Australian Shepherd vs Labrador Retriever 

Last updated on September 23, 2022

Today’s article will compare two beautiful breeds, the Australian Shepherd and the Labrador Retrieved. While both dogs make lovely pets, there are some crucial differences between them. Hopefully, I will help you choose your perfect furry buddy.

Australian Shepherd vs Labrador Retriever 

These two dogs are among the most popular breeds in the world. So, people’s dilemma when choosing their next dog is well justified. While they’re different in many ways, the Australian Shepherd and the Labrador Retriever share some traits. I’ve divided the comparison into categories for easier navigation. So, here are the differences between the Aussie and the Lab:

An Australian Shepherd and a Labrador Retriever 


The Australian Shepherd is a herding dog. Created in Australia by crossbreeding Pyrenean Shepherds and Border Collies, the Aussie found its way to the shores of California in the 1800s. The local ranchers immediately spotted the intelligent, hard-working dog. The pup was named Australian Shepherd due to its point of arrival. However, the breed was developed entirely in the United States. Hence, the Aussie is a purely American breed, despite its name.

The Lab originates from the Labrador province in Newfoundland, Canada. The Labrador is bred to retrieve game during hunts. In the past, these dogs also worked on fishing boats. Hence, their love for water and swimming is easily explainable. The Labrador found its way into Great Britain in the 1800s. The British kennel club registered the breed as their own and named the dog Labrador Retrieved. Hence, the Labrador Retriever is a British breed.

Appearance and size

The Labrador Retriever is larger than the Aussie Shepherd. Labs can reach a max height of 24 inches, with 60 – 80 pounds. The Aussie weighs between 50 and 65 pounds, while he can stand 22 inches tall. In both breeds, females are smaller than the male specimens.

The Australian Shepherd has medium-long, wavy fur. These pups come in blue merle, red merle, black, white, and red, with numerous color combinations. The eyes of the Aussie are brown, amber, hazel, green, or blue. Some Australian Shepherds have two different colored eyes. The tails of the Aussies have been regularly docked in the past. So, today, some Aussies are born as natural bobtails.

Labrador Retrievers are mainly single-colored. They can be black, brown, or yellow. The fur of the Lab is short and harsh. Their intelligent eyes are hazel or brown. The tail of the Labrador Retriever is long and robust. Their bodies are athletic, while the head is proportionate to the size of the body.

Both these handsome dogs have double-layered coats. The top layer waterproofs the dogs, while the inner jacket has the role of an insulator. Therefore, both dogs do well in all climate conditions.


As of 2021, the Aussie is the 12th most popular dog breed in the United States. However, the popularity of the Australian Shepherd is constantly rising. So, it is safe to say the Aussie will climb even higher on this scale in the years to follow.

There’s no match for the Labrador Retriever when it comes to popularity. The Lab is the most popular dog globally. But even more impressive is the fact that this dog has been the undisputed popularity champion for the last 30 years.

Australian Shepherd


The Australian Shepherd is loving, affectionate, playful, and loyal. These dogs are happiest when busy with a job or a task. The Aussie can run and play from dusk till dawn, thanks to its energy. Australian Shepherds love people. However, the Aussie will love one person more than everybody else. When they bond with their beloved human, these dogs do anything to please them. But, they are also protective and aloof with strangers. So, early socialization is a must for this breed.

Australian Shepherds are clingy and want to spend as much time with their owners as possible. If left alone or unattended, the Aussie will get anxious and destructive. These dogs require two to three hours of activity per day. They need to be challenged both physically and mentally to avoid misbehaving. So, the Aussie is not a good fit for an inactive person.

Labrador Retrievers are easy-going, relaxed, exuberant, and devoted. This pup will love the entire family. They’re not standoffish as the Aussie, but they still need socialization. The Lab is energetic and needs about one and a half hours of daily activities. Labradors love to please humans. However, they seek a lot of attention. When they don’t receive it, Labs get destructive.

Labradors are suitable for tons of group activities. They love to run, hike, walk, but their favorite activity is swimming. Unlike the Australian Shepherd, the Labrador Retriever is more independent. So, this dog can stay alone for a prolonged period. Hence, this breed is a better choice for a busy person.

Another critical piece of information about the Aussie is their herding instinct. In a lack of livestock, the Aussie will try to herd everything that moves, including children. However, proper training will resolve this issue.

Intelligence and trainability

Both the Australian Shepherd and the Labrador Retriever are brilliant dogs when it comes to intelligence. However, the Lab is slightly more intelligent than the Aussie. For example, the Lab needs five reiterations to learn a new command, while the Aussie needs ten. Yet, the Australian Shepherd is also clever and would often try to outsmart an unsuspecting owner.

Labrador Retriever

Both breeds possess emotional intelligence. Hence, they make lovely emotional support. Besides these, the Aussie and the Lab can perform various jobs, such as search and rescue, drug detection, or work as service dogs.

The Lab and the Aussie are almost the same regarding trainability. Both breeds are very smart, eager to learn, and easily trainable. Obedience training and socialization are a must for both species, while leash walking, tricks, and commands are no problem for these pups. Both dogs need to be crate trained. However, educating an Aussie is slightly more demanding due to the dog’s cleverness and herding instincts.

Lifespan and health issues

The average lifespan of the Australian Shepherd is between 13 to 15 years. The Labrador Retriever, on the other hand, has a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. Both dogs are healthy in general. However, they can suffer from specific ailments.

The Australian Shepherd can be troubled with hip and elbow dysplasia, cancers, cataracts, colobomas, obesity, or epilepsy.

Labrador Retrievers can suffer from hip dysplasia, heart problems, obesity, diabetes, bloat, cancers, or muscular dystrophy.


The Aussiedor is a mixture of a Labrador Retriever and an Australian Shepherd. Easy-going, entertaining, affectionate, and intelligent , this medium-sized dog has enough love for the entire family. Like it’s parents, the Aussiedor is as an overly active dog that requires plenty of activities.



Buying a Labrador Retriever will cost you between $500 and $1,500. The price of the Australian Shepherd varies from $650 to $900. However, particular Aussies can reach the value of $2,000.

The prices of both breeds depend on many factors, such as breeder reputation, color, pedigree and parentage, health issues, etc. As for the monthly cost, owning a Lab or an Aussie will lighten your wallet from $100 to $200.

Final words

These are all the differences and similarities between the Australian Shepherd and the Labrador Retriever. While both breeds share several traits, they differ in many vital aspects. So, I hope I’ve helped you choose your new pet.

However, if you still haven’t, let me make it easy for you: go with the Australian Shepherd if you are an experienced dog parent. But if you’re a novice pet owner, then the Labrador Retriever is a better choice.

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