Australian shepherds and Australian cattle dogs might both bring the scenic land down under to mind, but they're in no way one and the same, with totally different physical appearances. The two mid-sized dog breeds are distinct from one another, although they have in common extensive herding pasts.
Australian shepherds are a little bigger than Australian cattle dogs. Mature male Australian shepherds usually weigh between 50 and 65 pounds, with shoulder heights of between 20 to 23 inches. The females are a tad smaller, with typical weights of between 40 and 55 pounds. Female Australian shepherds also usually reach heights of 18 to 21 inches. Adult Australian cattle dogs of both genders generally tip the scales at between 35 and 45 pounds. The males are a bit taller than the females, with shoulder heights of between 18 and 20 inches. Female shoulder height for the breed ranges from 17 to 19 inches.
Although specimens from both breeds have double coats, they differ in coloration. Australian shepherds exist in black, red, and red and blue merle, often with heavy beige and white components. Red and blue merle coats are characterized by grayish-blue or red backgrounds with blotting. They have dense hair, and therefore need brushing sessions a minimum of once per week. Australian cattle dogs don't appear in solid colors, unlike their shepherd buddies, and instead have reddish or bluish mottled fur, frequently with elements of beige, blue and black. Their soft and short hair is pretty low maintenance, comparatively speaking. Occasional brushing are all they typically need. Australian shepherds also possess markedly longer coats than the cattle dogs.
All dogs are different as individuals, but many signature temperament traits are associated with specific breeds. Both of these breeds are thought to be highly spirited and jovial animals in general. While both are also rather meek around new people, Australian shepherds typically are more comfortable around other animals than Australian cattle dogs are. They both tend to get along swimmingly with fellow dogs, however. It's always important to monitor them both around tiny animals and young children, as the little ones could encourage their innate herding drives.
The typical life span for Australian shepherds is anywhere between 14 and 16 years. Australian cattle dogs have shorter average life expectancies of between 10 and 13 years. As a breed, Australian shepherds are susceptible to ailments such as cataracts and canine hip dysplasia. Australian cattle dogs are prone to their own set of common diseases, namely progressive retinal atrophy, osteochondritis dissecans and hearing issues. Canine hip dysplasia is a common issue for both breeds. As with all canines, frequent and routine veterinary care is a must for these precious pooches.
- The Westminster Kennel Club: Australian Cattle Dog
- American Kennel Club: Australian Shepherd Page
- American Kennel Club: Australian Cattle Dog Page
- Animal Planet: Australian Shepherd
- Animal Planet: Australian Cattle Dog
- DogChannel.com: Australian Shepherd Dog Breed Profile
- DogChannel.com: Australian Cattle Dog Breed Profile
- The Westminster Kennel Club: Australian Shepherd
- Photo Credit Duncan Smith/Photodisc/Getty Images