While they are both popular herding dog breeds from Great Britain, these two dogs have very different personalities.
Which Collie is the right canine companion for you: the smart, high-energy Border Collie or the loyal and friendly Collie?
The answer may depend on your own personality.
In this article, we’ll look at the history of both breeds, as well as their appearance, temperament, health issues and other characteristics so you can make the right decision about your next pet.
First up, a brief overview of the backgrounds of both the Collie and the Border Collie.
Collie vs Border Collie History
The Collie is a sheepherding dog from Scotland. The ancestors of the Collie are thought to be a combination of local dogs and dogs brought to Britain by the Romans.
Queen Victoria’s love of Collies contributed to a growth in popularity of the breed in England and beyond, beginning in the mid-1800s.
The Border Collie is a sheepherding dog from the border regions of Scotland and Wales.
The breed is descended from herding dogs brought to Britain first by the Romans and then by the Vikings.
The Border Collie has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the smartest and energetic dog breeds. Border Collies thrive when they have a job to keep them busy.
Your decision on whether to get a Collie or Border Collie may depend on what size dog you want.
Let’s look at the Collie first.
The Collie is a medium to large dog with a lithe, graceful appearance. Adult males weigh 60 to 75 pounds and stand 24 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder.
Female Collies are 50 to 65 pounds in weight and stand 22 to 24 inches tall at the shoulder.
Most people imagine a full, fluffy coat when they think of a Collie, but there are two coat varieties.
The long-haired Collie is called “rough” and shorter-haired Collies are called “smooth.”
There are four recognized Collie coat colors: sable and white;l tri-color (black, sable, white); blue merle; and white.
White Collies are mostly white, with some colored markings.
Border Collie Appearance
The Border Collie is a medium-size dog, smaller and shorter in stature than the Collie.
The Border Collie weight ranges between 30 and 55 pounds. Both males and females are muscular and athletic.
Male Border Collies stand between 19 and 22 inches tall at the shoulder. Females are 18 to 21 inches tall.
Most people imagine a black and white dog with medium-long fur when they think of a Border Collie.
But like the Collie, the Border Collie also has the two rough and smooth coat types.
While black and white is common, Border Collie coats can come in any color or combination of colors.
Border Collie breeders have long valued herding ability over appearance in this breed.
What about shedding and grooming requirements? We’ll talk about coat care a little later.
Collie vs Border Collie Temperament
The Collie and Border Collie share similar backgrounds as herding dogs.
Like most herding breeds, they are smart and very trainable, but there are significant personality differences between the two.
The Border Collie is known as an intense, high-energy breed.
This dog does best with active, involved owners who provide their dogs with plenty of stimulating exercise and play.
Many Border Collie owners enroll their dogs in canine activities such as sheepherding or agility and obedience trials to keep them happy.
The Collie is calmer and more laid-back than the Border Collie. They are content to be family pets and do very well in households with children.
Although the Collie does not need to be kept as busy as the Border Collie, regular play and exercise sessions are important for this breed.
Less experienced dog owners might prefer the more easygoing Collie, but if you’re up for the challenge, sharing your life with a Border Collie can also be rewarding.
Collie vs Border Collie Training
Working dog breeds, and especially herding dog breeds such as the Collie and Border Collie, are trainable and eager to please.
Are there any training differences between the Collie and Border Collie? Let’s find out.
While easy to train, Collie puppies can benefit from the socialization that comes from organized puppy training classes.
Ongoing training is important for intelligent dogs like Collies, both to strengthen the bond between dog and owner and to keep them mentally stimulated.
Always use only positive reinforcement training techniques with this gentle and sensitive dog.
Their intelligence and focus make the Border Collie trainable, but there are some special challenges that should be addressed while training your Border Collie.
Border Collies should be well-socialized around animals and people from puppyhood. Their strong herding instincts are not just for sheep. They may herd small children and other pets in the home.
Mental stimulation is key for Border Collies, so after they master standard training, be sure to provide your dog with ongoing opportunities to train and learn new things.
Most Border Collies thrive with the kind of intense training associated with organized canine activities like herding, obedience and agility trials.
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Collie vs Border Collie Exercise
As you might imagine, a Border Collie tends to require more exercise, stimulation and play than a Collie.
Border Collies require significant daily exercise, well beyond a leisurely walk around the neighborhood.
If your Border Collie doesn’t work as a herding dog, some form of intense activity is a must for this active breed.
This is why so many Border Collie owners enroll their dogs in activities like agility and obedience trials or flyball competitions.
Border Collies also appreciate interactive toys to keep them busy and mentally stimulated.
Border Collies left to their own devices can do some significant damage around the house.
Collies are not as high-energy as Border Collies, but they still need regular exercise and play sessions.
Many Collies enjoy walks and playtime with family members.
They tend to do best when their exercise sessions involve the owner of the dog, so be sure to take an active role in your Collie’s daily exercise routine.
Collie vs Border Collie Health
Like most purebred dogs, both Collies and Border Collies can inherit some genetic health problems.
Working with a responsible breeder who tests their dogs for inherited health conditions is the best way to ensure that your Collie or Border Collie puppy is healthy.
Collie Health Concerns
What are some health issues that you should know about? Let’s start with the Collie.
Dogs in the Collie breed family can suffer from inherited eye abnormalities known as Collie eye anomaly.
Collies can also be predisposed to certain drug sensitivities. The most well-known of these is a sensitivity to the heartworm drug Ivermectin.
Collies can also suffer from other common health problems seen in larger dogs, such as hip dysplasia and bloat.
Check out the Collie Health Foundation website for a comprehensive list of Collie health issues.
Border Collie Health Concerns
Border Collies can share some of the same genetic health issues as Collies, including Collie eye anomaly and hip dysplasia.
Other inherited health problems are more prevalent in the Border Collie.
These include the neurological disorders idiopathic epilepsy and Border Collie collapse (also known as exercise induced collapse).
For a complete list of Border Collie health issues, see the Border Collie Health section of the Border Collie Society of America’s website.
Collie vs Border Collie: Finding and Keeping a Healthy Dog
To ensure that your Collie or Border Collie is as healthy as possible, be sure to choose a reputable breeder who health tests their breeding stock and provides the results to clients.
Avoid obtaining a dog from a retail pet store or an online advertisement.
Many of the puppies sold through these venues come from commercial breeding operations (called puppy mills) that do not health test.
A healthy Collie has a life span of approximately 12 years, but this can range from 10 to 14, or even as high as 16 years in some individuals.
Border Collie life expectancy is also around 12 years, with a range from 10 to 15 years.
Some Collies and Border Collies may live longer.
Feed your Collie or Border Collie a healthy diet and be sure to schedule regular veterinary checkups.
At-home care includes regular tooth brushing, nail trimming and ear cleaning. What about grooming all that Collie fur?
Collies and Border Collies (both rough and smooth varieties) have dense double coats that shed seasonally.
Rough and smooth Border Collies have similar grooming requirements.
Expect to brush your dog’s coat once or twice a week. Daily brushing may be needed during shedding season.
Smooth Collies require regular brushing, although they are lower maintenance than rough Collies.
A rough Collie’s long coat needs extra attention to prevent mats.
Remember that grooming needs will increase during shedding season.
Which Breed Makes a Better Pet?
Now that we’ve looked at both breeds, which one is right for you?
The choice between the Collie and Border Collie may well come down to your own lifestyle.
If you are an experienced dog owner looking for the challenge of sharing your life with an intense, active and highly intelligent dog, the Border Collie might be the breed for you.
If you are looking for a gentle, devoted pet for a family with younger children, the Collie could be the perfect choice.
Is your best friend a Collie or Border Collie? Tell us about your dog in the comments.
References and Further Reading:
“Border Collie Collapse,” University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine
Hulsmeyer, V., et al., 2010, “Epilepsy in Border Collies: Clinical Manifestation, Outcome, and Mode of Inheritance,” Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
“Multidrug Sensitivity in Dogs,” Washington State University Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory
Palanova, A., 2015, “Collie Eye Anomaly: A Review,” Veterinarni Medicina