Golden Retriever Vs Australian Cattle Dog – What Is The Best Breed For You

These two breeds have very different pasts. The Goldie, as is suggested by its name was first used as retrievers by hunters in Scotland, whereas the Australian Cattle Dog (you guessed it) originates in Australia and was used by farmers to herd cattle.

Though these dogs seem to be extremely different at first glance, they are both extremely popular options for potential pet owners, so let’s have a look at what these two breeds have in common, that make them such great pets and what separates them, to help you decide which is best for you.

Key Similarities

First off, both these purebred breeds are optimized to survive in the harsh conditions that they used to work in. That means they are tough and active. Both of these breeds are also intelligent and easy to train, another trait left from when they were used as working dogs. This also means that both make good options for first-time dog-owners.

The Australian Cattle Dog and the Golden Retriever both are affectionate and gentle towards children.

Key Differences

The most striking difference between these dogs is the colour of their coats. The Australian Cattle Dog also goes by the nicknames Blue Heeler and Red Heeler because of their tendency to have blue or red undercoats. The Goldie, of course, has a beautiful golden coat.

These breeds also differ in size, Golden Retrievers are large dogs and Australian Cattle Dogs are classified as medium-sized dogs.

Pros over each other

Apart from their appearance, there isn’t much that separates these two breeds. Golden Retrievers tend to require more grooming than Australian Cattle Dogs.

Though both are affectionate to their family, Golden Retrievers tend to be friendlier towards strangers than Australian Cattle Dogs and though both require a lot of exercise, a Goldie will be better able to adapt to apartment living.

Who Should Consider Owning Each One?

These two breeds would both be great for anyone looking for a loyal and intelligent companion. Both require a lot of attention and exercise, but if you live in an apartment and don’t mind to spend some time grooming your dog and taking it out for some exercise, you will find a Golden Retriever to live up to its excellent reputation.

If you have a yard for your dog to run around in and would like to spend less time on grooming, the Australian Cattle Dog might be a terrific option for you.

Other than that, it will largely depend on which breed’s appearance you prefer.

All About the Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever came from Scotland and originated in the 1800s. The breed was designed for hunting ducks and waterfowl.

Golden Retrievers are excellent hunting dogs but are wonderful family dogs as well.

Australian Cattle Dog

Though Australian Cattle Dogs are still renowned for the work they do as herding dogs, they have also been found to make loving and loyal family pets.


The Spaniel breeds came from Spain and were all sizes and shaped. The types of spaniels were land, water, springer, field spaniels, and Sussex.

All of these spaniels were bred for different hunting duties. The dog’s size was the main point of difference between all these dogs.

The Cocker Spaniel was used to retrieve and flush out small game such as woodcock, pheasant, and quail. In 1946, both the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel were recognized officially by the AKC as separate breeds.

Size and appearance:

Cocker Spaniels have incredibly expressive faces and stand out in a crowd. However, their tail keeps wagging, their eyes are dark, and big floppy ears.

Your Cocker Spaniel’s weight will be between 24-28 pounds, with the male being 15 inches at the withers and the female being 14 inches. The head is graceful and round with a broad square muzzle. The ears are feathered long, and the dog’s back slopes towards the tail. There is feathering on the ears and the legs, underside, and chest. Most of the time, the tail is docked.

There are a variety of colors with Cocker Spaniels. The colors can be solid black, tan, or red. Other coats are bi-colored and tri-colored. The coats can be black and white, black and tan, or black and white with tan flecks.

The AKC has the Cocker Spaniel divided into three varieties for show. The divisions are parti-color, black, or ASCOB, which stands for Any Solid Color Other Than Black.


The life expectancy of your Cocker Spaniel is between 14 to 16 years.

Guard dog or family pet?

The guarding instinct is very low in this breed.

You can train them to bark when someone is at the door, but that’s about it. These dogs are friendly, gentle dogs who make great family pets.

First Impressions & History

Bred by settlers in Australia as early as 1940 to help herd cattle on the huge ranches, the Australian Cattle Dog is a working dog.

They are highly energetic dogs who will definitely not adjust well to living in an apartment. They are made to run around great fields, so your lifestyle will have to be able to match his exercise routine.

Size & Appearance

Australian Cattle Dogs are of a medium size build, yet very athletic. They usually range between 17 -20 inches tall and 30 – 50 pounds in weight.

They have a durable, short-haired coat which comes in black or tan colours, with either a blue or red undercoat, from where the nicknames “blue heelers” and “red heelers”.

Grooming & Shedding

They don’t need much grooming. Brushing their hair weekly should be fine most of the time, but when they shed they might require more attention.

They don’t shed all year round, instead, they shed quite heavily once a year.


13-15 Years

Quick Facts

  • They are very active and robust. These are real, tough, farm dogs.
  • They don’t like being separated from their owner at all and need to constantly be kept busy both physically and mentally.
  • They tend to be jealous of other humans or animals around their owners.

Golden Retrievers In More Detail

Temperament And Behavior:

Golden Retrievers are naturally well-behaved and friendly. Their temperament is playful, gentle, and outgoing. Plus, this breed is intelligent and devoted to its family.

A Golden Retriever gets along with other animals. However, these dogs do exuberant jumps on people when young. Plus, this breed does tend to mouthiness and likes to carry things around.

Training and obedience:

A Golden Retriever has a puppy frame of mind until he is over three years old. Early training is essential so you can instill good manners and calmness.

Even if he is eager to please, your dog will be distracted by the wonderful new sights and smells, so patience is a must.

Exercise Needs:

These dogs are from the sporting class, so they need exercise. If your dog can’t vent his energy and you find him interesting things to do, then he’ll find them. This breed has an extremely high energy level and a high exercise level.

An hour of exercise at least will help keep your dog’s exuberance under control. After that, your dog will love to retrieve stuff and bring back just about anything thrown to him.

Shedding, grooming, and maintenance:

Golden retrievers shed a lot and often. They require regular brushing to keep ahead of the hair shedding.

Because the breed is a hunting and waterfowl dog, the outer coat is dense and will repel water.

You will regularly need to brush and comb your dog to avoid his coat getting matted and tangled. Some dogs of this breed have a medium-length coat that isn’t as hard to groom. Other dogs have a heavier coat with lots of feathering.

Plus, Goldens need to be clipped and scissored occasionally, so a trip to the groomers may be necessary to keep your dog sanitary. Keeping nails trimmed is also a part of the grooming. These dogs shed moderately in the winter and summer but heavily in the spring and fall.

Because this breed has fold-over ears, they are prone to ear infections. The ears create an environment for bacteria and fungus to grow. It appears as black dirt-looking particles with a terrible odor. Simply gently wipe the outer ear with a cotton ball that’s been dampened with pH-balanced ear cleaner.

Health issues:

Golden Retrievers are prone to cancer, heart problems, skin allergies, eye defects. Plus, they gain weight easily, so overfeeding should not be done. In addition, they are susceptible to bloat, hypothyroidism, and hip dysplasia.

Quick Facts:

These dogs have a distinctive doggy odor and produce a lot of dander.

The breed is a good match for children, other dogs, cats, families, and seniors. They are excellent dogs for first-time pet owners, and these dogs love water.

The cost of a Golden Retriever is about $500.

Australian Cattle Dogs In More Detail

Temperament & Behaviour

Australian Cattle Dogs have an abundance of energy. They need to be kept active and engaged to stay out of trouble. They also have a high prey drive, so they’ll chase after squirrels, bunnies, birds and cats.

They can be taught not to hunt your other pets if introduced from a young age, but this truce will not extend to your neighbour’s cat.

They are extremely affectionate and loyal to their adopted family, but they can be territorial and a bit sceptical of strangers.

Intelligence levels & Affections Level

They are smart and they enjoy challenges, but they can also be quite stubborn and willful. They are extremely affectionate with their loved ones and won’t ever leave your side.

Training & Obedience

Australian Cattle dogs are smart enough to be quite trainable, but they can be stubborn and their excess energy means that they are often thought to be naughty because they cause trouble when they get bored.

Exercise Needs

You will need to make sure that you have a lifestyle that will allow your Australian Cattle dog to have the exercise it needs. They are extremely energetic and need to be kept busy and tired. When they get bored they can be destructive.

Guard Dog or Family Pet

Although they are alert and will protect you with their life, Australian Cattle dogs are better suited as a family pet and working dog than to be a guard dog.

They are extremely protective of their family, but they aren’t very large.

Gets On With Other Pets, Animals And Children?

Because they grow so attached to their family, they tend not to like strangers much and can even become territorial and aggressive with them. Socializing them from an early age will help though.

They will also accept your own children and even your pets as part of their family, in which case they will be very friendly towards them, but they won’t trust unfamiliar children and they will hunt other animals.

Who Should Consider Buying

If you have a lifestyle that can keep up with that of an Australian Cattle Dog’s, want a loving, loyal and close companion who can be with you at all times, then this breed can offer a very special addition to your family.

It is important to note though that they can’t be left alone and will require a lot of attention, exercise and stimulation.


Australian Cattle Dogs are highly effective workers, but they can also make a loving and playful family pet, provided the family is able to make sure it gets enough exercise and attention.

Perhaps not the perfect dog for first-time dog owners or apartment dwellers, but the perfect for active families, living on farms or in the countryside.