Trying to decide between Australian Shepherds and Border Collies?
While there are many similarities, as these breeds both come from the Herding Group, there are also some significant differences.
The following graphic is what the AKC has to say about both breeds:
Breaking this all down in real life, what does this mean? What are the differences between Australian Shepherds and Border Collies? Superficially, it means things like both are herding dogs with keen intelligence and an astounding work ethic.
Aussies are a little bit more ruggedly built, they always have a double coat, they have fewer colors from which to choose. Both will shed year-round. Both are ridiculously smart and easy to train. Both have an incredible work ethic and need a lot of exercise. Both need a lot of socialization to be good around other people and animals. Both, if not trained, will herd and nip small children. Both can range from friendly goofball to wary of all strangers, though Aussies are more likely to act as guard dogs also (if not well-socialized).
Border Collies are better at working from distances, as they were bred to herd sheep on mountainous terrain, while Aussies were bred to work alongside cowboys on cattle and sheep. Sometimes that means that Border Collies are slightly less prone to anxiety separation that can be a problem for some Aussies.
In my experience, Border Collies can be more neurotic and timid, while Aussies can be more pushy with some aggressive tendencies (a herding nip is considered a bite by the law) if not well-trained and socialized.
So should you get a Border Collie or an Australian Shepherd? While both are, indeed, a snap to train, they both need continued training and socialization to become take-anywhere kinds of dogs. Both need a considerable amount of stimulation and exercise to not become neurotic or destructive. Neither makes good dogs for apartments and both should have free access to a high-fenced yard. And I do mean a fence at least 8 feet high. Both can easily jump a 4-foot fence and scale a 6-foot fence with no problem. I have witnessed this first hand, so don’t skimp.
Bottom line: both are no-joke dogs that are high-maintenance. You cannot set them and forget them.
If you are not prepared to provide for their requirements, stay away from these dogs. Yes, they are both beautiful breeds, but there are already way too many that wind up in Rescue because people just like their looks and don’t do the proper research. If you are a first-time dog owner, I also recommend that you stay away from both of these breeds. It will likely be too high a learning curve for you.