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Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie

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Australian Shepherd (on the left) vs. Border Collie (on the right)

Virtually all shepherd dog breeds are deemed intelligent, affectionate, protective, and biddable. That includes the Australian Shepherd and the Border Collie. These two energetic dogs can sometimes be difficult to tell apart due to the many similarities they share. 

Likewise, it can sometimes be a daunting task when it comes to choosing between these two intelligent breeds. However, while the Australian and Border Collie share similarities, they also have several differences. In this article, you will discover those differences as well as the necessary information to decide which of these two dogs fits into your lifestyle or family.

History

Notwithstanding its name, the Australian Shepherd, or Aussie, is not native to Australia. The breed was developed in California, USA, in the 1800s, making it an all-American breed. According to legend, the Aussie has its origins in sheepdog breeds. It is believed that the Aussie descended from Collies and Border Collies imported, alongside sheep, from Australia to the United States. The breed was so named by Americans who thought its ancestors came from Australia.

On the other hand, the Border Collie, which is deemed to be the Aussie's progenitor, was named after its place of origin, the Anglo-Scottish border. The breed is believed to be a descendant of a sheepdog named Old Hemp. The Border Collie's origin dates back to the 1700s.

Similarities between the Australian Shepherd and the Border Collie

To begin with, the Aussie and Border Collie are similar in size. They are both medium-sized dogs, typically standing between 20 and 23 inches tall and weighing around 35-45 pounds. Additionally, both breeds have double-coated medium-to-long hair. What's more, both the Aussie and the Border Collie are considered moderate-to-serious shedders, thus requiring brushing two to three times a week.

When it comes to herding livestock, neither of the two breeds is deemed the best. They both possess strong herding instincts and are renowned for their gathering ability. In other words, Aussies and Border Collies can round up sheep or cattle in an orderly fashion and bring them to the shepherd.

Furthermore, Aussies and Border Collies have similar color variations.

Aussies' recognized colors include:
  • Blue merle
  • Red merle
  • Solid black
  • Solid red
  • Black Bi
  • Red Bi
  • Black Tri
  • Red Tri
Border Collies have similar colors as Australian Shepherds. Please, refer to the following image for example.
Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie color variations

As working dogs, both Aussies and Border Collies are extremely energetic and require lots of exercise. They both love to run and jump in the backyard, making them unsuitable for apartment living. In addition, they are both not pets for sedentary individuals due to their high energy levels.

Both the Australian Shepherd and Border Collie are considered healthy breeds with an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. Furthermore, both Aussies and Border Collies are:
  • Easy to train: Aussies and Border Collies are both quick learners.
  • Smart: Both breeds often make it to the list of the world's smartest dog breeds, though the Border Collie is deemed to be the smartest of them all.
  • Great family pets: Both Aussies and Border Collies make excellent family dogs but sometimes try to herd family members including kids. This is due to their strong herding instinct, which can be curbed through early training and socialization. Fortunately, both breeds are biddable as well as affable.
  • Eager to please: Both breeds are known for their eager-to-please nature. As such, they will appreciate as much praise and attention as you can give them.
  • Velcro dogs: Aussies and Border Collies are some of the most affectionate dog breeds on earth. As such, they love sticking to their owners and are extremely protective of them. The term "Velcro dog" refers to a dog that wants to be with its owner all the time.
  • Playful: Anytime is literally their playtime.
  • Versatile: Both breeds can adapt to different family environments.
Your search might end with either an Aussie or a Border Collie if you are in the market for a smart, affectionate, easy-to-train, and high-energy dog.

Differences between the Australian Shepherd and the Border Collie

The Australian Shepherd differs from the Border Collie in terms of body build. Speaking of body build, the Australian Shepherd boasts a hardy muscular physique as opposed to the Border Collie, which sports a somewhat lean and compact body.

Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie body build

The Aussie is considered a moderate barker whereas the Border Collie is deemed a barking breed or serious barker. By all accounts, Aussies bark to alert their owners of a danger or stranger, or when they are not given enough attention. Overall, they are not extremely vocal dogs. 

On the other hand, Border Collies are very vocal dogs and bark at anything that moves quickly, such as bikes and skateboards. Like Aussies, Border Collies also bark when they are bored or don't receive enough attention. Luckily, this breed is deemed the smartest on earth and thus can be trained to become a lovely and well-mannered dog.

Australian Shepherds commonly have different colored eyes, aka heterochromia. It is an eye condition caused by a lack of pigment in the eye, resulting in dogs as well as other animals having, for example, one blue and one brown eye. This phenomenon is common in merle Australian Shepherds.

On the other hand, brown eyes are most common in the Border Collie breed, though they can also have heterochromia.

Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie heterochromia

In terms of popularity and favoritism, Australian Shepherds reign supreme. Aussies are the most favorite breed in the United States. The breed ranks 12th on the AKC's list of the most popular dog breeds of 2023. The Border Collie is ranked number 31 on the list, which makes the breed also one of the most popular in the country.

However, in terms of intelligence, the Border Collie reigns supreme. In actuality, the Border Collie is renowned for its high IQ whereas the Aussie is renowned for its gorgeous look. According to a test, it takes a Border Collie fewer than five repetitions to understand a new command. Conversely, it takes the Australian Shepherd 25 to 40 repetitions to understand a new command.

Ultimately, both breeds are intelligent. The only difference, though, is that Border Collies learn quicker than Aussies.

In terms of price, Australian Shepherds tend to be somewhat more expensive than Border Collies. On average, it will cost you between $1,000 and $2,000 to get an Australian Shepherd puppy from a reputable breeder. On the other hand, getting a Border Collie puppy from a reputable breeder will cost you between $600 and $1,500.

Australian Shepherd Border Collie Mix

an Australian Collie

The Australian Collie, also known as Border Aussie, is an offspring of the Australian Shepherd and Border Collie breeds. In other words, the Border Aussie is 50% Aussie and 50% Border Collie. Having no breed standard, Border Aussies are seen in a variation of colors from either parent. They are described as extremely intelligent, medium-sized energetic mixed-breed with serious herding instincts. 

Additionally, they are known to be active and work-oriented, including the positive traits of both parent breeds. Given its parents' characteristics, it is safe to say that the Border Aussie is a double trouble in terms of intelligence, energy, as well as affection.

Aussies and Border Collies get along well with each other

In addition to being known for getting along with other animals, Aussies and Border Collies are best friends themselves. A couple of years ago, someone posted the following picture on Reddit with the caption "A Border and an Aussie make for excellent best friends."

An Aussie and a Border Collie being best friends
Source: Reddit

In the comment section of the post, many users share their positive experiences as owners of an Australian Shepherd and a Border Collie.

Conclusion

Both the Australian Shepherd and the Border Collie make excellent family dogs and running partners for active people. This is because they are both smart, affectionate, adaptable, and energetic. The latter, however, makes them unsuitable for apartment living and inactive people. Both breeds require a great deal of exercise daily to burn off energy. 

Their energy can also be channeled through obedience and agility trials. Owning an Aussie or a Border Collie requires that you meet their training and exercise needs throughout life. Otherwise, you might as well look for a low-energy dog breed that is independent.

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