Collie Vs. Border Collie: A Comprehensive Guide

Photo of author
Written by: Celestine Gomez
Last updated:

If you thought Collies and Border Collies both fall under the same breed of dogs, you’re mistaken.

Don’t worry; many people have this common misconception. When you look at Collies vs. Border Collies, there are some similarities. Yet, there are also several significant differences.

Collies and Border Collies have a history as herding dogs, which is why they have similar temperaments. However, each breed has a different size and has its distinct appearance.

If you’re thinking of getting a dog and are choosing between these two breeds, you’ve come to the right place!

Read on to find out all you need to know about the differences between Collies and Border Collies, or lack thereof.

This article covers the distinctions between the two breeds’ appearance, coat color, temperament, lifespan, and potential health issues.


The names of these two breeds are very similar. This may lead you to believe that Collies and Border Collies are variations of the same breed.

Yet, this isn’t the case. Collies and Border Collies are two distinct dog breeds, although they have similar herding roles.

Before we dive into the differences between them, let’s first have a brief overview of the history of each breed.

Collie Origins

You can trace the origins of Collies (sometimes referred to as Rough Collies) back to Scotland. Collies were originally herding dogs, helping farmers care for their livestock. In turn, they were bred to be intelligent dogs with high energy levels and work ethics.


The Collie breed is a result of crossing a Scottish dog breed and another breed introduced to Britain by the Romans during their conquests.

Collies didn’t become a recognized breed until the 18th century.

Their popularity skyrocketed a century later because of the queen’s affinity for them.

Border Collie Origins

Border collies were also bred to be herding dogs. The first Border Collies were probably bred over 1000 years ago. The breed is the product of mixing British dog breeds and the Spitz breed brought over to the British Isles by the Vikings.

These dogs were bred near the border between Scotland and Wales. This is why the word “border” is in their namesake.

Similarly to Collies, the traits emphasized when breeding Border Collies were intelligence and energetic nature.

Differences Between Collies and Border Collies

Now that we’ve explored when these two breeds came into existence, let’s take a closer look at their differences.


Regarding how they look, Collies and Border Collies are pretty different. It’s easy to tell them apart.

While both breeds sport a long, thick coat of fur, the color of that fur differs in each breed. Collies also have a noticeably thicker and longer coat of fur than Border Collies.

Collies usually don’t have fur with a unified color. They typically have a combination of two or three colors. Most Collies are a combination of white, black, and sable.

The white part of their fur is usually at their chest and neck. The rest of their body is sable and transitioning into black as it gets closer to their tails.

If you encounter a Collie with monochromatic fur, it’s most likely white.

On the other hand, the fur coat of Border Collies is composed of two colors. These two colors are most likely to be black and white. Most of a Border Collie’s coat is black, except for its chest and the tip of its tail.

However, Border collies can also come in other color pairings. All their color combinations usually include white.

You should also note that some Collies and Border Collies can have shorter coats. This variation of the breeds is referred to as a smooth-coated one.


Collies are a relatively large dog breed. Male Collies typically grow to anywhere between 24 and 26 inches in height and can weigh between 60 and 75 pounds.

As with most dog breeds, their female counterparts are slightly smaller in size. They’re usually 2 inches shorter and 10 pounds lighter than males.

While Border Collies can still be considered big dogs, they’re significantly smaller in size than Collies.

Male Border Collies have a height between 19 and 22 inches, and their weight ranges from 30 to 55 pounds. On the other hand, female Border Collies can reach a height of up to 21 inches and a weight of up to 42 pounds.

Body Type

Both Collies and Border Collies are agile and athletic dog breeds. Again, this is a direct result of their ancestry. These dogs were bred with the purpose of herding sheep. Thus, being quick on their feet is an obvious requirement.

As a result of their athletic build, many owners of these breeds train them to compete in dog shows. More often than not, they come out as winners.

Collies also typically have a more muscular build and broader chests than Border Collies. That’s because of their noticeably larger bodies.


Collies are as affectionate, playful, and loyal as dogs can be. This makes them perfect as family dogs. Not only that, but Collies are also extremely intelligent and intuitive.

They’re wired to pick up on the slightest alarms and are always ready to protect their family if necessary.

As with all dogs, Collies need to be properly socialized. They also need to be stimulated adequately, both physically and mentally. These dogs are full of energy and need to be given a chance to exert that energy positively to stay healthy and happy.

Border Collies share the same intelligent, friendly, and sweet disposition. However, they require even more exercise than Collies.

Border Collies

While Collies are somewhat content with spending an entire day indoors, you’ll want to take out Border Collies to run around and play to avoid them behaving destructively inside the house.

This is a significant difference between the two breeds. If you live in an apartment, making a Collie the newest member of your family is a viable option.

However, the same cannot be said for Border Collies. These dogs need a house with a large backyard for them to play in. The ideal living space for a Border Collie is a farm.


Due to their high level of intelligence, both Collies and Border Collies are easy to train. They’re responsive to proper discipline and behavioral training, especially when they’re still young pups.

These breeds’ intelligence and ease of training are due to their various roles throughout the years. Collies and Border Collies have been known to make for excellent guard dogs, service dogs, and sniffer canines. That’s aside from their main herding role.

Both these dog breeds are also excellent with kids. Their gentle and playful nature makes them excellent companions for your young ones.

However, you should still be there to supervise. Collies and Border Collies are pretty large, and they can knock your child over inadvertently if they get carried away when playing.

When it comes to barking, both Collies and Border Collies are prone to doing it excessively. This is a result of their herding past and their instincts to sound the alarm when something is amiss.

However, as long as you train your Collie or Border Collie well from a young age and provide it with sufficient physical and mental stimulation, excessive barking shouldn’t be an issue.

Care and Grooming Requirements

When it comes to caring for and grooming Collies and Border Collies, the critical factor to take into consideration is their long, thick coats of fur.

If you have one of these breeds at home, you know all too well that there are certain times of the year when your dog will shed its fur all over the house.

Collies and Border Collies typically go through extensive shedding with changes in the seasons. This is usually during spring and fall.

If you don’t want that shed fur getting all over your carpets and furniture, you need to brush your dog’s coat a bare minimum of once a week.

While shedding is less of an issue with the smooth-coated variety of Collies and Border Collies, brushing once a week is still a must.

If you’re worried about giving your Collie or Border Collie a bath, that won’t be necessary very often. Collies need a bath once every two months. On the other hand, Border Collies only need bathing once every three months.

However, if your dog has gotten itself all muddy during one of its outdoor adventures, you’re probably going to have to give that fur coat an immediate, thorough cleaning.

In terms of feeding, the amount of food needed by Collies and Border Collies per day differs due to their difference in size. The larger Collies need 2 to 3 cups of dry food per day. On the other hand, Border Collies only need 1.5 to 2 cups to be well-fed.

Typical Lifespan

Colored Border Collies

Both Collies and Border Collies are durable dog breeds that can live well over a decade. The typical lifespan of a Collie is anywhere between 14 and 16 years. Border Collies have slightly shorter lifespans on average. Their expected lifetime is 12 to 15 years.

The figures above are primarily dependent on the dog’s inherited genetics, as well as how well it’s cared for by its owner.

The length of a Collie or Border Collie’s lifetime also depends on whether it suffers from any significant health issues.

Here are some of the most common health problems that can arise in Collies and Border Collies.

Potential Health Issues

Collies can go through their entire life without any major health scares. This can happen if they’re properly cared for, adequately stimulated, and given lots of love and affection.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they’re completely off the hook. Collies can still suffer from some health conditions. These conditions are genetic and have nothing to do with their owner’s behavior.

These congenital diseases include:

Other diseases a Collie may suffer from that are developed as opposed to inherited are:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Reactions to drugs such as insecticides and anesthesia
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy

As for Border Collies, they’re also susceptible to the same health issues as Collies, except for Dermatomyositis. There are also some additional health problems that Border Collies can suffer from.

They include:

All that said, remember that all dog breeds carry risks of developing diseases. This shouldn’t be a deal-breaker when deciding which breed to get. As long as you visit the vet when necessary, most issues can hopefully be treated early enough.


If you’re thinking of bringing a Collie or a Border Collie into your family, it’s highly advised that you buy one from a certified breeder.

If you decide to buy a puppy of one of these breeds from a pet store, you run the risk of getting one with health problems. This will cost you a lot both financially and emotionally in the long run.

Buying a Collie pup from a breeder will cost you anywhere between $400 and $600. Border Collies are a bit more expensive; you’ll probably have to pay $600 to $800 for one.


Despite the similarity in these breeds’ names, Collies and Border Collies aren’t the same. When looking at Collies vs. Border Collies, there are many significant differences between them.

The most noticeable difference between these two breeds is how they look. Collies are quite larger than Border Collies and have a thicker coat of fur with more volume.

Their build is also more muscular, with a broader chest. Another difference in these dogs’ appearance is the color of their fur.

When it comes to their personality, both these dog breeds with herding origins are rather similar. They’re both highly intelligent, affectionate, loyal, and bursting with energy. However, Border Collies are a bit more energetic and require more exercise than Collies.

If you live in a large house with a spacious backyard, on a ranch, or on a farm, the Border Collie is a great dog breed to bring into your family’s fold.

Photo of author

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.