When I was considering a second dog, I quickly realized it’s not so obvious knowing which breeds would naturally get on well with others. And there wasn’t an article dedicated exactly to it! So, as always, here’s everything I found out from experience and extensive research.
10 Best companion breeds for Australian shepherds:
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- Springer Spaniel
- German Shepherd
- Jack Russell
- Irish Setter
- Siberian Husky
- Border Collie
A Key Point About Compatibility
Before we focus on the personality of other breeds it’s crucial to recap exactly what your Aussie is like.
Australian shepherds, in general:
● Outgoing and active
● Very playful (with rough play),
● Love to receive attention
● Love to be trained
● Require stimulation, games, and something to do
● Can be quite strong-minded and stubborn
Of course, all Aussies are different, so how does yours differ from above?
The reason this is so important to think about is that in the dog world, opposites don’t usually attract… Meaning, for the best chance of a great relationship, you ideally want a breed with mostly similar behavior and personality.
Breeds with a complete mismatch of characters quickly get frustrated with each other making it harder for them to click. (for example, a couch potato dog with a super active dog).
And it’s worth saying now: Size doesn’t matter. An Australian shepherd can get along just fine with a small breed assuming they can hold their own and love to play as much as an Aussie does.
10 Breeds That Get Along Well With Australian Shepherds
Let’s run through the top 10 most compatible breeds for an Australian shepherd.
1. Golden Retriever
A pretty obvious start, right? Well, This is because Golden retrievers make friends with every single breed out there, and they certainly suit Australian shepherds.
Golden retrievers are fun-loving, active, playful, and extremely friendly. These dogs get on well with everyone and everything. An Aussie would make the perfect playmate for a GR and they’re likely to click right from the start.
As long as you’re happy with a bigger dog than your Aussie, plenty of extra hair, and grooming sessions, a Golden retriever is a safe bet.
2. Labrador Retriever
Sorry, this list will get less obvious soon! Labradors are another easy win when it comes to companion breeds. They’re easy-going, active, fun, playful, and friendly, and they certainly get on well with Australian shepherds in general.
Labradors are more or less the same size as an Aussie but not all of them are big shedders, some labs come with a short slick coat that sheds minimally.
Labs need firm training to be obedient, and there’s no clear leader to both dogs, they could become partners in crime. So training will be paramount with this pair.
Other than that, labs are another very friendly breed that will almost certainly get on well with an Aussie.
Vizslas are a medium-sized working breed that is getting more popular every year. Despite having a strong working background, they are very family orientated and love being with others dogs.
With proper socialization, vizslas are very friendly, approachable, and playful. I have come across a few Aussie/Vizsla households over the years and the two breeds work very well with each other.
Vizslas have a single coat and certainly don’t shed as much as Australian shepherds do.
The only thing with Vizslas is that they need a lot of training and a clear consistent leader. If training is neglected Vizslas can become unruly, and would encourage bad behavior from the Aussie.
4. Springer Spaniel
Springer Spaniels are super active, love to play, and for most “ball is life”. Spaniels are very friendly, family-orientated, and love to be around other dogs.
Springer spaniels are not far behind Aussies when it comes to intelligence and obedience, so long as firm training is given from the start. These two breeds together are likely to be very well-behaved and eager to follow commands (as spaniels always do).
Despite being a little smaller, a springer spaniel will certainly keep up when it comes to exercise and being active. And in most cases, these two breeds would make perfect playmates.
This is yet another companionship I have seen first-hand work out very well.
5. German Shepherd
Raising a German Shepherd is very similar to raising an Australian Shepherd… In fact, German shepherds are slightly more intelligent and willing to follow commands so this partnership could actually have a positive influence on your Aussie.
One major difference would be the guard dog qualities that the German shepherds possess, so if this isn’t something you’re looking for then that’s understandable.
But make no mistake, German shepherds when raised correctly are soft, friendly, approachable (even for strangers), and loving (GSD owner speaking here!)
Both Aussies and GSDs have similar coats, shedding habits, exercise requirements, and love nothing more than receiving their family’s undivided attention.
If you like training, a GSD would be a great option.
6. Jack Russells
Jack Russells have the heart and courage of a dog 5 times the size of them, these little nippers hold their own against bigger dogs and love nothing more than to play and chase their ball.
Australian shepherds have always gotten on well with Jack Russells despite the huge size difference. This is a classic example of where large and small works really well.
And don’t be fooled by their little legs! Jack Russells are very active and make excellent playmates.
It is, however, important that Jack Russells are socialized from a young age or they can develop a tendency to be aloof towards strangers or other dogs.
This is a well-known companionship and if you’re wanting a smaller second dog, a JR would be a very good option.
7. Irish Setters
Irish setters are another great option for Australian shepherds. Irish setters are gentle, friendly, and very easy-going.
They’ll make the perfect playmate whenever your Aussie feels like playing, yet they will also be happy to lay down for belly rubs when nothing else is happening.
Irish setters are not that common but they’re one of the most beautiful breeds I have personally come across, both in their nature, and their looks!
Irish setters are larger than Aussies, shed just as much, and need virtually the same amount of exercise. Irish setters are typically very well-behaved and would likely be a positive influence for an Aussie.
If you like large dogs, this is another great choice I would recommend looking into.
Poodles come in three sizes, standard (largest) miniature (medium), and toy (very small), so if you do have a size preference for your second dog, you’ve got options!
Poodles are extremely intelligent, obedient, playful, very active, and friendly (if given a lot of early socialization).
As the toy poodle literally is tiny, the standard or miniature poodle would be a better fit for an Aussie. A standard or miniature would make a great playmate and would likely be a positive influence for an Aussie in terms of behavior and obedience.
Poodles also rarely shed (due to their curly coat) so if you’re fed up with sweeping up! A poodle would be a great option. But keep in mind, regular brushing is a must with this breed to prevent their coat from tangling.
9. Siberian Husky
Another pair I have first-hand experience with is the Husky/Aussie pair. These two breeds get on fantastically well with one another, and apart from their historical/working differences, these breeds are virtually the same.
Both breeds are very similar in size, have a similar coat, shed the same, love playing and exercising until the cows come home, and are naturally friendly.
Despite the fierce looks of a husky, they are in fact very friendly with strangers and other dogs, so much so, they make terrible guard dogs.
The only thing I would say about this pair is that both can be particularly stubborn and strong-minded, and when together, this could be amplified. It’s necessary for the owner to be confident in their leadership and training skills for this pair!
10. Border Collies
Just like how I said huskies were basically the same as Australian shepherds (despite their history and working differences)… Well, Border collies are pretty much exactly the same including their history and working differences!
Aussies are known for being a little bit friendlier off the bat, but with sufficient socialization, a Border collie will be just as friendly and approachable.
Border collies take the No.1 spot for the world’s most intelligent breed, and they have done for quite some time. There’s no doubt that a BC will be a positive influence for your Aussie in terms of obedience and good behavior.
Border collies are pretty much the same size, have a very similar coat, shed the same amount, need the same amount of exercise, and would get on well with the same diet.
If you’re looking for the most similar dog to an Australian shepherd without actually getting a second Australian shepherd, then a Border Collie is the answer.
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Summary of Characteristics That Suit Australian Shepherds
Let’s run through a summary of the main characteristics that suit Australian Shepherds. Most of the breeds on the list above have the majority, if not all of these.
Following traits found in compatible breeds:
● Active and energetic
● Enjoys plenty of playtime (can handle rough play)
● Affectionate and family-orientated
● Receptive to training
● Not overly territorial
The truth is that there are many more breeds that get on well with Australian Shepherds other than those listed above…
If the breed you’re considering has most of the traits above, then it’s more than likely your Aussie will develop a good relationship with them.
One Good Tip!
One of the best ways to know in advance which breed will work is to visit the dog park more often (or even visit doggy playgroups).
Before getting my second I did this for 2 or 3 months, making a point of interacting with as many different breeds as possible.
After a short time, you’ll see a clear difference between breeds that your Aussie gravitates towards and chooses to interact with. You may just realize that your Aussie LOVES to play with Labradors, but shies away from Beagles (a random example), but it really can be as obvious as this.
It’s definitely worth trying!
Thank you for reading!
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