Australian Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Key Differences

australian shepherd vs german shepherd

Did you know German Shepherds can weigh up to 25 pounds more than Australian Shepherds? When we look at these two popular herding dogs, there’s a lot to think about. They have different looks and different needs. Though both are called shepherds, they are not the same. Each breed has its own special qualities.

In this dog breed comparison, let’s explore how the Australian Shepherd and the German Shepherd differ. Australian Shepherds have colorful coats and are very agile. German Shepherds, on the other hand, have a strong build and work with the police. Knowing these differences will help you pick the right dog for you.

Key Takeaways

  • German Shepherds are heavier by up to 25 pounds compared to Australian Shepherds.
  • Both need over 2 hours of exercise each day to stay fit and happy.
  • Australian Shepherds have bright, colorful coats. German Shepherds usually have a black-and-tan look.
  • Because of their strength and easy training, German Shepherds often work with the police or military.
  • Both are smart and easy to train but being stubborn, it’s important to start training early.
  • Australian Shepherds live about 12-15 years, a bit longer than German Shepherds, whose lifespan is around 9-13 years.

Appearance and Size

Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds have noticeable differences in appearance and size. Potential dog owners should know these differences before choosing a pet.

Visual Differences

Australian Shepherds have a colorful, soft coat and might have blue or brown eyes. Some even have both colors in one dog. German Shepherds, on the other hand, usually have black and tan coats and brown eyes.

Also, German Shepherds have upright ears and longer faces. Australian Shepherds’ ears are floppy, and their faces are shorter.

Size and Weight

German Shepherds are generally larger and heavier than Australian Shepherds. An adult German Shepherd can stand up to 26 inches tall. Meanwhile, an adult Australian Shepherd’s height can reach up to 23 inches.

In terms of weight, German Shepherds range from 55 to 90 pounds. Australian Shepherds weigh between 40 and 65 pounds, making them lighter.


Australian Shepherd

German Shepherd

HeightUp to 23 inchesUp to 26 inches
Weight40–65 lbs55–90 lbs
Exercise Requirement2+ hours a day2+ hours a day
Lifespan11–14 years9–12 years

Temperament and Personality

Understanding Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds is key if you’re thinking about getting one. Both are energetic and loyal, making them great family pets with the right training and friends.

Energy Levels

Australian Shepherds need about two hours of exercise every day. They like running, hiking, and agility training. This keeps them busy and happy. German Shepherds, a bit bigger, also need lots of exercise to stay healthy.

Loyalty and Protection

Australian Shepherds are friendly and great with families but they also look out for them. German Shepherds take loyalty up a notch and are top-notch guard dogs. Training is important to make sure they are friendly with strangers.

Family Friendliness

Australian Shepherds love being with their family and are very playful. They are also obedient and trustworthy. German Shepherds are loyal family members too, but they tend to be more cautious. Early socialization and training are crucial for both, especially around kids and other pets.

Both breeds shed a lot because of their thick coats. Regular brushing is important to keep their fur in good shape. Australian Shepherds have straight or wavy hair, while German Shepherds have denser coats that shed more.

temperament differences between Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds


Australian Shepherd

German Shepherd

Energy RequirementsHigh, about 2 hours/dayHigh, needs regular exercise
Shedding LevelsModerateHigh
Family FriendlinessVery family-friendly, sociableFamily-friendly, more reserved
Protective NatureModerateHigh

Trainability and Intelligence

Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds are both very smart. They come from herding backgrounds. This makes them love tasks and mental challenges.

intelligent dog breeds

Australian Shepherds are fast and agile. They’re perfect for jobs like wilderness rescue. They love being active, from hiking 15 miles to jumping over cars. To keep them happy, they need lots of exercise every day.

German Shepherds, on the other hand, are known for their strong stamina and obedience. They are great for police and military jobs. They may not show their feelings as much, but they are very reliable in training.

It’s important to know how they differ in physical features:


Australian Shepherd

German Shepherd

Average Height (Adult)Up to 23 inchesUp to 26 inches
Average Weight (Adult)40-65 lbs55-90 lbs
Lifespan11-14 years9-12 years

Both breeds need good training to show their smarts. Australian Shepherds are alert and like to be busy with their owners. They are fun and have a good sense of humor.

German Shepherds take a more serious approach to training. They have a lot of energy. With the right training, both breeds make faithful and skilled companions.

Care Needs

Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds require a lot of care and focus. It’s key to know their exercise, grooming, and food needs. This helps keep them healthy and happy.

Exercise Requirements

Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds need lots of activity every day. Australian Shepherds do best with two hours of hard exercise daily. They love running and playing lively games. German Shepherds also need over two hours of activity each day. They enjoy exercises that make them think and keep them moving.

exercise needs

Grooming and Shedding

Grooming for both breeds isn’t too hard, but they have special needs. Australian Shepherds have merle-patterned coats that need regular brushing. This stops their fur from matting and keeps it looking good. German Shepherds shed a lot, especially in shedding seasons. Brushing them often is vital to control shedding and keep your house clean.

Dietary Needs

Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds need high-quality food with lots of protein. Australian Shepherds, being smaller and active, need a well-balanced diet. German Shepherds are bigger and need food that keeps their joints healthy. Feeding them the right premium dog food ensures they stay active and healthy their whole lives.


Australian Shepherd

German Shepherd

Exercise Needs2+ hours/day2+ hours/day
Grooming NeedsModerateModerate
Dietary NeedsHigh-quality, high-proteinHigh-quality, high-protein


When picking the right herding dog for your family, it’s key to look at what makes Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds special. Each type has its own perks that might fit better with different homes and ways of living. Australian Shepherds, with their bright coat colors and lively spirit, need plenty of room and social time.

They stand 18 to 22 inches tall and weigh between 40 to 65 pounds. With lives lasting 12 to 14 years, Aussies are full of energy. This means they do best with lots of space to move and play.

German Shepherds, on the other hand, are a bit bigger, standing 22 to 26 inches tall and weighing 50 to 90 pounds. They are known for their coat variety but shed a lot and need regular brushing. These dogs live about 9 to 12 years and are top-notch guards, perfect for families wanting safety and loyalty.

Despite their size, German Shepherds are very smart and can learn many tasks. They do well as service dogs, therapy dogs, or buddies for those who are active. Making them great for families that need a loyal and protective friend.

Choosing between an Australian Shepherd and a German Shepherd means looking at what your family needs and the space you have. Both breeds will give you loyalty and love. They’re smart, good with kids, and can adapt to your home’s routine. This makes understanding each breed’s needs key to a happy home with your new dog.

In our next post, we will look at the difference between an Australian Shepherd and a Golden Retriever and discuss which one of them is best in various ways.


Q: What are the main visual differences between Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds?

A: Australian Shepherds are medium-sized dogs with colorful, soft coats. They can have eyes of different colors. German Shepherds are larger with mostly black and tan coats, upright ears, and longer faces.

Q: How do the sizes of Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds compare?

A: Australian Shepherds are generally smaller compared to German Shepherds. Male Australian Shepherds weigh between 50-65 pounds, and females weigh 40-55 pounds. Male German Shepherds weigh 65-90 pounds, while females weigh 50-70 pounds.

Q: What are the energy requirements for Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds?

A: Both breeds are energetic and need lots of exercise every day. Australian Shepherds love to run and play. German Shepherds need engaging activities and like to keep their minds busy.

Q: How do Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds differ in temperament?

A: Australian Shepherds are friendly, loyal, and relaxed when they’re kept busy. They are protective but nice to people. German Shepherds are very loyal and protective. They need training to help manage their protective nature.

Q: Are Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds good family dogs?

A: Yes, both breeds are good with families when properly socialized. Australian Shepherds are perfect for active families. German Shepherds fit well into family life and get along with other pets if they are properly trained.

Q: How trainable are Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds?

A: Both breeds learn quickly because of their herding background. Australian Shepherds are fast and keen, good for tasks like rescue work. German Shepherds excel in obedience and often work with police or in the military.

Q: What are the grooming needs for Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds?

A: Both Australian and German Shepherds need regular brushing, more so during their shedding seasons. Keeping up with their coat care helps manage shedding and keeps them comfortable.

Q: What kind of exercise needs do Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds have?

A: These breeds require hours of activity every day. Australian Shepherds love to run and play in open spaces. German Shepherds enjoy doing tasks that challenge them mentally.

Q: What dietary needs do Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds have?

A: Both need diets rich in high-quality protein to match their energy needs. Feeding them properly ensures they stay healthy and full of vitality.

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About the author

Nathan Green

I'm Nate Green, a lifelong dog lover and proud owner of numerous dogs throughout my adult life. My passion for dogs goes beyond just owning them; I am dedicated to understanding and sharing the joys and complexities of dog ownership with fellow enthusiasts.