Border Collies vs Australian Shepherds Breed Comparison

Border Collies vs Australian Shepherds. Which Breed?

So you are ready to get a new pooch, you have narrowed it down to two breeds. The Border Collie vs the Australian Shepherd. But which one do you choose? Both come from similar backgrounds as herding dogs, both are gorgeous medium-sized dogs, and both make amazing pets. It really is no wonder it’s so difficult to choose between the two breeds! 

But that’s why we are here! We break down the differences between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds and help you decide which of these breeds will be the right fit for you and your family. 

To make this breed comparison between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds more interesting, we’ve created a silly scoring system. Each category will get our verdict, as well as a completely arbitrary score out of 3. 

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a chart to let you know the key similarities and differences.

Inforgraphic showing the differences between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds

History Behind Border Collies and Australian Shepherds

Firstly, let us take a look into the history of each breed. 

Many people assume that these two breeds are related, given their similar features and personalities, but they actually come from completely different countries! (And surprisingly enough, Australia is not one of them. That shocked us too!).

Border Collies have origins in Scotland, where it got its name. These dogs worked largely along the border of England and Scotland, which coined the term ‘border’ and collie is an old Scotch word, thought to translate to ‘useful’. Border Collies have been working dogs from the start, their agility and intelligence making them the best pup for the job when it comes to herding!

The Australian Shepherd has a far more ambiguous history. Many agree that the earliest origins are in Spain, but most (if not all) of the breeding which led to the dog we recognise as an Australian Shepherd actually occurred in North America after people migrated there for better farming opportunities. Confusing history for a pup with ‘Australian’ in its name!

Despite their wildly different backgrounds, both of these breeds are amazingly smart, energetic dogs that will always bring a smile to your face as a dog owner.

Our verdict: Well, there’s nothing much to decide on this one – just some interesting history of the two breeds. No score.  

Borde Collie vs Australian Shepherd History

Border Collie vs Australian Shepherd Temperament and Personality 

Just how Border Collies and Australian Shepherds share similar physical qualities, both also have comparable temperaments. 

Both of these breeds are energetic workaholics, they each love having their minds stimulated. Whether through playtime, exercising or learning new tricks! Their intelligence and energy makes both Border Collies, and Australian Shepherds, strong contenders at agility competitions, as well as other activities, some people even teach these pooches to dance with them!

Even with all the similarities the two breeds have, there are a couple of key differences in their temperaments and personalities which may sway your decision.

For Border Collies, they are deemed the superior herder and there have been documented instances where they have even taken to herding children. So this can be an issue if you have smaller children at home, and is something we note as a disadvantage of owning a Border Collie. However, with firm training and a good attitude, it is possible to avoid this. So don’t let that alone deter you! 

Border Collies are also highly devoted to their family, or ‘pack’, which can be an amazing experience. However, it does also lead them to be wary of strangers. So if you opt for adding a Border Collie to your family, it can be invaluable to introduce them to new people and get them accustomed to strangers early on.

Australian Shepherds have an almost opposite issue. They love people and are often happy to have attention from anyone, as long as they get attention! This does in turn lead to higher cases of separation anxiety with this breed. 

It is possible to teach your pup it’s okay to be alone, and implement steps to avoid/reduce issues with separation anxiety, but if your pup is going to have regular stretches of being home alone then you may want to reconsider getting an Australian Shepherd.

Our verdict: Border Collies have the slight edge here, in our “unbiased” opinion. This is largely down to the fact that you’re less likely to have separation anxiety issues. That said, if you do, we’ve got that covered with an article about how to stop Border Collie separation anxiety. 

Border Collies = 3 points | Australian Shepherd = 2 points. 

Collies and Shepherds: Health Issues

Border Collies and Australian Shepherds are very healthy dogs overall. They are not generally susceptible to issues such as obesity, thanks to their highly active nature. 

That said, there are a few health issues to be aware of when buying either of these breeds.

For one, both are susceptible to joint dysplasia of their hips and elbows. This is where either of these joints don’t quite fit together correctly, over time this causes the joint to deteriorate and can lead to other issues such as arthritis and mobility issues. Joint dysplasia is not always preventable, but there are steps you can take to give your pup the best chance possible, such as a healthy diet and adequate exercise.

Both breeds are also subject to issues with their eyesight. Border Collies and Australian Shepherds can experience issues such as cataracts, progressive renal atrophy and Collie eye anomaly. 

Many issues with your puppy’s eyes can be screened for at an early age, plus regular vet visits will help you catch many of these issues quickly should your pup develop them. Your vet will then be able to advise you on the best route of care.

Another issue to be aware of in both breeds, is multidrug sensitivity. 

This is an issue where your pup may be unable to process regular medication the same way that other breeds can, due to a genetic mutation of the ‘Multidrug Resistance Gene’. Also known as MDR1, this can mean certain medications could poison your dog if they suffer with this mutation. Not to worry though! It is possible to screen for this through a variety of sample testings, so it is a good idea to bring it up with your vet when you first bring your new friend home! 

When purchasing a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd it is always a good idea to see if the breeder has certificates of health for the parents. Many issues can be hereditary, so by learning what may be affecting your pup’s parents, can give you a headstart should you notice issues that need veterinary attention.

Out verdict: It’s a draw. Both Border Collies and Australian Shepards have little in the way of health issues, providing that you make sure to get your pup from a reputable breeder!

Border Collies = 3 points | Australian Shepherd = 3 points. 

Size and Appearance of Border Collies and Australian Shepherds

Border Collie size and weight compared to Australian Shepherds

Border Collies and Australian Shepherds are both considered to be medium sized dogs. 

The Border Collie is slightly smaller, with females falling between 18 inches to 21 inches and weighing 30lbs to 40lbs and males being 19 inches to 22 inches, weighing in at 35lbs to 45lbs. If you want to get an idea about how much your Border Collie should weigh, we’ve got an article for that!

Whereas Australian Shepherds are slightly larger. Female Australian Shepherds match their Border Collie counterpart in height, reaching 18 inches to 21 inches, but weigh 40lbs to 55lbs. And males are both taller and heavier, growing between 20 inches and 23 inches tall, and weighing in at 50lbs to 65lbs! 

So if you are looking for a more compact pooch for your home, the Border Collie may be for you. 

Our verdict: Less weight tends to mean more exercise when it comes to dog breeds, so if you’re looking for a family pet that needs slightly less exercise, then Australian Shepherds might win this one. 

Border Collies = 2 points | Australian Shepherd = 3 points. 

Are Border Collies More Expensive Than Australian Shepherds?

When looking on the market for either of these breeds you can expect to be paying around £1500in the UK, or even more, for a puppy from a reputable breeder. Buying from a reputable breeder is always a good idea, as it will give you the best chance of knowing the family health history of your pup. This will help you identify possible issues much faster (especially if they may be hereditary!)

Border Collies are the less expensive of the two, with prices ranging from £700 to £1500. And Australian Shepherds are slightly more and tend to be on sale for closer towards £2000. You can get a good indication of what hobby breeders are charging by doing a quick search on Pets4Homes. 

The reason for the price difference seems to be down to the fact that Australian Shepherds are altogether a less common breed in the UK than Border Collies – this lack of supply seems to drive prices sky high!

As with many pets, you can expect the price tag on your pup to vary based on things such as their coat type, their colour and what markings they have. Certain colours and markings are considered more desirable by kennel clubs and so the prices will often reflect this.

For example, a Border Collie with the standard black and white coat commonly associated with the breed, may cost less than a Red Border Collie since this colouring is less common.

Do remember to watch out for suspiciously cheap puppies for sale – often, with Border Collies, you may see adverts with very low prices (£200-400). Always ask yourself why? Often, it may be an unwanted litter rather than a horrible puppy farm; however, if you want the certainty of things like health testing, then don’t be tempted by the low prices. It will cost you more in vets fees later down the line! 

A quick tip for budgeting for the cost of your puppy, it is important to remember to factor in the cost of equipment you will need. Such as your dogs bed, bowls, toys etc. as well as pet insurance. Depending on what you buy you can easily end up spending an additional £200-300 (or more!). 

Obviously once you have the basics, it will mostly be paying for food, pet insurance and replacing toys. But when you are just starting out with your puppy, those costs can quickly snowball without you realising!

Our verdict: Border Collies win here, if you’re based in the UK that is. There are more breeders and prices are lower!

Border Collies = 3 points | Australian Shepherd = 2 points. 

Border Collie vs Australian Shepherds: Coat Types And Grooming Requirements

One defining difference between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds is their coats. While both breeds have an undercoat and outer-coat, which was designed to protect them from the elements while herding livestock, there are key differences.

Border Collies have a soft undercoat with longer, coarse fur on their outercoat. Because of the coarse outercoat, a Border Collie will need grooming a few times a week to prevent their fur getting knotted. Brushing your Border Collie two to three times a week is usually enough to keep them looking their best.

Australian Shepherds generally require slightly less grooming. Despite also having a double coat, an Australian Shepherd has a smoother outercoat, leaving it less prone to knotting. This means that you’re going to be spending a little less time brushing and detangling their coats. 

While this sounds minor, this is actually worth giving some consideration to. Brushing a few times a week might not sound like a lot, but unless you build it into your daily routines, it can sometimes feel like a chore. 

Our Verdict: Australian Shepherds have the slight edge here. Less grooming means more time playing! 

Border Collies = 2 points | Australian Shepherd = 3 points. 

Do Collies and Australian Shepherds Shed? 

Do border collies and australian shepherds shed? Yes! Image showing dog fur on floor.

Yes, both Border Collies and Australian Shepherds shed and both tend to shed at the same amount. These are not ‘hypoallergenic’ breeds so you can expect to see shed fur all year round. And, you may notice your dog’s coat going into overdrive during spring and autumn, as their body readies itself for the change in weather.

What this means in practice is regular vacuuming, and use of sticky rollers on your clothes. If you keep on top of this, though, it really isn’t a big deal. 

When it comes to bathing these breeds, a good rule of thumb is once every couple of months (unless they’ve taken a swim in that lovely muddy puddle down the street, of course). If you bath your canine friend too often you will accidentally wash away all the good and healthy oils from their skin. This can lead to dry skin and can cause your pup a great deal of irritation, and we don’t want that!

If you find your Border Collie or Australian Shepherd is in need of a freshen up, you can purchase wet wipes and dry shampoo specifically for dogs (the links take you to the ones we use and recommend). This will be enough to freshen up your dog until their next bath day.

Our verdict: It’s a straight draw here. Both breeds are traditional dogs, so you get shedding without the constant worrying about knots and going to the groomers!

Border Collies = 3 points | Australian Shepherd = 3 points. 

Breed Energy Levels and Exercise Requirements 

As we touched upon earlier on in this article, both Border Collie and Australian Shepherds are highly energetic breeds that require ample exercise and mental stimulation. They require at least 60 minutes of high-level exercise a day, as well as activities which will challenge them mentally throughout the day. Tricks, obedience training and puzzle toys are just a few good examples of how you can provide that stimulation. 

This abundance of energy and intelligence comes from their working background, herding sheep and other livestock across fields. As such, many owners of Border Collies and Australian Shepherds do incredibly well in agility competitions.

When taking on a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd, it is always important to ensure you can offer regular outlets for this energy. 

If either of these breeds feels understimulated and bored it can result in them exhibiting some slightly destructive tendencies. A popular one being adding a few extra breathing holes in your favourite shoes, or some home renovations on the carpets. 

Hopefully, we can spare you the expensive heartache of needing to replace furniture and clothes which have been chewed up (courtesy of a bored pup.) Our article on how to keep a Border Collie entertained may help you come up with some ideas for this one.  

If you work long days, or know your pup will be home alone for an extended amount of time it could be worth seeing if a close friend or family member is able to pop by once or twice throughout the day to entertain them. Or maybe you are able to head home on your lunch break for a quick walk or play session. Another alternative could be a doggy-daycare. This can be beneficial as it also allows your dog to socialise with other people and dogs, which will build your pooch’s confidence.

Our verdict: It’s a draw again. Both breeds require commitment from their owners to keep them well exercised and mentally stimulated. If you do this, then the rewards are completely worth it! 

Border Collies = 3 points | Australian Shepherd = 3 points. 

So Which Breed Should You Choose?

Hopefully now you have seen a comparison of Border Collies versus Australian Shepherds, you feel more informed and able to make a decision on which breed will best suit your home and family.

Both breeds have amazing qualities, from their friendly and loyal temperaments to their abundance of energy and intelligence, and either will make a wonderful family pet.

Border Collies are incredibly smart, compact dogs. Kids will love teaching them a variety of tricks and commands, as well as burning off energy with them during walks. 

Australian Shepherds will make every person they meet fall in love with them, with their love of anyone who will give them attention and play. 

That said, if you are looking for an intelligent best friend, one who loves learning tricks and is less likely to need constant human companionship, a Border Collie may just be the dog for you! 

This breed will suit people who are unable to spend most of their time at home due to work or school. 

Whichever breed you choose, you are going to have a wonderful best friend for many years to come so enjoy!

How did our scores add up? Well, who would have thought it from a Border Collie site, but it looks like it’s a straight draw when it comes to Border Collies vs Australian Shepherds! 

Still need some help to make up your mind? Why not take our Border Collie breed suitability quiz

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Top picks for our Border Collies

1. BEST DOG TOY   

Ok, it’s a bold statement, but I think that this interactive dog puzzle toy is absolutely brilliant! 

2. BEST BOREDOM KILLER

We all know Collie’s love to be … challenging! Give them this snuffle mat and you’ll get at least 10 minutes peace!

3. BEST SHAMPOO FOR YOUR COLLIE

We’ve tried absolutely loads of different types of shampoos and dog conditioners. Save yourself some time and try our favourite brand – works a treat!