Differences Between The Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd

It's possible to find differences in the history, physique and temperament of the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd, despite them being two breeds that are very similar to the naked eye.
Differences Between The Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd
Samuel Sanchez

Reviewed and approved by the biologist Samuel Sanchez.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

The Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd are very similar in appearance, in addition to having in common their work as sheepdogs. In this article, we’re going to show you some characteristics that can help you distinguish between one breed and another. The differences between the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd are related to their history, appearance, and temperament.

Both are loving, faithful, loyal, attentive, and very active dogs, but they aren’t quite the same. So, if you have any questions about which of these two breeds to choose as a companion animal, the following differences could help you make a choice.

A different origin

Their origin is one of the main distinctions between these breeds. According to the American Kennel Club, the history of the Border Collie began in Great Britain. Apparently, this compact and agile sheepdog for working cattle in the Scottish and Welsh highlands arose from the crosses between old Roman dogs and Viking spitzes.

On the other hand, the Australian Shepherd doesn’t have a very clear history. However, it’s believed that it’s a canine native to the United States and that its name came from its association with Basque sheepherding dogs that arrived on North American soil from Australia around the year 1800.

An Australian Shepherd Dog.

Physical differences between the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd

These herding dogs are very similar physically, but they also have characteristics in their appearance that make a difference in each breed. Among them are their shades, their fur and their body.

Therefore, if you carefully observe a Border Collie and an Australian Shepherd, you will know how to determine which is which as long as you take into account the following aspects:

  • Size: Although both dogs are medium in size, the Border Collie isn’t quite as tall or heavy as the Australian Shepherd. The latter reaches a maximum height of 58 centimeters and a weight of up to 32 kilograms, while the collie reaches 56 centimeters and weighs around 20 kilograms.
  • Colors: It’s common to find the Border Collie with a bicolor pattern in black and white, but there are also dogs of this breed in tricolor black, tricolor brown, gray, blue, red and merle. The Australian Shepherd, on the other hand, can be blue-black, black, or red, with or without white markings or a copper color.
  • Ears: This is one of the most noticeable differences between the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd. This is so because the Australian Shepherd’s ears are triangular and drooping, while those of the Border Collie are usually erect or semi-erect.
  • Coat: The border collie’s coat is slightly smoother and longer than the Australian Shepherd’s. In addition, the Australian dog has shorter head hair and, in general, the collie’s coat is much denser.

Different personalities

As pets, both dogs are friendly, sociable, loyal, and intelligent. However, there are also differences in their personality. According to the International Cynological Federation, the Australian Shepherd has a strong guardian instinct and is much more protective when it comes to caring for the family compared to its counterpart.

Also, although they’re both sheepdogs, the Border Collie is better at guiding sheep due to its agility and speed. On the other hand, the Australian dog is more prepared to guide cows, buffalo, geese, and any type of cattle. In addition, the Australian Shepherd may be able to get used to living in an apartment, while the Border Collie will always require large open spaces.


Training these breeds isn’t difficult, as they’re both obedient and intelligent dogs. However, as it’s considered one of the most intelligent dogs in the world, experts have found that the Border Collie requires fewer hours of training to be able to comply with an order or task. On the contrary, the Australian Shepherd needs a little more training, although it doesn’t have any problems in learning quickly either.


Both the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd need basic care to ensure that they’re healthy and happy. In this vein, vaccination, deworming, hygiene, food, and exercise are essential in the lives of both dogs. However, grooming does hold some differences between these breeds.

The Border Collie requires its coat to be brushed daily to keep it shiny and silky, but for the Australian Shepherd, this routine doesn’t need to be as intense. With two brushings a week, this dog will be able to keep its coat well cared for.

A Border Collie lying in the grass.

In conclusion, the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd are medium-sized dogs, intelligent, active, loyal, and willing to fulfill the tasks assigned to them if they’re trained. Either of these dogs can be a great faithful friend and companion.

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