Border Collie Vs. Australian Shepherd: An In-Depth Comparison

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Written by: Celestine Gomez
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People often confuse Border Collies and Australian Shepherds for each other. Even though the two breeds share some similarities, in that they’re both great herders and energetic workers.

They also differ greatly from each other in terms of appearance and temperament. Border Collies are the small, intelligent breed, while Australian Shepherds are larger and louder.

You don’t need to do a ton of research to know all the dog facts, we’ve done all the complex work for you, from caring for dogs to studying the latest research papers!

In today’s article, we have a Border Collie vs. Australian Shepherd full comparison that’ll answer all your questions. Let’s dive in.

Differences Between Border Collie vs. Australian Shepherd

It can be hard to tell a Border Collie from an Australian Shepherd. Nevertheless, there are many key distinctions between the two breeds. That’s why if you’re planning to get a dog, it’s important that you know these differences to decide which of them would suit you better.

Group of dogs lying down in nature

Breed Origin

The Border Collie originates from Britain. It’s a direct descendant of the popular British landrace sheepdogs. This dog breed quickly spread and became popular all over the British Isles due to its intelligence, strength, and agility.

On the other hand, there’s much debate over the Australian Shepherd’s ancestry. As the name suggests, Australian Shepherds were specifically bred to herd luxurious sheep in Spain in the 19th century.

Still, many believe that the Australian Shepherd descended from both Basque Shepherd and Pyrenean Sheepdog. However, the Australian Shepherd spread originates from California!


Although both dog breeds are known for herding livestock, they’re becoming more and more popular as pets and companions.

The difference in temperament between the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd is particularly evident when it comes to guarding. Border Collies are a bit timid. They’re also incredibly trusting. Therefore, they’re not the best breed when it comes to guarding.

However, Australian Shepherds are perfect guard dogs. That’s because these dogs barks whenever there’s movement around. They’re also more territorial.

Since Border Collies are more trusting, they can easily become attached to their owner. This in turn means they can suffer from severe separation anxiety, especially if they’re still small puppies.

Australian Shepherds are more confident and self-reliant. Though this doesn’t mean they’re not loyal, they’re just more adaptive.


When it comes to communication, the two dog breeds can’t be more different. For starters, Australian Shepherds are extremely vocal and active. They express themselves through constant barks and clumsy movements.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Border Collie. Border Collies are more subtle. They express themselves through intense eye contact. Additionally, they rarely bark unless they feel a real threat.


Even though both breeds can look incredibly identical for people who don’t own dogs, there are actually plenty of differences in their size, coat, and eyes.


If you put a Border Collie and an Australian Shepherd side-by-side, you definitely won’t miss the size difference. Though both fall under the medium-sized dogs category, the Australian Shepherd is somewhat larger than the Border Collie.

Border Collie and Australian Shepherd laying on the grass in a park


As for the coat color, you can find Border Collies in plenty of different shades and combinations that include:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Brindle
  • Gold
  • Lilac
  • White
  • Brown
  • Merle (Black / Blue / Brown)
  • Dotted

Whereas the Australian Shepherd only has four different colors, which are:

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Black Merle
  • Brown Merle

As for the coat’s thickness, the Border Collie’s coat is thinner and more fluffy. The Australian Shepherd, on the other hand, has a denser, smoother coat. However, both dog breeds are known for their luxurious coats which require plenty of maintenance.


Border Collies don’t have as much variation when it comes to their eyes. The eyes of a Border Collie can be all different shades of brown, from deep brown to light gold.

On the other hand, the Australian Shepherd definitely has one of the most unique dog eyes. In fact, this dog’s eyes are often of different colors, which is called heterochromia. The Australian Shepherd can also have beautiful marbled eyes.


Border Collies and Australian Shepherds alike are incredibly intelligent dogs. Yet, Australian Shepherds’ IQ isn’t comparable to Border Collies. That’s because Border Collies are classified as the smartest dog breed in the world.

Sure, Border Collies can go through agility training faster, but it’s unlikely that you’ll notice that much of a difference in everyday life. So, unless you want your pet to qualify for puppy Olympics, this distinction is pretty much insignificant.


If you’re a dog owner, you need to get used to your furry friend suffering from some health issues. However, these problems can differ from one breed to another.

Border Collies are more prone to dental problems, eyesight issues, particularly Collie Eye Anomalies, and joint problems.

Alternatively, Australian Shepherds may suffer from bone anomalies, autoimmune problems, and cancer.

Similarities Between Border Collie and Australian Shepherd

Now you know all the key differences between the two dog breeds. Still, it’s important that you know what makes them so similar that they’re almost indistinguishable.


The thing about Border Collies and Australian Shepherds is that they’re bred for hard work. This is natural since they both are great shepherds!

Though the work style can differ between the two breeds, they’re both excellent working dogs. That’s why either of the two will be a great addition to your family if you need help with the chores.

The reason for this great work ethic is because Australian Shepherds love physical activity. They just can’t keep still, so they need something to keep them busy throughout the day.

Border Collies aren’t as active. Still, since they’re much smarter, they can be extremely dedicated to tasks, to the point of OCD!


Border collie and Australian Shepherd playing together

There are some personality traits that both Border Collies and Australian Shepherds share. For instance, they’re both pretty loyal and affectionate.

Additionally, the two breeds are social and have high energy. This means that they require regular physical stimulation. Furthermore, if you train your dog properly, both can be great with children.


If you have either a Border Collie or an Australian Shepherd, chances are a simple stroll won’t satisfy them. That’s because both dogs require exercise, particularly running, for approximately 90 minutes daily.

In addition, these dogs are fast runners, so they require plenty of space to run freely.


Since both dogs have relatively thick hair and are incredibly active, they’re likely to get ticks and fleas at least once in their lifetimes. Moreover, brushing will surely shed plenty of fur with these breeds.

Life Span

Thankfully, if you choose an Australian Shepherd or a Border Collie, you’ll have a buddy for life (almost!). Both breeds have relatively long lifespans compared to other dogs. They live for about 12 to 15 years.


Since Australian Shepherds are more in-demand, they’ll likely cost more. However, you’re looking at a similar price tag.

Both Australian Shepherds and Border Collies cost on average about $700. That being said, this price can change depending on the breeder and the dog’s coat.

Caring for Border Collies vs. Australian Shepherds

The dogs’ temperament and appearance are important to consider. Still, as a dog owner, knowing how to care for your dog is the most critical aspect. So, here’s all you need to know about caring for the two breeds:

How to Care for a Border Collie

Since Border Collies are one of the smartest breeds you can own, their training should be fairly easy. Still, they need plenty of care and attention.

First of all, Collies are nervous dogs, meaning that they can be extremely needy and attached to their owner. So, you should be as patient as possible and give a lot of your time to your pet friend.

Furthermore, Border Collies require a spacious environment, so they can be as active as they’d like. If that’s not possible, you should take your dog out to do his favorite activities. Border Collies particularly thrive with agility and ball games. You can also go to dog parks, so your pet can play with other dogs!

As for diet, in addition to dry kibble, your Border Collie will need a lot of protein, ideally raw. Because this dog is prone to many health issues, you should keep his diet balanced with plenty of protein and supplements.

Border collie and Australian Shepherd laying on a white background, looking up.

How to Care for an Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds are also easy to train. However, since they’re more active than Border Collies, they’ll need a lot more activity and exercise.

In fact, if your Aussie dog doesn’t get his daily share of exercise, he might actually get depressed. That’s why you should try to be active with your dog and give him plenty of different toys.

Since Australian Shepherds are prone to obesity, you should take extra measures to ensure your pet is getting a perfectly balanced diet. Additionally, most food can easily irritate your Australian Shepherd, so be on the lookout for any signs of allergies when introducing new food to your small friend.

Which Dog Breed Would Suit You?

Now that you know all the different traits of the two breeds, you should think about your lifestyle and if it matches the dog.

Would a Border Collie Suit You?

To keep a Border Collie, you either need a spacious yard or the time to exercise your pet daily. Still, you can pay a professional dog-walker to help take care of your friend during busy times.

Border Collies require a lot of patience when it comes to their separation anxiety and OCD. Yet, they’re incredibly smart pets that can be fun to be around. Furthermore, your pup can easily undergo specific training to become a service dog, thus assisting you in any time of need.

Would an Australian Shepherd Suit You?

If you’re planning on getting an Australian Shepherd, you should have a pretty active lifestyle. Alternatively, this dog might be the thing you need to start your health journey.

Since Australian Shepherds are loud and all over the place, they’ll surely disrupt most peaceful, sedimentary households.

Though your Australian Shepherd will be a great companion for your older child, these dogs aren’t that great with young children, especially if the dog is untrained. That’s because they’ll likely try to herd your child!

Furthermore, if you already have cats, you’ll need to take extra time to introduce the two pets to each other. This way, you can eliminate any aggression that might arise between them.


Both the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd are some of the smartest and most energetic dog breeds. So, what are the differences and similarities between them?

The comparison of Border Collie vs. Australian Shepherd has many key similarities and key differences. When it comes to differences, they come from different origins, need different treatment, and communicate with their owners differently.

On the other hand, both the Australian Shepherd and the Border Collie are smart, energetic, and workaholic dogs. They love to run around and spread their energy to everyone around them. As a matter of fact, they’re both strong, fast runners.

There’s no need to be confused between the two dog breeds. Since you now know everything about Border Collies and Australian Shepherds, you can choose the perfect match between the two dogs!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the Australian Shepherd and the Border Collie related?

Even though the two dog breeds look undoubtedly similar, they’re not related at all. Still, it can be hard to decide, since no one really knows the precise breed history of the Australian Shepherd.

It’s important to consider how all dogs share the same ancestors, which are wolves. So, if you look far enough on the dogs’ respective family trees, you might find that they share a common ancestor.

Can you mix Border Collie with Australian Shepherd?

If you cross Border Collies with Australian Shepherds, the resulting offspring will be the unique Border Aussie. This breed shares the characteristics of both parents. However, it’s difficult to know its exact temperance since this is a relatively new breed.

Are Australian Shepherds as energetic as Border Collies?

Both the Australian shepherd and the border collie are smart and highly energetic dogs. They love running around, and they’re far from being lazy dogs.

How do you tell if a dog is an Australian Shepherd or a Border Collie?

The easiest way to differentiate between the two breeds is by the differences in appearance. Although they look very similar to each other, you can spot some differences that can help you differentiate between the breeds.

First, the Australian Shepherd is slightly heavier and bigger than the Border Collie. Second, the Australian Shepherd has a wider face.

Additionally, the Border Collie’s coat tends to have more color variety. Moreover, Border Collies’ eyes are usually brown, while Australian Shepherds’ eyes are in different unique colors.


When comparing the Australian Shepherd vs Border Collie, it’s evident that both breeds share certain qualities while also having distinct differences. The Border Collie vs Australian Shepherd debate often centers around their herding abilities and intelligent nature. Border Collies and Australian Shepherds are both known for their exceptional intelligence and working drive.

In terms of appearance, the Australian Shepherd Border Collie distinction is apparent in their physical characteristics. While Australian Shepherds typically have a merle coat with striking patterns, Border Collies come in various coat colors, often with a distinctive black and white appearance. When discussing Border Collies vs Australian Shepherds, it’s important to note that their size can vary. Australian Shepherds tend to be slightly larger than Border Collies on average, but individual size can still differ within each breed.

The difference between Border Collie and Australian Shepherd behavior lies in their herding styles and energy levels. Border Collies are often described as intense and laser-focused herders, while Australian Shepherds possess a mix of herding and guarding instincts. This can translate into differences in how they approach various activities and training exercises.

When choosing between a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd, it’s crucial to consider your lifestyle and preferences. Both breeds require ample physical and mental stimulation due to their high intelligence and energy levels. Additionally, the decision of Border Collie vs Aussie might depend on the specific role you envision for your dog, whether it’s herding, agility, or companionship.

In summary, the Australian Shepherd vs Border Collie comparison highlights the unique characteristics of these two breeds. Whether you’re drawn to the Australian Shepherd’s merle coat or the Border Collie’s classic black and white appearance, both breeds offer exceptional companionship and potential in various activities. Your choice between Border Collie or Australian Shepherd should align with your lifestyle, activity level, and the role you want your furry friend to play in your life.

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Celestine Gomez

I'm Celestine Gomez, worked for 5 years in an animal shelter in Los Angeles, California. Having noticed the inherent passion and zeal in me to care for pets, I took a step further to create a team of I and like-minded individuals to provide an informative resource in order to broaden the knowledge base of a regular pet owners.