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Golden Retriever vs Border Collie: Notable Differences (With Pictures)

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 15, 2024 by Dogster Team

Golden Retriever vs Border Collie

Golden Retriever vs Border Collie: Notable Differences (With Pictures)

Choosing a canine companion can be overwhelming because we have too many options. If you are looking for a medium to big dog that is intelligent, beautiful, active, and affectionate, you can’t go wrong with either the Golden Retriever or the Border Collie. However, they both bring different traits to the table, and those traits will determine which is right for you.

A Goldie will bring an element of grace and calm with a touch of playful exuberance. It will be your ultimate companion and know exactly when you need a little doggy love. A Collie will come into your life with beautiful chaos. It will inspire adventures and teach you a great amount of patience. One thing is for sure, though, both breeds will be friends for life.


Visual Differences

Golden Retriever vs Border Collie - Visual Differences
Image Credit: Left – engeline80, Pixabay | Right – TheOtherKev, Pixabay

At a Glance

Golden Retriever
  • Average height (adult): 21.5–24 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 55–75 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10–12 years
  • Exercise: 2 hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Intelligent, outgoing, loyal, eager to please
Border Collie
  • Average height (adult): 18–22 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 30–55 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–15 years
  • Exercise: 2+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Highly intelligent, quick to learn, independent


Golden Retriever Overview

golden retriever puppy sitting on grass
Image by: Piqsels

Often called “Goldies,” this beautiful breed is one of the most popular canines in America. They are medium-sized sporting dogs recognized by their thick, lustrous golden coat, intelligent eyes, thick graceful tail, and powerful but gentle presence.

Personality and Temperament

Golden Retrievers are loved for their gentle and calm demeanor and overall great temperament that is friendly, affectionate, and caring. They love attention and affection and often gently nudge their owners to continue petting them. Their playful and sweet puppy nature is often taken into adulthood, and they are a happy-go-lucky breed that is reliable and devoted.

Training and Exercise

Golden Retrievers have high energy and must exercise at least 2 hours a day to ensure they are happy and healthy. It is best to split exercise sessions up into two sessions a day so that you or your dog don’t get too tired too quickly. They make great companions for long walks, runs, or bike rides and love a good game of fetch with their owner.

As with all breeds, puppy training sessions and early socialization are recommended. Goldies are very eager to please their owners, so obedience training will help strengthen your dog. They are intelligent, easy to train, and food motivated, which is helpful for positive training.

golden retriever with a kid
Image Credit: Rebecca Scholz, Pixabay

Health & Care

Golden Retrievers are typically a healthy breed with a lifespan of 10—12 years. However, like all canines, they can be predisposed to certain health issues such as hotspots, dermatitis, hypothyroidism, elbow and hip dysplasia, eye conditions, heart disease, and cancer. A predisposition doesn’t mean that a dog is guaranteed to suffer from any of these conditions, but it is vital as a dog owner to know what is possible so that you can provide the best care. Annual checkups with your vet are highly recommended to help prevent and treat potential issues.

A high-quality, well-balanced diet is also crucial for a healthy and happy Goldie. Ask your vet for the best food recommendations, portions, and life-stage-appropriate food for your Goldie.


Golden Retrievers have dense coats and sensitive skin, so grooming is important in their care routine. Regularly check your Goldens skins for hotspots or any other issues, and if you spot something unusual, along with licking and chewing, make an appointment with your vet.

Goldens will shed heavily twice a year, where their coat will need extra attention, and moderately throughout the rest of the year. Brush your Golden at least once a week to remove any loose hairs and prevent matting, and pay special attention to the hind limbs, tail, and behind the ears.

They will only need an occasional bath like other breeds. If your Golden loves the outdoors, dry shampoos or doggy wet wipes can help keep your Golden fresh and clean in between bath times.

Golden Retrievers are prone to ear infections and need their ears cleaned every 2–3 weeks or after swimming or bathing. It is normal for Goldens to have a bit of eye discharge which you can gently wipe away with a moist cloth. Your Golden will need its teeth brushed at least once a week and regular checks for nail trimming.

man grooming golden retriever dog
Image by: SB Arts Media, Shutterstock

Suitable For:

Golden Retrievers are the ultimate family dogs. They love children and generally get along with other pets as long as they are socialized. They are full of energy but are happy to expel it by joining their owner for a walk, bike ride, or throwing a ball in the park. Golden Retrievers also have incredible emotional intelligence and are excellent therapy and service dogs.

They would make a perfect companion for someone who battles with anxiety or depression as they understand human emotions and have an energy that is so calm and healing. While they are ideal for a big family, they will also suit an active single looking for a companion and even a senior with the energy for long daily walks. They have moderate grooming needs, so they are most suited to owners that can handle lots of loose hair around the home and are willing to brush their coats and clean their ears regularly.

  • Excellent family dog
  • Gentle
  • Affectionate
  • Intelligent and easy to train
  • Playful
  • Makes a great service and therapy dog
  • Shed twice a year heavily
  • Prone to ear infections

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Border Collie Overview

border collie puppy lying on grass
Image by: stevelancaster, Pixabay

Border Collies are the champions of herding and are known to be one of the smartest breeds in the world. They are medium-sized working dogs that are fast, nimble, and agile and love having a job to do. Their combination of high intelligence and high energy makes them suitable companions for someone with the time, patience, and experience to own one.

Personality and Temperament

Border Collies have a certain confidence about them. They are high-spirited, courageous, and always ready to go. They need to be active and have a job to do, but once the work is done, they are very happy to cuddle close and relax with their owner. Border Collies can be protective of their family and weary of strangers, so early socialization is vital with this breed. If they are not appropriately trained, they can develop behavioral issues such as nipping, herding, digging, and barking.

Training and Exercise

Border collies are very active and need a minimum of 2 hours of exercise a day. They are very intelligent dogs and require mental and physical stimulation to stay healthy and happy. This breed is an ideal companion for an active owner who enjoys running and hiking and participates in dog sports such as agility, herding work, and obedience training.

Border Collies thrive in advanced training, and their smarts will make them easy to train. However, they are intelligent enough to outsmart their owner, so their owner needs to be a firm trainer with incredible patience.

Early socialization and training are essential for raising a well-behaved, confident, and all-around well-mannered dog.

Border collie during obedience training
Image by: sonsart, Shutterstock

Health & Care

Border Collies are generally a healthy breed with a long lifespan of 12– 15 years. However, like all dogs, they are also predisposed to specific health conditions that their owner needs to be aware of to prevent them and keep their Collie healthy. Border Collies are vulnerable to epilepsy, hip dysplasia, Collie eye anomaly, trapped neutrophil syndrome, and neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis.


The Border Collie’s grooming requirements are moderate, and they need fewer nail trims than most breeds because of how active they are. Border Collies have double-haired coats that are medium in length. They shed but not in large amounts and may be bathed and brushed at home regularly to keep their coat clean and free of knots. This coat also protects their skin, keeping it healthy so they don’t need special skin care regimes. They will need their teeth brushed at least twice a week, and their ears must be regularly checked for wax build-up or debris from being outdoors.

Border Collie being brushed
Image Credit: antoniodiaz, Shutterstock

Suitable For:

Border Collies are suitable for active families who spend several hours outdoors daily. They are generally good with kids but can be prone to herding and nipping if they are not properly socialized. Collies will need a large, fenced yard where they can run around and play games, and they require a lot of attention from their owner. Because Collies are so intelligent, they can be easily trained. However, they can also outsmart their owner, so someone experienced is better suited. They also thrive as farm workers, especially for a farmer who needs a herder.

  • Highly intelligent
  • High-spirited
  • Loyal
  • Affectionate
  • Great working dogs
  • Low grooming needs
  • Very energetic with substantial exercise needs

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

Both breeds are intelligent and easy to train. However, a Collie is better suited for an experienced owner. A Golden Retriever has more emotional intelligence, which makes it a great therapy dog and companion.

Both breeds are active and need a fair amount of exercise, but the Collie takes the cake on this one. Border Collies need lots of physical and mental stimulation and require an interactive owner that can provide vigorous exercise and not just a stroll in the park. A Golden Retriever will be happy after a long walk or bike ride and a game of fetch.

A Golden Retriever may be the better option if you are a family with kids. While both breeds are affectionate, Golden Retrievers are calmer and more sensitive, whereas a Collie may be too boisterous and have a tendency to herd small kids.

Whether it’s a Goldie or a Collie you choose, both will need high-quality diets, early socialization and training, daily exercise, and lots of love.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Top – Shayna Douglas, Unsplash | Bottom – BIGANDT.COM, Shutterstock

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