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First, let’s take a look at the exterior of these amazing dogs. There’s not much of a difference, to be quite honest with you. The Australian shepherd is just slightly taller than the Border Collie, but both breeds stay within the range of about 18 – 23 inches. If you’re interested in a bigger medium-sized dog, you may want to take a closer look at the Aussie, however, because they are much heavier than the Border Collie. An Australian shepherd male can weigh up to 65 pounds, while his Border Collie counterpart only reaches up to about 55 pounds.  Coat-wise, the two breeds are very similar. They both are double-coated with weather-resistant coat. The Border Collie has two variations: a longer, coarser coat and a shorter, smoother one. The Australian shepherd has more colours than the Border Collie.  Other than this, both breeds are extremely similar in looks. Medium-sized dogs, square and well balanced, very similar heads with long noses and a pretty much the exact same stooping forehead. But a dog is more than his looks. Let’s take a look at these dogs’ intelligence and work ethics. Both are high level working dogs, both are herding breeds used to work mainly with sheep and cattle.  The Border Collie might be the winner of the intelligence. They learn new commands extremely quickly and are equally quick to respond to a new command once learnt. The Australian shepherd is by no means a stupid dog, but not quite as quick to learn and perform to a command as the Border Collie. The Australian shepherd has Border Collie in his genes, so there’s no wonder he has the same high work etic as his ancestor. Both breeds have been bred for their herding capabilities, and they need to be busy all day long. Both breeds are at their very best when they get to work, and they perform their duties flawlessly.  In general, the Border Collie might be the better herder, but the two breeds work slightly different. The Border Collie works from afar, and is used mainly for herding sheep. The Australian shepherd is less timid, and is therefore used for herding cattle to a larger extent than the Border Collie.  Let’s move on to the temperament and personality of these fantastic dogs. Being the work-a-holics that they are, these dogs have extremely high energy levels. They need extreme amounts of physical and mental challenges on a daily basis. If they don’t get what they need, you’ll end up with a neurotic dog who can cause enormous damage to your home, and really, it doesn’t matter which one of these two breeds you choose. Since herding is built into these breeds genes, it may happen that they will herd your toddlers if you have them. This is not an ultimate scenario, so if you have or plan on having a baby in the future, perhaps you’ll want to reconsider. Older children usually work a lot better with both these breeds.  Other than that, both the Border Collie and the Australian shepherd are very sociable, they love spending time with their people, and they are both very eager to please. As with all breeds, it is extremely important with early socialization, since especially the Border Collie can turn out quite aloof to strangers if not socialized properly. The Australian shepherd on the other hand, can develop an unhealthy separation anxiety since they tend to be more dependent on their people than the Border Collie.  Another area that is interesting to know more about, is the trainability of these two breeds. Both of them are very easy to train, but given their energy levels and their need to work, none of them are suitable for the first-time-owner. Why? Because once they learnt one thing, they’ll want to learn more, and more, and then some more again, and if you can’t keep up with their eagerness to move forward, you’re in trouble. They will outsmart you within seconds if you’re not prepared and up for the challenge.  Let’s end this comparison with health issues. Shepherds in general are quite healthy dogs, and there are no major concerns or health issues to be aware of, for the average pup.  However, like many other dogs, both the Border Collie and the Australian shepherd can suffer from elbow and hip dysplasia, which can end up in very painful arthritis. They can also have problems with their eyes, and something else which is present in both breeds is Multi-Drug Sensitivity, which means that the gene responsible for transporting a drug out of or away from the brain is faulty, and the toxicity of the drugs poison the dog. That’s why it’s very important to remind your vet about this, just to be safe.  But over-all, both breeds are in fact healthy and can live up to 15 years if taken care of properly. Do that, see that your dog no matter which breed, is physically and mentally challenged every day of its life, and you’ll have the best friend possible.  My conclusion of this comparison is that it doesn’t really matter which breed you choose. It’s a question of taste and preference. The Australian shepherd is slightly bigger and heavier, while the Border Collie might be slightly more reserved to strangers. Both breeds are excellent herding dogs – the best in the world, frankly, so if I were you, I’d find out as much as I can about both breeds and make an informed decisions based on facts and my own preferences. If you are in the process of choosing the best herding breed for you, I wish you the best of luck.

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