Australian Shepherd vs Border Collie – Which Is Better for You?

Australian Shepherd vs Border Collie

The Aussie and Border Collie are similar in many ways. However, they are distinct breeds with unique characteristics. Examples of their dissimilarities are that they originate from different places, have different appearances, and vary in herding styles.

Ancestry and Country of Origin

Australian Shepherds’ ancestors lived in the Pyrenees Mountains at the border of France and Spain with people called Basques. When the Basques moved to Australia, they took their canines with them. The Aussie descended from European collies (there are many types of collies) and the Pyrenean Shepherd. There are also many types of shepherd dogs.

The Basque shepherds crossed their dogs with imported British dogs in Australia, Collies, Border collies, and more. Then they left Australia and moved to California with their dogs, where ranchers thought the canines were Australian. Since then, Australian shepherds have herded, performed in rodeos, worked in search-and-rescue, and as therapy and service dogs.

The Border collie’s ancestry goes back to the British Isles and is peppered with Roman and Viking history. In 43 AD, Roman Emperor Claudius invaded Britain. The Romans brought their livestock and big herding dogs.

A few hundred years later, as the Roman Empire dissolved, the Vikings invaded Britain with their small, fast, spitz-type herders. The Roman and Viking dogs bred, and the Border was born.

The Border Collie lived in the border regions of England and Scotland. They were first bred in the United States in the mid-19th century to work on ranches in the American West.

Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie Comparison

Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie

Size

Australian shepherds are 18-23 inches tall and weigh 40-65 pounds.

Border collies are 18-22 inches tall and weigh 30-55 pounds.

The Aussie shepherd is about the same height as the Border collie but weighs a bit more. The Border’s appearance is more lean than the Aussie’s.

Appearance

border collie vs australian shepherd

Australian Shepherd

The Aussie has brown, blue, hazel, amber, or green eyes. Sometimes, they have more than one color in their eye. They are among the beautiful dog breeds with blue eyes.

Their ears are floppy, moderate-sized, and angular with a slightly rounded tip.

australian shepherd size

The Aussie tail is often bobbed. One in five have natural bobbed tails, and the others are docked. Docking isn’t pleasant for dogs, and less people are doing it now.

Docking is actually amputating part of the tail. It’s done in the first couple of weeks of the puppy’s life using a constricting band that cuts off the blood supply to part of the tail or surgically without an anesthetic. It can cause an infection or a nerve tumor.

Border Collie

full grown border collie

Borders can have different shades of brown eyes (dark brown to light gold) or blue eyes.

Their ears are angular and raised with one or both erect.

The tail is moderately long with a white tip; some are docked. They call the white tip of the tail the “Shepherd’s Lantern” because human shepherds could see the white tip in the air and follow it as the dog led him home in the dark at the end of the day.

Coat and Color 

The Australian shepherd has a double coat of medium-length fur in black, blue merle, red, and red merle. They may have white markings, tan points, or both. There are many possible combinations that are determined by genetics.

The Border Collie can have a rough/wavy or straight double coat of medium-length fur in black, blue, blue merle, red, red merle, sable, white and black, white and blue merle, white and red, lilac, saddleback sable, sable merle, gold, brindle, white and blue, white and red merle, white ticked, seal, white and seal, white and gold. Many are bi-colored. The black and white Borders are the most common.

They may have tan points; white markings; white markings, tan points; white markings, ticked; white markings, tan points, ticked; white marking, brindle points; white markings, bridle points, ticked; merle markings

Temperament and Personality

aussie vs border collie

Aussies’ personalities are high energy, playful, high in intelligence, hardworking, great with kids, athletic, very trainable, and needing physical and mental stimulation. They love agility competitions, herding, playing frisbee, flyball, and obedience trials.

They performed in rodeos. That’s versatility. Some think that they herded Merino sheep in Australia, and that’s why they were known as Australian shepherds.

Border collies are highly intelligent, playful, friendly, nimble, affectionate, high in trainability, like children, and like to herd children, and they need mental and physical stimulation.

Brilliant Border Collies are very talented livestock herders and workaholics with a very strong work ethic. They excel in sheepdog trials and agility contests and love running in open spaces. As OCD herders, they herd everything that moves.

Herding Style

According to the Australian Shepherd Club of America, the Aussie breed “naturally grips at both the head and heel, coming in low and hard on the heels to move cattle, or going to the head and gripping the nose or poll to turn an animal back to the herd.”

Australian shepherds tend to bark at the cows and not eye contact. The Border is the drover dog, also called the driving dog, that moves the herd together.

border collie Herding style

The American Kennel Club described the Border collie’s herding style as “sweeping outruns, their stealthy crouching and creeping, and their explosive bursts of focused energy.” They round up animals and are considered “gathering dogs.”

Health Issues

Aussies are prone to hip dysplasia, cataracts, hearing problems, epilepsy, kidney disease, CEA, and MDS. The Australian shepherd’s lifespan is 12-15 years.

Border collies are at risk of having hip dysplasia, eye and hearing problems, dental problems, OCD, epilepsy, musculoskeletal disorders, POA, and hypothyroidism. The Border Collie’s lifespan is 12 -15 years.

Reputable breeders take precautions by not breeding dogs with health issues.

Grooming Level 

Aussies need weekly brushing and more during shedding season due to their double coats.

The Border collie, especially those with rough coats, should be brushed twice or three times a week and every day when they are blowing their double coats.

Price 

An Aussie can cost between $400–$2,000. A Border collie may be $200 to $1,000. Reputable breeders charge more because they are careful to breed responsibly and produce healthy puppies. There are many tests that they can run on the parents and the puppy to ensure that they are all healthy.

Similarities Between Australian Shepherd and Border Collie

australian shepherd border collie mix

The Aussie and the Border collie have much in common because Pyrenees shepherds were bred with collies and Border collies to create the Aussie, so they are relatives. Some of their commonalities include that they are both very intelligent, fluffy, active and need mental and physical stimulation.

Border collies and Australian shepherds both have excellent herding instincts, love puzzle toys, attention, dog sports, and being busy. These two breeds are both very trainable and playful. They both have working intelligence.

Australian shepherds and Border collies both herd sheep and cows. In addition, Border collies also herd livestock like poultry, goats, and hogs. They thrive on routines and purpose and enjoy fulfilling tasks (just like people with OCD).

Unfortunately, both herding breeds are prone to hip dysplasia and hearing and eye problems.

FAQs

Which Dog Is Better: A Border Collie or an Australian Shepherd?

The Border Collie and Australian Shepherd are similar. They are active and affectionate. Each breed is better with older children than younger kids. The Border Collie pup and the Australian shepherd pooch have high energy levels and need mental and physical activity before they’ll be able to relax with you. Both the Border collie and Australian shepherd dog breeds make a great family pet.

Is the Australian Shepherd One of the Smartest Dogs?

Yes, Aussies are very intelligent, and the Border pup is famous for being one of the most intelligent dog breeds, if not the most. Different intelligence tests can yield different results.

Are Australian Shepherds As Hyper as Border Collies?

The Aussie pup and Border Collie pup are both very energetic and highly intelligent breeds and need daily exercise and mental stimulation to be a good dog.

What Is the Most Expensive Australian Shepherd Color?

The blue and red merle patterns are the most expensive because they are in the most demand.

Final Thoughts 

These farm dogs are/were working dogs that are renowned for herding sheep. They both need socializing with people and other dogs and training to control their natural instincts/herding impulses, especially around small children and animals. If you don’t have the time or inclination to play with and exercise a pooch with a high energy level, don’t bring one of these breeds home.

Some say Aussies have no off switch, and the Border collie is also missing an off switch. They are better with older children and teens.

They are two dogs who do well with people who are experienced with herding dogs.

Elise Margulis
Elise Margulis is a talented animal writer and a devoted pet parent residing near Manhattan in a cozy suburb. With a Chow mix and a rescued Siamese as her loyal companions, she's been animal-obsessed since childhood. Penning informative articles on pet nutrition, health, and animal welfare, she's also an avid advocate for adoption and animal rights. When she's not writing, she serves as the editor of two local online news sites. Working from home with her fur babies, she advocates adoption and animal welfare through volunteering and social media. A true animal lover and vegetarian for over 31 years, she's on a mission to raise awareness and make the world a better place for all creatures.

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