other animals, the Australian Shepherd will be quick to learn that children must be left alone.

Australian Shepherds are generally healthy and hardy dogs, prone to few conditions, which are mostly genetically inherited.

These dogs live anywhere from 12 to 15 years.

English Shepherd – Dog Breed Information

Tricolor English Sheepdog by Dsurber (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Though closely resembling the Australian Shepherd in a number of traits and characteristics, the English Shepherd is a completely different breed.

English Shepherds are rare and not as widespread or well-known as the Australian Shepherd.

Like the Australian Shepherd, the English Shepherd originated in the United States.

They were bred there by English, Scottish, and Irish immigrant farmers, and their descendants were known to be mostly collie-type dogs used at that time for herding.

English Shepherds share some common ancestors with the Australian Shepherd.

English Shepherds are a very old breed of dog, and the beginnings of this breed can even go as far back as the 17th century.

In its early days, the hardworking English Shepherd was used for various jobs on the farm.

This included herding and guarding sheep and cattle, as well as hunting vermin and as a companion or family dog.

It is this versatility that made English Shepherds ideal sheepdogs.


English Shepherds are dogs of medium size with semi-pricked or ‘button’ ears and a long, feathery tail. They have a black or sometimes brown nose.

The English Shepherd comes in various combinations of colors and markings.

They are often black with tan and white markings (tri-color), black and tan, black and white, or sable and white.

They may sometimes have a few black or dark spots on the white part of their fur, such as the paws.

This is called ‘ticking’, and occurs in a number of dog breeds.

English Shepherds measure at around 18 to 23 inches in height, and weigh 35 to 60 pounds.


The English Shepherd is incredibly intelligent just as other types of sheepdogs, and they like having work to do to stay busy.

When this dog gets a job, they view it as something fun, and they live up to their work to the best of their ability.

English Shepherds are highly energetic and athletic dogs, and require around an hour of physical exercise daily.

They have great stamina, and they can work for hours without getting tired.

English Shepherds are quick-learners, but some individuals can be stubborn, and therefore will need patience and consistency during training.

These dogs are exceptionally loyal and affectionate toward their families, and form a strong attachment to their owner.

They are humorous and fun-loving, with a very gentle nature. This makes them great with children and even other animals.

In addition, English Shepherds are attentive and alert, and can make very good watchdogs.

English Shepherds are most often brave and courageous. However, individuals that were not properly socialized may be prone to nervousness or fear around strangers.

Like the Australian Shepherd, English Shepherds are dogs of good health, though there are some conditions they can be prone to.

They have a similar lifespan to the Aussie – usually 12 to 15 years.

Australian Shepherd Vs English Shepherd – What Are The Differences

Australian ShepherdEnglish Shepherd
Tricolor English Sheepdog by Dsurber (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The English Shepherd resembles a few other sheepdog breeds like the Border Collie, and especially the Australian Shepherd.

Despite a lot of similarities between the two breeds, there are a number of differences as well.

So what are the differences that can I look for to tell the Australian Shepherd vs the English Shepherd apart?


Firstly, while Australian Shepherds and English Shepherds can both be tri-color, Aussies also very often come in blue or red merle.

On the contrary, English Shepherds never come in the merle coat pattern.

Generally, Aussies can come in a larger variety of different colors or patterns than English Shepherds.

Australian Shepherds also tend to have a fuller, denser, and fluffier coat than the English Shepherd, both in appearance and to the touch.

English Shepherds usually have slightly thinner and sparser coats, where the hair is smooth, soft, and straight.

Both breeds do shed a lot, but Aussies tend to shed more and have higher grooming requirements.

English Shepherds also have a type of coat which makes it easier to remove dirt from.

In terms of appearance, Aussies also tend to look rounder and thicker than the English Shepherd.

On the other hand, English Shepherds usually have a build which appears more slender.

Another thing to look out for is the tail.

A lot of Australian Shepherds have a docked tail, but English Shepherds always have a long and full tail.

However, this is not always the case, because Aussies can be born naturally docked, or with a long tail.

While a lot of owners dock their Australian Shepherd’s long tail, there are some that leave it the way it is.

Australian Shepherds are also most often slightly bigger than English Shepherds. Both dogs are medium in size, and of a similar height.

However, Australian Shepherds may appear heavier, and they do weigh a bit more than English Shepherds.


There are also a number of differences between the temperament of the Australian Shepherd vs the English Shepherd.

While both dogs are highly intelligent and energetic, English Shepherds tend to be more stubborn.

What does this mean?

While Australian Shepherds are very obedient dogs that like to work with humans, English Shepherds may sometimes act bossy.

They will do what they want when they want. If they are not in the mood, they may refuse to listen or learn during training.

This will require a lot of time, patience, and consistency on your part while training your English Shepherd puppy.

Overall, the Australian Shepherd is usually easier to train than the English Shepherd.

They will be more attentive and co-operate with you better.

On the other hand, English Shepherds tend to do better with other pets, such as small dogs, cats, or rabbits.

Aussies are sometimes prone to chasing such animals, because of their high prey drive, and need proper socialization and training.

The same goes for children, especially small children that may be hyperactive.


In conclusion, what are the differences between the Australian Shepherd vs English Shepherd?

Each of these breeds have a lot of similarities, both in appearance, place of origin, and their temperament.

This can make it hard to distinguish between the two.

However, there are a few things to look out for which can tell these dogs apart.

For instance, Australian Shepherds often have a merle coat and a docked tail, but English Shepherds don’t.

Australian Shepherds have thicker and fluffier coats, whereas the English Shepherd has a sparser coat which is also smooth and straight in texture.

Aussies are also slightly bigger and weigh a bit more.

In addition, English Shepherds may sometimes be stubborn, while the Australian Shepherd is usually a very obedient dog.

On the other hand, English Shepherds often get along better with other pets in the household.

Aussies may be prone to chase after animals smaller than them.

In general, both the Australian Shepherd and the English Shepherd are very loving and intelligent dogs.

They not only make great work mates for the farm, but also the best family companions.

Authored By

Madeline Wright

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