Border Collie vs German Shepherd: 5 Key Differences

Written by August Buck
Published: April 8, 2022
Image Credit Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com
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Have you ever wondered about all of the similarities and differences between a Border Collie vs German Shepherd? What might these two distinct dog breeds have in common, and what makes them the unique and special breeds that they are? We will endeavor to answer this question for you in this article by going over both of these dogs in great detail and comparison. 

Not only will we discuss the physical appearances of both Border Collies and German Shepherds, we will talk about their ancestry and behavioral differences as well. By the time you are done reading, you should have a clear understanding of both of these dogs, as well as how they relate to one another. Let’s get started now! 

Comparing Border Collie vs German Shepherd

Border Collie vs German Shepherd
The fur of the Border Collie is fluffier than the thick coarse fur of the German Shepherd.

A-Z-Animals.com

Border CollieGerman Shepherd
Size25-45 pounds; 22-27 inches tall75-90 pounds; 22-27 inches tall
AppearanceRed, black, white, and brown coat in a medium and silky length; erect, fluffy ears and distinct markingsBlack, white, and brown coat in a coarse and thick appearance; erect and alert ears with long snout and huge paws 
AncestryOriginated in Scotland for herding and hunting jobs such as retrieving birds and herding sheepOriginated in Germany for herding and workplace activities such as police and service work
BehaviorRegarded as the most intelligent dog breed; extremely active and can be mischievous as well as playfulIndependent and aloof, but incredibly loyal and intelligent; sheds often and may be prone to bouts of separation anxiety
Lifespan12-15 years10-14 years

Key Differences Between Border Collie vs German Shepherd

Border Collie vs German Shepherd
Border Collies weigh significantly less than German Shepherds do, even though both of these dogs are the same height.

Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock.com

There are many key differences between a Border Collie and a German Shepherd. Border Collies weigh significantly less than German Shepherds do, even though both of these dogs are the same height. The fur of the Border Collie is fluffier than the thick coarse fur of the German Shepherd. Finally, both of these herding dog breeds originated in different places, with the Border Collie originating in Scotland and the German Shepherd originating in Germany. 

Let’s discuss all of these differences in more detail now. 

Border Collie vs German Shepherd: Size

Border Collie vs German Shepherd
The average Border Collie weighs twenty-five to forty five pounds, while German Shepherds weigh anywhere from 75 to 90 pounds.

Julia Zavalishina/Shutterstock.com

You can easily tell the difference between a Border Collie and a German Shepherd based on their sizes alone. For example, the average Border Collie weighs twenty-five to forty five pounds, while German Shepherds weigh anywhere from 75 to 90 pounds. This makes German Shepherds far larger than Border Collies overall.

Interestingly, both of these dogs are the same height despite their obvious weight differences. This means that German Shepherds are bigger boned and more muscular compared to the leaner and more agile Border Collie. 

Border Collie vs German Shepherd: Appearance

Border Collie vs German Shepherd
The coat of the Border Collie is fluffier with more distinctive markings than the German Shepherd.

dezy/Shutterstock.com

There are some significant differences in the appearance of a Border Collie versus the appearance of a German Shepherd. The coat of the Border Collie is fluffier with more distinctive markings than the German Shepherd. Additionally, both of these dogs have certain colors that they come in in order to be considered purebred dogs. 

For example, the Border Collie comes in red, black, white, and brown patterns, while the German Shepherd only comes in shades of black, white, and brown. The ears of the Border Collie are fluffier than the ears of the German Shepherd, though both dogs have pointed and alert ears in general. 

Given how much larger the German Shepherd is compared to the average border collie, you may notice that the German Shepherd’s paws are far larger than the paws of the Border Collie. Additionally, the nose or snout of the German Shepherd is more elongated than the nose of the Border Collie. 

Border Collie vs German Shepherd: Ancestry and Breeding

Border Collie vs German Shepherd
The Border Collie originated in Scotland, while the German Shepherd originated in Germany as its namesake suggests.

iStock.com/TamaraLSanchez

Both the German Shepherd and Border Collie were originally bred to be herding dogs and work on farms. This is still true for the Border Collie to this day, though the German Shepherd is utilized in many more workplaces beyond the farm. Additionally, the Border Collie originated in Scotland, while the German Shepherd originated in Germany as its namesake suggests. 

Border Collie vs German Shepherd: Behavior

Border Collie vs German Shepherd
Border Collies are considered the most intelligent dog breed, though German Shepherds do give them a run for their money.

Osetrik/Shutterstock.com

There are some behavioral differences between the average Border Collie and the average German shepherd. Border Collies are considered the most intelligent dog breed, though German Shepherds do give them a run for their money. The average German Shepherd is more independent and aloof compared to the active and friendly Border Collie. In fact, Border Collies need ample amounts of exercise, while German Shepherds don’t require quite as much. 

Additionally, Border Collies tend to be more mischievous and playful compared to the watchful German Shepherd. However, both of these dogs do well in a variety of situations and Families, so long as they are trained properly and consistently. 

Border Collie vs German Shepherd: Lifespan

Border Collie vs German Shepherd
Border Collies live longer than German Shepherds on average, likely due to their smaller size.

Lelusy/Shutterstock.com

The final difference between German Shepherds and Border Collies is their lifespans. Border Collies live longer than German Shepherds on average, likely due to their smaller size. For example, Border Collies live anywhere from 12 to 15 years old, while German Shepherds live an average of 10 to 14 years, depending on breeding and health. Both of these dogs are regarded as healthy and active breeds, so feeding them a balanced diet and ensuring that they get plenty of exercise is a must!

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