Breeds

Border Collie vs Australian Shepherd – Breed Comparison

Border Collie vs Australian Shepherd
Written by Adriana

If you would like to add to your family in the way of a new pet and have trouble with the decision between an Australian Shepherd and a Border Collie then this article will be invaluable to you.

To help you with your decision we have made the comparison between the Border Collie vs Australian Shepherd.

While there are many similarities between the two breeds, there are also many distinct differences. Understand as well that both breeds were developed for endurance and strong work ethic.

Australian Shepherd and Border Collie were originally bred for similar reasons and even though they bear a unique similarity in their appearance they actually come from two different lines of dogs.

They were both bred to be shepherding dogs which give them loads of energy. And this means that they need to be occupied via physical activity as much as possible.  As a dog parent to these breeds, you would need to spend quality time with them. 

Perhaps the best thing about both these breeds is how adorable they are as puppies. They would both make the entire family happy as they make great family dogs.

Border Collie vs Australian Shepherd: History

Border Collies

Border Collie

The Romans brought herding dogs and sheep with them when they first invaded the British Isles in the first century. The dogs that were brought, were much larger than the Border Collies that we know today, and they were also rapidly populating Britain at the time.

However, the Vikings also invaded and brought an agile but smaller dog breed with them. These two breeds that the Vikings and the Romans brought with them, were crossed with each other, without directly trying to create a certain physical breed standard. 

The breeding happened simply because farmers wanted dogs that had good working qualities for their farms. Because of this, they selected particular traits in their puppies and further generations as well.

A dog named “Old Hemp” was born in 1893, this was the forefather of today’s Border Collie as we know it today. Old Hemp is rumored to be the father of as many as 200 pups.

He had an outstanding personality and working ability that was inherited by his many Border Collie descendants. 

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd History

The Australian Shepherd came from the Western United States and not from Australia as the name might suggest. After the Spaniards first got settled on the new continent, they needed herding dogs to help them herd their sheep in the 1500s.

Even though they already showed their characteristic black and tan colors, many of the dogs they originally used were wolf-like and a lot bigger than the Australian Shepherd we know today.

The Carea Leonés was another dog breed that was used by the settlers. Favoring the Aussie we know today, this smaller dog often had blue eyes and a merle pattern.

It goes without saying that back then, dog breeding occurred without any registries or breed standards. Herding of large flocks of sheep in California, New Mexico, and Colorado was the main priority and the dogs were bred to fit the task on hand. 

When it came to herding flocks through the harsh terrain of the Rocky Mountains, the Australian Shepherd’s ancestors particularly skilled.

It is not totally clear where exactly the “Australian” in their name comes from, although some believe that it came from the Merino Sheep that were bred in large numbers in Australia and imported to the US.

Others believe that it came from their looks, which are their blue merle pattern found in many dogs from Australia and became the name for any dogs that looked like that. 

Border Collie vs Australian Shepherd: Appearance & Size

Border Collie Size

Border Collie

Border Collies weigh slightly less than Aussies. The females are usually about 18-21 inches and the males approximately 19-22 inches, weighing between 30 and 55 lbs. The coat of the Border Collies comes in two varieties which are a rough coat and a smooth coat.

Particularly in show line dogs, rough-coated dogs can come in a range of types from lush, thick, and long coats to light feathering. Both parents must carry a copy of the gene to be able to produce rough-coated offspring as the rough coat is a recessive gene.

Border Collies can show blue eyes as well, and their eyes can have shades ranging from gold over the green to a dark brown. Border Collies usually possess prick, tipped, or dropped ears.

Some dog parents want their Border Collies’ ears to get them to stand up, so they tape them in a certain position.

The Collie comes in a wider range of colors. Some of it includes black, blue, brindle, gold, lilac, red, red merle, sable, sable merle, blue merle, and mixtures of white with other colors.  Border Collies can also have heterochromia, but it’s much rarer.

Border Collies have an agile,  athletic, and lean build. Therefore, it is no surprise that they are able to do well in agility events and run extremely fast.

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd Size

Australian Shepherds have a compact built and are a bit longer than tall. The females are usually around 18-21 inches and the males are approximately 20-23 inches tall. The weight range for the female is around 40-55 lbs and 50-65 lbs for males.  

Aussies tend to always have a rough coat. It is lush, medium-length, and straight or slightly wavy. The males in particular can have a beautiful mane on their necks. They are also known for having only four different colors, such as blue merle, black, red, and red merle.

Australian Shepherds can show blue eyes as well, and their eyes can have shades ranging from gold over the green to a dark brown.

Because they’re more likely to develop heterochromia, they also have more unique eye colors. This condition is characterized by each eye having a different color. Most times it will be brown and blue.

Australian Shepherd’s tail can be natural, docked, or a natural bobtail. Their ears are supposed to be a “button ear”. This means that they break forward and sit to the site a bit. 

Even though it is seen as a fault by the American Kennel Club (AKC), some Australian Shepherds have prick or erect ears. Aussies have an agile,  athletic, and lean build. Therefore, it is no surprise that they are able to do well in agility events and run extremely fast.

Border Collie vs Australian Shepherd: Behavior & Temperament

Border Collie 

Border Collie Temperament

As mentioned before, Border Collies were bred to be herding dogs. Because of this, they herd livestock using their eyes.

Therefore, they tend to make intense and unbroken eye contact, and sometimes you would see them moving in slow motion. They usually interact this way to many forms of motion and not just when they are dealing with livestock.

Your dog may go into the typical Border Collie stalk pose when he anticipates that you are about to throw a Frisbee or ball, or he looks at other dogs running around.  Ensure that your Border Collie does not stalk smaller pets or children of the household.

The Border Collie is known to be a highly energetic dog breed who has an exceedingly strong work ethic, which means that they can overdo it when it comes to physical activity. You must be aware of this and ensure that they enjoy exercise safely.

For highly active people, the Border Collie may be the best fit because of his seemingly limitless energy level. They make great companions for anyone that is looking for a dog to take a long on hikes or on backtracking trips.

Physical exercise it’s not the only area in which the Border Collie will need attention. He will need mental exercise as well.  This makes him a great candidate for training.

It may be difficult when you are not up to it, when the weather is bad or when you had a long day at work. If this sounds overwhelming, it is probably not the right breed for you.

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd Temperament

One distinct characteristic of an Australian Shepherd is the fact that they love food. This aspect of their personality can be both a good thing as well as a bad thing when it comes to their training. 

In one instance, your Aussie may try his hardest for the smallest piece of kibble, but in another instance, he may totally lose his mind trying to earn it. If there is the possibility of getting a treat, Aussies may throw all the behaviors they have learned at you at the same time.

You need to look out for your Aussie because they can steal and eat surprising amounts of food if left unsupervised. You may need to put up baby gates in your kitchen forever or be very conscientious about where you place your food. 

The other important thing about Aussies is that they love to let you know what they think as they are very expressive. They are definitely not shy about being loud.

In other words, they love to bark which makes them useful for security reasons. They bark when they are having fun, when they see something suspicious, when they are excited, when they want to alert you, and just for plain fun as well.

An Australian Shepherd is not for you if you are someone who dislikes a barking dog. It is innate for them to behave this way and part of who they are, therefore, there is no way to get them to completely stop barking.

Close neighbors may not take kindly to their incessant barking and this makes them less than ideal apartment dogs as well.

Border Collie vs Australian Shepherd: Training & Exercise

Border Collie Exercise

Border Collie

Border Collies can be easily trained because they are intelligent dogs. They thrive with experienced owners who can keep the training fun and engaging, especially as they get bored quickly.

That said, Border Collies are known to grasp commands at a faster rate than the Aussies. This is no surprise because they are the most intelligent dog in the world.

When training these dogs, it is crucial that you refrain from harsh training “techniques,” like yelling and hitting. Positive reinforcement techniques, like verbal praises and food, will yield better results.

Border Collies require at least 60 minutes of vigorous exercise each day.  Not only that but, they also need to be kept busy while indoors as well.

Border Collies require mental exercise when indoors, or they will be bored. To stop them from acquiring destructive behaviors, you should give them puzzle toys to play with.

The Border Collie will typically need more rigorous exercise than the Australian Shepherd. Due to their high levels of intelligence, the Border Collie a joy to train and will surprise their owners with their learning ability. Many studies are proving that Border Collies are supremely intelligent. 

Nevertheless, with intelligence comes independent thinking, the Border Collie can be a bit much for an inexperienced owner. You could end up being outsmarted by your Collie if you underestimate him. 

Australian Shepherd 

Australian Shepherd Exercise

Australian Shepherds can also be easily trained because they are intelligent dogs. They do better with experienced owners who can train them properly, especially as they get bored quickly.  

When training these dogs, it is crucial that you refrain from harsh training “techniques,” like yelling and hitting. positive reinforcement techniques, like verbal praises and food, will yield better results.

Even though they should be alright with doggy jobs and about 60 minutes or so of exercise, the Australian Shepherd will also need plenty of physical activity. 

Australian Shepherds also need at least one hour of vigorous exercise each day. In addition, they also need to be kept busy while indoors as well. Australian Shepherds need mental exercise when indoors, or they will be bored. 

With intelligence comes independent thinking, the Australian Shepherd can be a handful for an owner who lacks experience. You could end up being tricked by your Aussie if you underestimate him. 

Your dog should have space to run freely as well as two or more hours put aside for exercising every day. As a dog parent, you should provide a space or yard where your dog can often run and play. This breed needs space to run and function better in homes with large, fenced-in yards and active families.

Understand that when left alone for several hours at a time, the Australian Shepherd has a higher likelihood of separation anxiety.

Therefore, if you’re thinking about an Aussie for a pet, you may want to consider crate training because bored or anxious dogs can become destructive.

Border Collie vs Australian Shepherd: Grooming

Border Collie Grooming

Border Collie 

Since the Border Collie is an active dog, he is likely to get dirty and will need a monthly bath with high-quality dog shampoo to keep him clean and keep skin diseases at bay.

If you bathe him much more than this, it will likely damage his coat’s natural oils. This can make his skin very dry and itchy. To ensure that he stays clean in between washes, you can use dry shampoo or dog wipes. In this way, he is kept smelling and feeling clean and fresh.

Regardless of whether your Border Collie dog has a rough or smooth coat, he will need a bit more brushing as he has a rougher coat than the Aussie.

This is to ensure that it is kept healthy and glossy and to prevent knots from forming. Also, this breed will need brushing at least twice a week they are likely to attract ticks and other nasty pests.

Ticks attach themselves to dogs and feed off their blood, which is why spending time brushing them weekly is so important.

They will look like warts on your dog, so if you find any when you are brushing, and you’re not sure how to remove them, ask your veterinarian, and they can show you how. 

Australian Shepherd

Since the Australian Shepherd is an active dog, he is likely to get dirty and will need a monthly bath with high-quality dog shampoo to keep him clean and keep skin diseases at bay. To ensure that he stays clean in between washes, you can use dry shampoo or dog wipes. 

Spending time brushing them weekly is so important because ticks attach themselves to dogs and feed off their blood. They will look like warts on your dog, so if you find any when you are brushing, and you’re not sure how to remove them, ask your veterinarian, and they can show you how.

The Australian Shepherd doesn’t require as much attention even though he has long hair. It is because it is smoother and easier to maintain. Therefore, a weekly brush will be enough to keep him in tip-top shape.

Though they may have a different feel to their coats, Aussies shed about as much as a Border Collie. When it comes to nail trimming, bathing, and tooth brushing, they need just about the same as any other dog.

Border Collie vs Australian Shepherd: Health Problems

Border Collie

Border Collies are prone to Elbow and Hip Dysplasia later in life just like a lot of dogs. This is where the affected joints are abnormally formed and can cause painful arthritis. They are also prone to develop eye problems like Cataracts, Collie Eye Anomaly, and Progressive Renal Atrophy. 

Approximately 10% of Border Collie’s are known to have Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome at birth. This is characterized by having white blood cells that are not released correctly from the bone marrow, which in turn prevents his immune system from fighting diseases.

Many Border Collies have symptoms of this disease at around seven months of old and can die shortly after. If they are suffering from this syndrome at an early age, a DNA swab can identify it.

You should ask the breeder for the parent’s health certificates before you buy any pup. The certificates should be specific to the health issues above, as this is the best way to identify any health issues in your pup.

It is probably a sign something is not right if the breeder can’t or will not provide them.

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds

Australian Shepherds are prone to Elbow and Hip Dysplasia later in life just like a lot of dogs. This is where the affected joints are abnormally formed and can cause painful arthritis.

They are also prone to develop eye problems like Cataracts, Collie Eye Anomaly, and Progressive Renal Atrophy. Collie Eye Anomaly is actually more rampant in the Aussies than the Collies.

Along with hip dysplasia and epilepsy, Aussies are prone to cancers and cataracts. The usual health tests for Australian Shepherds are for elbow, hip, and ophthalmological evaluations.

Remember that a healthy lifestyle will help maintain their overall health So implement a diet of high-quality dog food suited to your breed’s weight, activity level, and age.

Also, ask the breeder for the parent’s health certificates. This should be specific to the health issues above, as this is the best way to identify any health issues in your pup.

If your breeder does not want to give you this vital information then there is probably something wrong with your Aussie.

Australian Shepherd vs Border Collie FAQs

Australian Shepherd Vs Border Collie

Are Border Collies And Australian Shepherds Good With Kids?

As a potential dog parent, you may be wondering whether an Aussie or a Border Collie would be the better for you and your family.

The answer to this is yes, but with the right safeguards in place. Understand that both breeds are not naturally outgoing, social butterflies. It is not like they love to meet and greet people and have endless patience.

It will require work and supervision for them to be successfully integrated into a family with kids and become great pets.

Which Breed Is More Intelligent 

Both the Australian Shepherd and Border Collie have been blessed with intelligence. But between the two, the Border Collie is without a doubt more intelligent.

In the official ranking,  Border Collies possess the most dog intelligence placing number one while the Aussies are tied for the 42nd smartest dog breeds.

Nevertheless, your dog does not need to be that intelligent, unless he is being trained to meet some special need. Both breeds are way more than sufficient for the average owner.

Do Border Collies Shed More? 

Grooming will be necessary, whether you get an Australian Shepherd or a Border Collie. This should cover bathing, nail clipping, tooth brushing, and coat brushing.

The main difference comes in the coat grooming. Australian Shepherds need regular grooming of the coat to keep the fur in tip-top shape because they shed moderately – excessively. 

On the other hand, Border Collies actually shed more than Aussies. They need more attentive care and more coat brushing to maintain a healthy coat because their coats are rougher. These dogs need a good brushing at least twice per week.

Australian Shepherd vs Border Collie Cost 

On average, Border Collies, costs around $700, as does the Australian Shepherd. For more desirable traits or colors, such as the Merle coat color or different colored eyes, you can expect to pay a bit more.

If you want a working dog, male dogs tend to cost more because they are usually a bit faster than the female. Of course, you can expect to pay much more than the average, if they are show quality.

Which Breed Has A Longer Lifespan

Australian Shepherds tend to outlive Border Collies. Collies have a life span of 10 to 17 years while Aussies can see a life expectancy between 13 and 15 years.

When compared to other breeds, both dogs are relatively healthy and can live for a long time if they are properly cared for.

Do Australian Shepherds And Border Collies Bark A Lot?

Australian Shepherds usually bark a lot. They tend to bark more than the Border Collie. Australian Shepherds usually bark a lot because of the way they were bred.

Aussies were originally bred to be dogs that assisted with the herding of cattle and other work. They will not only bark at animals but also alert you if they see anything to be wrong around you. 

Final Words

The Australian Shepherd and the Border Collie have many great traits such as strength, stamina, brains, beauty, and much, more.

These breeds are similar in appearance, and have almost long hair the same height, with their many wild color options. Because the Aussie was bred from the Collie, it makes them have a similar facial appearance.

They are both high energy and need at least 60 minutes of high-level activity daily. Neither of them is for you if you are unable to offer this consistently. They are both able to be trained to assimilate themselves into any family.

Nonetheless, they differ in weight, with the Aussie being on average 10 pounds heavier. The Border Collie has a rougher coat and needs a bit more grooming than the Aussie.

The Aussie is more welcoming whereas the Collie is warier of strangers. Additionally, the Aussies tend to suffer from separation anxiety a bit more.

About the author

Adriana

Adriana has been around dogs since she was a little kid. It all started with growing up with a German Shepherd Lord and an English Cocker Spaniel Bady. Her dream job has always been becoming a veterinarian. She has been taking care of animals all of her life and she wants to share her experience with other dog lovers.