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10 Dog Breeds Similar to Border Collies

Written by: Ejay C.
| Published on February 19, 2024

Border Collies are widely recognized for their intelligence, agility, and herding abilities, making them one of the most versatile and capable working dog breeds in the world. Originating from the Anglo-Scottish border, these dogs were primarily used for controlling sheep, but their remarkable intelligence and eagerness to learn have made them excel in various canine sports and activities. Known for their intense stare, or “eye,” with which they control livestock, Border Collies possess a unique combination of attributes: energy, trainability, and a strong working drive. For those who admire the Border Collie’s characteristics but are exploring similar breeds with comparable traits, there are several options to consider. This article delves into 10 dog breeds similar to Border Collies, focusing on their physical attributes, temperament, and why they might make great additions to active families or individuals looking for an intelligent and energetic canine companion.

1. Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds share the Border Collie’s intelligence, versatility, and herding ability. Originating from the Western United States, not Australia, as their name suggests, Aussies are known for their colorful coats and striking eyes. They are highly trainable and excel in various dog sports, including agility, obedience, and herding trials. Like Border Collies, Australian Shepherds require plenty of mental and physical exercise to keep them happy and healthy, making them ideal for active families or individuals.

2. Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdogs, or Shelties, resemble miniature Rough Collies and share many traits with Border Collies, including intelligence, trainability, and a strong herding instinct. Despite their smaller size, Shelties are energetic and excel in agility and obedience competitions. They are known for their loyalty, affectionate nature, and vocal tendencies, often barking to alert their families of anything amiss, making them excellent watchdogs as well as companions.

3. Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois are often mistaken for short-haired German Shepherds but are a distinct breed known for their intelligence, trainability, and work ethic. Originally bred for herding, Malinois excels in a variety of roles, including police and military work, search and rescue, and competitive obedience. They share the Border Collie’s high energy levels and need for regular, vigorous exercise, along with a similar capacity for learning and performing complex tasks.

4. Rough Collie

Rough Collies are perhaps best known as the breed of Lassie, the fictional TV hero. They share the Border Collie’s herding background and intelligence but are generally less intense and more laid-back. Rough Collies are known for their loyalty, gentleness, and ease with children, making them excellent family pets. They possess a stunning long coat that, like the Border Collie’s, requires regular grooming to maintain its condition.

5. Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dogs, also known as Blue Heelers, were bred for herding cattle across vast Australian terrains. They share the Border Collie’s intelligence, energy, and strong work drive, excelling in herding and canine sports. Australian Cattle Dogs are sturdy, compact, and agile, with a unique coat pattern. Their loyalty and protective instincts make them excellent companions for those who can provide an active and engaging lifestyle.

6. English Shepherd

English Shepherds are versatile farm dogs known for their intelligence, agility, and ability to manage livestock. They share many traits with Border Collies, including a strong work ethic, versatility in working roles, and a keen intelligence that makes them highly trainable. English Shepherds are somewhat larger and have a more varied coat coloration but similarly thrive on having a job to do and being part of an active family.

7. Welsh Sheepdog

Welsh Sheepdogs are a less well-known breed but share the Border Collie’s herding instinct, intelligence, and energy. They are highly skilled working dogs, used for herding sheep in Wales. Welsh Sheepdogs are independent thinkers and require consistent training and mental stimulation to thrive. Their loyalty and bond with their owners make them excellent companions for active individuals or families.

8. Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdogs are recognizable for their shaggy coat and bear-like gait. While larger and more laid-back than Border Collies, they share a herding heritage and are known for their intelligence and adaptability. Old English Sheepdogs are affectionate and gentle, making them great family pets. They require regular grooming to maintain their distinctive coat and enjoy being part of family activities.

9. German Shepherd Dog

German Shepherds are known for their versatility as working dogs, excelling in roles such as police work, search and rescue, and service dogs. They share the Border Collie’s intelligence, loyalty, and protective nature. German Shepherds are larger but similarly require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Their trainability and eagerness to please make them suitable for a variety of tasks and activities.

10. Bearded Collie

Bearded Collies, with their long, flowing coats and bouncy stride, share the Border Collie’s herding background and joyful disposition. Beardies are known for their intelligence, exuberance, and friendly nature. They are adaptable and trainable, excelling in agility and obedience competitions. Like Border Collies, Bearded Collies require regular exercise and mental stimulation to keep them engaged and content.

While the Border Collie is unique in its combination of intelligence, agility, and herding ability, several breeds offer similar qualities that make them appealing to dog lovers. From the versatile and intelligent Australian Shepherd to the gentle and loyal Rough Collie, each breed provides an alternative for those drawn to the Border Collie’s characteristics. Whether you’re looking for a competitive agility partner, a loyal family companion, or a skilled working dog, these breeds offer a range of options to fit a variety of lifestyles and preferences, embodying the spirit and versatility that make the Border Collie so beloved.


What Are Border Collies Like? How Are They Different Than Other Breeds?

Border Collies are the epitome of intelligence, energy, and versatility within the canine world. Originating from the borderlands between Scotland and England, these medium-sized herding dogs have been bred for their exceptional abilities to control and herd livestock, particularly sheep. Their keen intelligence, intense work ethic, and unparalleled agility not only make them outstanding working dogs but also beloved companions for those who can match their dynamic lifestyle.

Understanding Border Collies

Border Collies are medium-sized dogs with a strong, athletic build, designed for stamina and agility over rough terrain. They are most recognized for their intense gaze, or “eye,” with which they control livestock. Their coat comes in various colors and patterns, the most common being black and white, but they can also be seen in blue merle, red, and tricolor, among others. Their double coat, which can be smooth or rough, requires regular grooming to maintain its condition and manage shedding.

Temperament and Behavior

Known as the workaholics of the dog world, Border Collies have an insatiable drive to work and a remarkable ability to learn and solve problems. This makes them one of the most trainable breeds, excelling in obedience, agility, flyball, and, of course, herding trials. They possess a boundless energy and thrive on having tasks to perform, becoming easily bored if not mentally and physically stimulated. This high level of intelligence and activity means they are best suited to environments where they can have a job to do or participate in canine sports.

Physical Characteristics

Border Collies are agile and muscular, built for speed and endurance. Their alert expression and athletic stance reflect their readiness and eagerness for work. Males typically stand between 19 to 22 inches at the shoulder, while females are slightly smaller, standing between 18 to 21 inches. Despite their medium size, their intense energy and agility make them larger than life.

How Are They Different Than Other Breeds?

What sets Border Collies apart from other breeds is their unparalleled intelligence and work ethic. Bred as herding dogs, they possess an innate ability to control and predict the movement of sheep, often with minimal guidance from their handler. This intelligence extends into their trainability, where they excel far beyond herding tasks. While many breeds are intelligent, the Border Collie’s combination of intelligence, agility, and work drive is unique. Additionally, their sensitivity to their owner’s commands and body language is unmatched, making them highly responsive working and companion animals.

Health and Care

Border Collies are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they are prone to certain genetic conditions, such as hip dysplasia, Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA), and epilepsy. Regular veterinary check-ups, a nutritious diet, and plenty of exercise are essential for their well-being. Their coat requires regular grooming to keep it free from mats and debris, especially for those with the rough variety.

Border Collies in Society

Border Collies have a significant presence in various canine sports, showcasing their versatility and intelligence. They are often seen topping competitions in agility, obedience, and, of course, sheepdog trials, where they work in harmony with their handlers to herd sheep. Beyond the competitive world, Border Collies also serve as search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs, and loving family pets for those who lead active lifestyles and can fulfill their need for mental and physical stimulation.

Border Collies stand out as a breed not just for their intelligence and work ethic but for their deep need for engagement and activity. They are not the breed for everyone, requiring an owner who understands and can meet their needs for physical exercise and mental challenges. For those who can match their lifestyle, Border Collies offers unmatched companionship, loyalty, and the joy of living with a highly intelligent and capable dog. Their versatility and eagerness to work make them unique among dog breeds, embodying the spirit of partnership between dogs and humans.