Border Collie vs English Shepherd – What’s The Difference?

For centuries, the British Isles were the world’s most developed region when it comes to sheep farming.

So, it’s only logical that most of the finest herding breeds come from this area.

Border Collies and English Shepherds are certainly no exceptions to this and are among the best representatives of the British lineage of herding dogs.

When comparing Border Collie vs English Shepherd, it’s obvious that they have similar origins.

They share many common traits and look very much alike. However, only one of these breeds was actually developed in Great Britain.

Surprisingly, it’s not the one with England in its name. English Shepherds were first bred across the pond, in the United States.

Still, they were developed by British settlers as a mixture of several English and Scottish working breeds.

On the other hand, Border Collies hail from the highland regions on the border of Scotland and England.

AttributesBorder CollieEnglish Shepherd
Good For First Time OwnersNoNo
Good Guard DogWith Enough TraningYes
Apartment FriendlyNoNo
Good Family DogWith Enough TrainingYes
SheddingModerateModerate To High
Barking And HowlingModerate To HighModerate To High
Height18-22 inches (46-56 cm)18-23 inches (46-58 cm)
Average Life Expectancy12-15 Years12-15 Years


Border Collie – Dog Breed Information

Border Collies possess all traits needed for a perfect herding dog. They’re hard-working, smart, agile, and loyal to their owners.

To this day, they remain one of the top choices for those looking for a dog that can take care of livestock.

Even their name when translated from one of the old Scottish dialects means “sheepdog”.

Nowadays, besides herding, Border Collies have found their place as one of the most popular family dogs and frequent champions of dog competitions.


Border Collies love to work and it shows in their appearance. They’re lean and athletic with plenty of strength in their medium-sized strong bodies.

They have a double coat to protect them from bad weather.

It comes in two variants -smooth and rough. The undercoat is waterproof and rather soft.

The topcoat is moderately long and dense. Border Collies usually feature bi-color patterns.

The most common combination is black and white, although some dogs may have tan, liver, or blue merle patches.

The most recognizable characteristic of Border Collies is their salmon eyes with a typically deep and intelligent stare.

The medium-sized ears are commonly folded at the top. The tail is long, feathery, and low-set.

Male Border Collies can reach 19-22 inches (48-5 cm) in height and weigh up to 30-45 pounds (14-20 kg).

Adult females are 18-21 inches (46-53 cm) high and weigh around 27-42 pounds (12-19 kg).


Border Collie owners know that they can almost never see their dog resting. This breed has a limitless amount of energy and they love to spend it working.

They live to please their owners and love nothing more than being given a job to do.

They kept most of their herding instinct and, with no livestock around, they’ll likely look to herd their family.

If you plan on getting a Border Collie, you should know that they get bored very quickly.

They demand an owner who can keep up with them and engage with the dog in all sorts of activities.

This is perfect for outdoorsy and active people, but maybe an issue for those who prefer to spend their time on a couch.

Border Collies are very smart and can be taught to perform a variety of tasks, but do require a firm hand due to their occasional stubbornness.

English Shepherd – Dog Breed Information

Although they were developed in the US, English Shepherds have a lot of traits of typical British herding dogs.

They’re tireless, energetic, and rather intelligent.

Besides herding sheep, they have developed a versatile set of other skills and can perform various tasks on the farm.

In addition, they are loyal companions and wonderful family dogs.


English Shepherd’s appearance is one of a classic herding dog. They feature a well-proportioned, slender and muscular body.

Although medium-sized, they pack plenty of strength which allows them to handle large cattle.

Like most dogs from the British Isles, they have a water-resistant double coat. The undercoat is soft and dense while the topcoat is silky and can be curly or straight.

Four color patterns are the most frequent: black and white, sable and white, black and tan, and tricolor (black, white, tan)

The head is broad and slightly rounded with a black nose.

The eyes are commonly brown with an intelligent expression while the ears are wide apart and close to the head.

Adult males grow 18-23 inches (46-58 cm) and weigh 46-62 pounds (21-28 kg).

The height of females is in the 18-22 inches (46-54 cm) range and they weigh around 39-51 pounds (18-23 kg).


Similar to Border Collies, English Shepherds are intelligent, hard-working, and very energetic.

Also, they have a rather strong independence streak and are capable of performing most of the tasks on their own.

Still, they are easy to train and rather obedient, although you’ll have to establish yourself as a boss.

Otherwise, they are a very kind and friendly breed. English Shepherds get along great with kids and other animals.

They see them as a part of their flock and will happily take care of them and protect them.

However, they can sometimes get overexcited and use their teeth to herd their “flock”. Still, they’ll never get too rough.

The problems with English Shepherds can arise if they don’t get enough exercise. They will get bored quickly and sometimes become destructive.

Border Collie vs English Shepherd – What’s the Difference?

Border Collie English Shepherd

As you can see, the Border Collie vs English Shepherd comparison shows that these are two rather similar breeds.

They even have similar appearances. Still, English Shepherd can be a bit more colorful.

The two breeds are about the same size but Border Collies are a bit slimmer and less bulky.

When it comes to working, Border Collies are premium sheepherders and one of the best breeds in that line of work.

While English Shepherds are also good at herding, they are more versatile and adaptable to more different tasks.

If you plan to simply use them as family pets, both breeds are a good choice.

Nevertheless, English Shepherds are somewhat gentler and more patient so they should be the preferred choice for families with kids.

Those who plan to have their dog participate in dog shows should know that only Border Collie is recognized by the American Kennel Club.


Before bringing either of these dogs into your family, you should know what you’re getting yourself into.

Both Border Collies and English Shepherds are great workers and can be loving family dogs, but only for those with a certain lifestyle.

They have an extremely active nature, so you’ll need to make sure that you can provide them with enough space to perform their activities.

Also, be prepared to dedicate a fair share of your time to them as they will need a lot of exercise and they prefer to do it alongside their owners.

So, if you are an outdoorsy person who enjoys various activities these two breeds may be just the perfect addition to your family.

Authored By

Madeline Wright

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