Australian Shepherds vs Golden Retrievers (Which Dog Is Better?)

Australian Shepherds and Golden Retrievers are hugely popular dog breeds known for their smooth, velvety fur and highly active natures. Both dogs are people pleasers that make awesome family pets. But between the Australian Shepherd and the Golden Retriever, which dog is better?

Golden Retrievers, with their friendly and easy to train dispositions, are the best choice for first-time dog owners, and families with children or other pets. Australian Shepherds are a popular choice as well, but due to their dominant natures, will require more effort when it comes to training.

Wondering which breed to pick between the Australian Shepherd and the Golden Retriever? If so, then you couldn’t be in a better place. Read on as we compare the two breeds, discussing their similarities and differences to help you choose the one that suits you best.

AttributesAustralian ShepherdGolden Retriever
SizeMedium Medium to large
Weight18-23″ tall
20-24″ tall
Double CoatedYesYes
Intelligence Rank#16#4
Pet-FriendlyWith training (can be difficult)Yes
BarkingYes (noisy breed)Occasionally
VigilanceHyper-VigilantMore Relaxed
TrainingVery trainable but requires
more work
Easy to train
Life Expectancy13-15yrs.10-12yrs.

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About the Australian Shepherd

An Australian Shepherd dog with a ball in his mouth.

The Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized, agile, and highly intelligent breed. This working dog is known to have the stamina to work and play all day without compromising its speed and overall agility. 

The average height of an adult Aussie shepherd ranges between 18-23 inches for both males and females. These dogs rarely surpass the 65 pounds mark when fully grown but often range between 50-60 pounds, with male Aussies slightly larger (and heavier) than their female counterparts.

Despite its name, the Australian Shepherd breed actually originated in the United States during the 19th century, and was bred to herd and guard sheep.

About the Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever laying in the grass.

Discover how to train your Golden Retriever by playing games: 21 games to play with your Golden that will make them smarter and better behaved!

Golden Retrievers are among the most popular dog breeds in the US. They’re loved for their social nature, ease of training, and high energy levels- features that endear the breed to outdoor enthusiasts.

Characterized by their long, extra soft outer coats, Golden Retrievers are widely perceived to be among one of the most attractive dogs. The outer coat is repellent and either comes as straight or wavy, and requires regular grooming to maintain.

Golden Retrievers are medium-to-large sized dogs with an average height of 20 to 24 inches tall. Fully grown male Golden Retrievers tend to weigh between 60-75 pounds while their female counterparts weigh within the 55-65 pounds range. Goldens are highly active dogs that need adequate training and exercise to thrive.

The Aussie Shepherd and the Golden Retriever are two hugely popular breeds that have a lot of similarities. Below is a brief comparison of the two breeds.

Australian Shepherds vs Golden Retrievers: Coat Color and Grooming

Australian Shepherd

This breed has a double-coat (two layers of fur) that comes in a wide range of colors from Blue Merle to black, Red Merle, and black with dashes of white, among a host of other color variations.

Aussie Shepherds coat is water-resistant and of medium-length to provide extra comfort in the rain and snow. Aussies in colder areas have heavier undercoats compared to those living in warmer climates. Although not the heaviest shedding breed, the Australian Shepherd is known to shed a lot, especially during spring when losing their winter coat.

It is advisable to brush your Australian Shepherd’s coat weekly; however, you might need to brush them more often during shedding season to prevent matting. Remember to spritz your Aussie’s coat with a quality conditioner to detangle the hairs. You’ll also need an undercoat rake (Amazon) to remove excess hair.

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are characterized by their thick undercoat and a dense, water-repellent outer coat (double coat). Some retrievers have straight coats, while others come with extra wavy coats that feather heavily on the tail, back of the thighs, and chest.

As the name suggests, Golden Retrievers coat colors (see pictures) come in a range of shades of gold, from dark to light gold. (Note: Some Goldens come with white fur, but the American Kennel Club (AKC) does not recognize these as being purebred Golden Retrievers.) Goldens shed heavily during spring and fall, and moderately in the summer and winter months.

The extra-thick coat means a Golden will need lots of grooming. Daily brushing will help prevent tangling and matting, leaving your furry friend looking his best. You’ll also need to trim his nails regularly and bathe him at least once a month.

Children and Other Pets: Aussie vs Golden Retriever

Australian Shepherd

As a natural herding dog, Aussie shepherds might be inclined to treat children as livestock. Initially this can lead to dominant herding behavior like chasing and nipping, which can end up scaring young children. But once trained, an Australian Shepherd will learn this behavior isn’t allowed with people. Overall, Aussies will make great companions for families with young kids.

Your Aussie might struggle to get along with other family pets, especially the smaller ones like cats. It’s instinctual for this herding breed to try to “ride herd” on other animals. To stay on the safe side, be sure to socialize your Australian Shepherd puppy early enough and teach him that other pets are family members and not part of his flock. 

Golden Retriever

A Golden Retriever is a genuine lover. The loyalty and affection shown by a Golden Retriever is among the reasons Goldens are considered one of the best dogs for families. As a breed, Goldens are very patient and loving, both with family members and strangers. Goldens are extremely social and enjoy hanging out and playing with the kids, and generally will look out for them as part of the family pack.

Compared to the Aussie Shepherd, the Golden Retriever is great with other household pets. Goldens are slightly more composed than Aussies and won’t try to establish their dominance on other pets. However, for successful outcomes, it’s advisable to regularly socialize a Golden Retriever puppy with plenty of other pets and animals when they are young.

Recommended Reading: How To Pick a Golden Retriever Puppy From a Litter? (Easy Guide)

Vocality and Watchfulness: Aussie Shepherd or Golden Retriever

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds are known for their vigilance and vocality when herding. These dogs love to keep a keen eye on their immediate environments and won’t hesitate to bark to alert their owners in case of any unusual behavior.

Your Aussie will probably want to lie or rest in a strategic position where he’ll have a great view of the entire house or front yard. Your furry companion will probably respond to movement outside or foreign scents by barking. Training an Aussie early enough will help minimize excessive barking when he spots strangers.

Golden Retrievers

Although Goldens do bark, they won’t be as noisy as Aussie Shepherds. Golden Retrievers tend to prefer making physical contact through their paws than barking excessively. If well-trained, adult Goldens won’t bark unless there’s a good enough reason or when overly excited.

Golden Retrievers are not as watchful or vigilant as Aussie Shepherds, which makes them a much more relaxed dog overall. This, however, doesn’t mean that they aren’t protective of their owners as they’re among the most loyal dog breeds out there. Compared to Aussies, Goldens tend to get along with strangers well, especially when trained early enough.

Australian Shepherd vs Golden Retriever

Ease of Handling: Australian Shepherd vs Golden Retriever

Australian Shepherds

Although not hard to handle, Aussie Shepherds don’t make the best dogs for first-time pet owners. These dogs naturally exhibit dominant behavior and might prove a bit too much for new dog owners, especially if not behavior trained early enough. The good news is that Aussies are pretty intelligent and, as such, are easy to train and correct. Aussies rank number 16 out of the top 100 smartest dog breeds.

Golden Retrievers

Due to their gentle, calm disposition, Golden Retrievers tend to make amazing pets, and are generally accepted as one of the best dogs for first-time pet owners. Goldens don’t exhibit dominant behavior as much as Australian Shepherds, and will make a better option for households looking to adopt or own dogs for the first time. Golden Retrievers are also very intelligent (ranking #4 out of 100) and are very easy to train, making a Golden a great option if you’re looking for a hassle-free family dog.

Wrapping Up

Australian Shepherds and Golden Retrievers are both popular medium-to-large sized breeds known for their attractive double coats. Both dog breeds are active and won’t pass up the opportunity to engage in physical activities.

The best dog between the two breeds depends solely on personal preferences. If you want an authoritative dog that can help out with some outdoor tasks, then the highly dominant Aussie will make a great choice. Goldens are better options for first-timers looking for an easy going, easy-to-manage breed.

Both breeds, however, are great with children and make amazing family pets. If you can’t make a decision, you could look for a mix between the two breeds that is known as an Australian Retriever.

Check Out These Other Breed Comparisons at Loyal Goldens


  • AKC: Australian Shepherd Dog Breed Information
  • PetFinder: Australian Shepherd Dog Breed Profile
  • PetFinder: Golden Retriever Dog Breed Profile
  • AKC: Golden Retriever Dog Breed Information

Bryan Mullennix

Bryan's a freelance travel photographer and happy dog dad. He currently lives in Las Vegas with his wife, his son, and two dogs Nom Nom & Speck.

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