Collie vs. Border Collie: Which is the right shepherd dog for you?

Both from Great Britain, the Border Collie and the Collie (also known as Standard Collie) are popular herding dogs that have a lot of differences.

Aside from Borders being highly intelligent and Collies as loyal family pets, let’s take a look at other comparisons they have in terms of physical traits, temperament, health problems, and more.

What is a Collie and a Border Collie?

Even by starting this article about their origins would already show the distinction between the two.

Standard Collies are called in different names such as Long-haired or Rough Collie, Lassie Dog, English Collie, and Scottish or Scotch Collie. This a sheepherding breed from Scotland is said to be a combination of local canines and the ones brought by Romans.

The Collie’s popularity started to grow around the mid-1800s and was recognized as a herding breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1885.

Border Collies are also known for their skills in herding sheep, but they originated from the border regions of Wales and Scotland. They’re a product of mixing the herding dogs of Romans with the Viking’s spitzes. The Border Collie was also placed in the working-class of AKC back in 1995.

Also known as Scotch Sheep Dog, Borders still have the number one spot as the smartest breed in the world.

Collies and Border Collies don’t look alike

You would have to look closely to notice a lot of dissimilarity concerning the appearance of Borders and Collies.

One of the few things they have in common is that the Border Collie and Collie comes in two variations: rough (long-haired) and smooth (short-haired). Both these breeds also have a double-layered coat.

Let’s start with the Standard Collie.

Rough Collie vs. Smooth Collie

Regardless of the coat type, the Scotch Collie is a medium- to a large-sized dog that exudes a regal and majestic demeanor. They have a muscular build with a proportionately broad chest and sloping shoulders.

Rough Collie in the snow

An adult Collie has a height of 22 to 26 inches (56 to 66 cm) and a weight of 50 to 75 pounds (23 to 34 kg), with females being a bit smaller.

Its breed standard describes Collies as “an impressive, proud picture of true balance, each part being in harmonious proportion to every other part and the whole.”

A Collie’s head is considered as one of their characteristic features. It’s like a blunted wedge tapering smoothly down to its rounded muzzle. They have almond-shaped eyes and ears that are tipped or semi-prick.

If their ears were taped when they were puppies, it will not “tip” appropriately, but it’s common in many Collies.

A Smooth Collie and two Rough Collies

People are more familiar with the long-haired and rough-coated variety of this breed. Rough Collies have abundant fur all over their bodies. Their outer coat feels coarse, while their undercoat is dense and soft.

Smooth Collies have the same texture for their undercoat and outercoat, but their outer guard hairs are about one to two inches long.

They only have long fur in a ruff around the Smooth Collie’s neck and on the back of their thighs.

Both types of Standard Collies have four coat colors that are recognized by kennel clubs, which are sable and white, blue merle, tricolor (black, sable, and white), and white with little to few colored-markings.

The rough-coated and smooth-coated Border Collie

Borders are generally smaller than Scotch Shepherds. They’re under the medium range for dogs that weigh about 30 to 55 pounds (14 to 25 kg) and stand between 18 to 22 inches (46 to 56 cm) tall.

Rough-coated and smooth-coated Border Collies

When people think of Border Collies, they can imagine the breed that has a medium-length coat with black and white color and markings. But this herding dog has hair that can range from long and rough to short and smooth and can come in any color and patterns.

Some of the other shades that Border Collies come in are red and white, tricolor, red and blue merles, sables, and their rarest form – the double merle or white.

Borders are an exceptional breed. Although they have breed standards, their skills or working ability is more valued than their appearance.

When it comes to a suitable living space, Borders won’t thrive in an apartment-type of home the way Collies can. This breed will do better in a ranch or farm where they can run freely and safely on their own. A spacious house with a large yard could also work, too.

Differences between the Collie and Border Collies temperament

Since the Border Collie and the Lassie Dog are classified as working breeds, they’re both bright and trainable canines. Still, they have their own personalities that make them unique.

Borders are way more intense and energetic compared to the Collies. They do best when they have a task or job to do. Not a lot of people have a field, so most owners get their pet to join dog activities and sports like agility competitions, obedience, flyball, and even herding trials.

If you want to see what it’s like living with a Border Collie and how fun they can be, you should check out this video:


Border Collies are sensitive and responsive, with their intelligence, they know how to respond with simple gestures or even a raise of an eyebrow. But that also means they easily get bored. If that happens, they become unhappy. As a vocal breed, they’d bark a lot or do damage around the house.

Standard Collies are more laid-back and calmer. They may be under the working class, but they have no problem being loyal family pets.

If they’re trained at an early age, Collies will do well in a home with kids and other pets. Although they’re not as energetic as Borders, they still need to get their daily dose of play and exercise.

Here’s a compilation of Collie videos that you’ll enjoy, just to give you an idea of what they’re like:


Although they’re both smart, the Border Collie has strong herding instincts. It’s in their nature, and you can only control it. If not trained and socialized at an early age, they may herd and nip anything that moves – including children.

For novice owners, a Standard Collie may be the right fit as they’re easygoing. If you’re experienced or is up for a challenging canine buddy, then having a Border Collie is going to be rewarding.

Both the Scottish Collie and Border Collie can be easily trained that they can do more work than just herding. They can also be incredible at other types of jobs such as service and therapy dogs, guard dogs, as well as detection or sniffer canines.

Taking care of Borders and Scotch Collies

Whichever breed you go for, getting a pet means providing overall care and being a responsible owner.

You should be prepared to invest your time and attention to your Collie or Border Collie.

Grooming a Collie & a Border Collie

These double-coated furballs shed, and fortunately, they have similar grooming needs. Smooth-coated Borders and Collies may be easier to maintain, but regular brushing is still required. It will help in minimizing the hair from getting into every corner of your house.

Of course, long-coated varieties are higher maintenance. You have to brush its hair daily to prevent matting.

Get ready with your vacuum, or even regular visits to the groomers, because blowing coat can get worse during the shedding season.

For bathing, Border Collies only need to be washed four times a year or when necessary. The Lassie Dog is every eight weeks and brushed bi-weekly.

A merle Border Collie and a tricolor Rough Collie walking on snow

How much should you feed a Border Collie and a Collie?

Some would say that Borders need 1 ½ to 2 cups of dry kibbles a day, while Collies are said to need 2 to 3 cups. But did you know that all types of dog food have different serving suggestions due to the different ingredients?

When trying to figure out how much to feed a puppy or adult dog, there are factors that you have to consider. The amount you feed your pet should be based on his size, age, activity level, and medical conditions.

Nowadays, it’s better to know your dog’s caloric requirements based on their weight. A Collie needs at least 989 calories a day, and Borders require between 700 to 1,000. If you want to try figuring out the numbers for yourself, there are a lot of dog food calculators online that are helpful.

Working canines should be fed a protein-based diet with lesser grains as an ingredient to backup their active lifestyle. Some owners even avoid feeding soy or corn to their herding dog.

Collies are known to be at risk of bloat, so it’s better if you can divide its daily food intake into two feedings or more throughout the day.

Exercise needs of a Border Collie vs. a Collie

Border Collies are highly energetic and would require an hour to two hours of exercise a day. This can be a mix of physical and mental stimulation. Although they love and need to be always on the move, owners of this breed should be creative with tasks and games.

Remember, Borders can quickly get bored, so make sure that you provide something new for your dog to learn.

Collies, on the other hand, are not that active. Forty-five minutes to an hour of daily outdoor activities would make them happy and satisfied. Lassie dogs don’t have trouble following orders when you tell them it’s time to go and time to relax, as long as they spend time with you.

A Rough Collie and blue merle Border Collie running at the beach

A Border Collie’s health compared to a Collie

As with any purebred dog, the Scotch Collie and Border may inherit prevalent health problems that are common in their breed.

We can’t emphasize how crucial it is to make sure that you only buy from breeders who test their breeding stock and litter, especially for inherited diseases.

Health concerns found in English Collies

Canines in the Collie family suffer from eye abnormalities such as Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA).

They’re also predisposed to illnesses that most larger dogs can have, such as bloat and hip dysplasia.

Collie Health Foundation has a list of diseases in the Collie breed. It also gives you a rundown of health tests that your dog should get.

Border Collies’ health problems

Borders share some of the genetic ailments like Collies. Those include Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) and hip dysplasia.

But other health concerns are more common in Border Collies. Some of those are neurological disorders such as Idiopathic Epilepsy and Border Collapse, which is simply known as exercise-induced collapse.

There’s also Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) and Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD).

The American Border Collie Association also has a list of genetic diseases that are found in Borders.

Comparing the lifespan of Standard Collies and Border Collies

With proper care and diet, and an active lifestyle, a healthy Collie has an average life expectancy of 12 years. It can range from 10 to 14 years, but some dogs reach 16 years of age.

The Border Collie has a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, with 12 years being the average, too.

Collie and Border Collie puppies for sale

Group of Scotch Collie puppies running together in the garden
Scotch Collie puppies

Aside from making sure that you’re purchasing a Collie or Border Collie puppy from a responsible breeder who has their dogs tested, you should also be able to see the results as proof.

As much as possible, avoid buying a cute pooch from malls or pet stores. Many of these pups came from commercial breeding operations or puppy mills. Steering clear from them would keep you from taking home a sick pet.

Group of five border collie puppies in front of a white background
Border Collie puppies

If you’re wondering how much is a Border Collie compared to a Collie, the price range also varies. It will be different due to factors like the breeder’s location, the pedigree or bloodline of the puppy, and availability.

Borders cost about $600 to $800, while you can buy a Lassie dog of your own for only $400 to $600.

Do you want to start your search for a Border Collie puppy and breeder? You can go ahead and check out our list of breeders.

For Collie breeders, Aspen Collies Home (Athol, Idaho) and Cook’s Collies (Elk Falls, Kansas) are worth a visit.

Other breeds compared to Border Collies

It’s no wonder that people would look for differences between Borders and other working breeds. They may be the smartest canine that excels in canine sports and competitions, but some won’t be able to provide the needs of a highly intelligent and energetic pooch.

The good thing is there’s a lot of Border Collie mixes out there. Although they may get the active trait and herding instinct of Borders, there’s also a possibility that they’d take after their other parent.

But here are some of the purebreds that are compared to the Border Collie:

English Shepherd vs. Border Collie

Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) vs. Border Collie

German Shepherd vs. Border Collie

Australian Shepherd vs. Border Collie

Australian Cattle Dog vs. Border Collie

Which one is a better pet for you – the Collie or Border Collie?

a Rough Collie and a Border Collie playing with a ball

The answer to this question will all depend on you and your lifestyle. Borders are recommended for experienced owners who are active and have the time to care, train, and be with their dog.

If you’re a new pet owner and would prefer a smart dog that’s more easygoing, the Standard Collie or Scottish Sheepdog may be the right choice. They’re more gentle and great as a family dog in a home with kids and other pets.

When it comes to similarities, they both have a double-coated fur that sheds and have similar grooming needs. They also don’t enjoy being left alone for too long, or they’ll bark.

Have you already decided if you’re going for the Border Collie or a Collie? Do you already have any of the breeds mentioned? Tell us about it by commenting on the box below.

If you enjoyed reading this comparison breed, you might also like our article about Cockapoo vs Cavapoo.



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