Border Collie vs Australian Shepherd: Differences & Commonalities

Both Border Collies and Australian Shepherds are herding dog. They have a special affinity for working with livestock. These two dogs are known for its intelligence and athletic abilities. Even so, they share some similarities.

These breeds may look like similar lanky Foxhounds. If you’d look closely, they are quite different. This is true especially when you check their history, training needs, and personality type. Both breeds have unique traits that set them apart from other dog breeds.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the similarities and differences between these two popular herding dogs.

side profile of Border Collies

Border Collie and Australian Shepherds: The Beginning

Border Collies and Australian Shepherds are the two most popular dog breeds in Australia. Both are prized for their intelligence, playfulness and athleticism.

Border Collies were bred to herd livestock. Australian Shepherds on the other hand are a mix of Australian native dogs and European herding dogs. Learn more about the history of each in the next paragraphs.

History of Border Collie

They were bred to herd livestock and to help farmers in various ways. The dogs have adapted well to urban environments, and they make great pets.

Border Collies have a long history of helping people. The first recorded Border Collie was born in the US in 1887. But, it is believed that the breed has been around for much longer than that.

Border Collies were used by Native Americans for hunting and herding. Later, settlers brought them to North America along with their cattle. This is with the intention to help them protect the herds from predators.

History of Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd is an intelligent breed that originated in Australia. It was developed by crossing several other breeds, including:

  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Australian Kelpie
  • Australian Silky Terrier

Like most modern breeds, the Australian Shepherd’s origin can be traced back to a few early ancestors.

The first documented examples of the breed appeared in Australia around 1825. These dogs were used by Aboriginal Australians to herd livestock and fight off predators.

In 1836, British soldiers brought the first Australian Shepherds back to England, where they became popular as a farm dog. By 1900, Australian Shepherds were being exported to many other parts of the world. Today, they are one of the most popular breeds in Australia and other countries around the world.

Difference between Border Collie and Australian Shepherd

Compared to Australian Shepherd, Border Collies are smaller and leaner. Even so, they have a muscular body. Both breeds are nearly identical with their height at about 17 to 24 inches. In addition to that, there’s a 7 kilos weight difference between Border Collies and Australian Shepherd.

Appearance of a Border Collie

Border Collie in the yard

A notable feature of every Border Collie is their square, muscular build that’s both athletic and sturdy. Their short, dense coats come in several colors.

They typically have a white chest and a black or brown collar. They have strong, rounded faces with dark eyes and wide muzzles. Apart from that, they tend to be very active dogs who love to run and play.

Appearance of an Australian Shepherds

An Australian Shepherd is a beautiful, medium-sized dog. They got this thick, weather-resistant coat and a sturdy build. Australian Shepherds have distinctive features including erect ears, a short muzzle and a wide chest.

Australian Shepherd on the grass

An Australian Shepherd’s appearance will vary depending on the individual dog. Though, they typically have one of the following:

  • Dark eyes
  • Short muzzle
  • Triangular ears
  • Erect ears
  • Large ”wolf-like” head with prominent cheekbones
  • Males tend to be larger than females

Size Comparison of Border Collie and Australian Shepherds

Border collies and Australian shepherds are two of the most popular breeds in the world. They are both intelligent dogs that have been known to be very protective of their owners.

They also enjoy working with people, so they make great watchdogs. However, there are some important differences between these two breeds. Check the table below:

Border Collie vs Australian Shepherd: Comparison Chart

Let’s check out a few differences between a Border Collie and Australian Shepherd

DifferencesBorder CollieAustralian Shepherd
ColorSolid color of black, tan, or whiteSolid color of red, white, or blue
BehaviorGreat at keeping watch and barking when they see dangerLove cuddling up, but aren’t known for being very active outside of the home
PersonalityHighly social and enjoy playing with other dogsShould be socialized from an early age to avoid aggression towards other dogs or humans
TrainingKnown for their intelligence and high level of trainabilityCan be stubborn and independent which makes training more difficult
Lifespan12 - 15 years15 - 20 years

Keeping Your Border Collie or Australian Shepherd at Great Health

Many Border Collies are healthy dogs and live a long life. Like many other dogs, there are some problems that may be common among them. Some of these health problems include:

  • Skin allergies
  • Eye problems
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Seizures

Luckily, these health problems can be prevented. You can do it by ensuring your Border Collie gets regular checkups and vaccinations. Also, make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and fresh air. If your dog is constantly indoors, it could lead to health issues such as obesity and joint pain.

You can also get suggestions from your vet on better ways to take care of your Border Collie. You can visit dog forums too if you like.

As with Australian Shepherds, they are also a favorite. It’s due to their playful and active nature. However, they’re not exempted from experiencing health problems too. They are actually prone as well to:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Bloating
  • Hair loss
  • Lethargy

In fact, one of the most common dog health problems seen in Australian Shepherd dogs is dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

This is an inherited disease of the heart muscle. It causes increased pressure on the heart walls. If not treated soon enough, this can lead to heart failure and death. With a routine visit to your trusted vet, this should be the least of your worries.

Personalities and Traits: Know more about Your Collies and Shepherds

Border Collies and Australian Shepherds share a number of personality traits. This actually makes them perfect to work together.

Temperament of these Canines

The Border Collie is a smart, energetic, and vigilant breed. They thrive on challenges. Another thing that owners love about them is they’ll work tirelessly to complete their tasks. People who like to be in charge have more reasons to love Border Collies.

They have intelligent and independent nature that makes them a good fit for their lifestyle. Border Collies are also very trainable. This actually makes them excellent candidates for obedience training.

Whereas Australian Shepherd an easygoing breed. They are happiest when engaged in brain stimulation tasks. An Australian Shepherd that has been exposed to lots of different experiences will make a great family dog.

One thing they have in common though, Border Collies and Australian Shepherds can become bored easily. This likely happens if they are left alone for long periods.

This can lead to destructive or anxious behaviors like chewing furniture or digging. But as long as you have toys lying around for them to play, this must not be a problem.

How Smart these Dogs are?

These dogs are highly recognizable breeds. They’re both highly intelligent, independent dogs who’re eager to please their owners. While this statement is true, as their owner, it’s still your responsibility to show commitment and patience when training.

When teaching new stuff, they could be distracted on their environment. It’s your job to ensure that they’ll listen to your commands. Again, they are smart, but they are not robots.

Are they Good as a Guard Dog or as Family Dog?

Border Collies can do more good as a guard dog. They will bark if someone tries to trespass your property. They may also bark at strangers passing by the house. Basically, they will bark at anything that moves near their territory.

Border collies can get along with other dogs. However, it is important to socialize them early on. This way, any aggressive behavior aggressiveness can be neutralize.

Australian Shepherds are very loyal companions. This makes them a good choice as family dog. Particularly if you have children in your household, they’ll probably get along with your dog. They can be protective of their territory. These dogs will not shy of barking if an intruder enters their yard.

Living with these Breeds

playful Border Collie

Border Collies and Australian Shepherds are excellent companions for the family. They are intelligent, energetic and outgoing dogs that love to play. But they can be challenging to live with as they require a lot of attention.

They are high-energy dogs that need exercise and stimulation every day. They love to run and play, but they also need plenty of time to relax and be calm.

If you want a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd as your companion, it’s important to understand their needs so you can provide them with the best possible environment.

Are they Good with Kids?

There are a lot of benefits to having a dog as a family member. Dogs provide companionship and comfort for people of all ages. They can help kids learn many things.

For one, they can teach them how to be responsible, following rules and respecting others. They can also provide security to your kids. Thus, keeping them safe and secure all the time.

Of course, there are things to be remembered when raising dogs with children.

First, puppies and young dogs should always be supervised. This is more important when around young children. Puppies that play roughly or jump up should also be closely monitored.

Second, dogs should never be left alone with kids who are not supervised. This is not an exemption even if you have a well-trained Border Collie or Australian Shepherd. Disregarding this could cause the dog to misbehave or get hurt.

Condo Living with Border Collie and Australian Shepherd

Condo living with Border Collies or Australian Shepherd is possible. However, there are some factors to consider. First, because dog breeds come in different sizes. So, decide whether you’re ready for the responsibility of taking care of a large dog.

smiling Australian Shepherd

Border Collies and Australian Shepherd tend to be more active than other dog breeds. With this said, you need to give them more exercise. In other words, you have to devote time and energy to commit to their health.

This means that you’ll have to make sure your condo is big enough. This gives them sufficient space to move and play around. Last note, provide them with plenty of open areas. This lets them run off its energy.

So unless you have a big space and can commit time and energy to take care of them, it is wiser to look for other breeds.

Which Dog is Best for You: Border Collie or Australian Shepherd?

For a start, Border Collies are very intelligent and have strong working abilities. Border Collies are tough and can get along with most other dogs. However, they may have difficulty dealing with large cats and small children.

Border Collies require regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. Thus, it’s important to make sure your dog gets enough time to play and run around.

Australian Shepherds on the other hand are also intelligent. Their difference with Border Collies though is they tend to be more laid.

They can work well with other dogs too. But they may have trouble getting along with other animals. Australian Shepherds are great pets for those who have smaller homes or apartments.

Both dogs are great companions. Though, if you have a small space, then an Australian Shepherd may just be the perfect fit. On the other hand, if you have other pets at home, a Border Collie would be nice.


Border Collies and Australian Shepherds are excellent companions for the family. They are intelligent, energetic and outgoing dogs that love to play.

Remember, these breeds need lots of attention. So expect a little challenge living with them. They are high-energy dogs that need exercise and stimulation every day. They love to run and play. While this is true, they need plenty of time to relax and be calm too.

Either a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd is a lovable and adorable companion. As a responsible owner, it’s important to understand their needs. It’s the only way that you can provide them with proper care.

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