Choosing between Border Collie versus Hovawart – Which dog is for you?

A remarkable canine legacy was born in the rolling hills and mountains of the border regions of England, Scotland, and Wales. The Border Collie, a breed synonymous with intelligence, speed, and versatility, emerged as the ultimate shepherd’s companion, herding sheep with a stealthy gait and unwavering herding instinct. Today, they dazzle in obedience agility and even excel as sniffer dogs, detecting explosives and drugs. But there’s more to these agile canines than meets the eye.

On the other side of the spectrum lies the Hovawart, a German breed with a history as rich as its protective nature. Once celebrated as one of the “Five Noble Breeds” for its steadfast guarding abilities, the Hovawart might not have achieved global fame like some of its German counterparts. However, it remains a beloved and loyal companion throughout Germany and beyond.

Characteristics of Border Collie and Hovawart

knowing your dog's personality

The Border Collie embodies boundless energy and dynamism. This breed is known for its trademark traits of alertness, unwavering energy, strong work ethic, and remarkable intelligence. Their ability to grasp new concepts with impressive speed often challenges their owners, as keeping up with their quick learning curve can be a delightful yet demanding task.

Hovawarts exhibits a distinct blend of intelligence, self-assuredness, and courage. Throughout history, they have distinguished themselves as exceptional guardians and valuable assets in search and rescue missions. Their intelligence and self-confidence make them reliable partners in safeguarding their homes and assisting in critical rescue efforts. These traits and their unwavering bravery have solidified Hovawart’s reputation as a versatile and dependable breed in various roles.

Breed History

Initially developed for herding purposes, Border Collies exhibit an extraordinary herding instinct that extends to every member of a family, not just livestock. Their origins can be traced back to the border regions of England and Scotland, possibly dating as far back as the 1700s. They share ancestral ties with other collie breeds, including the bearded Collie and Scotch Collie, and some experts speculate a dash of spaniel ancestry. In the 19th century, these agile dogs gained popularity among the English gentry, cementing their place in history.

In stark contrast, the Hovawart is a venerable German working dog breed with a name rooted in Middle High German. “Hova” translates to “yard” or “farm,” while “wart” signifies “watchman.” Since 1922, dedicated breeders have painstakingly revived this breed while preserving the qualities of farm dogs from a bygone era. The Hovawart serves as a living testament to Germany’s rich canine heritage.

These two breeds, with their distinct histories and characteristics, showcase dogs’ fascinating diversity and evolution as they’ve adapted to various roles and environments over time.

Appearance Comparison

According to the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) breed standard, the Border Collie is defined by a specific set of characteristics. Per the standard, a Border Collie should exhibit a well-balanced and medium-sized physique characterized by a muscular body that moves gracefully. Their facial expression is intelligent, alert, and eager, complemented by oval-shaped brown eyes. Their ears, of medium size, may stand erect or semi-erect.

The dog’s neck is strong and muscular, seamlessly transitioning into well-defined shoulders. The topline remains level from the withers before gently sloping to the rump. The overall body showcases an athletic build with a deep and broad chest. When focused on herding or working, the dog’s tail is tucked, occasionally curling at the end when expressing happiness.

The forelegs run parallel to shoulder blades of equal length to the upper arms, with compact, oval-shaped front feet. The hindquarters are broad and muscular, with hind feet similar to the front but slightly smaller.

In contrast, the Hovawart is described as a powerful, medium-sized, slightly elongated working dog with long, luxurious hair. This breed features triangular drop ears positioned high and wide apart, creating the illusion of a broad skull. The Hovawart’s bushy tail extends beyond the hocks but does not reach the ground.

Size Comparison

One can observe notable differences when comparing the sizes of these two distinct breeds. The average Border Collie stands at a height ranging from 56 to 69 cm with a withers height falling between 46 to 56 cm. Their body length spans from 71 to 86 cm, and they typically weigh between 27 and 45 pounds.

In contrast, Hovawarts exhibit a larger stature. They have a withers height ranging from 58 to 71 cm and a weight that typically falls from 55 to 90 pounds. The Hovawart’s overall body length extends from approximately 81 to 99 cm, with a standing height varying between 74 to 89 cm.

These size distinctions between the Border Collie and Hovawart not only contribute to their unique appearances but also play a role in determining their respective roles and capabilities within the canine world.

Coats & Colors

The Border Collie breed features two distinct coat types: rough and smooth. In the case of the smooth coat, it is characterized by its shorter length and typically coarser texture compared to its rough-coated counterpart. Both coat variations share a common trait known as a ‘double coat,’ which includes a soft and dense undercoat and a more extended outer layer with water-resistant properties.

The American Kennel Club recognizes 21 distinct colors for the Border Collie. However, within this spectrum, only 17 are considered “standard colors” according to the breed standard established by the AKC. These standard colors encompass a wide range of options for future dog owners to pick.

Conversely, the Hovawart dog breed showcases a unique coat composition. It boasts a sparsely distributed undercoat and a moderately long and dense top coat. Hovawarts come in three primary coat colors:

  1. Solid blonde
  2. Solid black
  3. Black with tan or gold markings

Personality & Temperament Difference of Border Collies and Hovies

Border Collies, celebrated for their sharp minds and unwavering devotion, stand out as exceptional companions who sprinkle their surroundings with a playful assortment of toys while seeking constant human interaction. Their unique ability to form deep connections with their owners distinguishes them from other breeds, creating a profound bond.

Conversely, the Hovawart possesses a commanding, deep-throated bark that exudes authority. Inside the home, they exhibit a serene disposition, a testament to their adaptability, as long as they receive their daily dose of physical activity. Their character is etched with determination, unfaltering obedience, and profound affection, mainly directed towards their chosen master.

Despite their distinctive characteristics, both breeds share a common commitment to their human counterparts that transcends mere companionship. Border Collies and Hovawarts are renowned for forging profound bonds with their families, making them cherished members who leave an indelible mark on the hearts of those fortunate enough to have them as companions. Their intelligence, loyalty, and affectionate nature make them beloved additions to any household.

Dogs Towards Family

Hovawart as your family pet?

When considering Border Collies as potential family pets, their suitability hinges mainly on the lifestyle and dedication of the specific family. As previously noted, Border Collies thrive in environments where activity and engagement are abundant, rendering them ideal companions for families capable of dedicating time and effort to their care. The bond between Border Collies and their families is heartwarming and crucial for the breed’s overall well-being.

In contrast, Hovawarts presents themselves as versatile and devoted additions to households. Beyond their excellence as family pets, their commitment to their owners and families stands out as a defining trait, ensuring that they offer companionship and serve as vigilant protectors when the situation demands. Whether one seeks a loving family pet or a dependable guardian, Hovawarts provides a multifaceted solution for households in search of a devoted and capable canine companion. Their adaptability and unwavering loyalty make them valuable to any family dynamic, offering companionship and a strong sense of security.


When introduced into an appropriate home environment, Border Collies and Hovawarts demonstrate an impressive affinity for children. Achieving a harmonious coexistence between these breeds and young ones requires a delicate equilibrium that carefully tends to the needs of both the Collie and the child. Crucially, all family members must align on established boundaries and limits.

Like Border Collies, Hovawarts prove to be secure and friendly companions for children. Their reputation for being playful, energetic, and affectionate precedes them, and they thrive when surrounded by youngsters. Their vibrant disposition positions them as perfect playmates, facilitating the development of strong bonds with kids.

In essence, both Border Collies and Hovawarts hold the potential to foster wholesome and joyous interactions with children. However, this potential can only be realized if precautions training, and a profound understanding of each other’s needs are firmly in place within the household. When these elements harmonize, the result is a heartwarming companionship that enriches the lives of the dogs and the children they share their homes with.

Other People

In the dog world, Border Collies and Hovawarts display varying degrees of friendliness towards strangers, their behavior shaped by a blend of socialization, training, and inherent traits. Border Collies, renowned for their intelligence, approach unfamiliar individuals with curiosity and caution. Early socialization and exercise can significantly influence their interactions with strangers, allowing them to adapt and become more at ease, yet their instinctive wariness may persist.

In contrast, Hovawarts are inherently protective of their families, often exhibiting reserved behavior when confronted with strangers. However, given the proper early socialization, these loyal companions can learn to extend their warmth and devotion to new acquaintances, mirroring their love for their families.

In both instances, the pivotal factor lies in providing a comprehensive upbringing. This approach ensures that these exceptional breeds can strike a delicate equilibrium between their protective instincts, which are deeply ingrained, and a welcoming disposition towards those who exist beyond the boundaries of their inner circle. A well-rounded upbringing thus becomes the cornerstone for fostering the unique and harmonious blend of traits that make Border Collies and Hovawarts such remarkable additions to the world of dog breeds.

Dogs & Other Animals

In the role of a herder, Border Collies are typically known for their benign intentions when interacting with other pets. This breed exudes a nonaggressive demeanor, and once they have established a rapport, they readily welcome other pets into their circle as potential playmates. However, it is essential to acknowledge that certain herding instincts innate to Border Collies could inadvertently pose a risk to other household pets.

According to assessments conducted by experienced Hovawart dog specialists, these dogs have rated 4 out of 5 on a scale that evaluates a breed’s compatibility and friendliness towards other dogs. This rating underscores Hovawart’s generally amiable nature when engaging with canine companions. While it’s worth noting that individual temperaments within the breed can vary, Hovawarts are often recognized for their generous disposition in canine social settings. This trait makes them a fitting choice for households that house multiple dogs, as they tend to foster a harmonious environment conducive to canine companionship.

Simply put, both Border Collies and Hovawarts exhibit positive traits when interacting with other pets, with the former’s herding instincts needing consideration and the latter’s friendly disposition making them a suitable choice for multi-dog households.

Behaviour Issues

In the case of Border Collie, certain behaviors can escalate into troublesome issues. These include their tendency to bark at strangers and exhibit various reactions towards vehicles, such as barking, lunging, lying down, freezing, or even engaging in stalking behaviors.

Moreover, Border Collies may display behaviors such as barking and lunging at other dogs, showing fear around other dogs and people (including children), and occasionally indulging in activities like chasing shadows, lights, and reflections, which can pose significant challenges to their owners.

On the other hand, Hovawarts often experience behavioral problems rooted in boredom and a lack of mental stimulation, manifesting as destructive behavior, incessant barking, chewing, and excessive digging. Their innate herding instincts, while fascinating, can sometimes become bothersome and irritating.

The tendency to nip, a natural inclination in Hovawarts, may lead to discomfort and unsightly bruises for other animals and family members. Furthermore, their penchant for chasing after moving objects, such as vehicles, bikes, and skateboards, can pose substantial safety concerns.

To ensure the well-being and harmonious coexistence of both Border Collies and Hovawarts in their respective households, it is imperative to address these behaviors early on and provide appropriate training and mental stimulation.

Training & Exercise

why exercise is needed by your dog

For healthy adult Border Collies, it is imperative to ensure they receive an appropriate amount of exercise.

The pivotal recommendation is at least 90 minutes of physical activity daily, although the optimal target hovers around two hours.

These highly spirited canines derive immense joy from sprinting, engaging in games of fetch, and fervently chasing after balls. Such activities offer them the necessary physical exertion and provide crucial mental stimulation.

In contrast, Hovawarts, owing to their larger stature, demand more extensive exercise spaces to maintain their well-being and contentment. Ideally, a spacious, securely fenced yard is the best setting for their exercise needs. However, if such conditions are unavailable, alternatives like hikes or regular visits to a well-maintained dog park can effectively compensate for limited space. Establishing a daily exercise regimen for Hovawarts should encompass at least a one-hour walk, complemented by 3 to 4 shorter walks during the day to fulfill their need for breaks and outdoor exploration.

Furthermore, engaging these intelligent creatures in dog sports such as agility, obedience training, or rally sessions can be exceptional ways to meet their exercise requirements while nurturing their mental acumen. This combination of physical activity and cognitive engagement ensures that Hovawarts remain healthy and exuberantly happy.

Taking Care & Maintenance of a Border Collie and a Hovawart

Incorporating a well-structured routine for the Border Collie is essential for ensuring the Sheepdog’s longevity, overall health, and happiness. Emphasizing the significance of a proper diet and exercise regimen cannot be overstated.

The responsible owner should supervise their pet in a manner akin to caring for a toddler, securing doors, maintaining a tidy environment, and restricting access to certain areas to prevent potentially hazardous interactions. Regularly brushing the Collie’s coat, ideally on a weekly basis, is advised. Dental health is also vital; brushing their teeth at least twice a week will help maintain their excellent oral condition.

Routine ear cleaning, even from a young age, is recommended. Stimulation is crucial for this intelligent and energetic breed, as boredom may lead to naughty behavior. Engaging in agility competitions, flyball, and herding events will provide mental and physical exercise.

Considering the Collie’s sensitivity to loud noises, preparing for thunderstorms and celebrations is advisable. Maintaining a consistent diet devoid of human food and opting for a high-quality, age-appropriate diet is vital. Regular exercise is essential but should be introduced gradually, especially for puppies.

For Hovawarts, a standard large-breed diet is suitable. These working dogs require daily exercise to match their energetic nature. Routine brushing is also essential to keep their coat in top condition. Basically, pretty much everything that you should do to keep a Border Collie happy is applicable to this breed as well.

Grooming Comparison between Border Collies and Hovies

Regarding Border Collie grooming, these intelligent and active dogs demand regular attention to ensure their coat and overall hygiene remain in top condition. It sheds light on how these dogs benefit significantly from bi-weekly brushing sessions or more frequent grooming during shedding seasons. This routine keeps their dense double coat free from tangles and mats and helps distribute natural oils, promoting a healthy and glossy appearance. Additionally, nail trimming is an essential task that should be noticed, as it prevents discomfort and maintains the overall health of their paws.

On the contrary, with its strikingly different coat, the Hovawart requires relatively minimal grooming compared to some other breeds. Occasional brushing and combing are typically sufficient to keep their medium-length, wavy coat in good shape. Owners may want to pay extra attention to areas prone to tangling, such as behind the ears and under the tail.

This straightforward grooming routine allows Hovawart owners to keep their pets looking neat and comfortable without excessive effort. These contrasting grooming needs highlight the unique characteristics and care requirements of these two distinct breeds, underlining the importance of tailoring grooming practices to suit the individual needs of each dog.


For Border Collies, Spring and Autumn seasons mark significant periods of coat renewal. These intelligent and energetic dogs undergo a noticeable adjustment in response to shifting weather conditions during these transitional phases. Their remarkable adaptability is reflected in their shedding patterns as they shed excess fur to regulate their body temperature and remain comfortable. Owners of Border Collies may observe a more pronounced shedding during these times, requiring increased grooming efforts to manage the discarded hair.

On the other hand, Hovawarts follow a distinct shedding pattern that differs from the Border Collies. Their fur renewal process is less concentrated and more evenly distributed throughout the year. This results in a continuous but moderate loss of hair. Hovawarts do not experience the dramatic seasonal fluctuations in coat shedding that Border Collies do. As a result, Hovawart owners may find regular grooming maintenance is necessary throughout the year to keep their homes and pets tidy.

In essence, the shedding behavior of Border Collies and Hovawarts showcases the individuality of these two breeds and highlights their unique coat care requirements. Border Collies adapt their shedding to the changing seasons, while Hovawarts maintain a more consistent but steady rate of fur loss. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for dog owners to provide appropriate grooming and care tailored to their specific breed’s needs.

Health profile of a Border Collie and a Hovawart

Certain dog breeds are fortunate to possess robust physical attributes, formidable immune systems, and a resilience that shields them from common canine ailments. One such breed is the Border Collie, a shining example of excellent health. This robustness allows Border Collies to immerse themselves in strenuous work, endless play, and tireless runs without health issues. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that even these charming and agile canines aren’t entirely immune to health challenges.

The Hovawart breed, carefully cultivated, typically displays exceptional overall health. Nevertheless, like all breeds, they, too, may encounter specific health problems. Despite the meticulous breeding that defines the Hovawart, it remains crucial for owners to remain vigilant regarding potential health issues.

This vigilance ensures that their beloved companions receive the necessary care and attention they deserve.

Even though these breeds might experience better health compared to many others, responsible pet ownership still demands routine veterinary check-ups and a watchful eye for any potential signs of health problems. Through such care and attention, these remarkable dogs continue to thrive and bring joy to their owners’ lives.

Life Span Comparison

Border Collies are renowned for their remarkable intelligence and herding skills, contributing to their relatively long average lifespan, which typically spans between 10 and 17 years. These dogs often reach the upper end of this age range, thanks to various factors. Their genetic makeup is well-balanced, promoting overall health and longevity. Additionally, the attentive care provided by their dedicated owners plays a crucial role in ensuring their well-being.

Conversely, the Hovawart breed, celebrated for their loyalty and protective instincts, tends to have a slightly shorter average lifespan when compared to Border Collies. On average, Hovawarts live from 10 to 14 years, highlighting the importance of making every moment count with these devoted companions.

Responsible pet owners should prioritize their well-being to maximize the lifespan of both Border Collies and Hovawarts. This involves a balanced diet, regular exercise, and consistent veterinary care.

By following these guidelines, owners can ensure their cherished canine friends enjoy long, healthy, and fulfilling lives, regardless of their breed. Ultimately, the love and care devoted to these remarkable dogs remain the key ingredients in their extended lifespans.

Diet & Nutrition

When determining the ideal diet for Border Collies and Hovawarts, the focus should be on providing them with high-quality ingredients rich in protein to ensure their overall well-being. These breeds have distinct dietary needs but benefit from a balanced and nutritious diet.

For Border Collies, a well-rounded nutrition plan is essential. They are highly active dogs that require a protein-rich diet to support their energy levels and muscle development. A diet formulated with top-quality ingredients and high-quality meat sources is crucial for optimal health. Ensuring a good balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates is critical to meeting nutritional requirements.

On the other hand, Hovawarts have a somewhat simpler dietary regimen. These dogs can thrive on high-quality commercial food to meet their nutritional needs. These foods typically contain all the essential vitamins, minerals, and trace elements required for their well-being. However, it’s vital to pay attention to the meat content in their diet, as Hovawarts benefit from a diet with elevated meat content. Additionally, the quality of grains, rice, and other vegetable components should be carefully assessed to guarantee the fulfillment of their dietary requirements.

In essence, a diet rich in top-quality protein sources for Border Collies is essential to support their active lifestyle. At the same time, Hovawarts, a high-quality commercial dog food emphasizing meat content and careful consideration of supplementary components, ensures a balanced and nutritious diet to keep them healthy and thriving.

Health Issues

In the context of Border Collies, a distinctive array of health considerations should be of paramount concern to potential owners. These encompass various conditions, including Collie Eye Anomaly, Osteochondritis Dissecans, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Hypothyroidism, and Epilepsy. While not guaranteed for every Border Collie, these health issues necessitate vigilance and proactive management by prospective caregivers.

Likewise, in the case of Hovawarts, a dog renowned for its meticulous breeding for robust health, overall well-being is commonly observed. Like all dog breeds, Hovawarts are not immune to potential health challenges. While not all Hovawarts will inevitably develop these health problems, prospective owners should remain informed about these potential issues.

Among the more prevalent health concerns that Hovawarts may confront are Hip Dysplasia and thyroid issues, specifically hypothyroidism. It is of utmost importance for individuals contemplating the adoption of a Hovawart to have these health considerations in their purview. This awareness ensures the continued health and welfare of the dog, allowing owners to provide timely and appropriate care if the need arises. Ultimately, responsible ownership entails being well-informed and prepared to address any health issues in these beloved canine companions.

Comparing Cost of Breeding

In the pursuit of acquiring a Border Collie from a breeder, individuals are presented with a wide array of pricing options. The determining factor for this price disparity revolves around the potential buyer’s desire for a show-quality puppy, which can often exceed the upper echelons of the budget spectrum.

However, obtaining a purebred Border Collie typically falls between $600 and $1,200 for most prospective owners whose priorities lean in different directions. While not considered a budget-friendly option, this pricing range offers a more reasonable alternative than the hefty price tags associated with show-quality pups. Nonetheless, it remains essential for potential buyers to conduct thorough research on their chosen breeder, addressing concerns related to the breeder’s facility and the overall well-being of their dogs.

Conversely, Hovawarts, owing to their relative rarity compared to other canine breeds, command a premium price point.

Their robust genetic composition and scarcity in the market often result in Hovawart puppies being priced between $1,200 and $3,500.

It is essential to highlight that specific Hovawart puppies, particularly those with exceptional bloodlines and genetic heritage, may command even higher prices.

Ultimately, the price range for these two breeds reflects the intricate factors such as pedigree, breed popularity, and breeder reputation in the competitive world of canine acquisition.


getting your BC pups

Border collies, on average, give birth to an average of six litters. When it comes to younger Border Collies, their initial litters tend to be on the smaller side, especially when compared to older Collies having their second or third set of puppies.

On the other hand, Hovawarts typically have litters consisting of six to eight puppies. Hovawart puppies rely on their mother’s milk for nourishment during the first few months of life and gradually transition to solid food as they grow older. This nutritional shift marks an essential stage in their development, enabling them to become more self-sufficient as they mature.

Both Border Collies and Hovawarts exhibit unique characteristics in their reproduction and care of offspring, reflecting the diversity within the canine world.

Breeders & Centers

The typical cost of adopting a Border Collie puppy from a rescue organization or shelter is $200 to $500. This fee generally encompasses the expenses related to initial vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and occasionally microchipping. Nevertheless, the precise amount can fluctuate based on the rescue group in question and the extent of medical care provided to the puppy before adoption.

In the case of an adoptable Hovawart, the expected cost hovers around $300. It’s essential to acknowledge that this figure may vary, either lower or higher, contingent upon several factors, such as the specific organization facilitating the adoption, any existing medical conditions, and the age of the Hovawart. Prospective pet owners should consult with the respective rescue organizations or shelters to gain a more precise estimate of adoption costs, which various circumstances and needs can influence.

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

Ultimately, deciding whether a Border Collie or a Hovawart is better for you hinges on your unique circumstances and what you’re seeking in a canine companion. Both breeds offer distinctive qualities, and your choice should align with your lifestyle, activity level, and commitment to training and care. Take the time to thoroughly research and understand each breed’s specific needs and characteristics. Consider your living situation, available time for exercise and mental stimulation, and your long-term commitment to a pet.

The “better” choice is the one that best matches your individual preferences and can provide a loving, fulfilling, and harmonious partnership between you and your four-legged friend. Regardless of your choice, with proper care and attention, Border Collies and Hovawarts can become cherished family members, bringing joy, loyalty, and companionship into your life.

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