Bernese Mountain Dog vs Australian Shepherd

Written by Katelynn Sobus
Updated: October 25, 2022
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The Bernese Mountain Dog and Australian Shepherd are fairly similar breeds. They both have medium-length coats, require plenty of time and dedication, and are big people-pleasers.

However, there are differences between these breeds. Bernese Mountain Dogs tend to be more adaptable and a little messier! They’re also larger in size. Australian Shepherds are more energetic, live longer, and are even more eager to please than Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Keep reading to learn all about these breeds and how different they are!

Comparing Bernese Mountain Dogs vs Australian Shepherds

Bernese Mountain Dogs and Australian Shepherds differ in many factors including size, appearance, fur, and lifespan.
Bernese Mountain DogAustralian Shepherd
Size23-27.5 inches, 70-115 pounds18-23 inches, 40-65 pounds
AppearanceStocky frameLithe frame, deep chest
Fur ColorsBlack, rust, and white; black, tan, and whiteBlack, blue merle, red, red merle with white markings and tan points
Lifespan6-8 years13-15 years
TemperamentExtremely affectionate with family, great with other dogs, adaptiveModerately affectionate and dog-friendly, less adaptive to strangers and new environments
TrainabilityEasyVery easy
GroomingWeekly brushingWeekly brushing, rake undercoat during shedding season
Shedding LevelHeavyModerate
Drooling LevelModerateLow
Energy LevelEnergeticExtremely energetic and needs plenty of mental stimulation

The Key Differences Between the Bernese Mountain Dog and an Australian Shepherd

The key differences between a Bernese Mountain Dog and an Australian Shepherd are size, appearance, fur, lifespan, trainability, grooming difficulty, shedding level, and drooling level.

Let’s jump in and explore these characteristics in detail!

Bernese Mountain Dog vs Australian Shepherd: Size

Bernese Mountain Dogs stand up to 27.5 inches tall.


Australian Shepherds are large dogs, standing 18-23 inches tall and weighing up to 65 pounds. Bernese Mountain Dogs are giant, though! They can stand up to 27.5 inches tall and weigh between 70-115 pounds.

While the smallest Bernese Mountain Dog and the tallest Australian Shepherd would be the same height, their weights would contrast considerably—with the Shepherd weighing about 30 pounds less!

This is because of their body shape, which we’ll discuss next.

Bernese Mountain Dog vs Australian Shepherd: Appearance

The Australian Shepherd is born to run. Their lithe frames are muscular but not weighty, which helps them run fast!

Bernese Mountain Dogs were built for endurance, and they don’t do much running, preferring to calmly stroll around the farm while doing their job as livestock guardians. They burst into action when they spot a predator, ready to fight it off—but until that point, they save their energy for when it’s needed.

A Bernese Mountain Dogs is much heavier than an Australian Shepherd, with a stocky, muscular build. These dogs need to be able to take on even large canines, and this helps them to do so.

Bernese Mountain Dog vs Australian Shepherd: Fur

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Australian Shepherds have more fur color variations.


Both breeds have a medium-length double coat. The Bernese Mountain Dog has two variations allowed under breed standards. These are black, rust, and white or black, tan, and white.

An Australian Shepherd can have black, blue merle, red, or red merle fur. Accepted markings include white markings and tan points—a dog can have either or both.

Bernese Mountain Dog vs Australian Shepherd: Lifespan

Bernese Mountain Dogs live 6-8 years. Australian Shepherds live 13-15 years. Both are average lifespans given their size, but you’re likely to have a Shepherd pup with you for longer.

Bernese Mountain Dog vs Australian Shepherd: Temperament

Although the Bernese Mountain Dog is a working breed, they thrive when living indoors with their families. They shouldn’t be kept outside or left alone for long periods. These dogs are affectionate to the point of clinginess and may think they’re lapdogs despite their giant size! They tend to get along with everyone, from pets and kids to complete strangers.

Australian Shepherds are slightly less adaptable. They may be a bit more selective or stand-offish when it comes to strangers and other dogs. This isn’t to say that Shepherds are less loving—just that they might be too busy planning their next adventure to be a complete snuggle bug.

Australian Shepherds still need plenty of attention and time with family, but much of it will be spent accommodating their high need for exercise and mental stimulation.

Bernese Mountain Dog vs Australian Shepherd: Energy Levels

Australian Shepherd puppy laying in rocks with its ball

Australian Shepherds need a lot of mental stimulation.

© Covington

Bernese Mountain Dogs need about thirty minutes of moderate exercise daily, but they can go for longer if you’d like to go on a hike or long walk.

Australian Shepherds will demand more exercise and need at least an hour or two of it each day. They’ll also be quicker on their feet and more energetic. Shepherds thrive when given a job to do because they need a lot of mental stimulation. Other ways to provide this include puzzle toys, games, and homemade enrichment activities.

Bernese Mountain Dog vs Australian Shepherd: Trainability

Both breeds are easy to train, but Australian Shepherds are incredibly eager to please. They have a strong drive to obey their people. You should watch for their territorial tendencies and ensure they know their bounds so this instinct doesn’t turn into aggression toward strangers.

If you’re having problems with your Shepherd, they very likely aren’t getting enough exercise or mental stimulation. A bored dog will get into trouble almost always.

Bernese Mountain Dogs aren’t difficult to train but may get into some trouble, especially when young. They have a longer puppy phase than most dogs since giant breeds mature slowly. Your dog might also struggle with destructive behaviors if left alone for too long or if they aren’t taught how to be alone for short periods. Clingy breeds like this are prone to separation anxiety.

Bernese Mountain Dog vs Australian Shepherd: Grooming

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Bernese Mountain Dogs should be brushed weekly to remove shed fur.


Australian Shepherds require weekly brushing for most of the year. Rake their undercoat every 2-3 days during shedding season.

Bernese Mountain Dogs should be brushed weekly as well to remove shed fur. Use a comb to work through any tangles and prevent matting.

Bernese Mountain Dog vs Australian Shepherd: Shedding

Bernese Mountain Dogs are heavy shedders, and this is made worse by their size. They have a lot of fur to lose!

Australian Shepherds shed only moderately. You’ll still need to drag out the vacuum, but likely not as often.

Bernese Mountain Dog vs Australian Shepherd: Drooling

Australian Shepherds don’t really drool unless they see something tasty!

Bernese Mountain Dogs, on the other hand, are moderate droolers. You may need to wipe their faces every so often, and the area around their water dish will likely be quite wet from the dribble!

Don’t be surprised if they get some of that drool on you as well, especially if you let them beg for human food.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Eve Photography/

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About the Author

Katelynn Sobus is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on pets including dogs, cats, and exotics. She has been writing about pet care for over five years. Katelynn currently lives in Michigan with her seven senior rescue cats.

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