A Comparison between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds

When we think of sheepdogs, the image of a border collie guiding a flock of sheep, or an Australian shepherd controlling an entire cattle, automatically comes to mind. However, knowing how to identify these breeds can sometimes be a difficult task, due to their many similarities. Likewise, if you are considering adopting one of these two dogs and you are still not sure which one to choose, in this article we will show you the differences between the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd. Keep reading and choose the one that best suits your needs and lifestyle! Moreover, you can compare both breeds in several areas of comparison like intelligence and temperament.

History of the Border Collie and Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds vs Border Collie Differences And Similarities

The origin of the border collie dates back to the 5th and 1st centuries BC when the Celtic tribes brought the dogs that acted as ancestors of this breed to the British Isles. Already then, he was employed as a herding dog, a job he continues to perform due to his intelligence and incredible work capabilities. Over the years, the breed was adopted and standardized until it reached the current border collie, which was officially recognized by canine organizations in the 20th century.

The origin of the Australian Shepherd, on the other hand, is uncertain and there are several theories that collect it. However and despite its name, what they all agree on is that it was in the United States where it developed, in the 19th century, when a group of Basque emigrants went to America with the intention of trying their luck in raising their cattle. of sheep and brought their sheepdogs with them, having previously stayed in Australia for a while.

It is believed that the Australian Shepherd is the result of the cross between the Border Collie and other Shepherd-type dogs, this being one of the main differences between the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd, that one is descended from the other.

Physical characteristics of the Border Collie and Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds vs Border Collie Differences And Similarities

Although both dogs have very similar physical features, such as long fur, they also have different characteristics that allow us to differentiate the Border Collie from the Australian Shepherd. A clear example of this is the range of colors accepted for each of the breeds, with the Border Collie having a greater range of combinations than the Australian Shepherd. Next, we detail the colors of each race:

Accepted Border Collie Colors

  • Black
  • Blue blackbird
  • Gray
  • Mottled
  • Blue
  • Red blackbird
  • Tricolor blackbird
  • Brown
  • Australian red
  • Saber

Although these are the most common colors of the Border Collie, the truth is that all shades are allowed, as long as white does not prevail.

Accepted Australian Shepherd colors

  • Blue blackbird
  • Red blackbird
  • Red
  • Tricolor red
  • Tricolor blackbird
  • Black
  • Copper

As with the previous breed, the white color should not predominate.

In addition to hair color, in terms of physical appearance, another difference between the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd is the type of coat that both breeds have. The border collie’s coat is much denser and harder than that of the Australian Shepherd, which is softer. Likewise, the Australian Shepherd has slightly shorter head hair than the Border Collie. On the other hand, the ears of the Border Collie can be erect or semi-erect, while in the Australian Shepherd erect ears are considered a serious fault.

In general, the Australian Shepherd is usually prone to heterochromia, that is, to be born with different colored eyes or to show two different colors in the same eye, while this characteristic is rarely observed in the Border Collie.

Australian Shepherds vs Border Collie Size

Australian Shepherds vs Border Collie Differences And Similarities

Although both dogs are medium in size, the Australian Shepherd is slightly heavier and taller than the Border Collie.

An average adult border collie weighs around 20 kg and measures between 46 and 53 cm at the withers, while an Australian Shepherd can weigh between 25 and 30 kg and measure between 46 and 58 cm. In both breeds, the female tends to be smaller than the male.

The character of the Border Collie and Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds vs Border Collie Differences And Similarities

If what you want is to educate your dog to protect your home and alert you to any intruders, the Australian Shepherd is perfect for guard duty. Due to his innate abilities, he will not hesitate to protect his human family, as well as guard the home in their absence. The border collie, on the other hand, is a less vigilant dog, that well-educated can also learn to alert its humans, but does not tend to do so naturally as the Australian shepherd can.

On the other hand, although both breeds of dogs are considered grazing, they have been developed to fulfill different purposes within the field of livestock, a fact that is also reflected in their temperaments and characters. Thus, while the Border Collie is a shy and energetic dog, ideal for guiding sheep from a distance, the Australian Shepherd is prepared both to control sheep and to guide cows, buffalo, geese, and any type of livestock.

Despite the above, not all are differences between the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd, since both dogs are affectionate, faithful, loyal, attentive, and active. This means that both breeds need to get a good dose of daily exercise, as well as activities that keep their minds entertained. In general, they do not usually adapt to small flats or apartments precisely because of their active nature.

If we respect the character of each dog and cover all their needs, the Border Collie can live up to 17 years, while the life expectancy of the Australian Shepherd is around 15 years, this being another of the differences between the two.

Caring for the Border Collie and Australian Shepherd

The basic care of food, exercise, hygiene, vaccination, and deworming are the same for both dogs, here the difference between the border collie and the Australian shepherd lies in the care of the coat. While the Australian Shepherd is maintained with two weekly brushings and baths when it is really necessary, the Border Collie requires a more intense routine, ideally brushing its coat every day or two to achieve that it appears shiny and silky. This is so due to the difference in the layers that we mentioned earlier. As the border collie’s hair is rougher, it needs more care than the Australian shepherd to prevent it from becoming even more hardened.

On the other hand, although both dogs need daily exercise and a variety of games and activities to stay mentally well stimulated, this fact is even more accentuated in the Border Collie and we will see why below.

Training the Border Collie and Australian Shepherd

A being considered the Border Collie as the smartest dog in the world according to Stanley Coren, train it is relatively easy through appropriate techniques. In this way, many repetitions are not necessary to get this dog to internalize an order or learn to perform its herding tasks. The Australian Shepherd, for its part, requires a little more time, although it does not usually present difficulties during its education.

In both cases, the most recommended dog training techniques are those that are carried out through positive reinforcement, since they manage to keep the dogs motivated and obtain better results. Especially in the border collie, due to its active nature and high intelligence, opting for punishment (let’s talk about positive punishment or negative reinforcement) generates behavior problems and health consequences, such as stress, anxiety, disobedience, destruction, or aggressiveness in the most serious cases. Likewise, and as we pointed out in the previous section, it is necessary to constantly teach new tricks and commands to the Border Collie to prevent it from getting bored and to keep its mind always active.

Intelligence level

Both dogs’ breeds are intelligent. However, the Border collie is more capable than Australian Shepherds.

Australian Shepherds are recognized as the 42nd smartest breed; on the other hand, Border is the king of intelligence, so, and it stays at the number one.

Border collie can learn new commands with only 5-time repetitions or even less. And it can obey the new leadership with a 95% success rate. On the other hand, Australian Shepherd can learn a new command with 30-40 repetitions. And they can obey the new command with only 50% success.

Work Ethic

Border Collies are a little more hard-working than Australian Shepherds. Work ethics depend upon the environment in which dogs are brought up. Border Collies come at the top 20 list of hardworking dogs. For instance, these dogs are ranked on the third number in the list by Factverse.

This does not mean that Australian Shepherds are lazy and do not do much hard work. These dogs need a lot of physical exercise to live a healthy life.



At the time of writing, Australian Shepherds have been more popular for several years. These dogs have been ranked at 17 as the most popular dog breeds in the US. For the last five years, Australian Shepherds have been on the list of top 20 popular dogs. On the other hand, Border Collies are ranked in the 38th position as the most popular dogs. And for the last five years, these dogs have been on the list of top 50 popular dogs.


The relatively large gap between the ranks of the popularity of two dogs does not mean that Australian Shepherds are much better than Border Collies. It would mean that it is very easy to take care of Australian Shepherds.

Border Collies is the most popular breed used as herding dogs in the world. These dogs are excellent at doing their jobs. Most pet owners use them for their real work. Most of the farmers have Border Collies to use for their real work, which makes these dogs much popular in the world.

These are some differences between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds, which can be enough to differentiate both.