The Border Collie and Australian Shepherd. Two very similarly looking dog breeds with similar background of working and herding dogs. Both extremely active, intelligent, alert and loyal. But there must be some differences between these two breeds, right? Of course there are!
History and origin
And lets start with the history. Many people assume, that the two breeds are related together, that they must have common ancestry. But that is not true and the Border Collie and Australian Shepherd evolved separately.
The Border Collie is a Scottish breed, that descended from old landrace collies that were found all over the Brittish Isles. On the other hand, the Australian Shepherd evolved in California, USA, from dogs that were brough to America with Spaniards and with their sheeps. Their ancestors are dog breeds like Carea Leonés. Basque Shepherd or Pyrenean Sheepdog.
Both breeds are relatively young, developed in 18th or 19th century and they were both developed for the same reason – to herd the livestock! But they are not related together, they do not share ancestry with each other.
It can be hard to recognize Australian Shepherd and Border Collie apart. They just look similarly, at least on the first sight! But there are some ways how to tell which one is which.
The Border Collie is slightly smaller breed, especially when it comes to the weight. The height of both breeds is similar, between 18-23 inch, which is 45-58 cm. But the typical weight of Border Collie is between 30-55 lbs, or 13-25 kg, while the Australian Shepherd weight is typically between 40-65 lbs, which is 18-30 kg.
You can find other differences in the coat and color of both breeds. Most often the Border Collie has a denser coat with rough outer texture, while the Australian Shepherds coat is smoother to touch.
Both breeds come in variety of colors. The most typical color for Border Collie is black and white combination, or some other dual colored combination and the Australian Shepherd is most often linked with the colorful merle coat, especially with hints of blue. The problem with this is, that even some Australian Shepherds can be for example black and white and Border Collies can be merle colored. Many people differentiate those two breeds based on the color, but that may be inaccurate.
Eyes can also tell you, which breed are you looking at. Both dogs can show heterochromia, which means they have each eye in different color, but this is far more prevalent in the Australian Shepherd. Both blue eyes or marbled eyes are also much more common in Australian Shepherd. Most Border Collies have eyes in rich cocoa color.
The body type is also slightly different. The Border Collie is little bit more compact and lean, while the Australian Shepherd has more sporty and hardy muscular physique.
You can see some differences in the faces as well. The Aussie has „softer“ face and they have floppy ears. The Border Collie has „sharper“ face and very often pricked ears.
And now lets talk about the temperament. And just like those two breeds are similar in appearance, they also have comparable personalities. Which is a result of their purpose, which is to be tireless herding dogs.
And indeed, both dogs are energentic, endurant and intelligent workaholics. Their herding style is slightly different and while the Border Collie is considered as a gathering dog and it is best at bringing the livestock together, the Australian Shepherd is better suited to move animals from one place to another. Sometimes, it is called as drover dog. The Border Collie use a lot of eye contact when they work and they are known as strong eyed dog, while the Australian Shepherd is loose eyed dog, as they use less eye contact and they communicate much more by movement.
The Australian Shepherd also uses their barking and different sounds when they are herding more than the Border Collie. And they are barking a little bit more even as companion pets. But again, the difference is not huge.
Border Collies have slightly stronger herding tendencies and they are more likely to herd other pets or even kids in the family. Australian Shepherd can also do it, but it is typically more laid back in this area.
Both dogs love their family, but it seems that the Border Collie is little bit more independent breed. The Border Collie is also known to be little bit alert and suspicious towards strangers, in contrary to the Australian Shepherd who typically just loves everyone. The Australian Shepherd thrives for attention and it is more prone to suffer from separation anxiety, which is only rarely a problem with the Border Collies.
But it is important to say, that all the temperamental characteristics are vastly influenced by socialization and training.
As you probably expect, both dogs are highly energetic and they require tons of exercise, especially if they are not used for herding. There is not much difference in the exercise needs for these dogs, as they both require daily longer walks, hikes, jogs, vigorous playtime, fun training sessions, just anything, that will occupy them physically, but also mentally.
And it is important to mentally stimulate these dogs. Physical exercise is not enough for neither of those breeds. You can try some puzzle toys or learning all kinds of tricks. You can also try some dog sport, the high energy combined with high intelligence makes Border Collies and Australian Shepherds just excellent at almost any kind of dog sport, but they are best known for their excellent results in agility.
And what about the maintenance? Well, first of all, lets say that both breeds shed. And they shed quite a lot. The coarser outer coat of Border Collie will need little bit more brushing than the soft coat of Australian Shepherd, but the difference is quite small.
It is recommended to brush your Border Collie 3 or 4 times a week to keep the coat in good condition. The Australian Shepherds coat is less prone to knotting, which means you spend less time with the brushing, but the frequency of brushing is similar. So the Australian Shepherd has slight edge over the Border Collie in this area, as you will spend less time with the brushing.
No other grooming is required with neither of those two breeds.
And finally, lets compare the health of the Border Collie and Australian Shepherd, and they are typically very healthy dogs that are only prone to few serious health issues. They both can have problems with joints, which include ilnessses like hip dysplasia. Another health issues these dogs have in common are problems with eyes. Border Collies and Australian Shepherds can experience issues such as cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy and Collie eye anomaly.
They can also suffer from so called multidrug sensitivity. It is caused by a rare genetic mutation known as multidrug resistance gene, which can cause that certain medications could poison your dog if they suffer with this mutation. You should absolve screening and sample testing for this genetic mutation.
Other than that, these dogs do not suffer much from any other health issues and both dogs have lifespan somehwere around 14 or 15 years.
Which one to choose?
So for conclusion, these two dogs are extremely similar. People are often times asking, which one is better – Border Collie or Australian Shepherd. And it is impossible to answer. Some people will say that they prefer the Australian Shepherd as more affectionate and friendlier companion, but because they can suffer from the separation anxiety, many people will rather choose the more independent Border Collie.
Both breeds are big commitment. They are not best for novices, especially because they need a lot of physical and mental exercise. Without the exercise, they will develop problematic behaviour, like destruction. That is important to remember. Both are amazing dogs, but they are not for everyone and they need active owners and families.Tell me in comments if you have ever owned a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd? If so, what do you like the most about them and what is your experience with these two dog breeds? If you are new on this channel, consider subscribing, turn the notifications on and check the Rocadogs links in description. Thank you for watching, see you in the next video.