Border Collie or Australian Shepherd?

Australian shepherd or Border Collie

Many future dog owners often have 2 dog breeds “to choose from” because they are supposedly very similar. So many ask themselves the question whether they should get a Border Collie or an Australian Shepherd. I have done research and would like to discuss the similarities and differences between the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd.

Whether you should rather get a Border Collie or an Australian Shepherd, you can not give a blanket answer. There are some criteria that are important for the decision. For the family with small children, the Border Collie is more likely to be the right choice. If you want to have the advantage of a guard dog, the Australian Shepherd is the best choice. In agility, both breeds are ahead.

Appearance, size and weight

I will mention the most obvious features here only for the sake of completeness. Who finds which dog more beautiful is an individual decision anyway.

Which breed will be chosen in the end should always be based on the individual characteristics and needs of the breed and not only on the outer appearance.

The Border Collie is slightly smaller than the Australian Shepherd. The Border can reach a weight of 27 lbs – 45 lbs (12 – 20 kg) at a height of about 46 – 56 cm. The Australian Shepherd comes at 46 – 58 cm to 35 lbs – 70lbs (16 – 32 kg).

The coat colors of the Aussie are varied. From Red Merle, Black, Red Tri Color, Black Tricolor, Blue Merle or Red you are spoiled for choice.

Border Collie or Australian Shepherd

The Border, on the other hand, is black, white or brown. You can see them in merle in between but as I have seen it is rather rare.

Who needs more exercise? Border Collie or Australian Shepherd

There is not much difference between the two breeds. The Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd need more exercise than the average dog.

You have to realize that the Border Collie as well as the Australian Shepherd are herding dogs.

Both breeds are bred for work. They need a lot of exercise and need to be kept busy in the form of long walks, agility, frisbee and more.

The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you have and want to spend 2 to 3 hours every day with your dog?

This is true for both the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd. Both need a lot of exercise and activity.

Especially if you have small children, time is a precious factor. But everybody has to decide that for himself.
But now we come to the first similarity and at the same time to the first difference.

If the Border Collie or the Australian Shepherd are not exercised enough, they start to make nonsense. And this brings us to the next topic…

Border Collie or Australian Shepherd as a family dog

The Border Collie as well as the Australian Shepherd are not the ideal family dogs. Of course it is possible, but there are better alternatives.

The Labrador or Golden Retriever are the better family dogs. They also need a relatively large amount of exercise but not as much as the Border or Aussie.

When the Border or Aussie are not exercised, they tend to look for work. This is usually what they were originally bred for. Herding!

It is not uncommon for both breeds to start herding children if not exercised enough. Small children often run around wild and screaming.

The Border but also the Australian Shepherd try to “catch” them and to slow them down.

Here comes the first but essential difference.

are Border Collies family dogs
© encierro-stock.adobe,.com

The Border basically herds more from a distance. He runs after the object to be herded while the Australian Shepherd also works on the animal.

They nip and tuck cattle in the heels if they have to in order to herd them from A to B.

Because of this natural trait, the Aussie also tends to snap sometimes. A clear negative point.

Also, the Aussie is said to have a much lower irritation threshold than the Border Collie. Of course, this cannot be generalized. But I can confirm this from my experience.

If small children stumble over the dog or hold on to the fur during their first attempts to walk, it is possible that the Aussie corrects this physically because it annoys him more than the Border Collie.

Basically, I personally would not get a Border Collie as a family dog, but also not an Australian Shepherd as a family dog, because with the time investment would simply be too great.

If you have small children, you certainly don’t have one thing in abundance: that is time.
However, if you can spare the time, I think you would be better off with a Border Collie as a family dog.

Barking watchdog

The Australian Shepherd was used not only to herd and drive livestock, but also to guard farms and ranches.
Therefore, he is suspicious of strangers, reacts more quickly to stimuli with barking and, as already mentioned, generally has a much lower stimulus threshold.

The Border Collie, on the other hand, has virtually no protective instinct and generally does not tend to bark much. If the Border Collie does not get enough exercise, he may bark more.

Now you have to decide for yourself what you are looking for. We specifically chose 2 guard dogs and are happy to put up with the barking when something unusual happens.

However, our guard dogs (Broholmer and Cane Corso) need much less exercise and like to lay on the couch.

Australian shepherd as a family dog

Border Collie or the Australian Shepherd: who is easier to train?

The Border is easy to train and is suitable for beginners with the right attitude. They want to work and above all, the Border Collie wants to please its owner.

So they have an extremely high will-to-please. The Border Collie is also considered the most intelligent dog breed around.

Of course, you also have to work with the Border Collie. But that should be clear.

After extensive research, I come to the realization that an Australian Shepherd is just as good but much more difficult to train than a Border Collie.

It requires a lot more work and assertiveness.

The Border Collie makes education easier for you.

Agility: Border Collie or Australian Shepherd

The Border Collie as well as the Australian Shepherd are perfect for dog sports like agility.

If you get one of the two breeds, you should definitely consider whether it makes sense to train your dog in agility. However, it is not a must.

If you are looking for a true agility champion, especially a dog to do this sport successfully, you will probably have more success with the Border Collie.

Of course, much depends on the personal abilities to train and guide a dog. But the basic requirements are maybe a little bit better with a Border.

But what good is a sports car if you can’t operate it. For the normal agility athlete who just wants to have fun, I don’t think it matters which breed you get. Both are perfect agility athletes.

Everyday life with the Border and the Aussie

Both dogs, if properly trained and exercised, are easy to integrate into everyday life. The Border tends to be a bit better, because he is just a bit smaller.

But basically, the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd are beautiful dogs, which usually nobody is afraid of and changes the side of the street.

When I walk with our Cane Corso through the settlement, there are sometimes critical looks.

Conclusion: Border Collie or Australian Shepherd? Which one is better?

The Border Collie is all in all easier to train and more sociable. The Australian Shepherd is also very good to train but he does not make it as easy for his owner as the Border. Both are very good athletes and need a lot of exercise.

If you have small children and it should be one of the two breeds, you are better off with the Border Collie. (Contributing image)


I am Marco and I have the pleasure of living with 3 large Mastiff-type dog breeds. I would like to share my dog-related experiences on this blog

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