Border collie vs Cocker Spaniel

Are you trying to choose between a Border Collie or Cocker Spaniel? These breeds may share some similarities but also have many differences. By reading further, discover which of these famous dogs fits your lifestyle best.

Characteristics of Border Collie vs Cocker Spaniel

When considering a new puppy, it’s essential to ensure that the breed you’re considering is a good match for your home and lifestyle. Although the Border Collie and Cocker Spaniel is part of the Herding Group and Sporting Group respectively, they still have some common traits in addition to their differences.

Border Collie vs. Cocker Spaniel
Border CollieCocker Spaniel
Breed Type:PurebredPurebred
Lifespan:12 to 15 years12 to 15 years
Height:Around 18 to 22 inchesAround 14 to 15 inches
Weight:Around 27 to 45 poundsAround 24 to 28 pounds

History of Cocker Spaniel vs Border Collie

The Border Collie is a highly intelligent and energetic dog breed that was originally bred for sheep herding in Northumberland, England and Scotland. It has a unique ability to control livestock through its “eye.” Its exact origins are uncertain but it is believed to have roots in Roman and Viking dogs.

The Cocker Spaniel is a breed that originated in Spain in the 14th century and was used for hunting woodcock. It was recognized as a breed in England in 1892 and became popular as a pet and show dog. It was brought to North America by the Pilgrims and in 1946, the American Kennel Club recognized it as two separate breeds – the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel.

Appearance of Border Collie and Cocker Spaniel

With a Cocker Spaniel, they have a round head, broad snout, long silky coat with feathering, and a sloping back. Its ears are long and feathered, giving it a regal appearance while its tail is typically docked.

On the other hand, Border Collie has a feathered tail that reaches its hocks, a slightly longer body than its height, and upright ears with drooping tips. It can have either a rough or sleek coat.

Size of Cocker Spaniel and Border Collie

The Cocker Spaniel and Border Collie are two distinct breeds that differ in size. Males stand about 15 inches tall and weigh around 28 pounds, while females stand about 14 inches tall and weigh around 25 pounds. On the other hand, Border Collies are of medium size. Males can reach a height of 22 inches and weigh up to 45 pounds, while females can stand up to 21 inches tall and weigh up to 42 pounds.

Coats & Colors

Cocker Spaniels has various coat colors and patterns, including solid colors and intricate multi-colored designs. Colors can be anywhere from:

  • Black
  • Golden
  • Merle
  • Blue Roan
  • Orange Roan
  • Black and White
  • Liver
  • Parti
  • Red
  • Buff
  • Black And Tan

However, research has indicated that specific coat colors are more frequently associated with aggressive or dominant behaviors.

Believe it or not, there are over 20 coat colors that Border Collie breeds have. While their color combination and patterns sound complex, they are actually divided into 3 categories which are:

  1. The white group
  2. The tricolour group
  3. The merle group

The White Group

playful Border Collie with classic black and white color

Dogs that belong to this category feature a predominant solid color with white markings on their face and legs. A prime example of such a breed is the iconic black and white collie that is widely recognized.

What Is Tricolor?

It is worth noting that tricolor has a specific pattern. This pattern is characterized by distinctive tan markings. These markings can be seen in any of the following locations:

  • Legs
  • On the cheeks
  • Shoulders
  • Above the eyes

Markings also follow a symmetrical design. For instance, if a tan patch appears on the top of the left leg, it will have a matching tan patch of the same length and shape on the right leg.

The Merle Group

A dog with a merle coat is sure to turn heads and attract attention from passersby while out on walks with its owner. The unique and rare appearance of this coat is not only visually stunning, but also captivating.

Unlike a solid saddle, the body of a merle dog is covered in white with lines and splotches, resulting in soft, muted colors. For example, black dogs appear to have a blue or grey hue, and a red Collie takes on a pale shade.

Personality & Temperament of Border Collie & Cocker Spaniel

gold and black Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels are affectionate, intelligent and joyful dogs with a strong bond to their owners. Despite their hunting instinct, they thrive as companion animals and love spending time with their human family. They are adaptable and enjoy a variety of activities, from cuddling to playing in the yard with children. Although they may initially be shy, they quickly make new friends.

Border Collies are highly energetic and were originally bred as working dogs, making them best suited for rural living. They need both physical activity and company, and can become destructive if left without stimulation. With their quick intelligence and strong herding instincts, they respond well to positive reinforcement and make excellent watchdogs, being protective of their family and surroundings.

Family and Cocker Spaniel vs Border Collie

The Border Collie and the Cocker Spaniel are excellent choices for families seeking a friendly companion dog. Border Collies generally have better temperament around children, however, they may still require proper training and socialization.

On the other hand, the Cocker Spaniel is known for being a good family and companion dog with the appropriate training and socialization.


The Cocker Spaniel is known for having a great personality that is they are gentle and able to tolerate children well. They make great family pets and tend to form close bonds with adults and children. However, adults must educate their children on how to interact with dogs respectfully and gently, as is the case with all dog breeds.

Border Collies can be great friends for kids and adults, but this requires proper socialization and obedience training. The biggest issue regarding young children and Border Collies is that they might display herding behavior towards them.

Other People

The Cocker Spaniel may initially be shy around new people, but they become welcoming after a proper introduction. They may bark if they see a stranger, but this is only to alert their owner, and they are not usually aggressive. Once they get to know the person, they can form a friendly relationship with them.

Border Collies are ideal family pets due to their friendliness towards strangers. Their high level of intelligence makes training relatively simple, so long as it is done correctly. It’s important to remember that they may become overly excited and overstimulated in the presence of strangers, so it’s recommended to adopt a “hands-off” approach when meeting new Border Collies without permission from their owner.

Dogs and Other Animals

Both Cocker Spaniels and Border Collies can be social with other pets if exposed from a young age. Cocker Spaniels are naturally friendly and can get along well with other dogs and small animals such as cats with proper supervision.

Border Collies, although preferring human companionship, may be friendly with other dogs if they have had positive experiences with them during puppyhood. If a Border Collie has grown up with other pets in the household, they can get along with them, but supervision is still necessary as their herding instincts may cause them to attempt to herd other pets. It is important to introduce both breeds to other pets under controlled circumstances.

Behavior Issues

Cocker Spaniels may exhibit excitable or submissive urination when overly excited or intimidated, especially in young adults and adolescents. This is not a housebreaking problem, but rather a behavior that may subside with age if not punished.

On the other hand, Border Collies are energetic working dogs and may develop destructive and obsessive behaviors if not given adequate physical and mental stimulation. Their herding instincts can also result in constant direction and nipping, particularly at children, which can be frightening.

Training & Exercise of Cocker Spaniel & Border Collie

Cocker Spaniels are skilled at retrieving and are intelligent making them fast-learners. Consistent, positive, reward-based training is essential for them to develop good habits. It may be beneficial for first-time owners or those with limited breed experience to attend training classes with their dogs.

At the same time, Border Collies are smart dogs, and with experienced owners, they are easy to train.

Taking Care & Maintenance of Border Collie versus Cocker Spaniel

Border Collie loving affection from owner

Cocker Spaniels love affection and are well-suited for individuals who enjoy giving love to their pets. This breed is adaptable to different living environments as long as they receive daily walks or playtime in a secured outdoor area. It’s important to remember that Cocker Spaniels are primarily a physically active sporting breed.

Border Collies require plenty of physical activity to expend their energy. They love running and are happiest when they have something to do, such as herding livestock or playing fetch. It’s essential to socialize them from a young age to avoid shyness around strangers and to provide obedience training to prevent unwanted behaviors.

Grooming of Cocker Spaniel versus Border Collie

Cocker Spaniels require extensive grooming, daily brushing, and regular bathing, particularly after swimming. To make grooming a part of their routine, starting when they are young is best. Also, proper dental care through regular tooth brushing, nail trimming, and ear checks is necessary, as their floppy ears can make them prone to infections. Consult with your veterinarian for advice on suitable bath products.

Border collies are heavy shedders and the amount of shedding increases during the summer season. To keep their coat healthy and prevent tangling, they must be brushed regularly, at least twice a week. Despite being heavy shedders, they are not considered hypoallergenic and can be safely kept as pets by people with allergies.


Cocker Spaniels shed moderately throughout the year but clear more heavily twice a year in preparation for the changing seasons. In spring, they shed their coat to prepare for the summer, and in the fall, they shed their summer coat for a thicker and denser winter coat. Double-coated dogs shed more hair than single-coated dogs, so it’s essential to maintain proper grooming, especially during shedding seasons.

Border Collies are known to shed the most in spring and autumn, which is their way of renewing their coat and staying cool. During these shedding seasons, brushing and grooming your Border Collie regularly is essential to prevent matting of their hair, which can be a full-time job during these periods.

Health of Border Collie vs Cocker Spaniel

It’s important to be aware of their potential health issues, and make sure that the parents of puppies have undergone the necessary health screenings to minimize the risk of inherited diseases. By selecting a puppy from a reputable breeder and taking care of their health and well-being, you can ensure that you have a happy and healthy companion for many years to come.

Life Span of Cocker Spaniel vs Border Collie

Border Collies have an expected lifespan of around 12 to 15 years, and Cocker Spaniels typically live for 10 to 14 years, making them long-term companions for their owners.

Diet & Nutrition of Border Collie and Cocker Spaniel

what to feed a Cocker Spaniel

The Cocker Spaniel breed requires careful attention when it comes to feeding. It’s essential to ensure that puppies and adults receive the right amount of food. Feed the puppies twice a day until they are four months old, then reduce them to one meal a day in the evening. Offer 1 to 1.5 cups of food. For Cocker Spaniels that participate in sports, it’s recommended to provide them with joint-health supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, as well as omega-3 supplements to maintain healthy skin and coat.

Border Collies should be fed a balanced diet consisting of raw meat, vegetables, bones, and other natural food sources. Feeding a raw food diet may help avoid food allergies, as it gives you control over the ingredients you consume. It is vital to avoid grains, as they can be difficult for Border Collies to digest and can trigger allergies. If needed, you can consider adding supplements such as fish oil and kelp to their diet.

Health Issues of Cocker Spaniel and Border Collie

The Cocker Spaniel breed is prone to specific health issues, such as hip dysplasia, a condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit together correctly and can cause arthritis. Before breeding, it’s recommended to have the dogs screened through x-rays via the BVA/Kennel Club Hip Dysplasia Scheme. Other health issues include:

  • Atopy (allergies causing skin itching and ear infections)
  • Ear problems
  • Eye problems (with inherited conditions that can be tested through BVA/KC)
  • Some autoimmune diseases

With Border Collies, they can be prone to the following health issues:

  • Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS)
  • Multi-Drug Resistance (MDR-1)
  • Ceroid lipofuscinosis (CL)
  • Sensory Neuropathy (SN)
  • Collie eye anomaly
  • Gonio dysgenesis
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Epilepsy

Cost of Border Collie & Cocker Spaniel

During the first year of ownership, owning a puppy will incur the highest expense. The necessary expenses for a puppy’s first year typically cost anywhere from $150 to $650. Essential purchases for a new puppy may consist of a crate, food and water bowls, a microchip, a leash and collar, puppy food, pee pads, toys, a bed, and visits to the veterinarian.


A Border Collie purebred registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) can range from $750 to $2,200, with females typically costing 10% to 20% more than males. On the other hand, adopting an older Border Collie from a shelter could cost less than $200.

A Cocker Spaniel purebred puppy registered with the AKC is estimated to cost anywhere between $800 and $3000, which is slightly more expensive than those from classified ads or rescues but reflects the level of care that went into breeding the puppy.

Breeders and Centers

A trustworthy breeder will always provide current vaccinations, health records, a veterinary examination from a licensed vet, a health warranty, and a travel crate if it needs to be shipped. Dogs registered with the AKC will have the necessary registration papers, OFA certification, and DNA test results. It’s essential to communicate with the breeder to understand what you are receiving upon adoption.

Border Collie Cocker Spaniel Mix

The Border Collie Cocker Spaniel mix is a combo of both making it very smart and energetic that requires both physical and mental stimulation. This crossbreed needs ample space for physical activity and regular interaction with its owners and families. Despite being a relatively recent addition to the world of dog breeding, there is a wealth of information available about the histories and backgrounds of its parent breeds, the Border Collie and English Cocker Spaniel.

Conclusion: Which Is Better For Me, Cocker Spaniel or Border Collie?

Both breeds make great pets and are friendly toward children. If this is your first-time being a dog owner, then the Cocker Spaniel would be the path to choose. Getting a Border Collie may present some challenges. Though, a Border Collie has low maintenance requirements, which is the complete opposite of a Cocker Spaniel.

Ultimately, the choice between these two breeds will come from personal preferences, such as living space, energy levels, and training needs. It is essential to consider all factors carefully before deciding and choosing a breed that best matches your lifestyle and needs.

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