English Shepherd vs. Australian Shepherd: What Are 8 Key Differences?

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Published: March 19, 2022
Image Credit Alpeek/Shutterstock.com
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Both Australian and English Shepherds are intelligent dogs with distinct personalities. While the English Shepherd has a long history as a working dog, the Australian Shepherd is a herding dog. The English Shepherd is an English breed. The Australian Shepherd, on the other hand, originates in the United States. Not only are these dogs distinct in origin, but they also share several additional defining features. Let us begin!

English Shepherd vs. Australian Shepherd: A Comparison 

Australian Shepherd vs English Shepherd
The English Shepherd and the Australian Shepherd may look strikingly similar at glance. but upon further inspection, you will see many distinctions between these two breeds.


Key DifferencesEnglish ShepherdAustralian Shepherd
Height18 – 23 inches18 – 23 inches
Weight40 to 60 lbs.45 to 65 lbs.
Coat typeSilky, Thin, FluffyWavy, Feathered, Full
ColorsTan, Brown, Tricolor, White, Brindle, Sable, Yellow, BlackBlue, Black, Merle, Red
TemperamentSmart, Demanding, Energetic, DominantPlayful, Friendly, Smart, Loving
TrainabilityAverageAbove Average
Life Expectancy13 to 15 Years12 to 14 Years
Health ProblemsHip Dysplasia, Hypothyroidism, Retinal AtrophyDegenerative Myelopathy
English Shepherd vs Australian Shepherd: A Comparison

Key Differences Between English Shepherd and Australian Shepherd

The key difference between Australian Shepherds and English Shepherds is their temperament. English Shepherds are a more dominant breed more concerned with keeping order.

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Due to the striking similarities between the Australian Shepherd and the English Shepherd, these two breeds are commonly mistaken. Australian Shepherds and English Shepherds are both medium-sized sheepdogs that share a few coat colors and patterns. They are intellectual and physically vigorous, necessitating a high level of physical exercise. However, numerous distinctions remain between the two. Take a look below!


An English Shepherd at the edge of a lake
The English Shepherd has a coat that is thin and fluffy.

Jennifer McCallum/Shutterstock.com

English Shepherd vs. Australian Shepherd: Height

Male Australian Shepherds grow to be between 20 and 23 inches tall, while females grow to be between 18 and 21 inches tall. The English Shepherd is a medium-sized dog breed that stands an average of 20.5 inches tall.

English Shepherd vs. Australian Shepherd: Weight

An English Shepherd n white background
The English Shepherd is slightly smaller than the Australian Shepherd and it can be seen in a variety of coat colors absent in the Australian Shepherd, such as tricolor, brindle, brown, and yellow.

Susan Schmitz/Shutterstock.com

English Shepherds are smaller than Australian Shepherds, weighing 45-60 pounds for males and 40-50 pounds for females. Australian Shepherds can weigh up to 65 pounds for a male and 55 pounds for a fully developed female.

English Shepherd vs. Australian Shepherd: Coat Type

Between the two breeds, their individual coats have a slightly different texture and feel. The Australian Shepherd’s coat is fuller and more feathered, while the English Shepherd’s coat is fluffier but thinner in texture.

English Shepherd vs. Australian Shepherd: Colors

Australian shepherd at sunset
The Australian shepherd is a cattle dog that is often seen in merle coloring.


Both breeds come in a huge array of colors. The Australian Shepherds are available in a range of hues, including blue, black, merle, and red. While the English Shepherd can be seen in tan, brown, tricolor, white, brindle, sable, yellow, and black.


Blue merle Australian Shepherd dog with a red harness staying in the forest
The Aussie Shepherd is an exceptionally intelligent type of heeler dog. You can expect lots of energy and athleticism around them.


English Shepherd vs. Australian Shepherd: Temperament

English and Australian Shepherds are both clever dogs with distinct personalities. Australian Shepherds are known to be active, friendly, loving, affectionate, good-natured, and protective.

The English Shepherd is a demanding breed that has a reputation for being dominant. They’ll attempt to persuade other dogs to follow the rules, as they are concerned with keeping order.

English Shepherd vs. Australian Shepherd: Trainability

Australian Shepherds are exceptionally easy to teach, however, English Shepherds require a little more time and work since they are more independent. Nevertheless, effort willing, they are both on the top end of the trainability spectrum.

Health Factors

An English Shepherd at full attention with one ear in the air.
The English Shepherd is a dominant breed that loves enforcing order.

Robert F Apple/Shutterstock.com

English Shepherd vs. Australian Shepherd: Life Expectancy

The typical lifespan of an Australian Shepherd is 13 years, but they can live longer. The English Shepherd can live up to 15 years. Both breeds have respectable life expectancies for a domestic dog.

English Shepherd vs. Australian Shepherd: Health Problems

English Shepherds have a higher incidence of health problems than other breeds. English shepherds are predisposed to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, luxating patella, hypothyroidism, and retinal atrophy.

One in every fifteen Australian Shepherds is born deaf, and one in every thirty is born with congenital cataracts. Although Australian Shepherds as a breed are healthy, they are known to suffer from Degenerative Myelopathy, a neurological illness that affects one in every five to twelve dogs.

Wrapping up English Shepherd vs. Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd (Canis familiaris) - isolated background
The Australian Shepherd is highly intelligent and typically easy to train.

Jan Havlicek/Shutterstock.com

With these factors in mind, there are numerous parallels between the two breeds. Their coats appear identical, yet the texture is distinct. The size difference between the two is minor, but there are notable distinctions in temperament, health issues, trainability, and life expectancy, to name a few.

It takes more patience to teach the English Shepherd any tricks or commands, but the effort is well worth it. The Australian Shepherd, on the other hand, is a highly intelligent dog. The English Shepherd is known for its affinity for structure and ability to lead other dogs, but the Australian Shepherd is famed for its intelligence and ease of training. Hopefully, after comparing the English Shepherd and the Australian Shepherd in detail, you gained some insight into each of these magnificent breeds.

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About the Author

A substantial part of my life has been spent as a writer and artist, with great respect to observing nature with an analytical and metaphysical eye. Upon close investigation, the natural world exposes truths far beyond the obvious. For me, the source of all that we are is embodied in our planet; and the process of writing and creating art around this topic is an attempt to communicate its wonders.

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