English Shepherd vs Australian Shepherd: 3 Basic Differences

People looking for a new, energetic dog will soon find the Australian Shepherd. A beloved dog, and with good reason. The dog is cheerful, learns easily, and is a real companion animal. More and more people are now also discovering the English Shepherd. Also an energetic dog, with a friendly appearance. But what is actually the difference between the English Shepherd vs Australian Shepherd?

english shepherd vs australian shepherd

English Shepherd vs Australian Shepherd

Let’s put it this way, outsiders can hardly see a difference at first glance. English Shepherd owners tend to be addressed: “Aw, that’s a beautiful Australian Shepherd” and Aussie owners the other way around. But are they really that similar?

Let’s first take a closer look at the differences:

  • Coat – The Aussie has thick and wavy fur. The English Shepherd tends to have smooth and not as puffy fur as the Aussie.
  • Color – When it comes to colors, both are colorfully mixed and can come up with a lot of color schemes. However, contrary to the Australian Shepherd, English Shepherds do not embrace the merle color.
  • Physique – The physique of the two is also quite different. The Aussies are a bit stockier and a bit bigger. The English Shepherds are narrower and more delicate. Also tends to be a bit smaller than the Aussies, but that depends.

English Shepherds are less common than Australian Shepherds, perhaps due to the fact that they are not recognized by the AKC as a breed.

English Shepherd

As the name implies, the English Shepherd is an ideal dog for herding work. In addition, it is an excellent companion in the home, and – on occasions – it is trained for hunting. Due to its aesthetic aptitudes, it also participates in pedigree championships. Not to be confused with the Old English Sheepdog or Bobtail.

History of the English Shepherd

According to legend, the English Shepherd has its origin in the Roman sheepdog, which was brought to the British Isles by Julius Caesar, during the invasion in 55 B.C. It is said that Julius used these dogs to herd the cattle that he brought to feed his troops. And as the cattle ran out, the leftover dogs were left on the road and were adopted by the locals, who crossed them with native dogs, who had similar herding abilities, managing to intensify those instincts.

The English Shepherd, from the north of England and Scotland, was brought to the United States by the first settlers. They were most commonly found in the Midwest and Eastern United States. It is classified within the group of Collie, and during the 18th and 19th centuries, it was also called Farm Collie. It was probably one of the most popular breeds during the 19th century.

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There are those who claim that this animal is a descendant of the shepherds of England and southern Scotland. It is a “cousin” of modern Scotch Collies and Border Collies. The United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized it since 1927.

Characteristics of the English Shepherd

These dogs are of medium height. Males are between 48 and 58 cm tall, and weigh 20 to 27 kg, while females are 45 to 55 cm and weigh between 18 and 22 kg. They maintain the same height at the shoulders as at the hips. They are muscular and of harmonious proportions. Their eyes are dark to medium brown and express character and intelligence.

They have a moderately wide muzzle, and a deep, powerful jaw, with a strong scissor bite. Its neck is stocky and of medium length. Its moderately long tail, with a slight curve, and its coat that extends about 5 cm, has a lower layer. It is thick, smooth, and lustrous. It can be straight, wavy, or curly, except on the face. The one on the head and the front side of the legs is short and smooth.

There are five predominant color patterns: black and white; black and tan; black, white and tan; sable and white, and tan and white. The tan color includes colors ranging from light gold to mahogany brown. Unlike the Border Collie, the Scotch Collie, and the Australian Shepherd, this breed does not embrace the merle color.

Behavior and Nature of the English Shepherd

As mentioned before, the English Shepherd was bred to accompany the man in the task of controlling and guiding the goats, sheep, pigs, and poultry flocks. They were also used in house surveillance, hunting, and as an exterminator of vermin and rodents. Without leaving their work behind, they have become a perfect company at home. They are loyal, brave, and smart.

The English Shepherd has a lot of energy. They need mental and physical exercise on a daily basis – at least 40 minutes of walking per day. Otherwise, they can release their energy into destructive activities around the home. It tends to relax in the evening, snuggling up to its owner’s feet.

The intelligence of the English Shepherd and their kindness towards people and other animals is a defining characteristic of this breed. They are an excellent companion for children, vigilant and protective. They can herd the fiercest bull on the farm and the smallest chicken alike.

Being a dog with herding instincts, they will have the drive to chase whatever they find wandering around them. They can even be seen trying to herd the house cat. They are agile, adaptable, and learns routines quickly. They need to socialize from puppyhood and receive training.

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As the English Shepherd is protective, so they can be suspicious of strangers. They are warm with all members of the family, but they can have their favorite. They are generally healthy, but you have to take care of them for hip dysplasia. They need to be brushed twice a week, to keep their hair clean and looking nice. During shedding, daily brushing is recommended.

Feeding and Reproduction of the English Shepherd

With an adequate diet, the English Shepherd can live up to 15 years. Being an animal with a very active nature, which wastes energy, its ideal diet should be made up of 30% meat, 50% vegetables, and 20% fruits. These foods will provide them with the nutrients and energy they need. The meat should preferably be chicken or fish. And nutrient-poor foods like corn, potatoes, and starchy gold should be avoided.

The reproductive age of the female begins between 6 and 9 months and of the male one year. Gestation lasts 63 days on average. They give birth to an average litter size of six.

Curiosities of the English Shepherd

Canine sports fans choose this breed for its high performance in various sports, including sheep herding, agility, obedience, flyball competition, tracking, and showmanship, etc. Many English Shepherds also make excellent therapy dogs.

Australian Shepherd

“Developed” in northern Spain, and taken by emigrants to the United States and Australia, the Australian Shepherd is a breed of herding dog, named for the Basque shepherds who came to America from the Australian continent.

History of the Australian Shepherd

The breed was introduced in 1990, and recognized in 1994 by the Australian National Kennel Council, highlighting its beauty, obedience, and agility.

After World War II, when the west boomed, the Australian Shepherd saw its popularity increase, as it was taken to rodeos and horse shows, and even integrated into television movies.

Characteristics of the Australian Shepherd

The appearance of the Australian Shepherd can vary to the point that few breeders dare to unify their appearance in the same pattern of traits and characteristics.

The breed itself can be divided into two different lines; working line and show line. The working ones usually have less fur and their bone structure can be small, medium, or large. Show Australian Shepherds have a fuller coat and their musculature is heavier compared to the species of the other line.

The breed is characterized by being of medium size and with a strong and solid constitution. In addition, the standard requires that these dogs must measure 18 to 23 inches in the area known as the withers, that is from the highest part of the shoulder blade to the ground. Males should reflect between 21 and 23 inches, and females 18 to 21 inches.

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The color of the Australian Shepherd varies between black and red, with white and copper spots on the face, chest, and legs.

One point to consider is that the spots should not appear on the body from the top of the scapula to the tail. Excess light spots on the ears and face can lead to an increased risk of deafness and skin cancer.

The color of the eyes can also vary, in fact, a few decades ago they were known as the “ghost eye dogs”. They can be brown or blue, or show two different shades. When this is the case, they are called “split eyes.” If they are cloudy, it could be a sign of disease.

Behavior and Nature of the Australian Shepherd

For decades, the Australian Shepherd has been highly regarded for their ease of being trained, and for their immense ability and desire to please their master. They are very obedient and can handle other roles that are not limited to herding jobs and working as sheepdogs.

They are, like most working dogs, very dynamic and energetic; capabilities that allow them to excel in various sports, and in search and rescue. Their almost inexhaustible energy allows them to travel 60 kilometers a day, so it is not advisable to keep them locked up.

They must be provided with the necessary space to exercise. Otherwise, the retained energy and lack of exercise can cause them to become destructive and nervous.

The Australian Shepherd is great for detection, guidance, therapy, and service. They are very noble and good companions of the family.

They are an intelligent dog, who learns quickly and loves to play. It is remarkable that with a simple “NO”, they understand the order. Similarly, a simple touch helps them understand that they are doing well.

They usually live for about 13 years, although with proper care they can reach 15.

Feeding and Reproduction of the Australian Shepherd

The strength of the Australian Shepherd makes them resistant to various pathogens. However, in some cases, they may suffer from hip dysplasia or retinal problems such as progressive atrophy. Some dogs may suffer from deafness, kidney stones, or blindness. Genetic conditions are very rare for them.

The Australian Shepherd requires the same veterinary care as other breeds. However, special attention should be paid to their coat, which tends to be delicate. It must be brushed frequently and bathed every 15 days to maintain a good appearance and comprehensive hygiene. Read our review on the best brush for Australian Shepherds to find out what’s suitable for this breed.

Food is crucial. It should be essentially made up of proteins, and dosed in five or six servings a day, since it is an animal that, due to its hard-working condition, burns a lot of energy.