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Collie vs Border Collie: Notable Differences (With Pictures)

Lorre Luther

By Lorre Luther

Collie vs Border Collie

Collies and Border Collies share several qualities. Both are herding superstars, incredibly smart, and amazing canine athletes. Collies are larger than Border Collies, although there’s a bit of size overlap between small Collies and large Border Collies. Collies are often relatively relaxed and laid back, and most enjoy just hanging out with family members. They’re often quite good with children and other pets.

On the other hand, Border Collies are usually best suited for homes without small children due to the breed’s tendency to herd and nip at small, moving creatures. Border Collies have plenty of enthusiasm and energy and require around 2 hours of intense daily physical activity.

Because they’re so smart, they require plenty of interesting tasks to keep them busy. If not provided with sufficient mental and physical stimulation, Border Collies often act out, which sometimes results in destructive or willful behavior.

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Visual Differences

Collie vs Border Collie side by side
Image Credit: Jumpstory

At a Glance

  • Average height (adult): 22–26 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 53–70 pounds
  • Lifespan: 14–16 years
  • Exercise: 1 hour a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Smart and usually easy to train
Border Collies
  • Average height (adult): 18–22 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 20–45 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10–15 years
  • Exercise: 2 hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Sometimes
  • Other pet-friendly: Sometimes
  • Trainability: Intelligent and best suited for experienced dog owners and trainers

divider 9Collie Overview

Collies are medium to large dogs with sweet, mellow temperaments. While they have a fair amount of energy and require about 1 hour of daily exercise, Collies are generally happy just to hang out and be mellow. Their herding instincts are generally sufficiently under control that they do reasonably well around children and other animals, including cats and strange dogs.

rough collie in the woods
Image Credit: SGracheva_2610, Pixabay

Personality / Character

Collies are generally gentle and mellow, although most enjoy a good romp in the great outdoors. While they enjoy being active, they’re often perfectly relaxed when hanging out with the family. They often behave quite lovingly toward children, usually interacting with gentleness.

While they can be protective of those they consider family, they’re more inclined to bark than bite when triggered. Most Collies are well-behaved around cats and other dogs and are great dogs for those with a feline or canine companion at home.


Collies typically enjoy learning tricks and commands during training. They’re often eager to please and easy to train. Positive training methods work incredibly well with Collies. Using praise and treats to reinforce and motivate good behavior usually leads to positive outcomes.

Like most dogs, Collies benefit from early socialization, during which they learn to appropriately interact with new people and deal with novel stimuli and situations. They also require basic obedience training, which can begin when dogs are as young as 8 weeks old. Collies have a tendency to bark but often learn to limit vocalizations with consistent training and guidance.

rough collie standing on grass
Image Credit: Johannes Jäger, Pixabay

Health & Care

Collies are at heightened risk of developing progressive retinal atrophy and Collie eye anomaly, both of which can lead to blindness. There are genetic tests breeders can use to identify and avoid breeding dogs with the conditions. The breed is generally healthy, with most living anywhere from 10 to 15 years.

They don’t have any major dietary needs; most do just fine when eating protein-rich, high-quality commercial pet food that meets American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines.


Some collies have long feathered coats, and others have smooth short fur, but both require at least weekly brushing. Dogs with long, rough coats often need more frequent attention. During shedding season, plan on daily grooming sessions to keep things manageable.

Collies sometimes benefit from professional grooming during high-shedding periods. Baths every few months or as needed are generally more than sufficient. Their eyes and ears need regular attention since they can develop eye conditions and ear infections. And like all dogs, they require nail and dental care to prevent painful ingrown nails and gum conditions.

young dog owner hugging her pet collie in the woods
Image Credit: Selenit, Shutterstock

Suitable for:

Collies make wonderful companions for those looking for a loving, devoted, medium-to-large-sized dog that enjoys moderate exercise. Most require around 1 hour of daily exercise, so they often do well with active families and individuals. They’re usually good choices for families with small children and other pets, often including both in their circle of canine love and protection. However, children should never be left unsupervised with dogs. While they’re relatively mellow, most Collies do best in homes with room to roam and relax comfortably.

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Border Collie Overview

Border Collies are some of the most intelligent dogs you’ll ever encounter. They were bred to be independent decision-makers, after all! They’re loving and devoted but can be difficult to train as they quickly become bored.

Because Border Collies are so energetic and athletic, they require a few hours of daily exercise, making them great companions for active families and individuals who love outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and running. Most don’t require much in the grooming department but require weekly brushing and regular dental care to stay healthy.

Red Border Collie
Image Credit: Ksenia Raykova, Shutterstock

Personality / Character

Border Collies are energetic, enthusiastic, and athletic. They require a fair amount of space to roam and run, or they can become stressed and destructive.

Most do best when given a job to do; they love using their natural skills to solve simple problems. Some can be reserved around new people or when exposed to strange situations, but many do just fine with good training and early socialization.


Border Collies are incredible athletes! The breed regularly wins national agility competitions. Because they have so much energy, Border Collies require around 2 hours of daily exercise. A few 2 or 3-mile walks, long sessions of playing fetch, or other agility games are ideal.

Dogs that don’t get enough physical activity can become stubborn and turn to their immediate environment to work out their excess energy, which can result in destroyed sofas and shoes.


Training Border Collies can be a challenge, particularly for first-time dog owners. Because they’re so intelligent, Border Collies quickly lose interest if not sufficiently challenged during training.

They’re often identified as one of the most intelligent breeds; one named Chaser could identify over 1,000 words. The breed’s high energy levels also contribute to its short attention spans. Border Collies often do best with fun, positive, reward-based challenging training that engages their minds and bodies.

a border collie jumping through a hoop
Image Credit: Flatka, Shutterstock

Health & Care

Border Collies don’t suffer from many breed-related health conditions, and they’re generally healthy animals. Most live anywhere from 10 to 15 years, which is about average for medium-sized dogs. Commonly seen conditions include epilepsy and Collie eye anomaly.

They’re also prone to developing trapped neutrophil syndrome and neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, which are potentially fatal genetic conditions. But reputable breeders use genetic testing to avoid breeding puppies with these conditions.


Most Border Collies have relatively limited grooming needs. Some have silky feathery coats, and others have shorter, denser ones. Dogs with both types of coats should be brushed at least once a week, more often if needed to prevent tangles. Most require daily brushing during shedding season.

Because they’re so active, Border Collies often benefit from regular baths to remove dirt and mud. But remember that bathing dogs too often can result in dry, itchy skin! They need to have their nails trimmed every 4 to 6 weeks and their teeth brushed at least three times weekly.

border collie with bubbles on its head
Image Credit: Julia Zavalishina, Shutterstock

Suitable for:

Border Collies make lovely pets for active families and individuals with the time and ability to meet the dogs’ physical activity needs. They often do best in relatively spacious homes and are in their element in rural environments. Because of their intelligence and high energy levels, Border Collies are best suited for experienced dog owners.

When their physical activity and mental stimulation needs are met, Border Collies are often extraordinarily loving and devoted companions. But they’re usually best suited for homes without small children and other pets.

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

Collies are active, gentle, and devoted companions. While they’re usually up for a good walk or a fun outdoor romp, most are relaxed and laid-back at home. Because they’re typically mellow, many do well around small children and other pets, particularly when well-socialized and trained.

While smaller than Collies, Border Collies are far more energetic and active. While loving towards family members, they often do better in homes without small children or other pets due to their strong herding instincts that sometimes involve nipping.

Both Collies and Border Collies are fiercely intelligent and more than capable of learning. Border Collies are more difficult to train, partly because their high energy levels make it difficult to stay focused when bored. Border Collies often do best with experienced dog owners. Collies, on the other hand, generally do fine with human companions lacking in experience.

Collies with gorgeous, long, rough coats often require more grooming, but both breeds do best with daily brushing during shedding season. Neither dog needs regular haircuts or trips to the grooming salon, but they can benefit from having their coats professionally thinned during shedding season.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: (L) steamroller_blues, Shutterstock | (R) Eric Isselee, Shutterstock

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