9 Dogs Similar To Australian Shepherds (Looks And Traits)

If you’re considering getting a dog, you’ve probably looked at hundreds of different breeds and thought about all the different pros and cons of each. Many people quickly fall in love with the idea of owning a German Shepherd, but have you ever thought about dogs similar to German Shepherds? You might be surprised to learn there are quite a few!

In this article, we’re going to look at some of these dogs and explore the similarities and differences between them.

What Are Common Personality Traits In Australian Shepherds?

Personality is probably the single most important factor when it comes to choosing a dog – they need to fit with your life and with you and your other family members. While every dog is different, certain breeds are known for having certain common characteristics, and this can help you with your initial choice.

Always get to know a dog before bringing it home; just because the breed is known for a particular trait doesn’t guarantee individuals to have it. Making friends first will ensure both you and your new furry pal are a good match before you commit to each other.

If you’re keen on an Australian Shepherd, it might help to identify some of their common characteristics.

Easy-Going And Amicable

In general, Australian Shepherds have a great temperament. They are loving, good with kids, and usually good with other pets. They do have a herding instinct, which can make them wary of strangers approaching their families, but they aren’t usually aggressive dogs and would rather play and make friends than attack.

Australian Shepherds tend to be adventurous, but they are easy to please and just seem to enjoy life, whatever it contains!

Good To Live With

Australian Shepherds make good family dogs, being reasonably patient with children and usually with other animals – though this will depend on the individual, and some don’t get along well with cats. They are better with older children who can interact with them in positive ways, as many have quite strong wills and may struggle to bond with little children.

They don’t shed excessively, and because they are easy to train, they don’t cause too many problems with chewing or destruction, provided you give them the time they need and teach them not to do those things. If you invest in them, they are wonderful dogs.

Australian Shepherds are often said to have a strong desire to please their owners, so you can channel this with training, ensuring they know what is expected of them and can perform accordingly. This will create a strong, loving bond between you and the dog, as you will both understand each other well.

Highly Active

Australian Shepherds were originally bred as working dogs, and that means they like to be up and on the go very often. They need to be walked every day and will benefit from having access to a large outdoor space to play in.

If you can’t commit to at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every day, however, an Australian Shepherd is not for you; they need stimulation and have to burn off their energy. They are happiest when doing something, perhaps as a result of their original breeding.

They can become destructive and restless or depressed if they aren’t given regular exercise. Some will be more content to relax at home than others, but almost all will thrive on plenty of walks, runs, and lots of play with their families. If you have the time to put into this kind of dog, they are ideal.

Extremely Intelligent

If you’re looking for a smart dog, you don’t really need to look any further. They are among the top breeds for their intelligence, and they can be trained to do many different tricks. Some people say they can even help with household chores.

Because of their desire to please and this intelligence, Australian Shepherds are great dogs if you can invest time in their training. Both you and the dog will enjoy spending hours perfecting each trick and forming a strong bond at the same time.

Plenty of stimulation and a clear idea of what is and isn’t expected of them will keep Australian Shepherds happy and out of mischief. If not stimulated, Australian Shepherds do have a bit of a tendency to cause trouble as they try to find something to do – even if that something isn’t desirable in the eyes of their human.

Shy Of Strangers

As mentioned, some Australian Shepherds take time to warm up to strangers; they don’t necessarily trust readily and may treat unknown people or animals with caution. Owners often have to focus on the socialization aspect with young pups to ensure they engage well and get used to others.

Socializing your pet is important to limit the chances of it becoming aggressive or nervous. Gentle introductions with plenty of reassurance and space for the dog to retreat if necessary can really help with this.


While they are highly trainable, Australian Shepherds have a particularly stubborn streak, and you will have to work hard to get them to do what you want sometimes. This can cause clashes if you have young children who don’t have the patience or understanding to work with a dog, rather than trying to push them.

Careful training can shape this stubbornness into a very reliable, obedient companion, but bear in mind that patience will be required, especially with some individuals of this breed.

Want to know more about Australian Shepherds?

So What Dogs Are Similar To Australian Shepherds?

With all that in mind, what other breeds are similar to these great dogs? They have a lot to live up to! There are a few breeds that share some of their characteristics, however.

Border Collies

Also, working dogs, it’s not surprising if Border Collies share some characteristics with Australian Shepherds. They are also quite similar in terms of appearance, though Australian Shepherds tend to be a bit stockier and will never have the pricked-up ears that some Collies have.

Both dogs are keen herders, and both can be a bit nervous. They aren’t particularly chilled-out dogs on the whole, and you may see their instincts show when strangers are near their humans. Australian Shepherds are also incurable barkers, whereas you may find a Collie easier to train away from barking, although you will probably not stop them entirely.

Australian Cattle Dogs

Another energetic and hard-working dog, Australian Cattle Dogs, tend to share the Australian Shepherd’s intelligence.

They are also medium in size, though aesthetically, they are quite different from the soft, patchy coats common in Australian Shepherds. They are a short-haired breed, with pointed ears and a heavy build.

Again, these dogs thrive on exercise, challenges, and having a job to do. They like to know what they’re doing and when, and they love to run.


If you want a dog with brains, but you aren’t so keen on herding instincts, consider a poodle. Poodles can be taught a variety of tricks and are very clever. They also appreciate plenty of exercise and are a large enough dog that you won’t cut it by walking them around the block; they need to run.

Poodles also benefit from being socialized from a young age, and they like to receive plenty of attention. Stimulation in the form of games, exercise, and companionship is very important to them.

They don’t share any of the Australian Shepherd’s aesthetics, however, often having tightly curled coats. They are large dogs but are usually block-colored rather than being mixed or swirled.

German Shepherds

As the name might suggest, German Shepherds have some of the same characteristics as Australian Shepherds. They look quite different, with pricked-up ears and (usually) brown-and-black coloring, but they have similar instincts and are very smart.

Again, this is a breed that will benefit from plenty of tasks, clear training, and a sense of purpose. They need regular exercise and are very happy when they have a job to do. If you don’t find one for them, they’ll find one for themselves!

Some German Shepherds can be a little high-strung, so they also share that less desirable characteristic with the Australian Shepherd, though reassurance and socialization can help to mitigate it to a degree.

(Find out about dogs similar to german shepherds.)


If you are looking for a smaller dog that still has plenty of brains and knows its own mind, a Papillon is one you might not immediately equate with an Australian Shepherd – but they share a surprising amount of characteristics!

One of the major ones is stubbornness and a love of food. You can work with Papillons and teach them all sorts of tricks, but you will have to offer high-value rewards to get them to do what you want. They love having interesting things to do, so plenty of stimulation is important with these dogs.

Training Your Australian Shepherd

If you haven’t trained your Australian Shepherd properly, then this is the perfect time to start. Whatever bad behavior your Shepherd has, whether it’s barking at night or other bad behaviors, using the right training program is the key to having an obedient and happy pup.

The training program I love and highly recommend is Brain Training For Dogs.

With Brain Training For Dogs, you’ll save yourself a ton of time and effort. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your dog won’t listen, you’ll follow a path that has been tried, tested, and most importantly, that’s given proven results. Not to mention the fact, that you’ll be able to fit the course around your schedule, not fit your schedule around a trainer or obedience class.

So instead of worrying about whether they’re going to be well-behaved or not, you’ll only have to worry about how much fun you’ll have with them!

And in most cases, it’s still going to be:

  • Cheaper than hiring a professional.
  • Cheaper than replacing everything they might break.
  • And definitely cheaper than a lawsuit against you, if they decide to bite someone.

Just imagine how great it will feel to finally be able to trust your Aussie completely and never worry whether they’ll be naughty or not. Instead, you’ll have the peace of mind that you have a well-behaved pup, and the boundaries you set for them will always be there, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT. 

And the best part is it also has a 60-day money-back guarantee! So there’s no reason not to give Brain Training For Dogs a try!

So if you’re tired of your dog’s bad behavior or how they react around other people and pooches, then give it a try! You’ll be amazed by the results!

(You can also check out a full review here to learn exactly what the course has to offer!)

What Dogs Look Like Australian Shepherds?

We all know aesthetics aren’t everything, but whether we like it or not, they are a factor when it comes to choosing our furry companions – and there’s no denying that Australian Shepherds are exceptionally beautiful animals, with their marbled coats and gorgeous floppy ears.

So, if you want a canine companion who looks like an Australian Shepherd but doesn’t necessarily share its common personality traits, here are a few options.

Shetland Sheepdogs

Much smaller in size than Australian Shepherds, Shetland Sheepdogs may prove easier to handle if you live in a small space. They are often shedders and still require a lot of exercise, but they tend to be easier around other dogs and people.

With long, soft coats and that classic “shepherd” shape, these are a good second choice, though they rarely have the same beautiful coloring as Australian Shepherds and tend to look a bit more like Border Collies.

Shetland Sheepdog | This little girls name is Jasmine. She i… | Flickr

Miniature Australian Shepherd

This may seem a bit of an obvious one to include in the list, but if you really want the looks of an Australian Shepherd but can’t handle their energy and size, a miniature version might be the way to go. They are still highly energetic, but their short legs will have to work harder to keep up with yours!

In terms of looks, they are pretty identical apart from being smaller. They often stand at about 13-17 inches high, and they are utterly adorable!

Miniature Australian Shepherd by Andrea Arden | New York Can… | Flickr

Blue Merle Collie

We already mentioned Collies as being similar to Australian Shepherds in terms of their personalities, but they are also a good match in terms of looks – especially those with blue merle coloring.

Their size and shape are similar too, and even standard Collies have a lot in common with the aesthetics of an Australian Shepherd. Collies with pricked-up ears may look a little different, but otherwise, they are probably about as close as you will come to a lookalike. In fact, many places have trouble telling the two breeds apart!

Blue Merle Collie


If you are a fan of the stockiness and solidity of Australian Shepherds, you might find a Leonberger that suits your tastes. They have medium to long coats and are heavier, but they share something of the Australian Shepherd’s shape.



Is An Australian Cattle Dog The Same As An Australian Shepherd? 

Cattle dogs are not the same as Australian Shepherds. They are very distinctive in appearance, and they have very different coats. They also differ in their temperaments. They are both very high-energy dogs, so they are pretty much equal in their activity needs.

They are both very intelligent, and they both adore their families! They are both easy to train.


Australian Shepherds are fantastic dogs; if you have the time and energy to invest in them, they will reward you with excellent behavior, loyalty, and friendliness. However, if an Australian Shepherd isn’t a good fit for you and your circumstances, understanding its characteristics can help you connect with other breeds that may suit you better.

Border Collies, Poodles, and other working dogs share a lot in terms of intelligence and temperament, while Leonbergers and other stocky dogs offer some of that lovely solidity and chunkiness that Australian Shepherds embody.

Remember to get to know your dog before taking it home, so you can both be sure it’s the right choice for you!