Border Collie or Papillon, Which Dog is for You?

Border Collie and Papillon are two distinct breeds that possess unique characteristics. The Border Collie, renowned for its intelligence, playfulness, and amiability, has earned a well-deserved reputation throughout history. This exceptional breed showcases an extraordinary capacity for learning, setting them apart in the world of canines.

In contrast, the Papillon exudes sophistication with its dainty size, silky coat, and strikingly large butterfly-like ears, which have captured the admiration of royalty and artists for centuries. Its exquisite appearance and graceful demeanor are immediately captivating. Furthermore, the Papillon’s intelligence matches its beauty, as this breed consistently ranks among the most intelligent dog breeds worldwide.

Characteristics Comparison

These two dogs possess distinct characteristics that differentiate them from each other. The Border Collie has a medium-sized, muscular body with a relatively short (but long) stature. It features a broad head, tapered muzzle, and semi-erect ears. Its coat is double and smooth, often displaying a combination of white and black colors.

On the other hand, Papillons are known for their lively and playful nature, both indoors and outdoors. They exhibit light-footedness and gracefulness, making them less likely to knock over objects. However, they are not the best choice for those seeking a calm and cuddly lapdog, as they tend to be active and inquisitive, especially during their younger years. Papillons prefer to keep moving rather than remaining still for extended periods.

Border ColliePapillon
Height46 to 56 centimeters21 to 28 centimeters
Weight13 to 22 kilograms3 to 5 kilograms
CoatRough or smooth double coatStraight, long, single-layer
LifespanUp to 17 yearsUp to 16 years
TemperamentClever, SpiritedSmart, Ecstatic, Sociable

History of Breeds

The history of these breeds reveals interesting origins and developments. The Border Collie originated in Great Britain and was primarily bred as a sheepdog. It worked closely with its owner and exhibited exceptional herding skills with various livestock. It is believed that the breed’s ancestors were reindeer herding dogs brought to Scotland by the Vikings. Through careful breeding, breeders successfully crossed these dogs with Valee Sheepdogs, resulting in the creation of the Border Collie.

The name “Border” was chosen because the breed was developed on the Anglo-Scottish border in Northumberland.

The Papillon, originally known as the epagneul nain Continental or “continental toy spaniel,” had predominantly drooping ears for several centuries. However, in the 19th century, breeders began selectively breeding dogs with raised ears.

The increasing popularity of Papillons with upright ears led to the breed being associated with butterflies, as their ears resembled the wings of these delicate creatures. While the Papillon is still known as the “epagneul nain Continental” in many non-English speaking countries, the name inspired by butterflies has gained significant traction and become widely embraced.

Appearance of Papillon versus Border Collie

In terms of appearance, the Border Collie and Papillon exhibit distinct characteristics. The Border Collie is a medium-sized dog with an athletic build and a slightly longer body. They commonly have a rough coat, and their most notable feature is their fluffy feathered tail, which they wag affectionately.

The most distinctive feature of the Papillon is undoubtedly its ears. They are naturally large and erect, adorned with long, feathery hair that bears a striking resemblance to the wings of a butterfly. However, it is worth noting that there is a rarer variety of the breed with drooping ears, known as the phaléne. Despite this difference, both variations are recognized as part of the same Papillon breed. The Papillon’s ears elegantly frame its small yet intelligent face, further accentuated by its large, dark-colored eyes.


adorable Papillon

The Border Collie and Papillon differ significantly in terms of size. Border Collies are medium-sized dogs, typically measuring between 18-22 inches in height. Males tend to be larger than females.

On the other hand, the Papillon is a toy-sized breed and one of the smallest. With a weight range of 5 to 10 pounds and a height of 8 to 11 inches from paw to shoulder, the Papillon is compact enough to fit comfortably in a purse.

Coats & Colors

Border Collies exhibit a range of coat colors, including brown, red, black, and white, with various combinations and tricolored patterns. The rare Blue Merle variation is highly sought after.

In contrast, Papillons have a silky, straight coat that lies flat, with fluffier areas around the chest and tail. They lack an undercoat, resulting in reduced shedding. Papillons come in black, red, sable, tan, and lemon, with parti-color coats or white with colored patches. Show standards emphasize colored ears, a white blaze on the face, and symmetrical facial markings.

Personality & Temperament Difference

The Border Collie is a highly intelligent and energetic breed that excels in obedience training but may have a strong herding instinct and require mental and physical stimulation to prevent destructive behavior. They are best suited for active individuals who can provide them with a purpose and a stimulating lifestyle.

On the other hand, Papillons make excellent companion dogs and are content being lapdogs. They have lower exercise needs and are known for their affectionate nature, making them adaptable to different activity levels. They are suitable for individuals seeking a relaxed and adaptable companion.

Dogs towards Family

Border Collies, regardless of gender, are generally not aggressive and can be great with children. They are intelligent and trainable, adapting well to family dynamics and activities.

Similarly, Papillons are renowned for their affectionate nature and energetic personalities, which makes them well-suited companions for children. However, their small size poses a slight risk when interacting with young children who may unintentionally cause harm. It is essential for parents to closely supervise interactions between young children and Papillons to ensure the safety of both parties.


The Border Collie can be a good family dog with proper upbringing and training from a young age. They generally get along well with children and other pets. However, due to their herding instincts, they may display nipping, chasing, and barking behaviors towards kids, especially very young children, and other animals if their herding instincts are not properly directed.

Papillons are fond of children, but the combination of a small dog and a young child can pose risks. If not held correctly, a Papillon may accidentally leap from a child’s hands and injure itself. Additionally, they won’t hesitate to defend themselves if mistreated. Close supervision and teaching children proper handling and treatment of dogs are crucial for maintaining a harmonious and safe environment.

Other People

The Border Collie is a friendly and loyal companion who enjoys being in the company of their human family. While they may be initially hesitant around strangers, proper socialization can help them become more comfortable. They can also get along well with other pets, including dogs and cats. Early socialization and puppy classes are important for Border Collies to learn appropriate behavior and channel their energy effectively.

On the other hand, the Papillon is an outgoing and sociable breed. Unlike the typical feisty attitude often associated with toy dogs, Papillons are friendly towards strangers and welcoming to visitors. They may bark out of excitement rather than as a means of warding them off. Their warm and welcoming nature can make your friends and visitors feel at ease and more inclined to visit frequently.

Dogs & Other Animals

Early socialization plays a vital role in fostering positive relationships between Border Collies and other pets in the household. While Border Collies have a herding instinct, it’s important to note that they may chase animals of any size. Obedience training from an early age can help redirect their instincts appropriately. When unsupervised, it is advisable to keep smaller animals separate to prevent any issues.

Papillons generally have a good rapport with other pets, including cats, when introduced at a young age. Despite their small size, they are bold and may assert dominance over larger dogs. This dynamic can vary but it’s not uncommon for the smallest dog to take charge in the pack. Monitoring their interactions and facilitating proper introductions can help maintain a harmonious relationship between Papillons and other pets in the family.

Behavior Issues

Border Collies are highly active and intelligent dogs that require sufficient physical exercise and mental stimulation to prevent destructive behaviors. However, it’s important to avoid over-exercising them, as it can have negative consequences. Their herding instincts may lead them to try to herd adults and even children, which can be concerning and potentially scary for the children and their parents. Additionally, their herding behavior towards cars can pose a danger.

Papillons are known for their alertness and quick reactions to stimuli. It’s crucial for owners to actively manage their barking tendencies and prevent excessive noise. Establishing a strong relationship through respectful training, where you assume the role of the leader and your Papillon as the follower, can help manage their alertness and ensure they respond to your commands. Employing a training approach known as Respect Training can contribute to a well-behaved and balanced Papillon.

Training & Exercise of a Papillon versus Border Collie

Border Collies are highly energetic dogs that thrive on ample exercise to keep them happy and healthy. They are versatile and can adapt to different activities, such as agility or Flyball trials, in addition to regular long walks. Engaging them in higher energy activities like running and playing ball is essential. However, it’s important to note that they are not typically fond of water-based sports and prefer to stay on dry ground.

Papillons, despite their small size, are active and intelligent dogs that make great indoor pets. They still require exercise and enjoy playing with their owners. Indoors, they can be entertained with small ball or toy retrieval games.

Outdoors, their spaniel heritage becomes evident as they enthusiastically chase after small creatures in the yard. However, owners should be mindful of their small size and supervise interactions with larger dogs or cats, as Papillons may not fully grasp their own limitations.

Taking Care & Maintenance of Continental Toy Dog Papillon versus Herding Dog Border Collie

Border Collies are high-maintenance dogs that require a significant amount of physical and mental stimulation. They need an active family that can provide them with plenty of exercise and playtime to satisfy their energy levels and herding instincts.

Having a fenced-in yard where they can freely run and release their energy is highly beneficial. Border Collies are adaptable to different weather conditions and can tolerate both cold and warm weather due to their weather-resistant coat.

Contrary to their luxurious and flowing hair, Papillons surprisingly require minimal grooming. They do not shed excessively, so brushing their coat once or twice a week is usually sufficient, with particular attention to their hind legs and undercarriage to prevent matting. Baths are recommended every three months or as needed to keep them clean and fresh.

It’s important to regularly trim their nails, including the dewclaws, to prevent discomfort, and to clean their ears during nail trims. Overall, Papillons require relatively less grooming compared to some other breeds.

Grooming Differences

what a groomed Papillon looks like

To maintain the coat of a Border Collie, regular brushing and combing are necessary to keep it smooth and shiny. This should be done at least two to three times a week. It’s important to avoid excessive bathing, as it can strip the coat of essential oils. Border Collies only need to be bathed every 3 to 6 months, depending on the dirtiness of their coat. During shedding seasons, more frequent brushing may be required to manage shedding.

Papillons have low grooming needs due to their lack of an undercoat. Monthly grooming sessions are sufficient. Use a comb or soft slicker brush to prevent matting in areas like the hind legs, behind the ears, and thigh hair. Bathing every few months or as needed will keep them clean.


Border Collies have a thick double coat that results in shedding throughout the year. The shedding tends to increase during the transition to warmer months and in the fall when their thicker coat grows in. To manage shedding, using a shedding brush can be helpful in removing loose hair and preventing it from spreading all over the house.

On the other hand, Papillons do not have an undercoat, which means they don’t experience significant seasonal shedding. Therefore, there is no need to be concerned about shedding during specific times of the year. For grooming Papillons, a soft pin-style brush is recommended as it effectively maintains their coat and keeps it in good condition.

Health Background of a Papillon versus a Border Collie

Border Collies have a robust genetic makeup that is designed for their working abilities, which contributes to their overall healthy life expectancy. They can often live well into their teen years, enjoying a long and active retirement. However, like many breeds, Border Collies may have certain health issues that they may be more prone to developing.

Papillons, compared to other dog breeds, generally have fewer health concerns. They have a longer average lifespan, but it’s important to note that their fine bone structure can pose certain risks.

Specifically, very small Papillons that become pregnant can experience significant complications during the birthing process. It is crucial for owners to be aware of these risks and provide appropriate care and attention during pregnancy and delivery to ensure the well-being of the Papillon and her puppies.

Life Span

Border Collies are generally considered a relatively healthy dog breed compared to some others. With proper care, most Border Collies can enjoy a lifespan ranging from 12 to 17 years.

While Papillons also have a decent life expectancy, typically ranging from around 13 to 16 years. Their small stature can contribute to their longevity, and they can make wonderful companions for families with children.

Diet & Nutrition

Border Collies require high-quality food with increased protein content to support their activity and muscles. Omega-3 fatty acids promote coat health and joint function. Consulting with a veterinarian is advised to choose the right food for each breed. AAFCO-approved foods meet nutritional standards. Providing a balanced diet based on age, size, and activity level is crucial. Meanwhile, Papillon puppies should be fed small meals 3-4 times a day to prevent hypoglycemia, transitioning to 2-3 meals as they grow. Adult Papillons typically do well with two meals a day.

Health Issues

Border Collie Health Issues:

  • Hip dysplasia: A condition where the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to pain and mobility issues.
  • PRA (progressive retinal atrophy): A degenerative eye disease that can lead to blindness.
  • MDR1 gene sensitivity: Some Border Collies have a gene that makes them sensitive to certain medications used in veterinary medicine.

Papillon Health Issues:

  • Open fontanel: A soft spot on the head that may not fully close, leaving the puppy vulnerable to head injuries.
  • Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar levels, particularly concerning in small Papillon puppies.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy: A degenerative eye condition leading to vision loss.
  • Collapsed trachea: A condition where the trachea weakens, causing breathing difficulties.

Cost of having a Papillon versus a Border Collie

Owning a Border Collie requires a long-term financial commitment, spanning around 12 to 15 years. On average, expenses can amount to $17,000, with annual costs ranging from $1,000 to $1,500. In contrast, acquiring a Papillon puppy is relatively more affordable, with prices ranging from $500 to $1,900, averaging around $1,000. Initial expenses for the first-year amount to approximately $3,440, followed by an annual cost of $1,015 (or $85 per month).


Comparing Border Collies and Papillons in terms of puppy costs, Border Collies are generally more affordable. The average price for a Border Collie puppy ranges from $300 to $1,000, with an average cost of around $700. However, certain color variations like blue merle or red merle can command higher prices, reaching up to $4,500 or $1,200, respectively.

On the other hand, Papillons tend to be less common in America, requiring potential owners to search for responsible breeders and possibly join waiting lists. The average price for a Papillon puppy is around $1,000. If you have specific preferences for lineage or a popular breeder, expect the price to be higher.

Breeders & Centers

When it comes to acquiring a dog, there are various alternatives to purchasing from a breeder. Many dogs can be found in shelters or rescue organizations as a result of owners underestimating their needs. These organizations serve as valuable resources for finding reputable breeders or rescue groups.

The adoption costs can vary depending on the source and the age of the dog. On average, puppies from reputable breeders may range in cost from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Rescue groups often offer more affordable prices, with costs typically falling below a certain range for older dogs.

Conclusion: Which Is Better for Me, Border Collie or a Papillon?

Choosing between a Border Collie and a Papillon depends on various factors that are specific to your lifestyle and preferences.

If you are an active individual or family seeking a highly intelligent and energetic companion, the Border Collie may be a better fit. They excel in activities such as herding, agility, and obedience training. However, they require a significant amount of exercise, mental stimulation, and training to thrive. Border Collies are known for their herding instincts, high energy levels, and potential for obsessive behavior if not properly stimulated.

On the other hand, if you prefer a small-sized and affectionate companion with moderate exercise needs, the Papillon could be a suitable choice. Papillons are intelligent, friendly, and adaptable dogs. They enjoy being part of the family and are generally good with children and other pets. While they still require regular exercise and mental stimulation, they have a lower energy level compared to Border Collies.

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