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Collie vs Border Collie: Differences & Overview (With Pictures)

Written by: Greg Iacono

Last Updated on April 29, 2024 by Dogster Team

Collie vs Border Collie

Collie vs Border Collie: Differences & Overview (With Pictures)

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. They are also playful, 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, more wedge-shaped face 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. Please keep reading if you want to discover the other similarities and differences between these two extraordinary breeds.

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At a Glance

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  • 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

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

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 floored most people was 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 gentle with even the smallest children, and you have a dog that any human would be glad to call a friend.


Training a Collie is relatively simple since 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 that the Collie is an exceptionally healthy breed with few congenital issues. However, one health issue you should know about is that some Collies are sensitive to medications due to a mutation of their MDR1 gene. 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 when they’re 2 months old or older.

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. Brushing their coat every day during these times 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 must 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. They’re also ideal for singles and seniors, as they’re calm and affectionate and follow instructions well if appropriately trained. Since Collie dogs are moderately active dogs, you should have a large yard or access to a nearby dog-friendly area where your Collie can play and run around.

  • 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

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Border Collie Overview

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

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 can be too energetic for small children and nippy if not trained and socialized well. 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.


Like their larger cousins, the Border Collie is extremely intelligent and will be easier than most breeds to train, thanks to their herding instincts. They are usually eager to please their owners and often learn a new command within a few tries. Like the Collie, the Border Collie should be well socialized to reduce their herding tendencies around 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 breeds, but it’s always a good idea to seek 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 also recommend having your Border’s ears checked regularly.

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 yearly and will need more brushing then. As mentioned, you should have your Border Collie’s ears checked regularly and, between checkups, clean and care for them. 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 herding drive. A Border Collie is ideal for young, active owners with plenty of time to spend with their pets. For older owners 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 if the Border Collie tries to herd them. Also, Border Collies need an exceptional amount of mental and physical stimulation that, for some families, is simply too much to provide.

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

If you’re set on adopting a purebred dog and deciding between a Collie and a 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. You’ll need to devote 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 breed 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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