Australian Cattle Dog vs Australian Shepherd: Which Is Better?

Australian cattle dog vs Australian shepherd: Which Is Better?

When going for pets, research is important. Because this is about your new family member. Think twice before you decide.

This article will be dealing with the two most amazing breeds of pet dogs: Australian Cattle dog and Australian Shepherd. If you have short-listed these two breeds, your choice and research are good. But where to go next?

A humble, honest comparison will be just right.

Let’s not wait anymore then!

1. Appearance

Australian Cattle Dog is somewhere between 17 and 19 inches in females and 18 to 20 inches in males from shoulder to paw. It weighs on average 35 to 50 pounds. So, it looks more like a wild dog. Because ACD has a very muscular, symmetrical, and compact appearance. It has a double-coat, very smooth, and a little bit longer than the lower body surface. The hair on the outer coat is thick and straight.

Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized, rather tall type of working dog. It measures 20 to 23 inches in males and 18 to 21 inches in the female. It weighs between 40 and 65 pounds. Although they come with a little variation in the coats, the hair is invariable of medium length, straight to wavy, and a medium texture. Their coats feature coloring in patches.


  • Australian Shepherd is larger of the two and looks more like a show dog with heavier fur and small ears. Australian Cattle dog retains its wild looks with a tighter fitting coat more like a sleeve, and long erect ears.

2. Temperament

Australian Shepherd is more active, playful, and loving. His temperament is more suited for a family pet life. He is more protective and affectionate. Hence, easy to train for home and family.

The Cattle Dog, on the other hand, has stronger herding instincts. That’s why it is sometimes difficult to train and tame him like a family pet. His temperament is more aggressive and energetic. That’s why he gets bored when not challenged for long.

3. Traits

Australian Cattle dog is strong and agile, and that’s why hard-muscled, wild herding dog. Like all dogs, ACD is loyal, but very smart and intelligent as well. They are perfect for guarding since they are utter alert. They are deemed as perfect running partners because of their boundless energy and strong, muscular body and legs.

Australian Shepherds are known best as cowboy’s dog of choice. They have immense work drive and strong instincts for herding anything: sheep, birds, even children. But the good thing is that they are trainable. They are extremely intelligent and can easily trick you if you are novel to smart pets.


  • Both are herding breeds. Hence, they demand physical activity, games, and challenging exercises from the owner to stay healthy and fit. Where Australian Shepherd (Aussie) is smart as well, the Cattle dog is ranked as one of the brightest dog breeds.
  • About their herding instincts, you should be a good trainer before you consider owning any of them.

RELATED: Miniature American Shepherd vs Australian Shepherd: Which Is Better?

4. Health and Life Span

The life span of both dogs is about the same. But the Cattle dog lives one year more than the Australian Shepherd, on average.

Australian Shepherd must be subject to the following tests before buying, and regularly afterward:

Elbow and Hip dysplasia.

Ophthalmologist evaluation for eye illnesses such as cataracts.

For Australian Cattle dog, the following tests are suggested:

Brainstem auditory evoked response test- especially suggested because Cattle dogs are more prone to developing this hearing disorder.

Progressive renal atrophy.

Lens luxation.


  • Both breeds enjoy almost equal life spans. Frequent visits to a vet are suggested for both of them.

5. Diet and Grooming

Taking care of their diet is not very hard. Both do very well on 2.5 cups of food a day. Although, a working dog may need slightly more to stay healthy.

Australian Shepherd for its show dog properties requires extra care. His coat needs frequent combing. Two to three times a week is a must-do to keep it manageable. Otherwise, all other grooming tips are the same: nail cutting, giving a bath, cleaning the ears.

Cattle dog is more like any other standard dog about grooming. Just go with the regular things and he does just fine.

But one thing that is common to both is their regular eye checkup. They can easily develop eye illnesses.


  • Grooming and diet do not add much to their differences, except for the furry coat of the Australian Shepherd. You can go with any of them in this case.

6. Popularity

Australian Shepherd ranks 17 out of 196 on American Kennel Club. They are more popular for their looks and the fact that they go well with children because they are utter smart.

Australian Cattle dog ranks 55 out of 196. Very popular but less as compared to the Aussie! However, this ranking is based on general opinions so it's not a deciding factor.

*Tip: Based on 2019 Stats

7. Price

The popularity has a large impact on their prices as well.

Australian Shepherd starts from 700$ while a Cattle dog pup can be brought starting from 500$.

Differences Once Again!

  • Aussie displays a feathered and heavier coat, as compared to a dense coat of ACD.
  • Aussie is larger in size and weight.
  • The Cattle dog offers effortless grooming. Australian Shepherd needs average grooming.
  • The Cattle dog needs more effort for training. Especially for a family pet.
  • Aussie is more popular. It is more expensive as well.
  • The Cattle dog is more prone to developing health issues. Still, he enjoys a longer life than Aussie.

Final Verdict

The differences between them are in their appearance, popularity, price, temperament, and a few health issues. Generally, Australian Shepherd is more popular for its protective and friendly nature with children. Hence, recommended for a home pet.

The Cattle dog is more favored for its guarding and herding properties, strength, and energy. Your best running partner!

If any of these factors are decisive for you, you should decide something that goes with your priorities and preferences.


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