Sheltie Vs. Border Collie: What Are The Breeds’ Differences And Similarities

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Written by: Celestine Gomez
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Shelties and Border Collies may seem to come from the same breed, but, they’re completely different in origin. Both breeds differ in several aspects such as care requirements and size.

Typically, Sheltie dogs are wrongly mixed in with the Collie crowd and are even often named ‘Toy’ or ‘Miniature’ Collies. Nevertheless, Shelties, or the Shetland Sheepdogs, belong to a different breed group separate from Border Collies.

Stick around to learn more about the differences and similarities between Shelties and Border Collies in terms of:

  • Appearance
  • Size
  • Historic Background
  • Energy
  • Exercise
  • Lifespan
  • Health Considerations
  • Grooming Requirements
  • Temperament
  • Training
  • Weather Adaptability
  • Diet
  • Price

The Differences Between Sheltie vs. Border Collie

Shelties and Border Collies hold multiple differences. Whether it’s in their appearance or size, it’s easy to tell the difference between both breeds. Here’s a breakdown of what sets both breeds apart.


A dog’s appearance mainly encompasses its coat length, color, and pattern, as well as its eye color.

Coat Specifications

Although Shelties and Border Collies are both double-coated breeds, the prior is much more fluffy. Shelties have a relatively long coat, where it’s often difficult to distinguish the dog’s body shape. Meanwhile, Border Collies have shorter hair.

Having said that, Shelties’ coat colors range in reddish tones. The breed can come in various color mixtures such as sable, white, merle, brown, and blue. On the other hand, Border Collies mostly have black and white fur. Nonetheless, they also come in similar tones as Shelties such as merle, sable, and brown.

Eye Color

sheltie dogs

When it comes to eye color, Border Collies have a couple of staple shades such as gold and brown. If the Collie is merle patterned, then there’s a higher likelihood its eyes are a unique blue.

Merle-colored Shelties also tend to have this blue-eyed gene, but only in one eye, while the other is either amber or brown. Other Sheltie dogs have dark-colored brown or golden eyes.


Although fluffier, Shelties are smaller in size compared to Border Collies. The latter is considered a medium-sized dog, while Shelties are small-sized in comparison. This is one of the easiest ways to tell both breeds apart if you see them next to each other.

Numbers-wise, female Border Collies from ground to shoulder stand at 22 to 24 inches, while males a taller 24 to 26 inches. On the other hand, Shelties are 13 to 16 inches tall for both genders.

Regarding weight, Shelties weigh approximately 15 to 25 lbs, while Border Collies come in at a much heavier 60 to 75 lbs for males.

Other Physical Characteristics

Apart from size, coat appearance, and eye color, Border Collies and Shelties are also distinctive in other aspects. For instance, Border Collies have oval eye shapes, while Shelties have a more almond-eye look. The latter breed’s eyes are also more diagonally set on their face, compared to Collies.

Another difference worth noting is the breeds’ stops or where the muzzle connects to their forehead. Border Collies and Shelties have pronounced stops, but the latter’s muzzle area is a bit sharper and longer.


Even though both Border Collies and Shelties are naturally high-energy dogs, both have different exercise requirements. Since Shelties are much smaller breeds, their little legs could get tired faster than a long-legged Border Collie.

For this reason, we recommend exercising Shelties for around 45 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, Border Collies can handle a longer workout session of about 60 to 90 minutes. Overall, if you’re a fitness freak, you shouldn’t have any trouble housing these breeds.


A dog’s lifespan is usually directly correlated to its size, but that doesn’t always hold true. For instance, a large mastiff’s lifespan is only limited to seven to eight years. Besides that, since Shelties are considerably smaller than Border Collies, their lifespan is less.

Border Colles can live between 12 to 15 years, while Shelties about 12 to 14 years. It’s a small one-year difference. Now, any dog’s lifespan is more dependent on its health and well-being. With that in consideration, a healthy Sheltie can live longer than an under-nourished Border Collie, despite what the average number dictates.


Shelties and Border Collies enjoy a diet rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Nonetheless, since Shelties are a smaller breed, they require fewer servings than Collies. For this reason, adult Shelties typically need around 600 calories per day, while adult Border Collies require around 1000 calories.

Border Collie

For both dog breeds, you can divide the calories into two separate meals for the morning and evening. Timing also matters, try not to feed them right before or after an exercise session. Besides that, Shelties are likely to need smaller kibble pieces since their mouths are smaller.


A dog’s temperament is identified as its personality and attitude towards humans and animals. Now, since both Border Collies and Shelties are considered herding dogs, they’re similarly intelligent and commanding.

Regardless of this, Shelties can be more protective than Collies. Border Collies are exceptional watchdogs and somewhat protective. Yet, they’re typically not aggressive or passionate in their protection compared to Shelties.

Shelties were originally tasked with protecting farms, making them top-notch watchdogs. Nevertheless, they’re not aggressive, but loud. If a Sheltie feels threatened it’ll bark non-stop. It’s basically like having a house alarm. Contrastingly, Border Collies are slightly more reserved and regal.


When it comes to each breed’s personality, each varies. Border Collies usually mean business and are serious dogs. They take their herding work to heart.

If you don’t give them a job, they’ll make one for themselves, whether it’s digging a couple of holes in your yard or scouting for squirrels. Overall, Border Collies are incredibly loyal and leader-oriented dogs.

Shelties are more about fun than rule-following. They enjoy playing around with their owners and are a friendly breed. They can easily cooperate with other animals like cats and also behave well with kids.

Shelties need to be well-socialized when growing up so they can be more comfortable around strangers. Otherwise, they could become shy and might try to nip at any unknown visitor if they come too close.

All in all, Shelties are fun-loving and playful dogs. They can easily adapt to both large and small spaces as long as they get their share of exercise.


Once you find a reputable breeder, you’ll likely stumble upon different prices for Border Collies and Shelties. The latter is usually offered at a cheaper rate going between $500 to $1500. On the other hand, Border Collies fetch anywhere between $800 to $1800.

sheltie dog

When you purchase your pet, make sure the breeder allows you to meet the pet beforehand. You’ll also want them to provide you with the appropriate paperwork such as vaccination records and Pedigree papers to make sure the pet is purebred.

The Similarities Between Sheltie vs. Border Collie

Shelties and Border Collies often get mixed up for a reason. Due to their similarities, they’ve often been wrongly identified as the same breed. Check out some of the features both breeds share.

Historic Background

Shelties and Border Collies are both herding dogs hailing from the United Kingdom region. For Border Collies, it all started in 16th century Scotland when sheep were heavily valued for their wool. Farmers needed a herding dog and what better choice than a Collie?

That’s when the breed’s popularity rose. Their exceptional control over sheep movements gave them a heavy economic and practical purpose.

Shetland Sheepdogs similarly originated in the Scottish region and specialized in herding as well. Nonetheless, Shelties came from relatively colder island regions. These areas were named the Shetland Islands and that’s where the breed’s name came in place.

Interestingly, Shelties were smaller in size because they ate less than Collies. That’s mainly because the Shetland Islands weren’t well off in terms of food, compared to the inland regions Collies resided in.


If you’re on the lookout for an active breed that won’t stop pestering you for walks, then you may want to consider both breeds. Border Collies and Shelties were bred for work and naturally have a lot of energy pent up in their bodies.

They’re ideal pets for hiking and camping, especially with a family. Since their energy levels are high, you can’t skimp on exercising with these pets. If you end up skipping a couple of walks, you’ll come back home to a big mess. They can become easily destructive if their energy needs aren’t met.


On top of exercising their bodies, as an owner, you’ll also need to exercise these breeds’ brains. Border Collies and Shelties are incredibly intelligent dogs that require consistent mental stimulation.

Luckily, training these pets won’t be particularly difficult, especially with Border Collies. If you’re invested in their training, we suggest enrolling the breeds in herding training if you have a farm. That being said, we only recommend this sort of training if needed, because if you have kids, then they may attempt to herd them. This could involve biting, so be considerate in this training decision.

Apart from that, classic positive enforcement training ought it give both breeds a good background. You can even train them to do some simple house chores, like fetching the newspaper, to provide a mentally challenging task.

Grooming Requirements

The double-coated Border Collie and Sheltie may seem like a lot of work in the grooming department. Regardless of this, they only require periodic brushing since they are moderate shedders.

You can brush the dogs once or twice a week with a pin brush. During shedding season, you’ll preferably want to brush their coats every day to avoid any annoying matting.

Apart from that, Border Collies can have two different types of coats, short and coarse or medium-length and feathered. If the breed has shorter hair, they can be brushed once a week only.

Brushing aside, bathing both breeds isn’t frequently required. You only need to bathe them every 12 weeks or so. If you bathe them more than this, you’ll likely strip their natural hair and skin oils, which leaves them with a dry and brittle coat.

Health Considerations

Border Collies and Shelties have similar health issues worth considering. Both breeds are prone to developing hip dysplasia. This is a form of deformity that happens as the dog’s hip ball and socket joints grow at different rates.

This may, in turn, cause both bones to grind abrasively and result in further deterioration in the hip area.

Aside from that, Border Collies and Shelties are at risk of a few eye disorders such as Collie Eye Anomaly. This disease is characterized by hindered growth in the eye area causing vision impairments.

Other health considerations you may want to be on the lookout for are allergies and epilepsy. The latter may put your pet at risk of seizures. Luckily, there are some treatments for this health issue that can reduce the frequency of these seizures.

Weather Adaptability

Whether you live in an apartment or open space, seasonal changes can take a toll on your dog.

Cold Weather

The good news is that both Shelties and Border Collies are double-coated, which gives them adequate protection from cold weather. Nevertheless, since Shelties were originally bred in colder regions, they can withstand the cold better.

Hot Weather

Shelties and Border Collies can relatively handle the heat, but if temperatures go above 85 to 92 degrees F, then it’s best to keep playtime indoors. Overly warm weather can put these breeds at risk of heatstroke.

To Conclude

When comparing Border Collies vs. Shelties, you may want to look at multiple characteristics that differentiate them. They can include appearance, size, temperament, food requirements, and health considerations.

The main difference between both breeds is their size. Shelties are smaller breeds. This makes them a better choice if you live in an apartment. Meanwhile, Border Collies would thrive in larger spaced environments.

All in all, both breeds make for wonderful family pets, and enjoy lots of activities that stimulate their minds and bodies. In addition to this, due to their high intelligence and obedience, both breeds are also perfect service dog companions if needed.

After knowing about each breed extensively, choose wisely.

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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.