10 Dog Breeds Similar to the Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd

Amusingly, the Australian Shepherd is an American rather than an Australian dog breed. According to the Australian Shepherd Club of America, these dogs descend from shepherd dogs working with sheep on the west coast. The exact process by which the Australian Shepherd came into existence is unknown. However, interested individuals should know numerous dog breeds either act like or look like these dogs.

Australian Cattle Dog

1. Australian Cattle Dog

The Australian Cattle Dog is often confused for the Australian Shepherd and vice versa. Unfortunately, there is no reason to believe the two are related. If anything, there are reasons to think otherwise. For example, Australian Cattle Dogs work with cattle but not sheep, whereas Australian Shepherds work with cattle and sheep. Furthermore, the two came into existence in different places separated by an enormous geographical barrier.

Still, the Australian Cattle Dog has certain similarities with the Australian Shepherd. In particular, it is an intelligent creature capable of acting independently. This way, the Australian Cattle Dog can make good decisions without immediate human supervision. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be capable of doing its intended job. On a related note, the Australian Cattle Dog also combines its intelligence with a very active nature. Thanks to that, it will find a way to entertain itself if it doesn’t get enough stimulation from its normal routine. Most dog owners won’t react well to that.

Moving on, interested individuals should have no problem distinguishing the Australian Cattle Dog from the Australian Shepherd. It has pointed ears rather than button ears. On top of that, it has a short coat rather than a long, wavy coat.

Belgian Shepherd

2. Belgian Shepherd

A shared shepherd dog existed throughout much of Western Europe. Dog breeders have used it to create numerous shepherd dog breeds. Dogtime says this dog breed is considered four dog breeds in some parts of the world. Essentially, there are four kinds of Belgian Shepherd. Sometimes, each one is a dog breed. Other times, they are just different varieties of the same dog breed.

Since the Belgian Shepherd occupies the same role as the Australian Shepherd, it makes sense that it has some similarities. For instance, they are smart, trainable, and hard-working dogs. However, the different varieties aren’t necessarily as well-suited for being companions as the Australian Shepherd. The short-haired, fawn-coated Malinois is less capable of adapting to indoor living than its counterparts. Meanwhile, the short-haired, black-coated Groenendael and the long-haired, fawn-coated Tervuren can be snappy. As for the rough-haired, fawn-coated Laekenois, it sometimes gets into fights with other dogs. Socialization can do much to help out with these issues.

Border Collie

3. Border Collie

Naturally, the British Isles had shepherd dogs. Over time, these became the basis for more than one dog breed. The Border Collie is named thus because it came into existence on the Anglo-Scottish border. Many of these dogs still herd livestock. Others have made a smooth transition to being pets.

Border Collies can become pets with minimal issues because of characteristics shared with other shepherd dogs. First, they are intelligent, so much so Country Living says they are often considered the smartest dogs in the entire world. Second, Border Collies are very trainable, which is why people can teach them to get along with other pets despite their herding instincts.

If these dogs have an issue, it would be their need for activity. Smart, active dogs get bored with ease. As a result, interested individuals need to provide Border Collies with plenty of physical exercises and mental stimulation. Without that, these dogs get destructive. There are numerous stories of chewed holes. Similarly, there are numerous stories of hole digging. A bored Border Collie is a destructive Border Collie.

Rough Collie

4. Rough Collie

Border Collies aren’t the only Collies out there. Another well-known example would be the Rough Collie.

Please note that the Rough Collie is often associated with the Smooth Collie and vice versa. Collie Life says the two are the same in most respects. The most notable difference between them is the length of their coat. Rough Collies have longer fur, whereas Smooth Collies have shorter fur. Besides this, Collie Life claims that Smooth Collies have more of their working heritage, thus making them more athletic, more energetic, and more extroverted. As a result, Border Collies and Smooth Collies are sometimes considered the same dog breed by kennel clubs. That includes the AKC, which recognizes them as just the Collie.

Of course, Rough Collies and Smooth Collies have much in common with Australian Shepherds. That extends to their appearances. If people want an Australian Shepherd but can’t get an Australian Shepherd for some reason, they should get a Rough Collie with a blue merle coat. Interested individuals must choose their dog breeder with extra care when buying such dogs. Merle dogs are fine. In contrast, Pet Helpful mentions higher chances of deformities for double merle dogs. Responsible dog breeders won’t breed merle dogs with merle dogs. Sadly, not every dog breeder is responsible.

German Shepherd

5. German Shepherd

German Shepherds are another dog breed created using local shepherd dogs. Initially, they were better sheep-herders. Later, they started seeing use in other working roles because they were just that useful. Unfortunately, the German Shepherd’s reputation has taken some hits over time for one reason or another. They have a reputation for being dangerous, which comes from their association with criminals and other negative figures in certain times and places. Ironically, German Shepherds are also involved in the modern debates over what a dog breed should be. That is because some people have been breeding German Shepherds with an extremely roached back that messes up the way they move.

With that said, German Shepherds have many of the same strengths as their Australian counterparts. It is interesting to note they even share one of the same weaknesses. Specifically, some German Shepherds are a bit high-strung like how some Australian Shepherds are a bit high-strung. If interested individuals have one of these dogs, proper socialization becomes even more critical for mitigating this and other potential issues.


6. Leonberger

Some people prefer thin, elegant-looking dogs. In contrast, others prefer a stockier, sturdier-looking animal. Those who like Australian Shepherds because of their powerful build should check out the Leonberger. They aren’t shepherds in the same way. Even so, they offer some of the same upsides.

The origins of the Leonberger aren’t 100 percent clear. Supposedly, a dog breeder named Heinrich Essig created these dogs using the Newfoundland, the Barry, and the Pyrenean Mountain Dog. The issue is that Leonberger-looking dogs might have existed in the region before him, meaning his claim isn’t necessarily true. Whatever the case, Essig was the one who named and registered the dog breed, meaning he played an important role in its history anyway. As for why he named the Leonberger thus, well, he was also the mayor of the German town of Leonberg.

Personality-wise, Leonbergers are family dogs. They are good-natured dogs with plenty of love, loyalty, and smarts. Thanks to that, Leonbergers get along well with everyone, though that won’t prevent them from protecting their family members when they see something suspicious. Proper socialization is nonetheless critical for these dogs. A small, poorly-socialized dog is limited to being annoying for the most part. Leonbergers are big dogs, thus making them much more problematic when their owners fail to raise them well.

Miniature American Shepherd

7. Miniature American Shepherd

Vox says Miniature American Shepherds are the same dogs as Miniature Australian Shepherds. That makes sense because they come from a long-running effort to create a smaller version of the Australian Shepherd. Supposedly, AKC using the name Miniature American Shepherd was a compromise when interested individuals sought full recognition for their dogs.

Miniature American Shepherds are as small as they sound. Males reach an average of 14 to 18 inches in height. Meanwhile, females reach an average of 13 to 17 inches in height. Otherwise, Miniature American Shepherds are much the same as their predecessors. Indeed, these dogs remain working dogs, which makes sense because shepherd dogs don’t have to be big to do their jobs.

Often, people choose Miniature American Shepherds because they have less living space. By this point, it should be clear that Australian Shepherds are energetic animals that need plenty of activity. As a result, they are better-suited for dog owners with convenient access to large, outdoor spaces capable of meeting that need. Miniature Australian Shepherds are smaller creatures. Due to that, it is easier for most people to meet their need for stimulation, thus making them a better choice for people who are either less active or live in a smaller space.

. Old English Sheepdog

8. Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdogs are one of the most recognizable dog breeds out there. They are big dogs with a long, shaggy coat covering much of their face. Curiously, these dogs stand higher at the loins than at the shoulders, so people have described their walk as a roll. As for the tail, modern Old English Sheepdogs are different from the iconic image from the past. Previously, it was common practice to dock their tail. Now, docking for cosmetic purposes is seen as cruel by many people in many places. Nowadays, Old English Sheepdogs are often allowed to retain long, feathered tails.

Appearance-wise, Old English Sheepdogs share a sense of stockiness with the Australian Shepherd. However, they are very different in other respects. Instead, Old English Sheepdogs are more similar because of their temperaments. These dogs are adaptable creatures capable of getting along well with humans, other dogs, and other animals. Furthermore, they possess a stubborn streak, which is potentially problematic for people who don’t know how to work around that. Fortunately, Old English Sheepdogs aren’t as active as Australian Shepherds, so that could appeal to less active people.


9. Poodle

Herding instincts are great for herding dogs. The same isn’t true for pets. Yes, people can mitigate herding instincts with proper socialization. Still, some people might prefer to avoid the issue altogether. If so, they should consider the Poodle. Said dog shares the Australian Shepherd’s loyalty and intelligence while being easier to train. With everything put together, it is no wonder they are so popular as pets.

With that said, Poodles are disadvantaged because they don’t look like Australian Shepherds. Their fur is tightly-curled. On top of that, Poodles tend not to have mixed-colored coats. Despite that, these dogs are a great choice of pet if people are flexible about their canine companion’s look.

Shetland Sheepdog

10. Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland is famous for Shetland sheep. Naturally, the existence of Shetland sheep means the existence of Shetland Sheepdogs. These dogs look like Collies. At one point in time, these dogs were called Shetland Collies. That changed because of complaints from Border Collie enthusiasts, thus forcing the change of name to Shetland Sheepdogs.

Chances are good interested individuals can guess at least some of the Shetland Sheepdog’s characteristics. For instance, they are smart enough to earn a spot as one of the smartest dog breeds in the world. With that said, Shetland Sheepdogs are affectionate by the standards of sheepdogs, which are already friendly towards humans as a rule. Reportedly, these dogs like to follow their family members from place to place, which more independent-minded dogs won’t do. Of course, there is a downside to this. Shetland Sheepdogs don’t do well when left on their own. They are one of the dog breeds that experience separation anxiety when away from their owners for too long.

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