What is the Difference Between an American Shepherd and Australian Shepherd

The American Shepherd is also known as the Miniature American Shepherd or MAS, but how do you compare an American Shepherd to an Australian Shepherd? Interestingly, both breeds originated in the United States, despite their names.

The Mini American Shepherd dog breed ranges in size from small to medium. Males are 14 to 18 inches tall, while females are 13 to 17 inches tall. Australian Shepherds stand taller and weigh more than other breeds. Male Aussies can grow to be 20 to 23 inches tall, while females can grow to be 18 to 21 inches tall. In these article we will be discussing the details of their differences.

American versus Australian Shepherds 

The Australian Shepherd was developed in the United States, using imported cattle dogs from Australia, to be the ultimate herding breed. Their beautiful coat color variations and sharp intelligence quickly drew them into the public eye, and they’re now one of the most sought-after dogs in the United States.

Both the Australian Shepherd and the American Shepherd are American-bred dogs that are small, versatile, intelligent, and eager to please! They can have two different eyes due to their various colors and markings. These incredible animals are highly energetic and require a lot of exercise to stay happy and healthy.

There are numerous distinctions between the American Shepherd and the Australian Shepherd. Both the American Shepherd and the Australian Shepherd are herding breeds with large fan bases. The American Shepherd, for example, is much smaller than the Australian Shepherd.

An Australian Shepherd also has a longer average lifespan than an American Shepherd. There are many differences between these two breeds, whether it’s the obvious size difference or subtle differences like color variation.

The History of Both Breeds

Australian Shepherd’s History

Australian Shepherds, also known as Aussies, are one of the most misunderstood breeds in the world. Their forefathers began in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain and only briefly stopped in Australia before moving to California.

They crossed the Atlantic with sheep herders in search of stable livelihoods, but the dog we know today is also the result of breeding and refinement by cattle ranchers in the American West.

Many Aussies are still working dogs. They can be found working as search-and-rescue dogs, service dogs, emotional support dogs, therapy dogs, and drug detectors when they are not herding cattle or sheep. Their adaptability makes them popular performance dogs in everything from rodeos to film and television.

American Shepherd’s History

The Miniature American Shepherd is the proper name for the American Shepherd. However, they were initially known as Miniature Australian Shepherds. They were mistaken for small Australian Shepherds when they first appeared on the California rodeo circuit in the 1960s.

Nobody seemed to know whether that was true or not. However, their popularity grew quickly. By the time they joined the American Kennel Club Foundation Stock Service in 2011, it had been agreed that they would be known as Miniature American Shepherds.

They are well-known herding dogs for small animal flocks such as sheep and goats. Because of their easily transportable size, their breed club notes their popularity with equestrians traveling to horse shows.

How are The Two Breeds Different in Appearance?

While the two breeds are very similar, they do have differences as well. Here are some notable differences in each:


The Mini American Shepherd dog breed ranges in size from small to medium. Males are 14 to 18 inches tall, while females are 13 to 17 inches tall. Australian Shepherds stand taller and weigh more than other breeds. Male Aussies can grow to be 20 to 23 inches tall, while females can grow to be 18 to 21 inches tall.


Miniature American Shepherds are much smaller than Australian Shepherds, weighing an incredible 25 pounds on average. Some are as light as 15 pounds. On the other hand, Australian Shepherds can grow quite large, weighing up to 65 pounds for a fully grown male and 45 to 55 pounds for a fully grown female.

Coat and Color

Both breeds have medium-length, coarse-textured coats that can be straight or wavy. Both dogs’ recognized colors are black, merle blue, red and red merle. Any of these colors can be combined with tan or white markings, but not excessively so.

Both breeds have a rogue coat color mutation in their DNA, which results in brown puppies. These puppies do not qualify for the show ring, but they are otherwise identical to the rest of their breed. Indeed, the presence of this specific mutation in only Aussies and American Shepherds lends credence to the theory that American Shepherds descended from miniature Aussies.


Finally, both breeds are known for their gorgeous eyes, which can be blue or brown and frequently exhibit heterochromia. This is known as heterochromia, when the eyes are different colors or when two different colors appear in the same eye.

The Characteristic Differences in Both Breeds


Both of these dogs are extremely intelligent. They must learn complex cues and work confidently at a distance from their handler as herding dogs.

Like most herding breeds, they may attempt to herd small pets and children. This instinct can become a problem if they encounter resistance, as they may begin nipping to get the job done. Because seeing off would-be predators is part of protecting a flock, most herding breeds also have strong guarding instincts.

As pets, either breeds may exhibit guarding behaviors toward food, toys, or even people they consider particularly valuable. They may also be suspicious or hostile toward strangers. However, they form incredibly loyal and devoted relationships with their human family.

Finally, as with all intelligent, athletic dogs, these breeds are prone to engaging in unwanted or destructive behaviors if not given enough exercise or mental stimulation.

Sensitivity Level

Miniature American Shepherds tend to be more sensitive than other dog breeds. It is much easier to train the Australian Shepherd to be less sensitive in certain situations. They do not, however, enjoy an unpredictable daily schedule, a noisy environment, or frequent outside visitors.

Which Breed is Easier to Train?

Because of their working history, American Miniature and Australian Shepherds are highly responsive to training today. They have an incredible capacity for learning new commands, making them a pleasure to work with for training enthusiasts. Their intelligence, however, can be a double-edged sword. Both breeds crave mental stimulation, and if you want to devote less time to activities like training, another breed might be a better fit.

Which Breed Lives Longer? 

There is very little published data on either breed’s average lifespan. The average lifespan of the 22 Aussies in this study was nine years, with the longest-living dog living for 15 years. This is slightly less than the 11.3-year average for all breeds.

Life expectancy in dogs is inversely related to body weight, which means that the smaller they are, the longer they live on average. Aussies are medium-large dogs, which could explain why they need to meet the all-dog standard. Another reason could be the high prevalence of life-limiting hereditary disorders such as degenerative myelopathy.

Because American Shepherds are much more miniature than Aussies, it’s reasonable to expect them to live longer lives on average. English Cocker Spaniels, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and Whippets are all similar in size to the Mini American Shepherd and live an average of 11-13 years. However, there needs to be more information about the American Shepherd at the moment to say if they’re the same.

Are These Breeds Generally Healthy? 

Consider the overall health of their pedigree when deciding between two dog breeds. Dog breeds with a high heritable disease frequency may cost more in vet fees over their lifetime, cost more to insure, and bring more heartbreak.

Health Concerns of American Shepherds

Hip dysplasia affects approximately 1 in every 15 Mini American Shepherds, while elbow dysplasia affects 1 in every 40. These painful conditions are caused by a combination of genetic, which can be screened for in breeding dogs and environmental factors, which can be mitigated or avoided.

One in every fifty people has inherited multiple drug resistance. This genetic condition affects several herding breeds and causes dogs to react negatively to a variety of common medications. They are also prone to dental problems. This is likely due to cramming an Aussie’s worth of teeth into a smaller pair of jaws.

Health Concerns of Australian Shepherds

Around one in every fifteen Australians has hearing loss, and less than one in every thirty has inherited cataracts. One in every five people is a carrier of the neurological disorder degenerative myelopathy, and one in every twelve suffers.

Another one in every 16 Australians has hip dysplasia, and one in every 25 has elbow dysplasia. In addition, 1 in 16 people has inherited multi-drug resistance.

Which Breed to Pick? 

The only significant difference between the Australian Shepherd and the American Shepherd is size. They both have beautiful coat colors and markings, except the American Shepherd’s coat can express more white. They are bright and loyal but no longer commonly used as working dogs.

The Australian Shepherd is a steadfast and vocal dog who will alert you if something is wrong. They are ideal for competitive owners interested in agility competitions and events such as jumping, running, and flyball.

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