Differences between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds

By Janhvi Johorey, Psychologist specialized in animal therapy. Updated: November 15, 2017
Differences between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds

See files for Dogs

Animated, agile and adaptable, the Australian Shepherd is synonymous with herding and working as a farm and ranch dog. It needs a lot of activity to be content. With blue merle, red merle, black or red with or without white mar kings, the Australian Shepherd has a distinctive coat. Another farm dog which is also an excellent companion is the Border Collie which is in fact one of the Australian Shepherd's ancestors. This AnimalWised article focuses on the differences between the two ranch and farm dogs.

You may also be interested in: What are the Different Types of Shepherd Dogs?


Despite the Australian Shepherd's name, it iis clear that the breed was actually developed in the United States during the XIXth century as a livestock guardian dog. Although there is dispute about its origins, it looks like it was a cross between Border Collies and other Shepherd-type dogs that were imported during the 1840s from Australia to the American continent. This is where the first difference resides, as the Australian Shepherd is a cross that has the Border Collie as one of its direct ancestors.


Although they are both medium sized-long haired and with a smooth coat, there are more physical traits that can help us distinguish both breeds.

Border Collies have more color combinations than the Australian Shepherd when it comes to coat shades. Let's take a look at the colors each breed can have:

Border Collies

  • Black and white
  • Motted
  • Blue merle
  • Red merle
  • Sable/white
  • Blue/White
  • Red/White
  • Chocolate/white

Australian Shepherds

  • Merle
  • Black
  • Blue Merle
  • Red tricolor
  • Black
  • Red

Another trait that can tell Border Collies apart from Australian Shepherds is the type of coat, as the Border Collie's is more dense and rougher than that of the Australian Shepherd. Moreover, Australian Shepherds are more prone to heterochromia, which means they have different colored eyes or two different colors in one same eye. However, Border Collies with the Merle gene can also have heterochromia.

Differences between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds - Appearance


The Australian Shepherd is heavier and bigger in stature than the Border Collies, although they are both medium-sized dogs.

Adult Border Collies weigh around 23 kg (50.7 lbs) and are between 46 to 58 cm (18 to 22 inches) in height. On the other hand, a fully-grown Australian Shepherd will be between 50 to 54 cm (20 to 23 inches) tall and will weigh 25 to 30 kg (55 to 66 lbs) on average.


The Australian Shepherd is a wonderful guard dog which barks and alerts the owners when intruders arrive. This is perfect for those who need a dog that will protect its owners, act out against any attacker and guard as well as protect the family and home turf. On the other hand, the Border Collie is a slightly less watchful guard dog, although it is equally alert, as it is known to bark and raise an alarm when attackers invade.

Whether you choose the Australian Shepherd or the Border Collie, they make for loyal, affectionate and caring pets. That is something these two sheepdogs have in common!

While the Border Collie is shyer and a real energetic and good worker, it works separately from the Australian Shepherd. While the Border Collie works from a distance, the Australian Shepherd is great for herding cattle. Both breeds have been developed for different purposes on the ranch and this reflects in their temperaments.

Not suited to apartment life, both breeds need vast, open spaces to roam in. Here's where the similarities end. The Australian Shepherd is more difficult for those who have not handled dogs before. The Border Collie is perfect for those who are first-time owners

Life expectancy of the Australian Shepherd is also slightly higher than that of the collie, as the Ozzie breed can live up to 15 years old on average, whereas the Collie's life expectancy is around 12 years of life.

Differences between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds - Character


While the Australian Shepherd requires grooming on a regular basis to keep fur in excellent shape, trimming or stripping is not required very much. The Border Collie's care require more hard work to keep their fur healthy and vibrant, as it is usually rougher. Routine brushing is suited for both dogs. When it comes to maintenance, both these farm dogs require a medium to high amount of care, though.

Training For Farming and Ranch Activities

While training for ranch and farm activities, the Australian Shepherd is considered average. Results will come on a more gradual basis. The Border Collie, on the other hand, has been associated with excellent training results. Few repetitions are needed while training this dog for herding, guarding the farm and other activities. The Border Collie listens to commands and is extremely obedient and caring.

Differences between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds - Training For Farming and Ranch Activities

If you want to read similar articles to Differences between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds, we recommend you visit our Comparisons category.

Write a comment about Differences between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds

Add an image
Click to attach a photo related to your comment
What did you think of this article?
I have both a female Border Collie named Sheeba and a male Australian Shephard named Buddy (psycho dammitdog). My Border Collie was 13 years old this past Nov. and still going. My Australian Shephard was 3 years old this past March and seems to still have so much puppy left in him. He never slows down. Which is why the extension on the name. They are both very loyal and very protective dogs. While Sheeba is more affectionate dog Buddy is the more protective one. I love them both like I love my children. I will never own any other breed of dog.
I’ve had many border collies, and many other breeds and the collies where always such a handfull! I fell a lot of bias on the writers part to the Shepard.
There was definitely a bias towards the Shepherd.
Very good and informative article. We have an Aussie/Border collie mix, 11 1/2 years young. Great dog, herds us together, good off-leash, friendly, has heterachromia, and can see the love in his eyes. Takes so little to please him, and gives back so very much love to us.

Differences between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds
1 of 4
Differences between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds

Back to top