Siberian Husky vs Australian Shepherd: Complete Comparison

If you’re looking for a rundown of the Siberian Husky vs Australian Shepherd to see which breed might suit you and your lifestyle, you’ve come to the right place.

These breeds are very similar in terms of how demanding they are to own; both require lots of exercise, mental stimulation, and regular grooming. The main difference is in personality; huskies are much harder to train and less eager to please, while Australian Shepherds are the opposite and excel in obedience.

This is only the start of the comparison between these two dogs, though, so stay tuned for the full rundown.

An infographic detailing the similarities and differences between the husky vs Australian Shepherd

Difference In Appearance

Before we dive into the less noticeable differences, let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first.

Huskies and Australian Shepherds have very different appearances. Huskies, for starters, have several classic Spitz features like erect pointed ears, fluffy coats, and curly tails.

They’re often compared to wolves in appearance, and their coats come in many different color combinations, too.

A person holding a husky wearing a black collar

Australian Shepherds are not wolf-like at all and are very similar to collies in appearance.

An Australian Shepherd up close

They also have thick double coats with various patterns and have compact builds that allow them to excel at work.

More Differences Between The Siberian Husky vs Australian Shepherd

Now that the obvious one is out of the way let’s look at the other differences between these two popular breeds.


Not actually from Australia, the Australian Shepherd did originate in California in the early 19th century, where it excelled as a ranch dog used for sheep herding.

It’s believed that the Australian Shepherd developed from various imported dogs like collies from Australia and New Zealand.

On the other hand, Huskies were domesticated by the Chukchi people of Siberia and were used primarily as sled dogs who pulled light loads for hundreds of miles.

Temperature Tolerance

Australian Shepherds have a much better tolerance for warmer climates than huskies, which is no surprise given their origin. They can withstand warmer temperatures, but precautions are still advised when the temperature exceeds 68°F.

Huskies have an incredible cold tolerance because of their origin in the harsh climate of Siberia and can handle freezing temperatures comfortably.

Huskies can actually handle heat better than you would expect, but it isn’t a good idea to have a husky if you live in a constantly warm climate, as you will have to exercise them during the early morning or at night to avoid the daytime heat.


Another critical difference between the Husky vs Australian Shepherd is their trainability.

Huskies are known as one of the most challenging breeds to train. This is because they are typical Spitz-dogs with stubborn personalities and a lack of drive to please their owners.

Teaching a husky any new tricks or commands is time-consuming and must be done over several weeks. You also can’t rely on them for recall, especially considering their prey drive.

Australian Shepherds are very much the opposite. They’re straightforward to train and are often seen competing at agility or obedience events worldwide.

Protective Instinct

The last notable difference between these two breeds is that Australian Shepherds can become quite protective of their family, whereas huskies have very little protective or guarding instinct (if any).

Australian shepherds can also be more apprehensive of strangers, whereas huskies are very friendly to everybody and are more likely to befriend a stranger.


Now that the differences are out of the way, let’s look at the similarities between the Siberian Husky vs Australian Shepherd.

You might be surprised at just how many similarities these two dogs have.

Double Coated

Huskies and Australian Shepherds are double-coated, meaning their fur is split into two layers.

The first is a short and wooly undercoat that provides insulation, with a second guard layer of longer hairs that protect the coat below from debris and moisture.

Shedding & Grooming

As double-coated breeds with medium to long coats, both huskies and Australian Shepherds require regular grooming and shed often.

They will also blow their coats twice per year on average, where double-coated breeds transition from their summer coat to their winter coat, losing an excess of fur in the process.

Coat Color Variation

Huskies and Australian Shepherds have a lot of possible coat colors and variations.

Huskies are typically black and white but can also be red and white, agouti, full white, and many other colors.

Australian Shepherds have four recognized coat colors: black, red, blue merle, and red merle, but many other combinations are not recognized as well, such as several merle bicolor combinations.


Huskies and Australian Shepherds are very similar in size:

  • Huskies reach 20 to 23.5 inches in height and anywhere from 35 to 60 lbs in weight.
  • Australian Shepherds are very similar to huskies, reaching 18 to 23 inches in height and 40 to 65 lbs in weight.

They also have a slender build that helps them to excel at physical activity rather than carrying excess weight.

Exercise Requirements

Huskies and Australian Shepherds require a lot of exercise, ideally two hours per day or more.

This stems from their background as working breeds; huskies were initially used to pull sleds over extremely long distances, while Australian Shepherds were used as ranch dogs that worked all day herding livestock.

Recommend Health Testing

The national breed clubs for both breeds recommend evaluations and eye testing as standard to screen for certain issues like hip dysplasia that are more common for these breeds.

Life Expectancy

Don’t be alarmed about the recommended health tests; these are simply precautions taken to ensure the long-term health of these breeds by finding and dealing with potential health issues early on.

It also helps breeders continue breeding for health, ensuring their litters’ long-term success.

In terms of overall health, huskies and Australian Shepherds are considered very healthy breeds and have an active life expectancy of 12 to 15 years.

Prone To Separation Anxiety & Destructive Behaviors

Due to how much work these dogs are, if you fail to meet their exercise and mental stimulation requirements, it can quickly lead to destructive behaviors due to boredom.

Another aspect of this is that huskies and Australian Shepherds are prone to separation anxiety, where they can become stressed and irritated when left alone, leading to destructive behaviors like excessive chewing or barking.


Everyone knows that huskies are very vocal and will howl or even speak at their owners over the most minor of inconveniences.

Not many people realize that Australian Shepherds are also very vocal and use barking to communicate while working to herd livestock.

Which Breed Is Best For You?

If you’re looking for a breed that isn’t much work, then neither the Siberian Husky nor Australian Shepherd is the right choice.

Both of these breeds require a large amount of exercise that is very difficult for the average person to meet. They also shed often, with heavy shedding sessions yearly when they blow coat.

This means regular grooming is a must, and you must be prepared to clean up fur that will end up all over the place.

In terms of personality, this is where the two differentiate the most. Huskies are much more stubborn and independent; they are not eager to please and will show a lot of weird or strange behavior that most other dog breeds do not.

Australian Shepherds are much more trainable and eager to please, so they are the best option if you’re looking for a dog that will take to obedience training.

Another key difference is their temperature tolerance; huskies do better in colder climates, whereas Australian Shepherds are more suited for heat.

Both are incredible family dogs, however, and you’ll be rewarded with an incredibly loyal dog no matter which you choose.

Want to read more husky breed comparisons? Check out some of our other recent husky comparisons below:

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About The Author

Caitlin is the owner and lead writer for The Malamute Mom. She has over 10 years of experience with Alaskan Malamutes and Huskies. She is currently working on getting her PhD in materials science but continues to write for The Malamute Mom in her spare time.

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