Australian Shepherd vs German Shepherd | Breed Differences and Similarities

There are hundreds of dog breeds around the world. While some descend from related lines and ancestries, others are completely far off from each other. The difference may cause you some thoughts when you’re deciding to get a pet dog of your own.

Whether you will get a dog or adopt one, it’s best to study the breed first. Your aim as a potential pet owner is to ease up to the dog breed. You want to make sure that you can truly handle the responsibilities of a dog owner.

The last thing you want to happen is to realize that you can’t take care of your pet anymore. Much like people, all dogs have different needs. 

We will discuss two dog breeds in this guide: Australian Shepherd and German Shepherd. While these two breeds share the same half of their names, they’re not the same. The origins of the two breeds are different. Both breeds have unique characteristics, but they also share some quirks. 

Physical characteristics


The German Shepherds are also known as “GSD, and Australian Shepherds have the affectionate nickname of “Aussie.” Both GSDs and Aussies are different in physical appearance.

It’s easy to spot one from the other even when you’re far. You won’t have problems differentiating the two breeds at all.

Australian Shepherd

  • Color: mottled patterns of blues and reds
  • Coat: wavy and moderate in length
  • Eye color: varying colors that can be different in both eyes (marble eyes)
  • Face: Clean-cut head in proportion with the body and varying muzzle color
  • Ears: folded ears
  • Build: athletic build, muscular body
  • Average height: 18 to 23 inches
  • Average weight: 40 to 65 lbs. 
  • Overall size in comparison with other breeds: Medium-sized

German Shepherd

  • Color: ranges from black to tan mixes
  • Fur: dense outer coat with a thick wiry texture
  • Eye color: dark eyes, which are solid brown or black
  • Face: Clean cut head in proportion with the body and dark-colored muzzle
  • Ears: pointed ears
  • Build: athletic build, muscular body
  • Average height: 22 to 26 inches
  • Average weight: 50 to 90 lbs.
  • Overall size in comparison with other breeds: Large-sized

Origin and history


The roots of the Aussie breed trace way back to the 1500s in Europe. Centuries later, interest in the breed in the USA propelled the breeding of the Aussies. Bred Aussies come from the United States as a breed intended for herd work. 

The Australian Shepherd was more common to cowboys in the early days. The first roles of the Aussies revolve around sheep herding.

Despite the moniker “Australian Shepherd,” the Aussies originally came as an American breed of dogs to herd large flocks of grazing sheep.

German Shepherds came from Germany as herding dogs in the 1800s. Captain Max von Stephanitz wanted to have an ideal herder in the field.

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Throughout history, the GSD has been in various anti-breed sentiments due to over-sensationalized aggression and media. 

However, in the past, people specifically bred GSDs to become efficient herders in the field. Now, GSDs are known as one of the topmost intelligent breeds around the world. This breed excels well with the police force and can withstand tough working conditions.



The difference in the life span of German Shepherd and Australian Shepherd is slightly different. GSDs have around 7 to 10 years on average, while Aussies have around 12 to 15 years. Australian Shepherds live longer on average.

Weather compatibility

Weather plays a vital role in keeping dogs healthy and having a longer life span. German Shepherds tend to be more suitable to colder climates with their thick double coat and size. On the other hand, Australian Shepherds do well in temperate climates.


GSD and Aussies have a similar temperament to each other. In summary, both breeds are high-energy, intelligent, and very loyal. If you’re looking for family-friendly dogs that can double as guard dogs, the Aussies and GSDs are for you.

Family dog and loyalty


✔︎ Both breeds are family-friendly and love companions. If you have children at home, proper introduction and socialization can do wonders in creating a bond between the family and the dog.

✔︎ German Shepherds and Australian Shepherds are very protective. As such, they make good guard dogs for children at home.

✔︎ Aussies and GSDs are very loyal, and they like to stay close to their owners. In the face of danger, these dogs tend to become very aggressive and assertive.

✔︎ These breeds can’t stand being alone for long periods. Having no companion incites a lot of boredom, and that boredom can result in aggression inside close spaces.

Intelligent and trainable

✔︎ Aussies and GSDs are extremely intelligent and wise. These dogs are easy to train and have the ability to be honed into function. With proper obedience and command training, these dogs can serve a function daily. 

✔︎ Australian Shepherds can be very goofy and can easily hoodwink new owners. German Shepherds, on the other hand, need regular mental stimulation.

Both breeds need mental exercises so you can turn them into obedient working dogs. Start with learning new tricks and upgrade into outdoor activities like doing scavenger hunts.


Work dogs

✔︎ The origins of the German Shepherd and the Australian Shepherd link back to being working dogs. GSDs are popular watchdogs, and Australian Shepherds are herding dogs. Both breeds can be trained as sniffing dogs, search and rescue dogs, and service dogs.

High energy and active

✔︎ These breeds are very active, and they need to do something every day. It’s necessary to schedule a daily exercise routine and proper training if you don’t want to turn your home into a mess. Their high energy needs a daily release via exercise and playtime.

✔︎ Both breeds are not suitable as house dogs for long periods. If you live in an apartment, it’s best to take either dog breed to a nearby park or walk around the neighborhood. 


✔︎ Aussies and GSDs are more of barkers than howlers. Expect loud barks for attention, protection, or to display aggression.

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✔︎ Both breeds can be aloof and attentive around new people, dogs, or animals. It’s best to introduce these dogs properly to others first before you put them off the leash.

✔︎ Early socialization helps in lessening outward aggression. You may have occasional aggressions, especially with male dogs. Otherwise, if you want them to be off the leash, you need to start training early.

✔︎ It’s better to establish leadership roles with these breeds. The more they recognize you as the leader, the less likely they will turn aggressive towards you. As part of socialization and obedience training, teach your dog to obey you and don’t forget to reward them afterward.


Maintenance and care

Both Aussies and GSDs have similar grooming necessities. These breeds have high maintenance to ensure health and hygiene. If you have both breeds at home, you can schedule the same grooming days for both dog types.


✔︎ Both breeds shed a lot, especially during peak seasons of the year. Aussies and GSDs have double coats. Look out for spring and fall seasons as they trigger a lot of shedding. It’s best you have a pet-friendly vacuum cleaner to clear out fur shedding regularly inside your home.

Brushing and toenail trimming

✔︎ Both Aussies and GSDs need regular brushing and toenail trimming. A weekly brush can help manage the shedding and the fur care of the two breeds. Inspect their paws frequently for nail size. Trim the toenails every couple of months or depending on the growth.

Dental health

✔︎ Daily dental care helps to avoid oral health issues in the future. Make sure you have the proper canine toothpaste and brush.

Ear maintenance

✔︎ Regular ear care is also necessary. Both breeds tend to produce and build up ear wax; they need regular ear inspections and cleaning.



✔︎ Aussies and GSDs can do with regular but infrequent baths. Once every three to four months for bathing will do. Unless necessary, avoid overbathing both breeds. More bathing sessions can entice skin problems in both dogs, affecting their overall health in the long run.

Health concerns

Health is of vast importance when you’re getting a new dog. However, owners tend to make the mistake of noting the dog’s health concerns. Before thinking of buying a dog, assess your current health conditions first. You wouldn’t want your current health conditions to be why you need to put up the dog for adoption.

Hypoallergenic Dogs

Both breeds are not hypoallergenic. This means that they may cause likely allergic reactions to people who are more prone to allergies. If you have family members who have existing conditions, it’s best to think twice before getting these dogs. 

If you want to manage, just make sure you have anti-allergy medication always available whenever one of your family reacts badly to the dog’s fur.

Common diseases and disorders

Australian Shepherds have a track record for being very healthy dogs. With early health check-ups and daily exercise, these dogs can live very long without encountering any issues. However, it’s common for Aussies to suffer from typical illnesses.

  • · Hip dysplasia
  • · Elbow dysplasia
  • · Collie eye anomaly
  • · Cataracts
  • · Colobomas
  • · Epilepsy
  • · Tumor and cancer
  • · Autoimmune disease
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German Shepherds, on the other hand, experience some other diseases similar to the Aussies. However, with early evaluations and screen breeding, you can prevent some health issues from occurring in the future.


  • · Elbow dysplasia
  • · Hip dysplasia
  • · Degenerative myelopathy
  • · Abdominal swelling


In terms of prices, GSDs and Aussies slightly differ. The German Shepherds start at $500, and it goes up depending on the lineage. The Australian Shepherd begins at $650, with prices soaring depending on the lineage as well.

Tips to adopt Australian Shepherds or German Shepherds

Getting a new pet is not a joke. As a pet owner, you don’t only have the privilege to care for loving companions. You also have responsibilities to do. Before you get an Australian Shepherd or a German Shepherd, these are some tips for you.

Consider your current location and current lifestyle first.

As these breeds tend to be very active and have tons of high energy, you’re not supposed to contain them inside the house.

These dogs aren’t “couch dogs,” and if you want them to stay smart and healthy, it’s necessary to give them a lot of exercise time outdoors. Training is necessary if you’re going to raise well-behaved yet obedient dogs at home.

Research breeders and background.

The last thing you want to happen is to get a puppy unprepared for departure. Breeders have the responsibility to document and perform first-parent responsibilities to their litter.

Always check for the breeder’s credentials, associations, and referrals if you decide to get either breed. Suppose you can check for social media platforms and presence to see the feedback on the breeder and their litters.


Be prepared for some basic costs and expenses.

Raising a pet dog is not free of charge. You will spend on some necessary things like food, check-ups, and essential health procedures.

Sometimes, you’ll need to spend on extras such as toys and nutrition. Nevertheless, if you commit to raising your pet, always set aside some budget for the essentials.

Commitment is necessary.

With dogs and pets in general, think long-term. Being a pet owner to an animal is like being in a relationship. You need to pour in the time, effort, and love to take care of your furry companion.

You can’t just consider giving up for adoption unless things are at their worst. No matter where you go or where you live, your Aussie or GSD keeps you company every time. It’s best to reciprocate the love through proper care and bonding.


Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds have a lot in common despite looking nothing alike. As these high-energy dogs are popular nowadays, you may find that these breeds are the perfect match for you.

Always think long and hard before you decide to embark on your journey as a pet owner. If you find the right Aussie or GSD for your family, you find a breed that’s loving and strong.

Expect lots of intimacy from these breeds as they are good with families and people. Getting an Australian Shepherd or German Shepherd may be the best decision you’ve ever made in life. Happy barking!

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