If you’re looking for a great dog to bring into your home, few options will compete with the Golden Retriever & Australian Shepherd, but which one is better?
The Golden Retriever is a better breed for first-time owners and families due to its friendliness, trainability, and fun-loving attitude. The Australian Shepherd is a great breed known for loyalty, intelligence, and positivity, but their independent nature makes them better for experienced owners.
There is nothing more exciting than welcoming a new dog into your life. These animals have an incredible way of making our days feel special and more fulfilled, which is why they have rightfully earned the title ‘man’s best friend’. However, getting a dog is no picnic. Owning a dog comes with a lot of responsibility, which is why you want to make sure you are making the right decision on which breed you pick. Whether you are an experienced dog owner or are considering getting a pup for the first time, the two breeds you should really consider are the Golden Retriever and the Australian Shepherd, but you should know that while they are both great options, you may find that one will suit you better than the other. To help you make the best possible choice, we are going to take you through everything you need to know about both breeds.
After decades of working as a professional dog trainer, I have had a tremendous amount of in-depth experience personally working with Golden Retrievers and Australian Shepherds, which has led me to determine that these are both fantastic and dynamic breeds for just about any owner.
The Golden Retriever is one of the most classic and iconic breeds around and while its origin is from the UK, it has a lot of popularity here in the United States. We have seen this dog breed shown in countless Hollywood movies and it is considered to be one of the best family dogs of all time.
You can easily recognize a Golden Retriever by their beautiful golden/brown coats and their playful and upbeat attitude. These are all the traits that have made the Golden Retriever such a fitting dog for a family household, as they are great with kids and don’t have a bad bone in their body. With that being said, this breed is not exclusively a family pet by any means. The Golden Retriever is such a dynamic breed that this dog is perfect for just about any household, as their positive personality traits are appealing to everyone they come into contact with.
An important thing that all aspiring pet owners should keep in mind when picking out a dog is that while each breed has physical traits that are pretty common across the board, a major part of the dog’s personality traits will come from the owner, which is why you want to make sure that you give them all of the training and love that they need. This will encourage all of the positive and amazing qualities of your breed to shine.
However, the Golden Retriever does have some needs and some tendencies that you should weigh in on when deciding between this breed and the Australian Shepherd. Let’s take a closer look at some of the specific qualities and personality traits that Golden Retrievers are known for.
As mentioned above, the Golden Retriever has some amazing personality traits. This pup is a gentle giant with a glowing personality that tends to captivate everyone.
Golden Retrievers have a lot of energy, so if you need someone to tire the kids out or give you an excuse to get off the couch and go for a stroll through the park, look no further. This playful breed loves to get out and about and, in so many ways, needs to. Like most of us, Golden Retrievers can become a bit lazy if they are kept inside, which is why you want to make sure that your pup is getting a moderate amount of daily exercise in order to be physically and mentally healthy.
Another great aspect of this breed is that they are very intelligent and social animals. They love meeting new people and new dogs, which makes them easy pups to socialize and take out of the house. Their loyalty and trustworthiness make the Golden Retriever a perfect dog to integrate into your family, as they will fit right into just about any household. Here are the main personality traits you can expect to find in your Golden Retriever:
The most important thing you can do to ensure that all of your Golden Retriever’s amazing personality traits come out is to give them the love and attention that they need. A great way to affirm these qualities is to dedicate active and proper training to your pup right from the get-go, which is why we are going to dive into that next.
If you have never owned or trained a dog before, getting a Golden Retriever is one of the best breeds you could ever start with. These dogs are incredibly easy to train and will soak in new information like a sponge.
The intelligence level of the Golden Retriever makes them highly intuitive animals that are eager to learn. However, a key aspect of this comes from the Golden Retriever’s natural tendency to be loyal to their owners. This breed loves to please those around it, which is why training will come quite naturally for your pup - and for you!
With that being said, training does still require work. This is a very critical part of a dog’s upbringing and development, which will affect its behavior and personality traits. If you have never trained a dog before, you may want to consider signing up for some professional dog training - to ensure that your pup is getting the quality guidance that it needs. This sort of approach will help you build a foundation for how to train your Golden Retriever properly so that you can re-affirm positive behavior and obedience.
However, if you feel like you are up to it, there is no reason that you can’t adequately train your Golden Retriever at home by yourself, as this breed is more than willing to put in the time if you are. You should not begin training your Golden Retriever within the first 8 weeks of its life. This period is all about giving your pup time to explore and get acquainted with its new environment.
After this 8 week period, you should begin potty training and light/moderate obedience training - the last thing you want to do is overwhelm your pup. Here are the training stages for your Golden Retriever:
- Basic Obedience & Tricks: 8 - 16 Weeks Old
- Intermediate Obedience & Tricks: 16 - 32 Weeks Old
- Advanced Training (Optional): 32 + Weeks Old
- Potty Training: 8 - 32 (+) Weeks Old
The training that you lay out for your Golden Retriever should be fun and rewarding. This breed’s natural tendency is to have a good time, which should be reflected in most of your training. That means plenty of positive reinforcement and a generous amount of treats in the process.
The most important part of training your Golden Retriever is to be consistent. You need to be practicing and reinforcing your training like clockwork so that your dog makes positive associations with obedience. Having an inconsistent amount of training can result in your Golden Retriever becoming hyperactive and disobedient. If you are going to do home training, you should be sure to do a substantial amount of personal research before throwing yourself in the deep end.
Factors To Consider
When it comes to getting a Golden Retriever, you are going to want to know what you are in for. This breed is without a doubt a crowd pleaser of a pup, but just like all dogs, some are suited better for certain owners.
The personality traits of the Golden Retriever tend to make this dog compatible with just about any owner, but there are some additional factors tied to this breed that you should consider when making your decision.
The bottom line is that the Golden Retriever is a big dog. So, if you were looking for a lap dog breed or one that can fit in your purse, you are going to want to reconsider the Golden Retriever.
The average male Golden Retriever can weigh as much as 70 lbs and stand up to 21 to 25 inches off of the ground. Whereas a female Golden Retriever can weigh up to 65 lbs and stand 19 to 23 inches off of the ground.
If you are on the hunt for a gentle giant running around the house, the Golden Retriever is a perfect option for you. This is an especially great breed for owners who have medium to large homes that have plenty of yard space.
However, if a big dog is not what you are after, this breed may not be your best pick. Golden Retrievers can particularly struggle in city apartments due to the confined living space.
As we briefly mentioned before, your Golden Retriever is going to need plenty of exercise. This energetic breed loves to play and to be outside, which is why you should expect to give your pup at least 30 minutes of exercise per day - with 60 minutes being a more realistic amount.
The best way to do this is to take your dog to a dog park and let them run wild. Given that Golden Retrievers are such social animals, they will thrive in this sort of environment and will not have an issue tiring themselves out all on their own.
However, you should also be ready to take them to your local park for casual strolls and outings. The demand for exercising your Golden Retriever can be greatly moderated by having yard space in your home. This way they always have some form of the outdoors to retreat to when needing to move around.
Something that tends to draw away some people from Golden Retrievers is the amount of shedding this breed is known for. Golden Retrievers will shed a lot and you can expect them to do so throughout the entire year - so get used to having plenty of golden brown fur laying around the house.
With that being said, the Golden Retriever sheds more during some parts of the year. The most amount of shedding this breed does is during the fall and the spring. Whereas the winter and summer months are much more moderate and manageable.
To mitigate the amount of shedding you get from your Golden Retriever, you should be sure to brush them regularly. Make it a habit to brush them at least several times per week and this will significantly decrease the amount of fur around the house. In addition, making professional grooming a monthly or seasonal habit is also a great way of reducing shedding and encouraging a healthy coat.
If there is one thing you can expect your Golden Retriever to do, it's eat! This hungry breed is notorious for being a big eater and with a weight of up 70 lbs, it is easy to understand why.
This can sometimes be a problematic factor for some dog owners, as the cost of pet food is always on the rise, and feeding a large Golden Retriever can get pricey - especially when you calculate the amount of food that they will eat over a lifetime.
You can expect a fully grown Golden Retriever to need at least 3 to 5 cups of dog food per day. However, your pup is going to benefit best from dog food that is better suited to its long-term health. This means that your Golden Retriever should be getting anywhere from 1300 to 1700 calories per day - with a focus on foods that have nutrient-dense, complex carbohydrates, proteins, and essential fats. When you add it all up, your pup could be eating as much as you!
It’s common for specific dog breeds to have a higher tendency to be subject to certain health conditions and risks. Unfortunately, this is also the case for Golden Retrievers.
We see health issues pop up more for larger dogs than we do smaller ones and given that the Golden Retriever is a pretty large pup, they are prone to having issues with the following:
The most common health condition that this breed is known for is having issues with blood circulation. While these conditions are apparent among Golden Retrievers, there is a lot that you can do as the owner to mitigate or eliminate their potential risk.
The best way to do this is to give your Golden Retriever the active attention that it needs. This means that you should make daily exercise a priority for your pup to ensure that they are staying physically fit. However, you may want to tone this down a bit as they get older and are more sensitive to over-endurance.
Another health aspect that many pet owners overlook is the importance of maintaining a healthy diet. Opting for generic dog food brands will certainly fill your Golden Retrievers belly, but it doesn’t mean that it will be getting the most health benefits that it could be getting. Going for nutrient-dense dog food that is specifically catered to Golden Retrievers is a good way of re-affirming your pup’s health. Furthermore, try to make visits to the vet a routine habit, as opposed to simply making an appointment when things go wrong. While vet bills can add up, they can be viewed as a major preventative measure for health risks that arise later on if not caught early enough.
The loyalty and devotion that Golden Retrievers have for their owners make them one of the best service dogs in the industry.
You can see this breed utilized by a lot of different owners who may have a wide variety of different service needs. One of the most common duties that a Golden Retriever is utilized for is to act as a seeing-eye dog for people who are visually impaired or suffer from deafness.
However, Golden Retrievers are also very commonly used as service dogs for people who have special needs. This could include services for people who suffer from PTSD, Autism, Anxiety, as well as many other disabilities.
This breed has built a reputation as being highly attentive to the needs of its owner, which it can sense and even predict in many cases. These qualities make the Golden Retriever an ideal candidate for the service industry.
If you are after a highly intelligent breed, which is loving and extremely loyal, you really can not go wrong with the Australian Shepherd. This breed came about during the 19th century in California, which can be a bit confusing to some people given its name.
The Australian Shepherd resembles a lot of the same qualities as a Border Collie. Their upbringing as a shepherd has made herding a key characteristic of their behavior and their personality. This sort of activity has made companionship with humans an ingrained part of the breed.
You can easily spot one of these beautiful dogs by their matted coat and contrasting fur colors, which are usually a combination of white, black, grey, and brown. These are great dogs regardless of whether you are looking for a pup to nestle into your family dynamic or a companion to share your bachelor life with.
With that being said, the Australian Shepherd has had a different type of upbringing than the Golden Retriever. The life of a shepherd has made this breed much more independent and self-reliant than that of a retriever. To help you understand everything you need to know about the Australian Shepherd, we are going to take you through all of the qualities of the breed.
The Australian Shepherd has an amazing personality that is energetic yet calm and collected at the same time. This breed has had a long upbringing of spending hours on end being outside herding cattle and livestock.
This sort of behavior has made the Aussie a dog that is focused on its task and loves to work side by side with its owner in completing it. Having a shepherd’s lifestyle for so long has greatly increased this pup’s intelligence level and confidence. So much so, that the Australian Shepherd is actually considered to be one of the smartest dogs on the planet.
Your pup’s level of intelligence means that your Australian Shepherd will be very comprehensive and intuitive to what is going on around it. They are naturally good-natured and well-intentioned, which will be complemented by their capacity for affection. There is nothing an Aussie loves to do more than to spend the day out and about - only to come home for some well-deserved R&R spent with its owner. This comes naturally to the breed given its standing as a hard worker. Here are some of the common personality traits that Australian Shepherds are known for:
With that being said, Australian Shepherds can also be quite independent compared to other breeds. Given that Aussies are used to spending the majority of their time out and about tending to their work, they are not always as social as some other breeds. This can result in your pup being overly protective and even wary of strangers, which can include dogs as well as people.
While these traits may come naturally in some cases, you may want to moderate them depending on your home dynamic and personal lifestyle. If you want a family dog, the Aussie is a great option, as they will be very loyal and loving. However, if you want your dog to be more socially dynamic, you want to expose them to new people and dogs early on in their life. This can be achieved through proper training, which we are going to dive into next.
No matter how intelligent your dog breed is, training is not something that you want to overlook. This can sometimes be a major problem for owners who opt for intelligent breeds, as these pups can sometimes be too smart for their own good, which leads to a stubborn and disobedient dog.
A key aspect that you want to focus on when training your Australian Shepherd is to socialize them. This breed has a tendency to be very comfortable around people that it is familiar with - especially those involved in its immediate family. That means that you should put an emphasis on socializing your Aussie from a very early age. Ideally, you would have gotten your dog when still a young puppy so that you can be ingrained in its life and upbringing from stage one.
Before we get into the process of formal training, you should make a point to take your dog out to the park very regularly. Have your pup interact with other dogs and people that you come in contact with when you go outside and encourage them to feel comfortable in their new environments. In addition, you are going to want to ensure your Australian Shepherd that your home space is also a place to meet people. This is especially important if you tend to have a lot of guests over, as your Aussie may have an adverse reaction to strangers that visit your home.
You should try to invite guests over to your home throughout those early puppy months so that your dog can get used to the idea of having people in your home. A failure to do this can result in your Australian Shepherd becoming very over-protective of you (and your family) and act distrusting of others. Here is the training process you should go through with your Australian Shepherd:
- Basic Training & Tricks: 8 - 16 Weeks Old
- Intermediate Training & Tricks: 16 - 32 Weeks Old
- Advanced Training: 32+ Weeks Old
- Potty Training: 8 - 32 (+) Weeks Old
Much like with a Golden Retriever, you want to start basic training after your Aussie is at least 8 weeks old so that they are not overwhelmed. You want to put a major focus on positive reinforcement that is systematically rewarded. Unlike the Golden Retriever, the Australian Shepherd’s decisions are a bit more calculated, which is why you want to emphasize that your training is logical and consistent.
The Australian Shepherd can be a bit more challenging to train than the Golden Retriever, which is why they are not always recommended to first-time owners, as they will require a little more attention and thorough training in order to get the best results. With that being said, if you are not a confident dog trainer, you should highly consider opting for professional training so that you can be reassured that your Aussie is being looked after properly.
Factors To Consider
Regardless of the breed that you choose, getting a dog comes with a lot of responsibility. Unlike cats, dogs are much more dependent on their owners and will require the love and care that they deserve in order for them to have the best personality traits and discipline possible.
This is especially crucial for breeds like Australian Shepherds, which are highly intelligent dogs who may show adverse traits if not cared for from early on. However, there are some additional factors tied to Aussies that you should weigh in on to ensure that you personally have compatibility with the breed.
The Australian Shepherd is not quite as large as the Golden Retriever, which can make them more dynamic dogs for some living spaces, but you should by no means think that this breed is a small dog.
Aussies are relatively big- with a height of about 21 to 23 inches off of the ground and a weight of 55 to 65 lbs for most male dogs. Whereas a female will be a bit smaller and stand roughly 18 to 20 inches off of the ground and will weigh roughly 50 to 55 lbs.
The Australian Shepherd can comfortably fit in a small to medium-sized home - especially if you have got an adequate amount of yard space for your pup to utilize. However, an apartment is not an ideal living area for this breed, as its size will still demand space that allows it to roam around
Every dog breed out there can greatly benefit from regular exercise, but breeds like Australian Shepherds are dependent on it. With an extensive herding background like the Aussies’, this breed is conditioned to have a thorough amount of daily exercise in its routine.
You want to be able to meet your Aussie’s activity needs, as they are used to having hours of exercise and stimulation, which is why having yard space is highly recommended for this breed. Your pup will need to get at least an hour or two of exercise per day, which can be quite taxing on an owner without a backyard.
Regardless of whether or not you have a yard, your Australian Shepherd will need to get outside for daily walks to the park, visits to the dog park, or some other form of outdoor activity. These dogs love adventures and getting out and about with their owners, so do not be shy when it comes to bringing your Aussie along on some day trips.
Much like the Golden Retriever, the Australian Shepherd does shed a lot. This breed actually has a double coat, as it has been conditioned to withstand very cold temperatures.
The Aussie will shed all year and will not stop shedding for a single season. With that being said, this breed does shed considerably more in the springtime - right after winter.
While shedding is always an unpleasant thing to deal with, you can prevent your home from getting too furry by actively brushing and grooming your Aussie. This means that you should take at least 2 or 3 days out of your week to give your pup a good brushing.
In addition, taking your dog to a professional groomer can also be a huge plus for avoiding an excessive amount of fur around the house.
Picking the right dog food for your Australian Shepherd can be a big decision. Your pup will happily take the generic dog food brands that you can easily find at just about any supermarket - which is certainly the most affordable option.
As a standard, you should expect to feed your Australian Shepherd at least 3 or 4 cups of dog food per day. You can gauge this based on how much activity your pup is getting in its daily life. You will likely find that your pup will not eat as much if it is not as active and will probably devour its food if it is getting adequate exercise.
With that being said, you should consider giving your dog the food that will benefit it the most. This means that you should opt for food options that are heartier and have more nutritional value. A good way to approach this is to look at the contents of different dog food at the store and check for ingredients that have complex carbohydrates, essential fats, and quality protein.
The last thing you want to experience in your dog’s life is to see it suffer from health problems. While these situations are often difficult to predict and sometimes impossible to prevent, there is a lot that we can do as owners to ensure that the health risks your Australian Shepherd faces are significantly mitigated.
The Australian Shepherd is a slightly smaller dog than the Golden Retriever and is not as likely to experience the same health risks. However, this breed is subject to its own types of health issues, which should be noted so that you can take preventative measures early on. Here are some health issues that Australian Shepherds are known for:
- Hearing Issues
Given that these are all hereditary health risks, there are some cases where there is simply not much that can be done to prevent them. With that being said, by taking your Australian Shepherd on routine checkups - especially as they become mature adults - there is a lot that can be done if symptoms are caught early on.
The use of Australian Shepherds as service dogs is not as common within the industry, but not unheard of. Aussies have been known to be trained for certain services and have done very well for their owners.
You can see this breed being utilized by individuals that are handicapped and need regular guidance or simply need companionship.
In addition, Australian Shepherds have also been used by law enforcement. This breed has proven to be excellent at detecting narcotics and performing other police K9 duties.
About THE AUTHOR
I have had dogs my whole life and have always trained my own dogs with patience and positive reinforcement. My dogs are my life. My family always had dogs growing up. I've trained dogs for clients while working at a local dog daycare. I hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you as I share them here.Read More About Russell Wright