Australian Cattle Dog Vs Australian Shepherd Differences – Which One Is Better?

Despite the similarity in their names, the Australian Cattle dog and the Australian Shepherd are contrasting in some ways. Some say that the latter is more suited to a family home, while the former is best suited as a guard dog.

Aside from this, there are still other things you would want to consider if you are currently deciding which of them to own. Don’t worry, we’ll discuss them in this article.

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You can easily distinguish the Australian Shepherd from the Cattle dog because of his fluffy coat that gives him a bigger appearance. The Cattle dog, on the other hand, has a shorter and thinner coat.

Both dogs have merle coats, which increases their chance of being born with different eye colors that give them distinct from other dogs. The Australian Shepherd is known for having four colors, while the Cattle dog is known in six varying colors, though it is likely for him to have large patches of tan.

The Australian Shepherd has a longer muzzle and smaller ears compared to the Cattle dog who retained his Dingo ancestor’s fierce appearance. The Aussie Shepherd has a naturally docked tail, while the Cattle dog has a fox-like tail, though in some cases it can also be born with a docked tail.


The Australian Shepherd is bigger than the Cattle dog, measuring 18 to 23 inches (45.7 to 58.4 cm). Its weight ranges from 40 to 65 lbs (18.1 to 29.4 kg).

On the other hand, the Cattle dog stands between 17 to 20 inches (43.1 to 50.8cm). It is also lighter in weight, averaging from 35 to 50 lbs (15.8 to 22.6 kg).

In some cases, the dog may appear bigger or smaller than the average size depending on his activity and diet.

Life Span

Both dogs have an average life span of 12 years, although the Australian Shepherd can live up to 15 years, while the Cattle dog is a bit longer at 16 years. Of course, their life expectancy still depends on various factors, such as their diet, daily activities, check-ups, and how they are raised.


Both dogs are moderate shedders. They shed throughout the year but will shed heavily twice during the shedding season. However, keep in mind that the Australian Shepherd shed more than the Cattle dog.


When it comes to their temperament, you might notice a slight difference between the two.
It is said that the Australian Shepherd does a better job in becoming a family pet than the Cattle dog.

This may be due to the fact that the Cattle dog has a strong herding ability, and would prefer guarding the house rather than staying indoors. It doesn’t make him a poor family pet.

However, it’s just that the Australian Shepherd can adapt more easily to a family home setting than the Cattle dog.


Both dogs are brainy and are always top of the class, but the Cattle dog is one of the brightest canines out there.

Although intelligent, the Cattle dog might be harder to train than the Australian Shepherd because they tend to be stubborn. As a matter of fact, they are known for outsmarting their owners according to the AKC.

Activity Level

Both are working dogs and would require a high activity level. They need a job to do, either herding a farm, collecting the post, or participating in canine sports. If you keep either of them as a family pet, make sure that they are given enough time and place to release their energies, otherwise, they will develop destructive behaviors.


Both dogs are intelligent and eager to please. However, their intelligence would mean that they need intensive training. If not, they may get bored and even outsmart you.

It is also important that they are socialized at an early age, especially the Cattle dog. His herding ability and protective personality can get him in trouble if he is not properly exposed in all situations.

That said, both dogs are not for the novice and first-time owners. Rather, they are best suited for experienced owners who can provide them with consistent yet gentle training that they need.

Exercise Needs

The Australian Shepherd and the Cattle dog both require the same amount of exercise. At least an hour of vigorous daily exercise is what they need. It is also essential to engage them in activities that involve mental stimulation, including canine sports and interactive games.

If they are properly socialized and well-trained, they would also enjoy a good walk, or jog at the park.

Keep in mind that if they don’t receive the physical exercise and mental stimulation that they need, they may develop undesirable behavior.


The Australian Shepherd has a longer coat compared to the Cattle dog, which means he will require more grooming. Brush him at least twice weekly to make sure that his coat is a mat- and tangle-free.

Meanwhile, the Cattle dog would only need weekly brushing to keep his coat in its best condition.

Bathing should only be done when necessary, ears should regularly be cleaned to prevent the buildup of wax, and the nails should be trimmed every month.

Both dogs are prone to eye issues, therefore check their eyes for changes or abnormalities. If you are unsure, it is best to make a visit to your veterinarian.

Good With Family

Both dogs are very loyal, devoted, and affectionate with their families.

However, their herding instinct gives them the tendency to herd small animals and toddlers. This can cause trouble especially if they are previously used as a herding dog.

Proper training can lessen this trait, but it won’t entirely remove their tendency to herd.
Also, Cattle dogs are less tolerant of loud noises, such as children’s yell. Because of this, they are best suited to homes with older children and without other pets.

Overall, both dogs are fun to be with. Expect that there are no boring days around them.

Apartment Living

Australian Cattle dogs are definitely not for apartments. They need a large space to guard their territories. In fact, they would love to sleep outdoors during warmer seasons.

Compared to the Australian Shepherd, they are also more aloof and wary with strangers, thus making them great guard dogs.

On the other hand, Australian Shepherds can live in apartments, so long as their daily exercise needs are met.

Health Problems

In general, both dogs are healthy and will enjoy long lives. However, just like every other dog, they may still be susceptible to certain health conditions.

The Australian Shepherd may suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, eye diseases, epilepsy, tumors, cancer, heart disease, deafness, and autoimmune diseases.

On the other hand, the Australian Cattle dog may experience progressive retinal atrophy, hip and elbow dysplasia, deafness, and osteochondritis dissecans.

Final Thoughts

If properly trained and socialized, both dogs make excellent family companions. They are loving, gentle, yet can also be fun and entertaining. There may be differences that will distinguish one from the other, but regardless of your choice, both dogs will reward you with love and affection so long as you provide for their needs.


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