Border Collie vs Labrador Retriever: Major Differences

Aside from being lovable canines, the Border Collies and Labrador Retrievers gained their reputation as a great family dog. There are also some aspects in their canine’s life in which they share some similarities. But, obviously, these two dogs are physically different. And, there are other distinctions that set the Borders from the Labs apart.

Key Differences

Basically, the Border Collies and Labrador Retrievers do not sit within the same umbrella. Under the herding group of dogs, the outgoing Border Collie is the best furry companion to be with on a daily walk. While the Labrador Retriever that belongs in the sporting dog category is good to go with kids around. Aside from that, here are some of the major differences of the Border Collie vs Labrador Retriever.

Height18 - 25 inches21 - 24 inches
Weightup to 42 pounds55 - 80 pounds
Coat ColorMultiple colors of black, blue, gold, and redSingle color of black, chocolate, and yellow
Intelligence Outstanding Outstanding
Socialization Moderately sociable Highly sociable
TrainabilityEasily to trainVery easy to train
Lifespan12 years 10 - 12 years
Price$1,000 - $1,500 $1,000 - $1,500


In Northumberland came the Border Collie, a herding dog created to gather and manage sheep in the area. This dog breed scares the livestocks out-of-line through their intense stare. Their job and abilities are generally of great value in the herding industry. That makes them a major asset of the shepherds. 

Black and white border collie sitting on the grassBecause of their outstanding sheepdog abilities, many fell in love with the Border Collies. One of these is Queen Victoria who is the breed’s top enthusiast.

In today’s time, the Border Collie earned their reputation as the sheep-herding dog’s baseline. The breeding of this dog, for the purpose of working, roots back on their excellent herding ability. It was only in 1995 that the American Kennel Club recognized the Border Collie breed.

On the other hand, the Labrador Retrievers have been popular in their recognition as a fishermen’s helper since 1700. The discovery of the Labs happened in Newfoundland, Canada. This dog breed works by retrieving fish on escaped hooks and towed fishing lines.

Today, the Labrador Retrievers are among the most famous dog breeds in America. However, due to some tax regulations, the breed dissipates in their land of origin. The good news is that the breed outlived England. Moreover, the American Kennel Club recognized the Labs as a diverse breed of dog in 1903.

As the fame of the Labrador Retrievers continue to soar following World War II, this dog breed tends to be among the most popular dog breeds under AKC registration.


The two breeds look remarkably different from one another. When it comes to appearance, the Border Collie and Labrador Retriever are both stunning and appropriately sized. Letting them sit besides one another, athletic and leaner pooch are noticeable to the Border Collie. Yet, the Labrador Retriever boasts their strong and stocky muscles.

Reaching up to 22 inches upon standing, the Border Collie seems to be the smaller among the two breeds. Being a medium-sized dog, the Border Collie weighs up to 42 pounds. On the other hand, the Labrador Retriever is a large dog. It can stand up to 24 inches and its weight falls somewhere around 55 and 80 pounds.

Both breeds are double coated that makes them shed more and resistant to weather. Yet, when it comes to coat types, the Border Collie differs. The coat of this dog breed has two types characterized by smooth and rough. Perhaps, all the Labs have a similar short to medium coat.

Aside from that, the Border Collie is highly distinguishable from the Labrador Retriever in terms of the coat color. Color selections of solid shades like brown, black, and yellow are available for the Labs. In contrast, the Border Collie comes in many colors like merle, sable, brindle, lilac, and gold. They also have black and red that are usually combined with white.

Personality & Temperament

As active breeds, both dogs are entertaining for the entire family. Living in an active family is a requirement to have happy and healthy dogs. They are both vocal but Border Collie prefers to use his eyes. Labrador loves to bark loudly during play time. Because it is friendlier, the Lab can easily become a best bud.

However, the Border Collies love to stay around with their human companion. Thanks to their loyalty and intelligence. Giving them tasks is highly preferable for the BC. And, being a working dog, they like it the most if they work with you.

They are also up for a long walk and the Border Collie will be very much happy to do walks if there is no task available. Belonging into a pack is also another way to make this dog breed happy. They are generally loyal and protective to their owner. But, too much of it may result to dog’s aggression.

Black labrador retriever on green grassBecause of their pleasant personality, interacting with humans is actually a breeze for the Labrador Retriever. Their large body structure is not a problem for them to be cheerful. They always want to remain active with all of the family members. So, expect to receive lots of affection when the Lab is around.

Interacting with other dogs and animals is easy for the Labrador. However, their size and energy are factors that may intimidate the animals. Further, there is also a potential for aggression even if they are really good in nature. Make sure that they are properly trained.


In the canine’s world, for the dog to be considered smart, they need to learn quickly. The dog must comprehend their owner’s instructions and commands in a very easy way. Additionally, a dog should be subtle and sociable to any members of the family to be called as a smart canine. This dog knows the difference between a friend and a foe.

Touching the intelligence aspect of the Border Collie vs Labrador Retriever, both of them are highly intelligent dogs. Aside from understanding various gestures, the Labrador Retriever is able to comprehend 300 human phrases. With that, the Labs ranked as the 7th most intelligent dog in the world.

Meanwhile, the Border Collies have their own way of understanding their surroundings far better than other dogs. Their herding ability is one of the contributing factors for their intelligence. They are alert and reactive especially when dangers are around. Having that said and done, there is no doubt that the Border Collies are among the smartest dog breeds.

How Social Are They?

When it comes to interaction with other animals and people, both the Border Collie and Labrador Retriever are highly sociable. But, comparing the two, BC tends to be more social. Their level of socialization is so high and they always want to be with people and other animals most of the time. This dog breed easily gets bored when being left alone for a long time.

Border collies with labrador and other dogsMoreover, the Labs are also a very social dog breed. Smiling at the Labrador Retrievers will give you a sweet smile from this dog in return. Even strangers are not exempted from warm greetings from the Labs. This dog breed always aims to be with people and meet new friends.

Training & Exercise

Although their size obviously differs, both the Border Collie and Labrador Retriever are playful. They also want to seek your time and attention in playing out with them.

Packed with enormous amounts of energy and stamina, the medium-sized body frame of the Border Collies requires exercise and vigorous activities. This means that owning a BC also necessitates you to have a spacious area where they can roam and play around. However, please be mindful that this dog breed wants you to be with him during this kind of activity.

In terms of training, the Border Collies need early socialization. Moreover, training them as they age will be of big help. As a result, you will have a sensitive and obedient pooch under the name of the Border Collie.

Meanwhile, the Labrador Retrievers are looking for a daily play time. This is due to their highly energetic nature. One way to make this dog breed happy is by providing a ground to play into and exert out all his energy. A once-a-week swimming schedule is also good for the Labs.

Care & Maintenance

Aside from training and providing proper exercise, our furry friends also deserve to be cared for and loved. Both the Border Collies and Labrador Retrievers are no exception.

Border collie and labrador retriever on a fenceGenerally, the BC do well in a household that has an established routine and wherein they highly comprehend their position as a family member. They are happy to be with older kids and homes with yards. That way, managing the cats and other domestic animals would be easy.

The Labs, on the other hand, is also manageable to take care of. Even if this is your first time parenting a dog, the Labrador Retriever would be a great family dog. All you need is to have the basic doggy grooming tools and a small amount of tender loving care.


The Border Collies and the Labrador Retrievers are two dog breeds that are generally healthy. The 12 years average lifespan of the BC and a range of 10 to 12 years of life expectancy of the Labs will still give them some doggy health conditions that can affect these dogs differently.

Hip dysplasia, epilepsy, eye abnormality or better known as Collie Eye Anomaly, and induced Border Collie collapse are just some of the most common canine conditions affecting the BC. Other health problems like cancer, hypothyroidism, and noncancerous diseases may also have an impact on the BC’s system.

Meanwhile, the Labs may also suffer from hip dysplasia. Other than that, Labrador Retrievers are also prone to elbow dysplasia, allergies, progressive retinal atrophy, and bloat.

Diet & Nutrition

The medium-framed Border Collie and the large-built Labrador Retriever both require the same type and amount of nutrition. Give them premium quality kibble and age-appropriate dog food. For the Labs, feed them kibbles suitable for large breeds, while the BC should munch on dog food formulated for medium-sized canines.

Two dogs reaching on the hands of their ownerThe amount of food for the Border Collie vs Labrador Retriever is about 2 and 4 cups daily. Add a small amount if your dog is a working dog. Moreover, keep an eye on the Labs as feeding them should be in control. Their large bodies doesn’t mean that they need more food.

The Labrador Retriever has a high tendency to become overweight because of its slow metabolism.

Grooming & Shedding

Perfect examples of dog breeds that are double-coated are the Border Collie and Labrador Retriever. Even if some of them have short coats, they typically shed especially during the shedding months.

The double-coated Labradors have thick coats that shed all-year long. But, their shedding is quite slow. Meaning, grooming the Labs is not actually a requirement.

The BC’s double coat is also thick. They shed in moderate amounts and you should expect for this to happen all over the year. With that, there is a need for regular grooming of the Border Collie.

Cost & Puppies

A reputable breeder may offer you purebred puppies of both the Border Collies and Labrador Retrievers in the same price range. Usually, puppy price of the BC and the Labs starts somewhere from $1,000. And the average cost of puppies of both breeds in the market is about $1,500. The puppy price may get higher in case you decide to look for a pup that has a champion lineage.

Since they are purebred, Border Collies and Labrador Retrievers pups are available on AKC registered breeders. But, in case you cannot see one, try to buy puppies of these dog breeds from trustworthy breeders who are practicing in providing their clients with pups having health certificates.

Conclusion: Should I Get One?

You should get a Border Collie if you are already familiar with taking care of a fido. This dog breed generally needs an owner who has enough knowledge in handling highly energetic canines. Yet, if you are just a new pet owner, the one that you should get is the subtle Labrador Retriever. Raising them is really a breeze because of its low maintenance profile and less grooming requirements.

But, whatever dog breed you choose, always keep in mind that your ability in caring for them is highly crucial. You must invest some of your time to be with your furry companion. That way, you will have a healthy and happy pooch that will never leave your side for the rest of their lives.

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