The Border Collie and the German Shepherd Dog are two herding breeds that today are among the most intelligent breeds on the planet. They have very different styles and today, the German Shepherd is mainly used for other tasks than herding, while the Border Collie still excels in this area. Even so, the Border Collie is used in many canine sports and is prone to outshine any other breed.
So where do these glorious breeds come from, and how did they come to be?
Well, I’m proud to say that the Border Collie originates here in the UK. The name, Border Collie, came to be due to the location where this amazing breed was created – on the border between England and Scotland, more exactly in the area Northumberland. The breed has a long history beginning with dogs brought here by both Romans and Vikings. But there’s one specific dog who is considered to be the founding sire of the entire breed; namely a dog called Old Hemp. He was an absolutely fantastic herding dog, who was admired by many, many breeders. Old Hemp was used as a stud and produced a large number of puppies in his time (this was approximately in the end of the 18th century). He had a herding style never seen before, and breeders were so impressed by him that they set him as a standard for what would become the breed.
The German Shepherd is, just like the name suggests, a German breed. This beautiful breed was created in the 19th century by a German cavalry soldier, Captain Max von Stephanitz, who decided it was his mission to create the ultimate German herder. He and other like-minded breeders crossed various strains from the northern and central districts of Germany, and the result ended up in the ancestors of the German Shepherd Dog we know and love today. Von Stephanitz was also the one to create the first club in the world devoted to the German Shepherd breed. He spent 35 whole years to promote and define the breed. Today, the German Shepherd is one of the most versatile breeds on the planet, and it’s easy to forget that his origin was herding sheep. All the qualities we appreciate and love with the German Shepherd is thanks to his herding origin. It is also thanks to von Stephanitz that the German Shepherd is such a strong choice for police and military work. When modern life began taking over the need for herding dogs, von Stephanitz promoted the German Shepherd as the ideal K-9 worker.
The German Shepherd is the larger of these two breeds, measuring up to 26 inches to the shoulder, weighing up to 90 pounds (males). The Border Collie is not as tall, but reaches 22 inches above the ground, and weighs up to 55 pounds.
Compared to the German Shepherd, the Border Collie has a very straight back. The whole topline is rather straight as he moves forward, and he’s an expert in lowering himself as a herding technique. The German Shepherd, on the other hand, has a sloping back but holds his head high and proud, with those alert ears turned forward.
Both breeds have that beautiful, thick, double coat which with the Border Collie is water resistant. The German Shepherd sheds in general more than the Border Collie, especially in shedding season where the amount of fur on your floors, furniture, in your unopened cans of food et cetera, will be overwhelming without a helping hand.
Herding dogs are known for their trainability, and these breeds are no exceptions. Both the Border Collie and the German Shepherd are extremely easy to train. There’s no wonder the German Shepherd is used by both police and military for K-9 service.
The only real difference between these breeds is that perhaps the Border Collie is just a tiny bit quicker to learn – even the stuff you don’t want him to learn. With a Border Collie you have to be smart – and quick. He picks up everything, and if you’re not outsmarting him, he will outsmart you and take on all the bad habits you don’t want him to have.
Both breeds are high energy, but the Border Collie may outdo the German Shepherd in this aspect. They are, however, extremely intelligent and considering their herding ancestry, they are eager to work. Be prepared to entertain your dog, no matter which of these breeds you end up with. They are hardworking dogs and thrive when allowed to do that.
These two breeds are both extremely intelligent. This provides for a certain amount of cleverness and mischief, if not socialized and trained properly. They are experts at coming up with their own ideas of what’s fun, and they act on it.
Since they are both herding breeds, they do have a certain amount of prey drive. This can be good to know if you live in the city, since this prey drive can result in your dog chasing bikes, cars, playing children, et cetera. It should also be considered if you have smaller children at home – either of these breeds may very well decide it’s time to herd your children and their friends, which in some cases can include nipping at the heels, and with the Border Collie’s case – that unnerving stare that can make anyone uncomfortable.
The German Shepherd is, despite his social capabilities, the one who can be the harsher of these two amazing herders. Especially if he’s from a working line – so if you have a working German Shepherd, please remember that it’s crucial with early socialization to teach your pup good manners around people, in different environments and so on.
The Border Collie, on the other hand, can be the one who is more reserved to strangers. He’ll love his own family fiercely, but he’ll always look at a strangers with a weary eye.