When our friends were looking to adopt their second Aussie they ended up rescuing a Sheltie mix. After a year, they have found these two dogs share some traits and also have distinct differences. Seeing the two breeds side-by-side made me wonder, what are the differences between Aussies and Shelties?
Australian Shepherds (Aussies) and Shetland Sheepdogs (Shelties) are both incredibly affectionate, intelligent, high-energy dogs. These two breeds are known for their love of exercise and herding. While there are similarities between Aussies and Shelties, these two breeds have differences as well.
|Herding||May nip||More barking than nipping|
|Playfulness||Extremely playful||Somewhat playful|
|Energy Level||1 hour minimum per day||1 hour per day is adequate|
|Family Dogs||Protective of family||Loyal|
Read on to learn more about Aussies and Shelties and which will make a better companion for you.
Which Dog, an Aussie or a Sheltie, Makes the Best Companion?
Watching our friend’s dogs, it’s obvious that both Aussies and Shelties are both extremely playful and make great family dogs. But which of these two dogs will make a better companion for you?
For outdoor enthusiasts, Aussies will make a better companion overall. Aussies want to do everything with their owners. Whether it is playing in the backyard, going for a run, or hiking all day, your Aussie will be there with you every step of the way. Of course, Shelties can also accompany owners on these activities but typically exhibit less endurance and require less physical activity.
Aussies As Companions
On average, depending on the gender Aussies can:
- Range in weight from 33-70 pounds
- Live between 12 and 15 years
This means Aussies are in the medium-sized dog category. Aussies are not aggressive dogs but enjoy herding, whether it be people or other animals, so nipping might occur, which can be managed with training.
Aussies do not necessarily exhibit less energy until they get a lot older; however, taking long walks and providing ample playtime, both mental and physical, can help focus their energy into positive outlets as well.
Shelties As Companions
On the other hand, again depending on the gender, Shelties can:
- Range in weight from 22-40 pounds
- Will live between 12 and 15 years
While the lifespans between the two are similar, Shelties are the smaller of the two breeds. Shelties are also herding dogs and will herd people and other animals. Being smaller in size, Shelties still need room to run around but may not need as much space as an Aussie.
Having a Sheltie while having a smaller backyard or no backyard at all can still be a winning situation, as long as you can provide your Sheltie with walks and indoor activities.
Do Aussies and Shelties Bark A Lot?
Aussies and Shelties can both be vocal dogs. While all dogs bark, Aussies and Shelties may bark more often than usual. Aussies and Shelties will also bark for all the same reasons other dogs bark.
While some barking is okay and may be necessary, excessive barking from an Aussie or Sheltie can become harder to deal with as they mature. Proper training may not completely stop the barking, but it can be controlled to a degree. When your dog starts barking, you can use a word of your choice that your dog can learn to know when barking is okay. Then another word can be used of your choice once your dog quiets down. Once your dog learns the difference between the two, you may be able to reduce the barking on your own.
Your Vocal Aussie
Aussies can be territorial of their owners, their homes, or areas surrounding their homes. Having higher energy will lead to higher alertness or response to any kind of movement or noise going on outside. Someone walking by your house or a neighbor’s dog too close to the fence may cause your Aussie to start barking.
Your Vocal Sheltie
Shelties will bark more when playing or when they are happy to see their owners. Shelties may also bark while chasing or herding people or other objects. This can include running along the fence following someone on the sidewalk.
Redirecting your Aussie or Sheltie while they are barking outside can be a helpful tool as well. Redirecting can be in the form of:
- Bringing your dog back inside the house until the distraction is gone
- Going outside and engaging in a playful activity your dog enjoys
Either one of these redirecting tools can help your Aussie or Sheltie learn to eventually ignore the type of distraction that does not need that type of behavior.
Do Aussies and Shelties Shed A Lot?
Both Aussies and Shelties have double-layered coats that will require grooming throughout the year. Shelties will need to be groomed more often due to the length of their fur. Using a comb or a rake type of brush followed by a slicker brush can help keep their fur looking clean and untangled.
Since Aussies and Shelties have thicker coats of fur on their bodies, they will do better in colder climates. Even though an Aussie or Sheltie will shed their coat for the summer, the double coat will still be there, making hot temperatures not ideal for either of these dogs.
Brushing your dog routinely from an early age will make the brushing process more manageable as your dog gets older. When training your dog to let you brush them from the beginning will help your dog sit during the whole process as they get older, making grooming smoother. Mainly because the brushing of an Aussie or a Sheltie will take longer due to the length of their fur. Also, brushing is a great way to bond with your dog.
Aussies and Shedding
Provided there are no health concerns or added anxiety to your dog’s daily routine, Aussies will only shed during their shedding seasons. Fall and spring for your Aussie will be routine every year, and this is when your dog will shed the most. Your Aussie’s coat will become thicker in the winter and thinner before summer. Brushing your dog regularly once a week will help throughout the year, and added brushing will be needed during the shedding seasons.
Shelties and Shedding
Shelties will shed more than Aussies throughout the year. While Shelties also go through a shedding season twice a year, they will also continuously shed throughout the year. Shelties need to be brushed at least two to three times weekly and more often during the shedding seasons. Your Sheltie may have to be brushed every day during the shedding season.
Grooming a Sheltie may seem like a chore or may take longer than you had expected. In the event you do not want to brush your Sheltie during the shedding season, taking them to a groomer can help ease the stress of brushing your dog. Their fur will also have to be checked for mats that may appear due to their thicker coats. Groomers will know to check for mats in your dog’s fur during the grooming process.
What Type of Exercise Do Aussies and Shelties Need?
Both Aussies and Shelties have high energy and will do well with agility training or herding exercises. Agility exercises or events are pre-planned obstacle courses that your dog runs through at a particular time. Agility events would be more of a competition setting with your dog against others, and agility exercises can be done in your backyard.
The great thing about agility training and herding games gives your Aussie or Sheltie a job to do for the day. Getting your Aussie or Sheltie on a daily schedule that includes time for them to play and time for them to work will help break up your dog’s day as well. When doing agility training, your dog’s job would be to get to finish the obstacle course. When working on herding games, your dog’s job would be to get the ball to wherever you want it to go.
Partaking in canine events can help your Aussie or Sheltie get the outdoor exercise or the running around they need. This can also be used as another form of socialization for your dog. If events are not your thing taking your Aussie or Sheltie to a dog park can help burn off extra energy as well.
The Athletic Aussie
Aussies can be highly athletic and should get an hour of exercise daily at a minimum. If being in the backyard is an Aussie’s only form of exercise, more than an hour will be needed. Exercise for Aussies can be running around in the backyard, going on long walks, or both on the same day. Tiring your Aussie out will be trickier if the hour minimum of exercise is not met daily.
The Athletic Sheltie
Shelties are also athletic for their size and have the energy to burn, but not as much exercise is needed for a Sheltie as an Aussie. Shelties will also do well with exercising their minds to keep their days fulfilled. Walks with their owners are still needed, but not as intense of a need as an Aussie.
Can Aussies and Shelties Be Left Home Alone?
If you decide to get an Aussie or a Sheltie, there will be times when your dog will need to be left at home. Aussies and Shelties may need extra precautions put in place when being left alone to keep them safe. Keeping your dog in a smaller confined space, like a crate or a pen, will be beneficial especially while your dog is still a puppy.
Aussies and Shelties can be left home alone, but it needs to be done safely. How long you will be away can help you decide which precautions to take beforehand. There also may be a few different solutions you will have to try to see what works best for you and your dog. Crate training your dog beginning as a puppy can lead to them having their own safe place when you leave, and your dog will continue to use this safe place as they get older.
Leaving Your Aussie at Home
Aussies like to follow their owners around whenever possible. When the time comes that this is not allowed, Aussies should be kept in a smaller area of your house. This way, they cannot get hurt or damage anything while you are away. Aussies can be destructive when they get bored and should have plenty of toys to keep them occupied. Plenty of exercises can help spend enough energy so your Aussie can sleep while you are away.
Leaving Your Sheltie at Home
Shelties can eventually be left at home with extra precautions as well. Shelties can end up with separation anxiety when their owners leave. Having a safe place within your home for your Sheltie to not get into anything will be beneficial. Exercising a Sheltie before leaving, or turning the television on when you go, can help your Sheltie feel less anxious.
Do Aussies and Shelties Get Along?
Luckily, our friend’s Aussie and Sheltie hit it off from the start. However, determining whether Aussies and Shelties will get along, is not a yes or no answer because all dogs are different. There can be other factors at play here as well. These would include the age, size, and socialization of both dogs.
The Age and Size of the Aussie and Sheltie
The age of both dogs matters because this determines the size of the dogs upon meeting. If an Aussie is larger than a Sheltie or vice versa, upon meeting the larger of the two may continuously try to herd the other. While herding is more instinctual for these two types of dogs, it can come with nipping or barking. If one of the dogs is larger than the other, the smaller dog can become scared or unsure of the situation. This can be corrected with patience and training. This also does not mean the dogs will never get along.
The Socialization Skills of the Aussie and the Sheltie
Both Aussies and Shelties are friendly dogs. Doggie daycares and dog parks will do wonders for these two types of dogs. At the same time, socialization needs to start sooner rather than later for a happier dog. The sooner your Aussie or Sheltie begins the practice of socializing with other dogs, the easier it will be to introduce them to one another.
Getting an Aussie and a Sheltie together can go very well the first time around…or not so much. Your dog will show you in their body language if the situation is comfortable for them or not. If your dog is uncomfortable with the situation, you can either stop what is going on and try again or separate the two dogs for some time. Watching the body language of both dogs at the same time can help determine if your dog is scared or curious about the other dog.
What is a Shel-Aussie?
While Aussies and Shelties are pure breed dogs by themselves, a Shel-Aussie is a mix between these two breeds of dogs. This can be a Sheltie and an Aussie or a Sheltie and a miniature Aussie. Shel-Aussies can range in weight from 30 to 65 pounds and are still considered medium-sized dogs.
Shel-Aussies can have similar energy levels compared to both the Aussie and the Sheltie, giving this mix the ability to keep going while having fun. Shel-Aussies would do well with agility training. The energy levels are dog dependent, though: some Shel-Aussie might do well with 30 to 60 minutes of exercise daily and others might need more.
Shel-Aussies will have similar grooming needs to both parents, meaning a thicker coat and seasonal shedding twice a year. Often, the Sheltie parent will dominate, meaning your dog will need weekly grooming similar to a Sheltie and will need to be brushed weekly.
A Shel-Aussie might be an excellent choice for you to experience the best of both dogs at the same time. As long as you are up for the challenge of having a dog similar to an Aussie or Sheltie as far as their exercise needs and their love for running around, this may be the best dog for you.
Aussies and Shelties have many similar characteristics and traits, but there are slight differences between both breeds that make them unique. There are advantages to owning both breeds, and it depends on what type of dog you are looking for and how much work you are willing to put in. An Aussie will do much better with a large yard to run around in or by taking long walks with their owners. Shelties are on the smaller size of the two, so if the available space you have for your dog is not as large but you still enjoy walks, owning a Sheltie will work out for you. No matter which breed you choose, both a Sheltie and an Aussie will be loyal, obedient companions!