Airedale Terrier vs Border Collie – Which dog is for you?

The Airedale Terrier, often referred to as the “King of Terriers,” and Border Collie, often found on livestock farms, both originating from the British Isles. Both dogs have unique traits catering to different preferences and requirements ranging from agility, obedience, intelligence, and versatility. The choice between these two breeds depends mainly on your lifestyle, living situation, and what you’re looking for in a furry friend.

Characteristics of Comparison between Airedale Terrier and Border

The Airedale Terrier is a strong and independent breed known for its intelligence and versatility. This breed can be a loving family pet and is excellent with children but requires consistent training and mental stimulation. The Airedale is also known for its hunting prowess and protective nature.

Border Collies, in contrast, are bred primarily for herding and possess an almost supernatural ability to understand and respond to commands. They are highly energetic and need plenty of exercise. Their intelligence and desire to work can make them suitable for active families and have time to engage in training and play.

Characteristics Airedale Terrier Border Collie
Size Medium to Large Medium
Weight 40-65 lbs 30-45 lbs
Height 21-23 inches 18-22 inches
Coat Dense, Wiry Long and Dense
Life Span 10-13 years 12-15 years
Temperament Confident, Intelligent, Courageous Intelligent, Tenacious, Alert
Exercise Needs High High
Grooming Moderate Moderate

History of Breeds

Airedale Terrier originates from the Aire Valley of Yorkshire, England. This breed was initially used to catch otters and rats in the region in the mid-19th century.

Hunters and farmers were looking for a multipurpose dog capable of scenting, hunting, and retrieving. The Airedale’s ancestry includes the old English rough-coated Black and Tan Terrier and the Otterhound. Over time, it has become not only a competent hunting dog but also an outstanding companion and working dog.

The Border Collie’s history came from the name derived from its origin along the borders of Scotland and England. This breed has a rich heritage as a sheepdog known for its incredible intelligence, agility, and herding capabilities.

The Border Collie is considered one of the most intelligent dog breeds, capable of understanding new commands in only a few repetitions. This breed was developed for stamina, enabling them to work on vast landscapes herding sheep. Over time, the Border Collie’s versatility has expanded to various dog sports and services, including search and rescue.

border collie and airdale terrier portrait

Appearance Difference and Similarities of a Airedale Terrier and a Border Collie

The Airedale Terrier stands proud with a medium to large frame as these dogs boast a muscular body. Their coat is dense and wiry, usually appearing in tan with a black saddle. The Airedale’s eyes are dark and convey intelligence, and their long, flat head is another defining feature.

The Border Collie, on the other hand, exhibits a medium build. Unlike the Airedale’s wiry coat, the Border Collie’s coat is smooth or rough, usually with a combination of black and white or other color variations. Their expressive eyes often have a penetrating gaze, reflecting their deep thinking and problem-solving abilities.

Similarities with Border Collie
While the Airedale Terrier’s appearance may seem drastically different from that of a Border Collie, some similarities exist. Both breeds have dense coats that provide insulation against the elements. Additionally, both breeds carry an air of intelligence and alertness, as seen in their keen eyes and attentive posture.

Differences from Airedale Terrier
Though sharing some similarities with the Airedale Terrier, Border Collies have notable differences. Their body build is leaner and less robust, more tuned for agility and quick movement. The texture of their coat, along with its common color patterns, further distinguishes them from the Airedale.


The Airedale Terrier surpasses the Border Collie in size, with a height ranging from 21 to 23 inches and a weight that falls within 40 to 65 pounds. Meanwhile, the Border Collie measures between 18 to 22 inches in height and weighs around 30 to 45 pounds.

The size difference between these two breeds is not just a matter of physical appearance. Depending on various considerations, it can be a significant factor in choosing between them. Space constraints could play a crucial role in this decision.

Larger breeds like the Airedale Terrier might require more room to move around comfortably, both indoors and outdoors. They may also need more exercise to keep them happy and healthy, which can be a consideration for those living in urban environments with limited open spaces.

Preferences in temperament and care requirements might also influence the choice between these breeds. The Airedale Terrier, being more substantial in size, may be seen as more robust and require a firm hand in training. At the same time, the smaller Border Collie might be considered more manageable and adaptable to different living situations.

The Border Collie’s intense intelligence and need for mental stimulation might suit an owner looking for a more engaged companion. At the same time, the Airedale’s noble demeanor and independent nature might appeal to those seeking a more dignified pet.

Furthermore, the size difference may translate into variations in feeding, grooming, and healthcare needs. The Airedale Terrier might consume more food and require more extensive grooming due to its dense, coarse coat. On the other hand, the Border Collie’s sleeker coat might be easier to maintain but could still require regular attention due to its propensity for shedding.

Coats & Colors

The Airedale Terrier has a coat that is both dense and wiry. The topcoat is hard and straight, lying close to the body, while the undercoat is softer and shorter. This combination gives the Airedale a unique and distinct appearance.

The typical coloration for the Airedale is a mix of tan and black or tan and grizzle. The head and ears are generally tan, with the rest of the body showing a blend of black and tan or a grizzled mix of dark and light hairs.

The Border Collie’s coat can be categorized into two distinct varieties, which are rough and smooth. The rough variety has a longer, dense, and feathered coat, often giving a more glamorous appearance. In contrast, the smooth variety is short, sleek, and lies close to the body.

Border Collies can be found in a wide array of colors and patterns. Some of the most common colors include black, white, blue, red, and merle. The breed may also display various markings and shades, which can create a unique and eye-catching appearance.

Comparing Personality & Temperament

The Airedale Terrier is a confident, intelligent, and energetic breed. They are often independent thinkers and can be quite stubborn at times. While they are loving and loyal to their families, their strong-willed nature requires consistent training and socialization.

Border Collies are one of the most intelligent dog breeds, with an innate desire to work and please their owners. They are sensitive, energetic, and obedient. Unlike Airedale Terriers, they tend to be more focused and less independent. While both breeds require mental and physical stimulation, the Border Collie’s high energy levels demand a more active lifestyle.


Airedale Terriers are known for their loyalty and devotion to their families. They are usually good watchdogs and can be very protective. Their playful nature makes them great companions, but their stubbornness may sometimes be a challenge for inexperienced owners.

In a family setting, Border Collies excel as loving and attentive pets. They bond closely with their families and often become an integral part of the household. While they require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation, their desire to please makes them highly trainable and adaptable to family life.


With their playful and energetic nature, Airedale Terriers usually get along well with children. They enjoy being part of the family’s activities, and their size makes them sturdy playmates for kids. However, their strong-willed nature means they should be properly trained and supervised around younger children.

Border Collies are gentle and affectionate with children. Their intelligence and desire to play make them fantastic companions for kids who are old enough to engage in interactive games. They are typically patient, but their herding instincts may cause them to nip at running children, so supervision is essential.

Other People

Airedale Terriers are generally friendly with people but can be reserved or even aloof with strangers. Early socialization is essential to prevent potential behavioral issues. While they can be good watchdogs, they are not usually aggressive without cause.

Border Collies are often more reserved around strangers but are usually friendly once they become familiar with someone. They tend to be less aloof than Airedale Terriers and often warm up quickly to new people, especially when properly socialized.

Dogs & Other Animals

The Airedale’s strong prey drive and dominant nature may lead to issues with other dogs or smaller animals. While they can get along with other dogs if properly socialized, their interaction with smaller pets should be monitored closely.

Border Collies typically get along well with other dogs, although their herding instincts can sometimes lead to misunderstandings. They usually enjoy playing with other dogs and can coexist with other pets in the home, provided they are appropriately introduced and supervised.

Behaviour Issues

The Airedale Terrier can also be quite stubborn and independent, which may lead to behavioral issues if not handled correctly so having one requires that you have a firm hand and can provide consistent training from a young age.

Their curiosity and hunting instincts can sometimes lead them to become easily distracted and prone to chasing smaller animals. Socialization is key to preventing aggression towards other dogs and territorial behavior. Additionally, they may become bored if not mentally stimulated, leading to destructive behavior such as chewing or digging.

Border Collies are hailed for their intelligence and working ability. They are keen to please their owners but require extensive exercise and mental stimulation. Without proper engagement, a Border Collie may develop undesirable behaviors such as obsessive-compulsive tendencies, including excessive barking, tail-chasing, or shadow-chasing.

This breed’s strong herding instincts can sometimes translate into nipping or herding children and smaller animals if not appropriately managed. Border Collies are known to be more sensitive and can develop anxiety or fear-based issues if not trained with positive reinforcement methods.

Training & Exercise of a Airedale Terrier vs Border Collie

Positive reinforcement methods are crucial, as this breed may resist harsh training techniques. Airedales are energetic dogs, requiring ample daily exercise to keep them happy and healthy. Engaging them in activities like agility training, long walks, and playing fetch can channel their energy constructively.

On the other hand, the Border Collie, famous for its incredible intelligence and herding instincts, is often considered one of the most trainable breeds. Border Collies excel in obedience and agility training, often outpacing other breeds in competitions.

They are keen to learn and work, making them relatively easier to train, provided they are being challenged mentally and physically. The exercise requirements of a Border Collie are demanding, as they’ll need extensive daily exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and undesirable behaviors. Activities like herding, agility courses, and interactive puzzle games can fit this breed well.

Taking Care & Maintenance Difference

The Airedale Terriers are robust, energetic breed that require regular exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. This breed can adapt to various living conditions, but they prefer space to run and play.

A healthy diet tailored to their size, age, and activity level is essential. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian and keeping up with vaccinations and parasite control will ensure a healthy life for an Airedale Terrier.

The Border Collie is renowned for its intelligence and working ability. These dogs require significant mental and physical exercise to prevent boredom and related behavioral issues. While adaptable to different living situations, they thrive in environments where they can have regular activities or tasks.

Their diet must also be appropriately balanced with their high energy levels. Regular veterinary care, including vaccinations, dental care, and parasite control, is crucial to keep them in optimal health.

Grooming a Airedale Terrier vs Border Collie

Airedale Terriers have a dense and wiry coat that requires regular grooming. Brushing at least once a week will help remove loose hairs and prevent matting. Every couple of months, hand stripping or clipping, may be necessary to maintain the coat’s texture and appearance. Regular ear cleaning, nail trimming, and dental care should also be part of the grooming routine for an Airedale Terrier.

Border Collies have a double coat that can be either rough or smooth. Regular brushing, at least once or twice a week, is essential to remove loose hairs and prevent tangles. They usually don’t need trimming, but seasonal shedding might require more frequent brushing. Regular ear cleaning, nail trimming, and dental care are essential components of a comprehensive grooming routine for a Border Collie.


Airedale Terriers typically shed moderately. Their wiry coat doesn’t lose hairs as freely as some other breeds, but they still shed, especially during seasonal changes. Regular brushing and proper grooming can manage shedding and keep the coat healthy.

Border Collies tend to shed more than Airedale Terriers, particularly during shedding seasons in spring and fall. Their double coat loses hairs regularly, and without proper brushing, this can lead to a buildup of loose hairs in the home. Regular grooming will minimize shedding and promote a healthy coat.

Health Comparison

Airedale Terriers are generally healthy but are prone to certain genetic health problems. These may include hip dysplasia, a common condition in many dog breeds, allergies, and a specific clotting disorder known as Von Willebrand’s Disease. Regular check-ups, a balanced diet, and proper exercise can mitigate some of these risks.

Life Span

The Airedale Terrier generally lives for about 10 to 13 years, and while this breed is known for its robustness, there can be some variability in its lifespan. The breed’s life expectancy can be influenced by a variety of factors, including diet, exercise, genetics, and general care.

On the other hand, Border Collies have a lifespan that ranges from 12 to 15 years. Their longevity is often attributed to their high activity levels and overall robust health. However, like any breed, they are susceptible to certain health issues that can affect their lifespan.

Diet & Nutrition

The nutritional needs of both Airedale Terriers and Border Collies are fairly standard in comparison to other dog breeds, but there are some differences to be noted.

Airedale Terriers are typically less active than Border Collies, and therefore their diet must be carefully monitored to prevent obesity. A portion of high-quality dog food with a balanced ratio of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals is essential for their overall health.

Border Collies, being an extremely active and intelligent breed, require more energy and, thus, a more protein-rich diet. They can benefit from a diet that includes more lean meats, whole grains, and vegetables to support their energetic lifestyles.

Health Issues

Airedale Terriers are susceptible to genetic health problems such as hip dysplasia and allergies. These conditions can often be detected early through regular veterinary check-ups. Prevention and management might include a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients and anti-inflammatory ingredients, along with a consistent exercise routine. Understanding these risks and taking preventive measures is vital for maintaining the health and well-being of an Airedale Terrier.

In the case of Border Collies, their general health is commendable, but they are prone to specific health concerns. Eye disorders like Collie’s eye anomaly and hip dysplasia are common in the breed. Additionally, their acute intelligence and intense concentration can lead to certain neurological conditions.

Preventing and managing these health issues requires a multifaceted approach, including regular veterinary screenings, a diet that supports joint and eye health, and a carefully planned exercise regimen that doesn’t overstrain the dog. Awareness and proactive care can play a significant role in ensuring the long-term health and happiness of a Border Collie.

Cost of getting a Airedale Terrier vs Border Collie

The Airedale Terrier can be a more expensive breed. Prices for a puppy from a reputable breeder can range from $950 to $1,800, but in some cases may go even higher. This cost is a reflection of the breed’s rarity and specialized grooming needs. Airedale Terriers also require obedience training, particularly for socialization purposes, which can add to the expense. Furthermore, Airedales may have specific dietary requirements that could lead to higher food costs.

In comparison, the Border Collie is typically a more affordable option, with prices ranging from $600 to $1,250 for a well-bred puppy. This breed is known for its intelligence and herding instincts, and while it may require some specialized training, it’s often less expensive to maintain than the Airedale Terrier. The food expenses for a Border Collie are generally more in line with what one might expect for an average dog.

When assessing the cost, it is also vital to consider potential health issues that may arise during the dog’s lifetime. Both breeds can suffer from genetic health problems, so purchasing from a reputable breeder who conducts health screenings is crucial.


When it comes to litter size, an Airedale Terrier can typically have around 8 to 12 puppies in a single litter. However, the number may vary depending on factors like age, health, and genetics.

Age can influence the litter size, with younger females possibly having a smaller litter, and the size usually increases up until the third or fourth litter. Health is another key factor, and a healthy female is more likely to have an average to larger litter size. Genetics also plays a role, as certain lines of Airedale Terriers may be predisposed to larger or smaller litters.

A Border Collie’s litter typically ranges from 4 to 8 puppies, but like the Airedale, this number can vary based on similar factors.

The age of a Border Collie can affect its litter size, tending to increase with age until it peaks, then may decrease as the female gets older. Health factors such as diet, exercise, and overall well-being can directly affect litter size, and inherited traits may also play a significant role in determining litter size.

Breeders & Centers

Finding an Airedale Terrier may be slightly more challenging due to its rarity. Reputable breeders may have waiting lists and will place a strong emphasis on matching the right family with the right dog. Specialty rescue organizations and breed clubs may be useful resources for finding Airedale Terriers, either through breeder referrals or the adoption of adult dogs.

Border Collies are more prevalent and thus may be more accessible from various breeders and rescue organizations. While it’s always advisable to carefully research breeders and ensure they adhere to ethical practices, finding a Border Collie may be quicker. Many Border Collie-specific rescue organizations provide opportunities to adopt adult dogs, which can be an excellent way to add this intelligent and loyal breed to your family.

Conclusion: Which Is Better, Airedale Terrier or Border Collie?

Determining which breed is better between the Airedale Terrier and Border Collie is subjective and highly dependent on your specific needs, preferences, and lifestyle.

If you are looking for a unique, intelligent dog with a strong presence and are prepared to invest in grooming and socialization, the Airedale Terrier might be the ideal fit. Conversely, the Border Collie may be the better choice if you value intelligence and energy but desire a more budget-friendly option with a strong focus on herding and agility.

Both breeds require active engagement and will thrive in an environment where they are given tasks and mental stimulation. Both also make loyal family companions.

In conclusion, the choice between an Airedale Terrier and a Border Collie must be carefully considered and aligned with your lifestyle and preferences. Consulting with breeders and rescue organizations and potentially spending time with each breed can provide further insights into which may be the best fit for your family.

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