Last Updated on July 4, 2023
Whilst the two breeds are excellent herding dogs, there are distinguishable differences between the Australian Shepherd vs German Shepherd.
Here, we will look at some of the main differences that will help you decide which breed is better suited to you and your lifestyle.
Appearance: Australian Shepherd vs German Shepherd
At first glance, you might think that Australian Shepherds are related to Border Collies. And with an uncertain history as to where this Shepherd originated, it is entirely possible.
Their soft faces and floppy ears are a steep contrast to the German Shepherd’s firm features.
Coming in at 18-23 inches from paw to shoulder, the Australian Shepherd, affectionately known as the Aussie, is regarded as a medium breed. They weigh around 50-65 lbs, with females on the smaller side.
The GSD (German Shepherd Dog) has a paw-to-shoulder height of 22-26 inches. They’re slightly heavier than the Aussie at 60-75 lbs, making them a medium to large breed.
But the visual differences don’t stop there.
The Australian Shepherd has a long, wavy double coat designed to be warm in cold weather and cool in the summer. There are four recognised Aussie colours (as well as a variety of bicolour and tricolour combinations):
- Blue Merle
- Red Merle
The German Shepherd also has a double coat, but its outer layer is more wiry and abrasive. The most common colour combinations are:
- Black and Tan (most popular)
- Black and Red
- Bicolour (black and cream-coloured heels)
- Liver and Tan
- Sable or Gray
Both breeds are prone to shedding, although the German Shepherd more heavily. They both require regular grooming to remove loose, dead hair and keep their coats in top condition.
Along with their beautiful coats, Australian Shepherds often have heterochromia (two different coloured eyes). You’ll find a mix of brown, blue, amber, hazel and green, with some even having two colours in one eye. A colourful contrast to German Shepherds, who commonly have deep brown eyes.
Temperament: Australian Shepherd vs German Shepherd
Both the Aussie and the GSD are well-known herding breeds. They are keen to work. And with the correct training, extremely obedient.
And whilst both are quick to learn, the Aussie has a naturally inquisitive nature. It makes teaching a joy but also means clear boundaries are needed. Without such, these intelligent dogs are likely to cause mischief. They can be destructive when bored. And spend hours (if not days) researching how to jump the gate if something catches their eye.
But this determination and their agile bodies make the Australian Shepherd a fantastic rescue dog, particularly in avalanches. They can spend considerable time out in the cold and are quick to find hurt or buried skiers.
In contrast, the German Shepherd is more likely to guard your fence than jump it. They are extremely alert and like to keep a watchful eye on their surroundings. But with the potential to act out, training is essential for this breed.
They’re instinctively loyal and courageous. Consequently, GSDs often work for the police and military. Outsiders are not welcome, which is great if you’re looking for extra security in your home or work (although this can make having visitors difficult).
GSDs do tend to be more aloof than the loving and affectionate Aussies. But both breeds are loyal, dependable and very intelligent.
Health: Australian Shepherd vs German Shepherd
Although generally healthy, Australian Shepherds are prone to a few conditions. They include:
- Hip/Elbow Dysplasia (eventually leading to arthritis)
- Eye issues, including Cataracts
- Certain forms of Cancer
- Multi-Drug Sensitivity
Whilst German Shepherds are also susceptible to hip/elbow dysplasia, cataracts and epilepsy, owners should also look out for the following:
- Bloat or Gastric Dilatation Volvulus
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Chronic Allergies
- Thyroid Issues
- Bladder Stones and UTIs
But do not let this put you off. Many of these health issues will be picked up by reputable breeders, giving you a chance to make an informed decision.
Both theAustralian Shepherd vs German Shepherdmake fantastic companions for different reasons. And with so much get-up-and-go, they’re bound to bring fun and adventure to your life.