Border Collie vs. Australian Shepherd — Which Breed Is Right For You?

Border Collie vs. Australian Shepherd — Which Breed Is Right For You?

Looking for an intelligent, friendly, and energetic dog to add to your pack? You can’t go wrong with a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd — but which is truly best suited for you?

Border Collie vs Australian Shepherd. Learn their differences and similarities

If you’re looking for a dog that’s as smart as it is loyal and fun, you’ll find that both the Border Collie and Australian Shepherd have these qualities in spades. Whether you’re looking for a hard working dog, a hiking buddy, or a furry and loving family member, both breeds will be a great choice for you. In so many ways, these breeds are similar — from their appearance to their size and stature — there are some key things that set them apart that may make one a better match.

Let’s start with size

Perfectly situated between a mid-sized and large dog, the Australian Shepherd and Border Collie are very similar in their stature. In terms of height, the two breeds stand nearly as tall as one another (females, specifically), but when it comes to weight, Australian Shepherds have a few pounds extra and have a sturdier build than the lean Border Collie.

According to AKC, here are the stats:

Border Collie:

Height: 19 - 22 inches (male), 18 - 21 inches (female)

Weight: 30 - 55 lbs

Australian Shepherd:

Height: 20 - 23 inches (male), 18 - 21 inches (female)

Weight: 50 - 65 lbs (male), 40 - 55 lbs (female)

These two breeds are perfect for folks who are looking for something larger than a lap dog, but still a small enough size to be able to lift if necessary, and take on adventures — both breeds certainly have the energy and want to adventure frequently!


If adorable ears are your thing, you’ll love these two breeds — while they have a certainly cute floppy look, both breeds’ ears also have the ability to stand nearly fully erect when alert. Sometimes, just one stands at attention, which adds to the cuteness-factor.

Both breeds have medium to long hair, though sometimes Australian Shepherds can have a fluffier appearance. Border Collies, interestingly, have two different types of coats, rough and smooth, according to HoundzTooth, “the smooth coat is shorter in length and usually coarser in texture than the rough-coated variety.”

In terms of body type, Border Collies are the leaner of the two breeds while Australian Shepherds are often described as “solid” or “robust,” meaning their stature has a bit of a fuller, sturdier appearance than that of a Border Collie.

If you’re looking for a particular coat color, both breeds have quite a few different varieties.

Australian Shepherds:

(Coat color information from Australian Shepherd Club of America)

Black Tri – Black, White, Copper

Black Bi – Black and White

Red Tri – Red, White, Copper

Red Bi – Red and White
Blue Merle with Copper and White Trim

Blue Bi with White Trim

Red Merle with Copper and White Trim

Red Merle with White Trim


Border Collies:

(According to BubblyPet, the AKC recognizes a staggering 17 standard Border Collie colors!)

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes 17 standard Border Collie colors which Black


Blue merle





Red merle


Sable merle

Saddleback sable

White and black

White and blue

White and blue merle

White and red

White and red merle

White ticked

To keep these beautiful double coats looking their best, it’s important to keep both breeds well groomed. This is another thing to keep in mind when it comes to knowing if your lifestyle and free time allow for the amount of grooming care these two breeds will need. With their longer hair, both will do best to be brushed regularly (Bi-weekly at the least, once a week at best to avoid matting and tangling).


Let’s set these breeds apart:

Australian Shepherd:

  • - Generally considered to be good with kids/a good family dog

  • - Easy going, but can be wary of people, so good to socialize them and train them around children from puppyhood

  • - May try to instinctually herd children (if this is a trait that becomes frustrating, it can be worked on through training and giving your dog enough playtime and physical stimulation)

Exercise/Physical Stimulation Needs

When it comes to exercise/play, the Border Collie undoubtedly ranks as the more high maintenance breed when compared to the Australian Shepherd. Owners will have to have the time to dedicate to the breed’s mental and physical stimulation needs on a daily basis.

Border Collie exercise insight from the American Kennel Club:

  • - High-drive, athletic breed

  • - Extremely energetic

  • - Requires daily exercise beyond just a walk around the block or a quick romp in the yard

  • - Thrive when they have a job to do and space to run

  • - A Border Collie who doesn't work must be provided with vigorous exercise every day

“Clearly, this is a breed for an active owner, and not for someone who prefers to stay indoors or who travels away from home frequently. BCs often participate (and excel) in herding events, not to mention obedience, agility, rally, and tracking competitions, and sports such as flying disc and flyball.”

Australian Shepherd exercise insight from the American Kennel Club:

  • - High-energy, athletic dog

  • - Needs a great deal of exercise on a daily basis.

  • - Should have a large, fenced-in yard to run around in for at least an hour or two daily

  • - Love long walks & hikes

Additionally, “Once an Aussie leaves puppyhood behind, and his skeletal system is fully formed, he can make a great running companion. The best course, however, is to give the Aussie a job, whether that is herding livestock, shepherding children, or competing in canine events such as obedience, herding or agility trials, or dock diving.”

Any bad behavior?

When it comes to bad behavior in dogs, it often stems from a lack of proper stimulation or a proper outlet for their energy. With these two energetic breeds, it’s no surprise that they can get up to no good if bored.  

Both can be prone to separation anxiety, and may get destructive when bored (chewing things, digging, etc.).


While every dog is different, health is one particular area where it helps to know generalizations about the breed. Many breeds are susceptible to particular health issues, and it’s incredibly helpful to know what health ailments your dog may be prone to so that you can stay ahead of them and keep your dog feeling their best throughout their life.

Border Collie:

Life expectancy: 12-15 years

May be prone to:

  • - Hip dysplasia

  • - Elbow dysplasia

  • - Epilepsy

  • - Collie eye anomaly (look out for this in puppyhood!)

  • - Thyroid issues

  • - Ear infections

  • - Allergies


Australian Shepherd:

Life expectancy: 12-15 years

May be prone to:

  • - Hip dysplasia

  • - Elbow dysplasia

  • - Ear infections

  • - Cataracts

  • - Deafness

  • - Certain forms of cancer: hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma


These two active, high-energy breeds need a diet that will keep them well fueled! Both breeds will do best on a high-quality diet that is age-appropriate from puppyhood into adulthood and their senior years. Eating healthy, high-quality, nutritious food will help to support a long and healthy life.

Because these two pups are prone to joint issues, consider supplementing their diet with ingredients specific to these needs. We’ve got treats that can help with that — and, as an added bonus, these treats (our dental sticks) are a great way to keep dogs busy, our Banana Bone-Anza dental sticks are a great option!

With their need for mental stimulation in mind, healthy, low-calorie, delicious training treats are a great way to reward your pup during training time! Shameless Pets has you covered there, too! Try our new bone broth training chews — these high-reward training treats are packed with naturally occurring collagen from bone broth, and are only 3kcal/treat, perfect for rewarding those good pups, from puppy to senior.

The bottom line...

If you’re looking for an adventure buddy, both Australian Shepherds and Border Collies are a great option for you. While both breeds are high energy, it’s fair to assume that the Border Collie will demand a bit more when it comes to staying stimulated both physically and mentally. For both of these breeds, it’s important to ensure that your environment is suitable for them to live a happy and healthy life — a fenced in yard, a neighborhood suitable for walks, and a home life where pets are treated as family is key for these energetic, loyal, and loving breeds!