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Collie vs Border Collie: Visual Differences & Overview


Jun 12, 2023
Collie vs Border Collie


Collie vs Border Collie

The Collie and Border Collie are two famous and beloved breeds, but the Collie might be a bit more famous in the U.S. thanks to a dog named Lassie. While they have differences, these two popular dogs are similar beyond sharing a name. Both are herding dogs and excel at canine sports. The two dogs are also social, affectionate, and lovable and make fantastic companion pets.

Collies and Border Collies are quite different if you look closely enough. Collies, for example, have a longer face that’s more wedge-shaped than the Border Collie, and they’re also about 20% larger. Collies also come in fewer AKC-accepted colors (10) than Border Collies (17), but the latter has a significantly higher energy level. If you want to discover the other similarities and differences between these two extraordinary breeds, please keep reading.


Visual Differences

Collie vs Border Collie side by side
Image Credit: (L) Ramon Fabra, Unsplash | (R) Jiasong Huang, Unsplash

At a Glance


  • Average height (adult): 24–26 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 50–75 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–14 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Sometimes
  • Trainability: Friendly, highly intelligent, eager to please

Border Collie

  • Average height (adult): 19–22 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 30–55 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–15 years
  • Exercise: 2 + hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes, very
  • Other pet-friendly: Sometimes
  • Trainability: Intelligent, affectionate, eager to learn

Collie Overview

Personality / Character

America has had a love affair with the Collie ever since Lassie Come Home was first written by author Eric Knight and published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1938. Of course, the breed’s gorgeous looks were appealing, but what really floored most people was just how gentle, affectionate, and empathetic the Collie could be. Add to those wonderful traits the fact that Collies are incredibly loyal, thrive when given lots of human attention, and are wonderful with even the smallest children, and you have a dog that any human would be glad to call a friend.

collie resting on dry grass in park
Image Credit: Blue Bird, Pexels

Training 🦮

Training a Collie is said to be one of the easiest experiences as they’re eager to please and highly intelligent dogs that go out of their way to make their humans happy. However, a Collie is a herding dog by birth and, because of their innate tendencies, can sometimes be nippy and try to “herd” other pets and children. The good news is that, with plenty of socialization and diligent training, most Collies will get past this behavior, and it won’t be a continuing problem.

Health & Care ❤️

You’ll be glad to know that the Collie is an exceptionally healthy breed with very few congenital issues. However, one interesting health issue you should know about is that some Collies have a sensitivity to medications due to a mutation of their MDR1 gene. Also, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is another health issue that affects Collies more than other dogs. For this reason, health experts recommend bringing your Collie puppy to a veterinary ophthalmologist for an eye exam at about 2 months old.

collie under the tree during autumn
Image Credit: Jumpstory

Grooming ✂️

Collies have a luxurious (and gorgeous) double coat. Their outer coat or guard coat is a bit longer than the undercoat. Collies shed quite a bit during spring and fall as their coat changes. During these times, brushing their coat every day is necessary. When not shedding, however, once or twice a week should suffice.

You should take your Collie to a professional dog groomer every 2 months unless they get into something sticky, smelly, or nasty. Their teeth also need to be brushed regularly, and their nails need to be trimmed at least once every 6 weeks.

Suitable For:

Because they’re so affectionate, intelligent, and easy to train, Collies are suitable for large families with smaller children. Collies are also ideal for singles and seniors, as they’re calm, affectionate, and follow instructions well if appropriately trained. You should have a large yard or access to a nearby dog-friendly area where your Collie can play and run around as they’re moderately active dogs.

  • Highly intelligent
  • Easy to train
  • Only needs moderate exercise
  • Loyal
  • Affectionate
  • Sensitive to human emotions
  • Fantastic with children
  • Not great with other pets
  • Sheds heavily
  • Has a moderate herding instinct
  • Can suffer from separation anxiety


Border Collie Overview

Personality / Character

Border Collies and Collies are very similar in their personality and character. However, it can be argued that the Border Collie is even more affectionate and loyal than their cousins, at least with their favorite human. Unfortunately, they also tend to have more problems with children and can be nippy if not trained and socialized well. One thing about this fine breed you must know is that they’re incredibly energetic and will put your energy level to the test. Lastly, they can be standoffish with strangers, which can be problematic and cause undue stress, especially if you have frequent visitors.

Young border collie standing in a meadow
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

Training 🦮

Like their larger cousins, the Border Collie is extremely intelligent and will be easier than most breeds to train, thanks to its herding instincts. Border Collies are usually eager to please their human companions and often learn a new command within a few tries. Like the Collie, the Border Collie should be well socialized to lower its tendency to herd other pets and children, which is a behavior that can sometimes be seen as aggressive but is simply instinctive.

Health & Care ❤️

Border Collies are one of the healthiest dog breeds, but it’s always a good idea to seek out a reputable and caring breeder when adopting one. Unfortunately, these beautiful dogs still suffer from a couple of health issues, including one of the most common, hip dysplasia. Like Collies, Border Collies also suffer from progressive renal atrophy (PRA) and the condition called collie eye anomaly, an inherited developmental disease that, when severe, can cause blindness. Vets recommend having your Border’s ears checked regularly also.

Border Collie puppy during obedience training outdoors
Image Credit: sonsart, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

Border Collies shed less than Collies and need less brushing. However, they frequently shed twice a year and will need more brushing then. As mentioned earlier, you should have your Border Collie’s ears checked regularly and, between checkups, clean and care for them thoroughly. As with all dogs, brushing your pet’s teeth twice a week (or more) is recommended. As for professional grooming, you should take your Border Collie to an experienced groomer once every 2 months.

Suitable For:

The Border Collie will make a fine pet and companion for many people. However, families with younger children or large families should avoid this breed due to their extreme energy levels and high herding drive. A Border Collie is ideal for young, active owners who have plenty of time to spend with their pets. For older folks who are less energetic and more sedentary, the BC might also be a poor choice as they need a significant amount of physical and mental stimulation.

  • Very smart dogs
  • Love working and being active
  • Easy to train and love learning
  • Less expensive than many breeds
  • High herding instinct can lead to nipping
  • Tend to suffer from separation anxiety
  • Need very high levels of activity
  • Must be socialized more than most breeds


Which Dog is Better for First-Time Dog Owners, Collies or Border Collies?

While it might seem that Collies and Border Collies are similar, and they are in many respects, there is a distinct difference between the two when it comes to first-time dog owners. The average Collie is perfect for a first-time dog owner and makes training tasks much easier and more satisfying.

Conversely, Border Collies have a herding instinct that’s incredibly hard to train out of them. This can lead to difficulties with smaller children as the Border Collie will try to herd them and, if it doesn’t get its way, can become nippy. Also, Border Collies need an exceptional amount of mental and physical stimulation that, for some families, would simply be too much to provide.


Which Breed Is Right for You?

If you’re set on adopting a purebred dog and deciding between a Collie and Border Collie, the best recommendation we can make is to take an honest look at your household and lifestyle. If, for example, you’re young, highly active, and have the time and energy to devote many hours to your new puppy, a Border Collie is probably the best fit. Working from home will also be a big plus when adopting a Border Collie.

As for the Collie, larger families with a lot of space but less time and attention to give a puppy would be a good choice. Yes, you’ll need to devote quite a few hours to training your new Collie. However, they require substantially less exercise and are more content to be with you rather than needing to be constantly doing something.

Whichever breeds you decide to adopt, training and socializing your Collie or Border Collie well will go far toward helping your new furry friend become a wonderful, well-behaved, affectionate, and loyal pet.

Featured Image Credit: Anna Dudkova, Unsplash

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