Let’s look into the traits and characteristics of the Australian Shepherd and the Border Collie to find out what sets them apart from each other.
Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie: What Were They Bred For?
The Australian Shepherd and Border Collie were mainly developed as herding breeds. Both are registered with the American Kennel Club under the Herding Group.
Both breeds are trustworthy guardians of various livestock, including sheep, goats, and cattle. However, their styles in herding differ from each other.
Border Collies are header types of herding dogs. This means they often go to the front of the animals and stare them down, also known as Border Collie stare.
Border Collies also tend to nip at their heels. It is done to intimidate livestock and control their movement.
Australian Shepherds are more known to use a loose-eyed approach when herding. They incorporate different methods to change the direction or stop the movement of the animals.
Sometimes Australian Shepherds will bark as a warning before nipping them. In other cases, they will hit the animals with their front foot or shoulder.
Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie: What Were Their Origins?
The Australian Shepherd was created around the 19th century in the United States. The Spaniards brought the ancestors of the breed to the continent to herd sheep.
These large Australian Shepherd dogs were crossed with a smaller breed called the Carea Leonés. He has a merle pattern and blue eyes, which the modern Australian Shepherd inherited.
Some people have thought that the Australian Shepherd dog breed originated in Australia because of its name. However, others believe that it is because of his appearance. The blue merle coat patterns were a common characteristic found in dogs that were imported from Australia.
The Border Collie was developed on the other side of the globe. Romans first introduce the breed in Britain. As the Roman Empire gradually fell, Vikings invaded Britain and brought with them Spitz-type herding dogs.
The old dog breed brought by the Romans mated with the Viking dogs. This resulted in the creation of the Border Collie. He is small and agile enough to skillfully navigate the livestock in Scotland and Wales’ rough terrains.
Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie: Differences in Size
The Border Collie and Australian Shepherd are both medium-sized dogs. However, Australian Shepherds are noticeably heavier and bulkier compared to Border Collies.
A full-grown Australian Shepherd is 45–58 centimetres (18–23 inches) tall and weighs 16–32 kilos (35–70 pounds).
On the other hand, an adult Border Collie can grow up to 46–58 centimetres (18–22 inches) in height and 14–23 kilos (31–50 pounds) in weight.
Both dog breeds are nearly the same height, but a huge gap can be seen in their weight. So, one way to tell whether a dog is an Aussie or Border Collie is by simply checking how heavy he is.
Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie: Differences in Appearance
The Australian Shepherd and Border Collie both have a weather-resistant double coat. It is medium in length and comes in 2 varieties: straight and slightly wavy.
The difference in their fur is that the Border Collies tend to be rougher and denser than those of the Australian Shepherds.
When it comes to coat colour variations, Border Collie’s is more diverse. It can come in solid black and white, blue merle, red, merle, and mottled. Or it can be a combination of chocolate and white, blue and white, red and white, and sable and white.
On the other hand, the Australian Shepherd’s coat mainly comes in 4 standard colours of black, blue merle, red merle, and red.
Another difference between the 2 breeds is their eye colour. Australian Shepherds are highly prone to heterochromia. It is a condition wherein both eyes have different colours. They can possess brown, blue, or amber eyes.
Border Collies commonly have brown eyes. However, those with merle genes are likely to have heterochromia too.
Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie: Which Dog Is Easier to Groom?
The 2 breeds require regular grooming since they spend more time outdoors, especially if used as working dogs.
Australian Shepherds don’t need as much grooming as the Border Collies. Since they have smoother coats and are moderate shedders, they require once a week of brushing.
Border Collies possess rough coats and tend to shed more. Thus, brushing them at least twice or thrice a week is necessary to eliminate loose or dead hair.
Australian Shepherds and Border Collies will require daily brushing once their shedding season starts. Bathe them only when they get excessively smelly or dirty. Avoid frequent bathing as it can damage their coats.
Other grooming needs to take care of include weekly nail trimming and ear cleaning. Tooth brushing should be done every day if possible. After trips outside, make sure to carefully check them for ticks, fleas, wounds, and other possible injuries.
Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie: Which Breed Is More Sociable?
Border Collies, as well as Australian Shepherds, are highly sociable canines within a family setting. They thrive on spending time with their human companions.
Australian Shepherds are observed to be more dependent on their owners. Thus, they are very prone to separation anxiety.
Since the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd were primarily bred as herding dogs. They can be quite wary and indifferent towards strangers.
Border Collies tend to be timid and shy, whereas Australian Shepherds can be protective and confrontational.
Early socialisation in both breeds is essential to keep them from becoming hypervigilant. If they are not exposed to various people in different environments, they may develop extreme fear or aggression toward people.
Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie: Which of the Two Is Fit for Watchdog Duty?
Both breeds are sharp and alert dogs. However, the Australian Shepherd is more suitable as a watchdog. The breed is inherently protective and territorial of his pack. He is quick to bark and warns his owner if he senses anything amiss.
The Border Collie does possess the ability to become a watchdog. But he will not be as dedicated to the task as the Australian Shepherd is. He tends to bark when the intruder is already trespassing the property.
Be warned that Australian Shepherds and Border Collies are both vocal dogs. Consistent training should be done to ensure that their barking doesn’t become a nuisance.
Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie: What Breed Is Easier to Train?
The Australian Shepherd and Border Collie are intelligent breeds of dogs. Research shows that Border Collies are at the very top of the hierarchy when it comes to intelligence.
Border Collies can learn a command within 5 repetitions or less. They can carry out the command on the first try with a 95% success rate.
Australian Shepherds, on the other hand, rank 42nd in the most intelligent breed. They can understand a command after 25–40 repetitions. They have a 50% success rate when it comes to executing the command within the first try.
Regardless of their differences in intelligence, training both dog breeds is a challenge.
Although the Border Collie is a quick learner, he can be extremely stubborn when he wants to. The same goes for the Australian Shepherd, who can be quite pushy and overbearing.
Border Collies and Australian Shepherds are not recommended for novice dog owners.
Being highly intelligent dogs, they can quickly find ways to manipulate their humans and get what they want. These dogs need a patient and experienced handler who can firmly discipline them with gentleness.
Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie: Which Breed Needs More Exercise?
The 2 breeds have exceptionally high energy levels due to their herding dog background. Border Collies tend to have boundless amounts of energy compared to Australian Shepherds.
Both breeds are not good family companions for people with sedentary lifestyles. They need highly active owners that can give them at least 1–2 hours of exercise daily.
These dogs need to be given various tasks and engaged in different activities to exhaust their energy. If not, boredom and inactivity can make them high-strung and develop behavioural problems.
As working dogs, the Australian Shepherd and Border Collie don’t mind helping out simple chores such as sorting the laundry or picking up the remote.
Playtime in the back garden is important as well. The area should be vast enough for them to run around freely and release their energy.
Be warned that both herding breeds are jumpers. So make sure that the fences in your home are high enough to keep them from escaping.
Because of their high energy, Australian Shepherds and Border Collies are not the best choices for apartment living. However, if their daily exercise needs are met, they can adapt well to this type of living environment.
Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie: Which Breed Is Good with Children?
Both breeds are wonderful family dogs for households with older children. They are not recommended as pets for smaller children since they have intense herding instincts, especially the Border Collies.
On the other hand, Australian Shepherds are extremely protective of the children within the family.
These herding dogs need to undergo consistent training to keep these behaviours in check. Exercise also plays a big role in lowering their chasing and nipping tendencies.
Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie: Which Breed Is Healthier?
Both dog breeds are generally healthy dogs. The Australian Shepherd has a 13–15 years lifespan, whilst the Border Collie can live up to 12–15 years. They do have a few health issues that dog owners should be aware of.
Australian Shepherds are highly susceptible to eye problems such as cataracts and progressive renal atrophy. Some Border Collies suffer from an inborn autoimmune deficiency disease called trapped neutrophil syndrome.
Do your research and be careful of dishonest breeders that may pass off Australian Shepherd and Border Collie mix puppies as purebred ones. Ensure that the puppy you’re getting is bred by a reputable breeder who health-screens their dogs and puppies.
Do not forget to ask for the parent breeds’ health certificate. This document will help determine how likely your puppy is going to develop the health problems stated above.
Then, you may consult the vet to help you layout preventive measures to protect your puppy from these diseases.
Which Breed Is Better: Border Collie or Australian Shepherd?
Each of the dog breeds is good in its own way. Border Collies are highly intelligent dogs and quick learners. Meanwhile, Australian Shepherds are highly protective and devoted canines that do well as watchdogs.
That said, their best traits can become undesirable if they are not trained well and given proper attention. Thus, it is up to the owner to hone and improve the skills that these dog breeds possess.
With enough time, effort, and patience, both breeds can excel in anything they put their hearts and minds into with their human companions’ help.