Border Collie vs English Springer Spaniel Complete Breed Comparison

The Border Collie originates from the border region between England and Scotland and is famed for its herding capabilities. This breed is characterized by its intense gaze, which it uses to control livestock. On the other hand, the English Springer Spaniel, originally from England, is a versatile gundog known for its proficiency in flushing out games due to its keen sense of smell and rapid movement.

Characteristics of Comparison between English Springer Spaniel and Border Collie

Both breeds have established themselves as hardworking, loyal, and intelligent companions. Yet, despite their similarities, each has distinct characteristics that set them apart.

The English Springer Spaniel and the Border Collie are known for their unwavering loyalty to their owners. They forge deep bonds with their human companions and display incredible affection, making them excellent family pets.

It’s no surprise that both of these breeds are recognized for their high intelligence. This cognitive acuity allows them to excel in tasks like herding livestock or fetching games. Their smarts also mean they quickly pick up on training cues, often outperforming other breeds in obedience trials.

If there’s one thing both breeds have in abundance, it’s energy. The English Springer Spaniel, with its sporting dog lineage, and the Border Collie, with its herding instincts, require ample physical activity. They thrive in active households and love games, hikes, and any activity that will help burn off their energy.

While both breeds have working roots, their primary purposes differ. The English Springer Spaniel was initially bred for flushing and retrieving game, particularly birds. This is evident in its keen sense of smell and agile build.

The Border Collie was developed for herding livestock, mainly sheep, on the hilly borders between Scotland and England. Their intense gaze, often termed the “herding eye,” is a testament to their focused drive.

The Border Collie’s intense drive to work and extreme focus can sometimes challenge first-time dog owners. They need structured training and a job to do. Without proper stimulation, they might develop behavioral issues. English Springer Spaniels are generally more amiable as sporting dogs and can be easier for novices to train, though they also require consistent training.

History of Breeds

The illustrious journey of the English Springer Spaniel traces its roots back to the artistic and vibrant era of the European Renaissance. Renowned for their unparalleled hunting prowess, these dogs quickly became a staple among the hunting elite of England. While their early history lumps them together with other spaniel breeds, their distinct ability to “spring” game for hunters set them apart, granting them their distinctive moniker.

Historical records suggest their lineage may be traced back to the Norfolk or Shropshire Spaniels of the 14th century. Their combination of a keen olfactory sense and athletic physique rendered them invaluable to hunters in varying terrains.

As hunting techniques transformed over time, so did the Springer Spaniel, metamorphosing from just a field companion to a beloved member of households. Their jovial nature, sharp wit, and versatile adaptability resonate with many, making them a treasured choice among dog lovers.

The Border Collie, renowned for its intelligence, agility, and herding prowess, traces its origins to the hilly border region between Scotland and England. The breed evolved over centuries from various herding dogs honed by farmers who required dogs with the stamina, drive, and intelligence to manage large flocks of sheep in challenging terrains.

One significant event that spotlighted the breed’s capabilities was the sheepdog trials in the late 19th century, where these dogs demonstrated their exceptional herding skills. These trials highlighted the breed to the broader public and set the groundwork for the Border Collie’s standardization.

Today, while they are still celebrated for their herding talents, Border Collies are also popular as pets, show dogs, and participants in a wide range of dog sports, showcasing their versatility and brilliance.

border collie dog lying down on the grass

Appearance Difference and Similarities of a Border Collie versus English Springer Spaniel

At first glance, the Border Collie and the English Springer Spaniel may appear quite distinct. The former is known for its sleek, athletic build and intense gaze, while the latter boasts a more robust and compact frame. The Border Collie’s face is often characterized by its sharp features, almond-shaped eyes, and expressive ears that can either be erect or semi-erect.

The English Springer Spaniel has a more rounded face with a kind, gentle expression, and its ears are set lower, framing the face beautifully with a slight wave. However, despite these differences, there are also similarities. Both breeds have a balanced body, suggesting agility and endurance. Their postures are confident, reflecting their history as working dogs.


In terms of size, the Border Collie generally stands between 18 to 22 inches at the shoulder for males and 18 to 21 inches for females. Their weight can range from 30 to 45 pounds, depending on the individual and their activity levels.

English Springer Spaniels, meanwhile, are a bit more stout. Males typically stand between 19 to 21 inches, and females range from 18 to 20 inches. Their weight can vary from 40 to 50 pounds.

Coats & Colors

The coat is one of the most distinguishable features between the two breeds. Border Collies are known for their double coats, which can be smooth or rough.

The rough variant is medium length with feathering on the legs and chest, while the smooth is shorter and coarser. They come in various colors, but the black-and-white combination is the most recognized. However, they can also be seen in blue merle, red and white, and several other shades.

English Springer Spaniels have a medium-length coat that’s both dense and water-resistant. They typically have feathers on their legs, ears, chest, and belly. Their color combinations are quite distinct: liver and white or black and white, often with ticking or roan patterns. Some may even have tan markings.

Comparing Personality & Temperament

The English Springer Spaniel often captures hearts with its amiable and outgoing nature. It’s not just their striking appearance that charms families but their inherent zest for life and infectious enthusiasm.

These dogs are remarkably good-natured, always displaying an eagerness to please those around them. Their intelligence and generally upbeat and merry disposition often make them a favorite in various households.

On the other spectrum, the Border Collie showcases its distinct heritage as a herding dog. Known for their unparalleled intelligence in the canine kingdom, these dogs are a powerhouse of energy and focus.

Their keen senses and alertness are complemented by their persistent work ethic. This determination means they are always up for a challenge, be it learning new tricks, engaging in games, or helping out with tasks.


For families seeking a well-rounded, adaptable pet, the English Springer Spaniel is a formidable contender. Their loyalty runs deep, forming close-knit bonds with all family members.

They are also versatile in adapting to different living scenarios, be it cozy city apartments or expansive rural homes with yards. Their inherent need for human connection makes them keen to be involved in family activities.

In contrast, while exceedingly loving and attached to its family, the Border Collie comes with an inherent need to be engaged. Their boundless energy and sharp minds require consistent stimulation.

Without proper outlets for their energy or challenges for their brains, they can become restless. Thus, they are ideally suited for active families or those who have prior experience with high-energy breeds.


When it comes to children, the English Springer Spaniel is almost synonymous with patience and tolerance. Their gentle demeanor and affectionate nature mean they often form close bonds with the younger family members. They revel in play sessions and are often protective, watching over the kids with a keen eye.

Border Collies can be equally loving with children. Their playful nature can make them great playmates. However, due to their inherent herding instincts, they may sometimes attempt to ‘herd’ younger children by nipping at their heels.

While this behavior isn’t aggressive, it necessitates supervision and education for both the dog and the child. Ensuring children understand the dog’s cues and teaching the dog boundaries is crucial.

Other People

English Springer Spaniels often wear their hearts on their furry sleeves. Their warmth extends not just to the family but also to strangers. Their natural inclination to be friendly makes them great companions during social events or gatherings. Their tail-wagging enthusiasm often breaks the ice with even the most reserved guests.

Conversely, Border Collies, while loyal to their families, can sometimes be wary of unfamiliar faces. Their alert nature might make them more reserved initially. However, this doesn’t denote aggression. With proper early socialization and consistent training, they can be taught to approach unfamiliar situations and people with caution and curiosity rather than apprehension.

Dogs & Other Animals

In multi-pet households, the English Springer Spaniel’s amiable nature shines through. Early socialization generally results in them being great companions to other dogs, cats, and even smaller pets. Their calm and gentle temperament means they integrate well into households with diverse animal members.

Border Collies, deeply rooted in their herding lineage, might sometimes exhibit a stronger prey drive. While cohabitation with other dogs can be harmonious, smaller pets might sometimes ignite their chase or herd instinct. Proper introductions, monitoring, and training are pivotal in ensuring peaceful coexistence with other animals.

Behaviour Issues

The English Springer Spaniel is a lively and affectionate breed, bred originally for hunting and retrieving. This background means they have a natural inclination for chasing, which can sometimes manifest as pursuing moving objects or animals. Without adequate training and socialization, some English Springer Spaniels might develop a tendency towards possessiveness or resource guarding.

Moreover, this breed thrives on human interaction and can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods. Ensuring they have enough physical and mental stimulation is essential. Neglecting this can lead to destructive behaviors or excessive barking.

On the other hand, the Border Collie is renowned for its herding instincts. This breed is incredibly intelligent and requires constant mental engagement and physical activity. Without these, a Border Collie can develop obsessive behaviors, such as chasing its tail or shadows.

Their herding instinct might also lead them to try and herd children or other pets, which can sometimes be perceived as nipping or aggressive behavior. Like the Springer Spaniel, they crave human companionship and can become distressed if isolated.

Additionally, their intelligence can sometimes be a double-edged sword: if not given proper guidance, they might find mischievous ways to entertain themselves, leading to unwanted behaviors.

Both breeds, with their intelligence and energy, require consistent training from a young age. They thrive in environments where they are given tasks or roles to fulfill.

Engaging in activities like agility training, fetch, or obedience classes can be beneficial for both the dog and the owner. Moreover, early socialization with various people, animals, and environments can mitigate many of the behavioral challenges mentioned.

Training & Exercise of a Border Collie versus English Springer Spaniel

When deciding between a Border Collie and an English Springer Spaniel, understanding their exercise and training needs is paramount. Both breeds have their distinct requirements, shaped by their historical roles and unique temperaments.

The Border Collie often crowned the most intelligent of canine breeds, is a sheer manifestation of agility and alertness. Their training needs arise primarily from their herding lineage. This translates to a high-energy dog that not only demands physical activity but also mental engagement.

Their keen intelligence means they can quickly grasp complex commands, tricks, and tasks. Activities that challenge both body and mind, such as puzzle toys, obedience training, and agility courses, are paramount for a Border Collie.

A simple game of fetch might not suffice. They often enjoy tasks that engage their intelligence, like herding exercises or advanced training routines. Without the proper outlets for their energy and intellect, they can succumb to boredom, leading them to adopt undesirable behaviors, such as excessive barking, digging, or chewing.

Conversely, the English Springer Spaniel has a legacy in the hunting world, known particularly for their prowess in flushing out game. This means they have a strong prey drive and a love for retrieval games. Their energy is infectious, and their enthusiasm is evident in their training sessions.

Their desire to please their owners means they often respond well to training, especially when paired with positive reinforcement techniques like treats or praise. While they love active play, their exercise requirements are somewhat more tempered compared to the relentless energy of the Border Collie.

Long walks, interactive play sessions, and ample time to run and explore define their ideal exercise routine. If you have a backyard, they’ll love it, but frequent trips to dog-friendly parks or open spaces will also keep them content and healthy.

Taking Care & Maintenance Difference

Border Collies are dynamic and active, often requiring more calories to sustain their energy. Thus, a nutrient-rich, well-balanced diet is crucial.

Their active nature also means they might be more prone to certain injuries, especially related to their joints and bones. Regular vet check-ups, timely vaccinations, and consistent preventive measures against common parasites are essential for their well-being.

English Springer Spaniels, with their floppy ears and hunting lineage, have their own set of care requirements. Their ear design can trap moisture and dirt, making them susceptible to ear infections.

It’s essential to maintain a regular ear cleaning routine to keep infections at bay. Diet-wise, they benefit from a balanced diet, albeit with slightly lower calorie content than what a Border Collie would require.

Grooming a Border Collie versus English Springer Spaniel

Border Collie’s double coat can become a magnet for dirt, twigs, and debris. Regular brushing, around two to three times a week, is necessary to prevent matting and ensure the natural oils in their skin are evenly distributed. Occasional baths, depending on their activity level, along with frequent nail trims, can keep them looking their best.

The English Springer Spaniel, on the other hand, boasts a medium-length coat that can range from straight to slightly wavy. Regular brushing is non-negotiable to prevent matting and tangling.

Their ears, being their Achilles heel of sorts, need frequent checks and cleaning to avoid infections. Given their adventurous nature, they might also require baths more often than Border Collies.


English Springer Spaniels are moderate shedders. However, during their shedding seasons in spring and fall, they can shed quite profusely. A grooming routine, especially during these peak shedding times, can greatly mitigate the shedding impact.

Border Collies, with their dense double coat, also fall into the moderate shedding category. However, they can surprise you with an intense shedding spree, particularly during the transition seasons. Regular grooming, especially during these times, can help manage and reduce hair fall, making cohabitation more pleasant for everyone involved.

Health Comparison

The English Springer Spaniel and the Border Collie are generally healthy breeds that enjoy a full life when given the proper care and attention. Their vibrant spirits and boundless energy levels stand as a testament to their overall well-being. However, like all breeds, they are not without their vulnerabilities, with some health concerns overlapping between the two.

The English Springer Spaniel, known for its playful disposition and affectionate nature, is robust and resilient. Their strong build and adaptable nature make them less prone to many hereditary conditions. Similarly, the Border Collie breed’s natural athleticism contributes to its overall health, ensuring that with the right amount of exercise and mental stimulation, these dogs remain at their peak.

However, it’s worth noting that both breeds share some common health concerns. Hip dysplasia, a condition where the hip joint doesn’t develop correctly, can occasionally be seen in both English Springer Spaniels and Border Collies. This malformation can lead to arthritis over time, but with early detection and intervention, its progression can be managed.

Another shared concern is certain eye disorders. While not rampant in either breed, conditions like progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts can sometimes appear. Regular eye checks are beneficial in ensuring these issues are spotted early and treated promptly.

Life Span

A dog’s lifespan often weighs heavily on the minds of potential owners. The longevity of a breed can be indicative of its overall health, genetic stability, and potential healthcare needs. Both the English Springer Spaniel and the Border Collie demonstrate commendable life spans, contingent on their care quality and lifestyle.

English Springer Spaniels, with their ebullient spirit, often display a lifespan ranging between 12 to 14 years. This duration isn’t merely a statistical observation; it is a testament to the breed’s inherent vitality. Their zest for life, coupled with regular exercise and cognitive activities, often positions them for a robust old age.

Conversely, Border Collies often show a life expectancy oscillating between 10 to 15 years. The broad range is attributed to the diverse environments and workloads they might encounter.

Their well-being is deeply intertwined with both physical activities and cognitive challenges. Their mental prowess demands constant stimulation, making their engagement a pivotal aspect of their overall health.

Diet & Nutrition

Nutrition undeniably forms the cornerstone of a dog’s health. With each breed having its unique requirements, understanding their dietary needs is crucial.

English Springer Spaniels, though medium in size, have a dietary composition leaning towards proteins. This is vital for muscle maintenance, agility, and overall health.

Carbohydrates serve as their primary energy source, and the inclusion of beneficial fats ensures a radiant coat and healthy skin. However, a Springer Spaniel’s genetic predisposition to weight gain necessitates vigilant monitoring of their caloric intake, emphasizing quality over quantity.

In contrast, the spry Border Collies demand a diet replete with high-quality proteins and fats. Their ceaseless energy and agility, characteristic of their herding lineage, require a nutrient-dense diet to fuel their day-to-day activities.

While they can efficiently metabolize their food, guarding against overfeeding is paramount. Regular exercise complements their dietary regimen, ensuring they maintain an ideal weight.

Health Issues

english springer spaniel dog lying down on the grass

No breed is exempt from potential health challenges. Recognizing and preempting these concerns can make all the difference in a dog’s life. English Springer Spaniels can occasionally grapple with specific health issues.

Hip dysplasia, a concern in many medium to large breeds, is occasionally observed in them. Additionally, their beautiful, droopy ears, though endearing, can be a hotspot for infections.

The breed’s eyes, too, can be prone to progressive retinal atrophy. Proactive healthcare, regular screenings, and sustained hygiene can effectively counteract these concerns.

Border Collies are susceptible to a slightly different set of health challenges. Their high activity ante, combined with certain genetic markers, can make them vulnerable to hip dysplasia.

The breed-specific collie eye anomaly and epilepsy are also conditions potential owners should be acquainted with. Regular veterinary oversight, combined with potential genetic testing, especially for breeding purposes, can ensure the breed’s continued well-being.

English Springer Spaniel (ESS):

  • Ear Infections:
  • Due to their floppy ears, ESSs are more prone to ear infections. Regular cleaning and checks can prevent complications.

  • Eye Disorders:
  • Conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and cataracts can occasionally occur in this breed.

  • Hip Dysplasia:
  • Though not as prevalent as in some breeds, hip dysplasia can still be a concern. It’s essential to ensure they come from breeders who test for this genetic condition.
    Skin Conditions: They can sometimes develop skin issues, such as allergies or sebaceous cysts.

Border Collie:

  • Hip Dysplasia:
  • Like the ESS, Border Collies can also be prone to hip dysplasia. Genetic testing and selective breeding have reduced its occurrence.

  • Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA):
  • A genetic condition that can result in blindness, it’s essential to test puppies early on.

  • Epilepsy:
  • Border Collies have a higher incidence of epilepsy compared to some other breeds.

  • Hearing Issues:
  • Deafness, often linked to the merle gene, can occasionally be seen in Border Collies.

Cost of getting a Border Collie versus English Springer Spaniel

Between the popular breeds of Border Collies and English Springer Spaniels, there are a few distinctions in terms of initial and ongoing expenses that prospective pet owners should be aware of.

  • Initial Purchase Price:
  • Border Collies typically range from $600 to $1,500 when purchased from reputable breeders, while English Springer Spaniels usually cost between $800 to $2,000 from a recognized breeder. While it’s possible to find these breeds for a lesser price, it’s crucial to ensure that the breeder follows ethical practices to ensure the health and well-being of the puppies.

  • Maintenance Costs:
  • Both breeds have distinct needs that can influence ongoing expenses. Border Collies, with their high energy levels, may require more training, toys, and exercise equipment than the average dog, which can add to their overall maintenance cost. English Springer Spaniels, on the other hand, have a dense coat that demands regular grooming, leading to potential grooming expenses that can accumulate over time.

  • Healthcare:
  • Generally speaking, both breeds are relatively healthy. However, each has its predispositions to certain health issues. Border Collies can be prone to hip dysplasia and certain eye conditions, while English Springer Spaniels may sometimes face issues like ear infections due to their floppy ears. Regular check-ups, preventive care, and potential treatments for these conditions should be factored into the lifetime cost of the pet.


When considering the reproductive potential of different dog breeds, many factors come into play, such as the health of the individual dog, genetics, care during pregnancy, and the environment. Among the most prolific breeds in terms of reproduction are the Border Collie and the English Springer Spaniel. Both these breeds, like many medium-sized dogs, can produce a substantial number of puppies in their litter, but there are some differences between the two.

Border Collies, known for their sharp intelligence and herding instincts, tend to have litters ranging from 4 to 8 puppies, with 6 being an average number for a healthy dog. Proper care, a balanced diet, and a safe environment during pregnancy can influence the litter size positively, sometimes resulting in larger litter.

On the other hand, English Springer Spaniels, renowned for their agility and hunting prowess, usually have litters ranging from 5 to 9 puppies, with 7 being a typical number. This breed can occasionally produce even larger litters, especially when bred under optimal conditions.

While the range of litter sizes for both breeds overlap, the English Springer Spaniel has a slight edge in terms of the average and potential maximum number of puppies per litter. However, it’s essential to note that litter size is just one factor among many when considering breeding. The health and well-being of the mother and her puppies should always be the top priority.

Larger litters might be impressive, but they can also be taxing for the mother and require additional care and attention. Whether you’re a breeder or simply a dog lover curious about these breeds, it’s vital to prioritize the health and welfare of these canine companions above all else.

Breeders & Centers

The world of canine companionship is vast, and it is crucial for potential dog owners to have access to reliable, ethical sources when bringing a new pet into their home. Professional breeders and dog centers play pivotal roles in this ecosystem. Here’s why their presence is indispensable:

  • Ensuring Healthy Breeding Practices:
  • Ethical breeders prioritize the health and well-being of their dogs. They carry out genetic testing and health screenings to reduce the risk of inherited diseases and conditions. This ensures that puppies are born healthy and have a lower risk of health complications as they grow.

  • Maintaining Breed Standards:
  • For those interested in specific breeds, professional breeders are essential for maintaining breed standards. They ensure that the physical and behavioral traits of a breed are preserved, providing potential owners with an accurate idea of what to expect in their new pet.

  • Early Socialization and Training:
  • Quality breeders and centers often begin the process of socializing puppies from a very young age. This early interaction with humans and other animals can make a significant difference in a dog’s behavior and temperament in the long run.

  • Education for Potential Owners:
  • Responsible breeders and dog centers are invaluable resources for first-time dog owners. They can provide guidance on the breed’s characteristics, grooming needs, training tips, and potential health issues.

  • Combating Overpopulation:
  • While adopting from shelters is vital and commendable, reputable breeders can help combat pet overpopulation by ensuring that their breeding practices are controlled and responsible. They often have spaying and neutering agreements, ensuring that unplanned litters are minimized.

  • Post-Adoption Support:
  • Many breeders and centers provide continued support after the adoption process. They are a touchpoint for advice on training, health issues, and general care, ensuring the dog and its new family have a smooth transition.

  • Contribution to Canine Research:
  • Many professional breeders collaborate with researchers and veterinarians. Their expertise and detailed record-keeping contribute to studies related to canine health, behavior, and genetics.

  • Promotion of Responsible Pet Ownership:
  • By setting standards and expectations for potential dog owners, breeders and centers play a pivotal role in promoting responsible pet ownership. This not only benefits the dogs but also the wider community.

Conclusion: Which Is Better, Border Collie or English Springer Spaniel

Determining the superiority between the Border Collie and the English Springer Spaniel isn’t a straightforward verdict. It’s a decision intertwined with the unique desires and requirements of potential dog owners. Border Collies, often hailed as one of the smartest breeds, showcase remarkable intelligence, agility, and an unparalleled work ethic.

These attributes make them not just incredible herding dogs but also champions in various canine sports. However, their sharp minds demand regular mental engagement, and their active nature necessitates consistent physical activity to keep them satisfied.

Conversely, the English Springer Spaniel stands out with its unwavering loyalty, amicable disposition, and versatility. Their vibrant spirit ensures they’re always up for activity. Yet, they display a level of adaptability that might suit a broader range of homes and living conditions compared to the more intense Border Collie.

While it might be tempting to categorize one breed as superior, the reality is that both have distinct strengths and potential challenges. The crux of the matter lies not in a universal answer but in aligning a breed’s characteristics with an owner’s lifestyle, expectations, and the commitment they’re willing to invest in training and daily activities.

The Border Collie and the English Springer Spaniel each possess distinct charms and talents; when paired with a compatible owner, this union can blossom into a profoundly fulfilling and harmonious companionship.

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