Australian Shepherd vs. Australian Cattle Dog

Both the Australian Shepherd and Australian Cattle Dog are highly energetic, intelligent, and hardworking breeds, but they do have some differences. The Australian Shepherd is known for its agility and often used in dog sports, while the Australian Cattle Dog has a strong herding instinct and may be more robust.

The Australian Shepherd typically has a longer coat and may require more grooming. Australian Cattle Dogs, however, have a shorter, denser coat that’s more resistant to harsh weather. Health-wise, both breeds are generally healthy but the Cattle Dog has a longer average lifespan.

As for temperament, Australian Shepherds are often more friendly and outgoing, whereas Australian Cattle Dogs may be more reserved. But, both breeds need a lot of mental and physical stimulation. Additionally, early socialization and consistent training are key for both. They make excellent companions for active individuals and families who have enough time to meet their demanding exercise and companionship needs.

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

Quick Summary: Although the Australian Shepherd and the Australian Cattle dog were originally utilized as herding dogs, they have also become known as beloved family pets worldwide. These two are distinctive due to their traditional gorgeous Merle coats. The Australian Shepherd is also characterized by a slightly longer muzzle and smaller ears. The Australian Shepherd and the Australian Cattle dog are both high-energy breeds. They are exceptionally intelligent dogs, and when you combine this with their desire to please their masters, they are easily trained. The Australian Shepherd and the Australian Cattle dog make wonderful family pets if you educate them and appropriately socialize them. They are generally healthy canines that have lifespans of 12-13 years.

It is important to note that the Australian Shepherd and the Australian Cattle dog, despite having similar names, are very different in numerous ways. Both are traditional cattle dogs and are both extremely active and intelligent and must be exercised in a manner that is appropriate to their needs.

They also require a lot of training in the beginning, to ensure they don’t display excessive protection when they have to adjust to a family home environment. Once you’ve completed their training, they will be equally charming and affectionate with their immediate families.

It is said that the Australian Shepherd is believed to be better suited for homes with families since it is more able to adapt to the family lifestyle. However, If you’re looking for an animal capable of protecting your property, then the Cattle Dog is more protective than the Shepherd, which is why it is the best option for you.

In the end, there are plenty of details to think about when you think about inviting one of these dogs to your home, so take a break, relax and read on to learn more about these two breeds and hopefully, you’ll determine which of them is the best breed for your lifestyle.

Australian Shepherd vs. Australian Cattle Dog

Breed Background and History

Although the Australian Shepherd and the Australian Cattle dog were originally utilized as herding dogs, they have also become known as beloved family pets worldwide. They come from wildly diverse backgrounds, both inside and outside of Australia, and have both been extremely popular, particularly within the United States.

Australian Shepherd: An Overview

There is plenty of debate about what it is believed that the Australian Shepherd originates, mainly because his story is completely not documented. It appears that the most popular hypothesis of his origins is that they came from his native Scottish Highlands and the Pyrenees mountains.

His companions sailed off to Australia to find more fertile land however they found out on their arrival that they could not cultivate the land since it was barren. Then, they left for North America with their dogs again. The group was joined by other Australian farmers, and their dogs were also with them. They are frequently mistaken for Border Collies, which are different herding dogs.

It is believed that farmers from across the globe came up with this Australian Shepherd we know and cherish to this day across North America through breeding their dogs all over the world. It is believed that since they were just arriving from Australia and the dog was appropriately (or not so well) called the Australian Shepherd.

The American Cowboys created him to help herd animals from farms; however, he’s an equally beloved pet for families all over the world, and in the year 2019, the breed was named in the top 17th most loved breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Aussies are often crossed with purebred dogs, such as the Poodle, to make the Aussiepoo or the beagle to make an Australian-Beagle blend. They are also mixed with the lab.

Australian Cattle Dog: An Overview

In contrast to the Australian Shephard, the story of the Australian Cattle dog is well-documented. In the 18th Century, an Australian man named Thomas Hall imported the now-extinct Smithfield dog, Scottish Collies, and crossed them with local dingoes that he previously had tamed and kept as pets.

Following this, he earned the nickname “Hall’s Heeler.” The other key participants then mixed the breeds together with Dalmatians which were renowned as loyal and being at ease with horses, as well as Black as well as Tan Kelpies dogs. In 1903, the first breed standard was established, and he was christened the Australian Cattle dog.

Following World War II, American soldiers from Australia were able to recognize the loyal and territorial breed and brought him back to America. They’re still utilized for their herding abilities, and in the year 2019, the AKC has ranked the breed the rank of 55th most loved breed in America. They are frequently considered to be breeds that herd and mixed in with them as well as their cousins, the Lab Heeler mix.

Appearance and Size

It is believed that the Australian Shepherd is the larger of the two breeds. He is between 18 and 23 inches from shoulder to paw. The Cattle dog is slightly smaller and is somewhere between 17 to 20 inches tall.

It is also noted that the Australian Shepherd also weighs significantly more, ranging between 40 to 65 pounds, while the Cattle dog weighs between 35-50 pounds. It is also more muscular. Australian Shepherd also has more fluffy coat that adds to their overall appearance, while Cattle dog is shorter and has more fine hair.

It is said that the Australian Shepherd and the Australian Cattle dog are distinctive due to their traditional gorgeous Merle coats. The color is becoming increasingly sought-after because it gives a distinct sense of individuality that creates a unique dog. In addition, the merle coat enhances his likelihood of sporting different colored eyes and is a distinct characteristic of his appearance.

Australian Shepherd is recognized in four colors, while the Cattle can be identified in 6 colors and is more likely to have more pronounced areas of color, especially the tan hue. Their coat color is their sole apparent resemblance in appearance.

The Australian Shepherd is characterized by a muzzle that is slightly longer and has smaller ears, and appears like the appearance of a Scottish Collie. It is typical to see Australian shepherds to have naturally docked tails. The Cattle dog has his dingo ancestors’ wild appearance with a shorter muzzle and broad erect ears. It is believed that the Cattle dog has an elongated tail that resembles a fox. It is bushy and long; however, he may be born with naturally docked tails.

Temperament and Personality Traits

It is important to understand that the Australian Shepherd and the Australian Cattle differ slightly in their personalities, and that’s why it’s important you know why you would like an animal and what traits of a dog’s personality are essential to you.

It is said that the Australian Shepherd is believed to be better suited for the job of a pet for the family than the Cattle dog. That’s not to say that the Cattle isn’t an excellent family pet; however, he’s much more difficult to train, and his guarding and herding characteristics are more powerful than those of the Shepherd, which is why they can find it difficult to adjust to a home with a family environment.

Both breeds, which are cattle herders, might attempt to herd smaller animals as well as children of smaller size Sometimes, they employ their Nipping method, especially when they are employed as herding dogs throughout the daytime. It is something you should keep in mind if you have children who are small or you have a family with multiple pets.

Although training can help reduce these behaviors, they are inherent, and it is highly likely that you will never stop the behavior completely. Cattle can also be believed to be more tolerant of noisy children and young children which is why it is believed that the Cattle dog is more suited to families with older children.

If you can be tolerant of this behavior or don’t have any children or other animals, they do make for wonderful pet companions for your family. They are both extremely loving and loyal to the people they live with. They are both extremely loyal and affectionate with their immediate family. A cattle dog is considered to be more distant from strangers than an Australian Shepherd. Hence, his innate territoriality makes him an excellent guard dog.

The Cattle dog is a dog with natural roots, unlike most domesticated dogs, and would be content to rest in an outdoor shelter in warmer weather. Alongside their work-related duties and increased intellect, they are also entertaining and can entertain your family and you for hours and hours.

Keep in mind that these dogs work and will be content when assigned a task to complete, whether it’s herding on the farm or performing other household tasks like taking care of the post or completing agility classes. It is no surprise that they make an amazing shearer. If you prefer to keep him as an animal companion for your family, keep in mind that a busy and active Australian is an extremely happy Australian!

Exercise Requirements

It is important to note that the Australian Shepherd and the Australian Cattle dog are both high-energy breeds that are alike in terms of exercise requirements. It is essential to give them the amount of exercise they require. If you aren’t able to, then it is time to consider buying an alternative breed.

If they’re not exercised, they’ll turn into extremely unsatisfied and destructive animals, ruining your house and everything within! If you can provide them with this training, then you’ll have an extremely rewarding relationship.

They should get at minimum an hour of vigorous exercise each day and can do very well by doing exercises that provide the mind, like agility classes or games with their owner. If they’ve been well-socialized in their early days, as well as their herd instincts aren’t overly robust, they’ll be able to enjoy a great romp through the neighborhood dog park.

Training and Socialization

It is true that the Australian Shepherd and the Australian Cattle dog are exceptionally intelligent dogs. When you combine this with their desire to please their masters, they are easily trained. But, since they’re both extremely intelligent, they require a lot of training; therefore, if you don’t meet the demands, it won’t be long before they get bored or outsmart you. This is why they’re not suitable for beginner owners.

Due to their tendency to herd and guard, particularly Cattle dogs, these must be socialized from a young age to make sure they feel comfortable in any situation with other animals of different sizes and shapes and to make sure they don’t become overprotective of their family or estate. Many alternatives are available if you plan to train your dog in a crate.

Grooming Requirements

It is believed that the Australian Shepherd is a bit more demanding than the Cattle dog because the coat is longer. The Australian Shepherd will require brushing at least twice weekly to ensure his coat stays tidy and free of tangles.

It is true that the Australian Shepherd does shed more than the Cattle dog. The Cattle dog with shorter coats is only required to brush every once a week to keep their coat looking shiny and healthy.

The rest of grooming is similar to a normal dog, including regular nail trimming every month and bathing every two months, and washing ears frequently to avoid the accumulation of wax.

But, for both the Australian Shepherd and the Cattle dog, it is important to be sure to take special care in looking at their eyes because they are both affected by an array of eye problems. Make sure you check for any changes or anomalies in their eyes. You should also consult the Veterinarian in case you are not sure of any issues.

Nutritional Guide

It is estimated that the Australian Shepherd and the Australian Cattle dog both consume roughly two and a half cups of food a day. If they are working dogs or are simply very active and active, they might require a little more.

Both breeds can thrive with a premium food item. This is the most efficient method to ensure that your dog receives the highest quality of nutrients they require to stay clear of. Aussies can thrive on various dog food options according to the size of your dog and its energy levels.

Health Issues

The Australian Shepherd National Breed Club suggests that he be examined for the following issues:

Ophthalmologist Assessment: This evaluation checks for a list of eye problems, including Cataracts and Collie Eye Anomaly.

Primarily Lens Luxation: This is a particular eye problem that affects the fibers that provide support to the lens inside the eye. The degeneration may cause pain or blindness.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy: This is a different eye health problem that is common in Cattle dogs. It is a condition that, in time, can cause complete blindness.

Elbow and hip Dysplasia: This is an abnormal development of the hip and elbow joints that may cause pain and arthritis later in life.

The Brainstem Auditory Evoked Reaction Test: This test is called the BAER test, designed to ensure that the person can maintain a healthy level of hearing in both ears. This issue is thought to be more prevalent in Cattle dogs because of the Merle coloring.

There are other health problems that both the Australian Shepherd and the Cattle can be susceptible to as well; therefore, it is recommended that breeders submit their dogs to further tests. The majority of reputable breeders do.

The Australian Shepherd and the Australian Cattle dog are generally healthy canines with an extended lifespans. Even with the Cattle dog being more prone to more health problems than the Shepherd, generally, the Cattle dog lives one year more than the Shepherd.

Reputable Breeders and Puppy Prices

The Australian Shepherd is slightly more expensive than the Australian Cattle dog. The cost of a Shepherd puppy starts at around $700, while the Cattle dog is priced at about $500. This is because the Shepherd is more well-known, resulting in a greater demand for the breed. However, if you want an award-winning working bloodline, you will spend more.


If you’re still unsure about the two Australian beauties, you can get a mix of the two breeds. The two dogs were crossed, resulting in the stunning Texas Heeler hybrid. This guy blends the most desirable of both breeds in one fun bundle, similar to his parents although he was initially employed to herd animals, he’s now popular as a family member.

The Australian Shepherd and the Australian Cattle dog are wonderful family pets if you educate them and appropriately socialize them. They are gentle and sweet yet also playful and active. There are some differences between the two breeds, which could mean that one is better suitable for your needs than another. However, as long as you give them everything they require, you’re definitely on the right track to an animal that is a winner!

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