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Australian Shepherd vs. Siberian Husky: Breed Differences & Similarities

Comparing an Australian Shepherd vs. Siberian Husky for your next four-legged friend? Find out what's different between these two dog breeds, and what to expect.

Kelly Wilson

Last Updated: January 21, 2021 | 9 min read

Australian Shepherd vs Siberian Husky in Snowy Weather

Comparing the Siberian Husky vs. Australian Shepherd for your next canine companion? These two breeds are commonly compared against one another due to their striking good looks, and unquestioned loyalty.  Both of these purebred working dogs make amazing companions and family pets.

However, both breeds tend to fare better with active dog owners and aren’t the right breed for everyone. They are both very high energy, playful, and love to spend time with their humans. These breeds also differ in many ways, which may impact which breed is better for your lifestyle.

Ready to learn more? This article will tell you everything you need to know about the Australian Shepherd and the Siberian Husky to help you make the perfect choice for your household. Let’s jump in and learn all about both breeds, and which type of owners they are best suited for!

Breed Comparison

Australian Shepherd

  • Height 20-23 Inches
  • Weight 40-65 Pounds
  • Temperament Smart, Work Oriented, Energetic
  • Energy Intense
  • Health Above Average
  • Lifespan 13-15 Years
  • Puppy Prices $1,000 and Up

Siberian Husky

  • Height 21-25 Inches
  • Weight 50-80 Pounds
  • Temperament Energetic, Intelligent, Friendly
  • Energy High Energy
  • Health Above Average
  • Lifespan 12-14 Years
  • Puppy Prices $1,000 and Up

Breed History

If you want to learn more about any kind of dog, the first place to look is their breed history. You can learn a lot about your pet’s behavior by understanding what they were originally bred for.

Both the Australian Shepherd and Husky are in the working dog class. This means they were bred for specific traits that make them excellent working dogs. Like most working dogs, these two breeds are energetic, strong, and very loyal to their families. That said, their unique histories make them very different pets. Let’s briefly look at the history of each breed.

Australian Shepherd

Aussie Laying in Snow Outside
Australian Shepherds have a somewhat muddled history as a breed.

Despite its name, the Australian Shepherd is not from Australia! These playful herding pups were originally bred in the Western US to help out on cattle ranches and sheep farms. The originating breeds are muddled, but experts speculate the Aussie we know and love today was originally a cross between Collies and various large sheepdogs brought over from Australia (hence the name).

The goal of the Australian Shepherd was to breed an intelligent, trainable herding dog. They could follow directions and herd livestock into pens or stables. On top of that, they made loveable companions for ranchers and cowboys.

The Aussie gained popularity as a household pet back in the late 1940s. Around that time, Western movies and rodeos were bringing “cowboy culture” back to the US — and everyone fell in love with the energetic little herding dogs they saw on the screen.

Today, Australian Shepherds, or “Aussies,” are among the most popular American working dog breeds. You can find them working on farms or playing fetch in the yard across the US.

Siberian Husky

Energetic Siberian Husky Running Outdoors
Siberian Huskies are working dogs, bred for sledding.

The Siberian Husky (usually referred to as just “Husky”) is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. Although they are well known as sled dogs, experts believe they were bred as guard dogs and companions long before they ever pulled a sled.

In the early 1900s, Huskies were imported from Siberia to Alaska, where they pulled sleds during the Gold Rush. Their thick coat and high endurance make them perfect working dogs for cold Alaskan winters. Huskies can still be found pulling sleds in many parts of the world today.

Records show that the last Siberian Husky was imported to the US in 1930, not long before trade borders were closed by the Soviet Union. Since then, they have been bred as pets and guard dogs, and are recognized by the American Kennel Club and Canadian Kennel Club.

The Huskies we know and love today have been adapted from the ancient Siberian breed, but they still have the same beautiful appearance. A modern Husky is calm and trainable, making them great pets for an active household.

Appearance

Two Long Haired Dogs in Snow
The breeds have some similar appearance characteristics, but also some notable differences.

If you’re looking for a dog with a stunning appearance, you can’t go wrong with either of these breeds. Both the Aussie and the Siberian Husky have iconic, striking features and gorgeous long coats.

In terms of size, you can expect approximately the same height and weight for both dogs. An adult Australian Shepherd generally weighs between 40-65 pounds (females tend to be smaller) and stands around 20-23 inches high. Likewise, your full-grown Husky will weigh up to 60 pounds and stand as tall as 24 inches.

One unique feature of the Siberian Husky is vivid blue eyes. This gene trait can result in mismatched eyes in some dogs, which a lot of pet owners love. Their coat colors can range from pure weight to patches of black and gray.

Aussies are well known for their blue merle speckled coats, but they come in various colors: red merle, tri-color, and black and white are just as common.

Temperament

Happy Dogs Laying in Grass
Both breeds have very friendly temperaments and excel as family companions.

Like all working dogs, Australian Shepherds and Huskies have a lot of energy. Neither of these breeds are recommended for families in small apartments or homes with no yard — they need space to run and play to prevent bad behavior.

Because of their herding instincts, Aussies tend to be bossy and dominant in the home. Puppy training, socialization, and a lot of exercise will help to curb those habits. They are highly intelligent and love to have a job, whether playing fetch in the yard or helping out on the farm.

Aussies are social and happy to be around strangers or other dogs. However, they can develop barking habits, especially when they are playing and excited. If you’re looking for a quiet dog, an Aussie might not be the best choice.

Huskies are notably less social than some other dog breeds. As pack animals, they are loyal to their family members and can be distrusting of new people. That’s why early puppy socialization is so important.

Once your Husky puppy bonds with your family, he will be a devoted companion, especially with children. Huskies don’t bark, but you can expect plenty of howling or “singing” when they need to express themselves!

Exercise

Two Long Coated Dogs Exercising
Both breeds require a minimum of 60 minutes of daily exercise.

Remember, Huskies and Australian Shepherds were both bred to work, so they need plenty of exercise to stay healthy and happy.

For an Aussies, experts recommend at least 60 minutes of stimulating activity. That doesn’t mean just letting them run around in the yard. Aussies enjoy intellectual stimulation, too, like playing fetch with a frisbee or running through an obstacle course.

Similarly, Huskies need plenty of regular exercise. You can also expect to devote 60 minutes daily exercising this breed. They are talented escape artists, which means they will try to find a way out of your yard if they aren’t getting enough daily stimulation. Long walks and runs are a great way to exercise your pup.

Any dog that doesn’t get enough exercise can become destructive in the house. This is especially true of working dogs, which is why it’s so important to make sure your Aussie or Siberian Husky will have plenty of space and time for exercise before you decide to adopt a puppy.

Dog toys can help keep both breeds occupied. Australian Shepherds typically prefer interactive toys, While Huskies tend to favor chew toys. This can vary by dog, of course. Typically an assortment of many different toy types is recommended to help expel excess energy and chewing behavior for both breeds.

Training

Two Dogs During Training Sessions
Both breeds are independent, but are very intelligent and learn new commands quickly.

Both of these breeds are very intelligent. That means they are strong-willed and independent but can be trained by a dedicated owner.

Huskies in particular need dedicated training to curb bad behaviors. They will dig, escape, and become destructive without the right discipline. Crate training is recommended for puppies of both breeds, as well as advanced obedience classes. Because they are different sized dogs, each breed will need a different size. Aussies will do well in a 36-inch dog crate lengthwise, where Huskies typically need one that’s at least 42 inches long.

When it comes to commands, your Husky will have no problem learning basic cues like “sit” and “stay.” That said, they are not very food-motivated, so multiple forms of positive reinforcement (petting, toys, etc.) will help them learn. They are also easy to leash train and love long walks or runs on the leash.

Australian Shepherds and Huskies both need to be trained from an early age. They both require a disciplined owner that’s not afraid to set boundaries. It’s important to start working with your puppy at a young age to prevent some of the habits they learned as herding dogs, especially barking and chasing.

If you have kids or other small animals at home, investing in an obedience class for your puppy is a great way to keep them from “herding” in the house. Commands like “stay” and “heel” will help you to keep them under control.

Health

Two Working Dogs Outdoors in Forest
Both breeds are generally healthy and suffer from few genetic health conditions.

Many purebred dog breeds suffer from genetic health conditions as a result of overbreeding. Fortunately, this is not generally the case with purebred Australian Shepherds or Huskies. Both of these dogs will have long, healthy lifespans with proper care.

The main health concerns to watch out for with an Aussie is cancer and hip dysplasia. Take your Aussie to the vet regularly so you can catch those conditions before they become untreatable. Deafness and hearing loss are also common in purebred Australian Shepherds. Aussies are well known to live anywhere from 12 to 14 years.

For a Siberian Husky, hip dysplasia is also a concern. They are not known for hearing loss but can develop cataracts and other vision problems as they get older. A healthy Husky can live for up to 15 years without losing its mobility.

No matter which breed you choose, make sure you get your puppy from a qualified breeder. Puppy mills and unlicensed breeders not only treat their dogs poorly, but they also can cause serious health issues from inbreeding and overbreeding.

Nutrition

Husky and Aussie Eating Food
When it comes to food, both breeds should be fed high-quality kibble.

The right nutrition will make a huge difference in your dog’s quality of life! Both of these breeds are active. You’ll want to make sure that both breeds are fed the appropriate nutrition for your dog’s size and weight.

Many owners overfeed their Huskies, which can lead to obesity. These dogs were bred to run long distances on very little food. They don’t need to be fed as much as other medium-sized dogs. Two cups of high-quality dry food, split between two meals, is about the amount an average Husky eats.

Depending on their size, Aussies require one to three cups of food every day. Feeding twice a day will help to keep their weight down and prevent them from eating too fast. It’s also important to buy your Aussie nutritious dog food that will nourish them and keep their coat shiny and full.

Grooming

Aussie Compared To Siberian Husky in Snow
Both breeds have long double coats that require regular grooming.

Both the Australian Shepherd and Husky are beautiful, long-haired dogs. These coats require regular maintenance to keep them shiny and healthy.

If you choose to adopt a Husky, you will need to keep up with brushing to prevent shedding. These dogs shed a lot, especially in the fall and spring. One great thing about Huskies is that they often clean themselves (like cats) so they don’t need baths as often as other dogs.

Australian Shepherds are also shedders, but they don’t lose quite as much fur as Huskies. You should brush your Aussie’s coat at least once a week to keep your furniture and carpets clean.

With both breeds, regular trips to the groomers for tooth brushing, nail trimming, and ear checks will keep your dog healthy as they age.

Puppy Prices

Puppies Sitting in Grass Fields
Expect to pay at least $1,000 and up for a purebred puppy of either breed.

If you’re interested in buying an Australian Shepherd or Husky puppy, make sure you go to a reputable breeder. Unlicensed breeders and puppy mills might offer lower prices, but they use unsafe practices and should not be supported.

Between the two options, a purebred Aussie puppy is slightly more affordable. Aussies cost around $1,000 and up at a standard breeder.

Huskies can get more expensive, especially if they are show-quality. Puppies from top-of-the-line breeders can cost as much as $1,000 and up, with the average price usually around $1,200.

Remember, both of these breeds are popular and often end up in shelters. Check with your local rescue center if you don’t “need” to have a puppy. It’s always a good idea to adopt your dream dog if you can!

Final Thoughts

Australian Shepherds and Siberian Huskies are both smart, energetic, and loving purebred dogs. If you’re ready to take on the responsibility, either dog will make an amazing addition to your family.

Siberian Huskies are playful and beautiful but require a lot of maintenance and hands-on training. They’re great dogs for experienced dog owners who will be dedicated to disciplining them, especially in the puppy years.

Aussies are awesome dogs for active families. They need plenty of stimulation and space to run around, as well as basic puppy training to keep them from barking and chasing other animals.

Whichever dog you choose, be sure to adopt or buy them from a responsible breeder. With the right care, your Australian Shepherd or Husky will become a lifelong friend.

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