Border Collie vs. Shetland Sheepdog: Differences & Similarities

Border Collie and Shelties, or Shetland Sheepdogs, are both intelligent, energetic breeds. They are skilled in herding and require lots of exercise and mental stimulation.

The former is known for its intelligence and good work ethic, making it an excellent work and companion dog. It’s highly trainable but needs an active lifestyle and plenty of mental stimulation.

On the other hand, Shelties are smaller and slightly less intense. They are also highly trainable and make great family pets. Shelties are known for their loyalty and affectionate nature towards their family.

Therefore, choosing between the two depends on your lifestyle and what you’re looking for in a dog. Remember, both breeds need lots of exercise and mental engagement due to their herding background.

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

Quick Summary: The Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) is among the most popular dog breeds regarding obedience training, but the Border Collie (Border) is the smartest overall. The Border Collie was bred to be a sheepherder and does not seem as secure as the Sheltie. Both these dogs require a lot of exercise since they’re both very active. Their coats also shed similarly, so they have the same grooming requirements. The Sheltie (since they’re smaller) could easily live in an apartment, but the Border will not be happy with the same setup. Both these breeds are generally healthy dogs, with the Sheltie having an average lifespan of 12 to 13 years, while the Border Collie can live anywhere from 10 to 17 years.

Are you considering adopting a new pet and you’re unable to decide which one to choose between Border Collie vs. the Sheltie? Both breeds appear like each other, and it’s simple to see why people believe they’re the same dogs. However, they’re not the same dog in any way. They could be confused with each other, since they are both derived from the Collie. However, they are two distinct breeds.

Both breeds have distinct personality traits; however, they share similar physical characteristics. Before you decide on one or the other, it’s essential to determine which one is best suited to your type of family. It’s also crucial to know the kind of commitment to exercise you’ll have to meet before welcoming a new dog to your home.

The question is, how different and similar are the two breeds -the Border Collie and the Sheltie? From their pasts to their appearances and personalities. In addition, their grooming requirements, training requirements, and general health. We’ve got all these taken care of. As the saying goes in Scotland: Let’s have a look at the adorable bonnie dogs!

Border Collie vs. Shetland Sheepdog

Breed History and Background

It is true that the Border Collie and the Sheltie both come from across the pond to the United Kingdom, namely Scotland. But what other things do they have? A glance at their history will not only allow you to understand more about the purpose of these breeds, but it will also assist you in understanding what they’re likely to become as family pets.

Border Collie: An Overview

The Border Collie’s forefathers were a mix of Roman as well as Viking Herding dog breeds. The primary element in this breed of Collie can be identified as that of the Icelandic Sheepdog. With the multitude of herding dogs in the Collie mix, it’s not surprising that he is thought to be one of the top herding dogs in the world. In addition, he is often referred to as being the most clever dog breed around the globe.

The Border Collie comes from Scotland and, in particular, the border between England and Scotland. The word “collie” means sheepdogs in Scottish. This is the reason for his name, “Border” Collie. He is among the most loved sheepdogs in the world. Due to his sweetness and gentle nature, he’s also a beloved family pet, though not as well-known in comparison to other breeds like the Golden Retriever.

Shetland Sheepdog: An Overview

The Sheltie also originated from Scotland; however, it is from the more rocky and cold tiny islands known as The Shetland Islands. Its real name is Shetland Sheepdog, but the name “Sheltie” was adopted as a name. Indeed, Sheltie is its nickname, and it’s also fondly called the Toonie dog due to the fact that “toonie” means farming in Scottish.

Shelties were employed as general farmhands and also as sheepherders. They were bred from their close relatives, the Rough Collie (not the Border Collie), to be smaller. They were bred to be smaller so that they didn’t eat as much since food in the Shetland Islands was very scarce.

There is little information about their past because the Shetland Islands were largely inaccessible, so they were isolated until the 20th century. As per the AKC, The Sheltie is among the most popular dog breeds when it comes to obedience training. Because human beings are in love with everything small, the miniature Sheltie is loved by many families as a pet. He is also more well-known in America in comparison with Border Collie.

Temperament and Personality Traits

The major differences between their personalities stem from their breed’s original purpose. Border Collie was bred to be a sheepherder, which was his primary goal. The Sheltie was also a sheepherder; however, he was also a general farmhand, which included safeguarding the farm. In this way, the Sheltie is a safety dog and is also very vocal. If you’re looking for an alarm dog, go for the Sheltie as the Border Collie is quieter.

The Border Collie does not seem as secure as the Sheltie. Instead, he’ll remain with his master and stare at people it does not recognize. He’s very distant from strangers, and it takes an extremely long time for him to be comfortable with them. We can say that the Border is more cautious compared to the Sheltie, which isn’t at all.

Both are a lot of fun and very entertaining, but the Border Collie is a more serious dog. He prefers to be in a class with you, learning new tricks throughout the day, or shepherding sheep in contrast to the Sheltie, who prefers more variety and has the same amount of fun as the more serious work. As for their families, they’re equally extremely loving and compassionate to all the members of their home.

Both the Border Collie and the Sheltie can be a great addition to the household with multiple pets as long as they’re well-socialized as pups. They are also great with children at home. Border Collies, as the serious herder, will also attempt to herd other animals or small children. If he does this, it is important to stop him.

Size and Appearance

It is true that the Border Collie and the Sheltie appear similar, but they are easy to distinguish. They are both Shetland Sheepdogs, just like Shetland Ponies. The Border Collie is a medium-sized dog, while the Sheltie is a smaller-sized dog. Small enough that the Border is two times the size of the Sheltie. The size alone is enough to set the two apart, and it is also an important factor for families who are trying to choose between the two.

Their coats are comparable in that they are thick and also smooth as well as soft. However, shelties are the most fluffy, absolutely. Both wear double-layered coats. Their outer coats are weatherproof to keep their bodies dry and warm. The Sheltie appears much like an oversized ball of fluffy, and you can clearly observe the shape of the Border Collie.

The Sheltie is white and has brown, blue, merle, red, and sable tones in contrast to the Border which is typically white and black in color. Both breeds can also have blue eyes, but they are rare.

The Sheltie has a larger and more pointed muzzle than the Border Collie whose muzzle is more proportional in its shape. The ears of the Sheltie are smaller and are placed farther behind his head in contrast with the Border’s ears which are bigger and fall towards the side of the neck. They are both distinct-looking dogs, however, and they’re just as cute and happy as one another.

Exercise Requirements

Both the Sheltie and the Border Collie require a lot of exercise. As farmhands and sheepherders, they possess plenty of energy that must be utilized to its fullest. If not, it could be used negatively, and they’ll likely ruin your possessions due to boredom.

The Border Collie requires 60 to 90 minutes of exercise each day, and it has to be vigorous in order to wear the dog out in any way. The Sheltie requires less exercise as compared to the Border, with a duration of 45-60 minutes. However, it also needs to be more active than the average dog, particularly for a tiny dog. He’s shorter than Border, and consequently, his legs are shorter, and he tires faster.

If you’ve got a job to complete, you can be certain that these two guys will do their best to help you. They will both enjoy working hard and exercising regularly. That means you must keep them mentally active throughout the day, on top of their regular workout, through interactive playtime or training sessions, or by providing them with stimulating toys.

Training and Socialization

The Border Collie and the Sheltie are both smart breeds of dogs. Both breeds excel in obedience training and agility. Of course, the Collie is the smartest; however, we think that the Sheltie is not too far from the lead. This means they’re perfect for new dog owners. However, those who are first-time dog owners must not underestimate just how fierce these dogs are.

Like all canines, they must be taught dog-friendly rules so that they can develop into the well-behaved, balanced canines we are familiar with. Both need to be socialized properly at a young age, especially the Sheltie, as he could be overprotective if he is not. Then there’s the Border – as he could be shy, you must increase his confidence.

Study the positive reinforcement technique, and it’ll be easy to train these dogs. It’s likely that they will be attracted by objects and praise instead of food. The Collie, also known as Chaser, is regarded as one of the smartest dogs due to its ability to recognize all commands as well as the names of more than 1,000 things.

Grooming Requirements

Their grooming differences or similarities can be determined by their coats. Border Collies shed more in comparison to Shelties. Border Collies can either have either a long or short coat. Short-coated Borders only have to be brushed once per week. For Border Collies with an extra long coat, he’ll need to be brushed at least two or three times per week. This is similar to the Sheltie, which has only one coat type but super fluff!

Both are moderate shedders throughout the year, but during the shed season, they turn into heavy shedders. Expect hair storms to erupt around your house with any one of these breeds. It is recommended to bathe them at least once every 12 weeks or at least once a week, but not more than that because you could damage the natural oils in their coats.

Nutritional Guide

The Sheltie can eat between 1 to 2 cups of food each day. The Border Collie eats more than this and consumes around two and one-half cups of food per day. Since they are very active, it is important to be cautious when feeding them. To avoid bloating, do not feed them right before or after exercising.

Since they are hard-working animals, they need to be fed premium dog food that provides the proper nutrition. Also, ensure that the dogs can generate enough energy to keep them going through the day. Find kibbles that have omega fatty acids to keep their coats healthy. The Sheltie may require kibble designed specifically for smaller breeds since the size of his mouth is smaller.

Health Issues and Lifespan

The Sheltie, as well as Border Collie, are both healthy dogs. Both enjoy a long life span – the Border can live anywhere from 10 to 17 years, while Shelties have an average lifespan of 12 to 13 years. To keep them fit, they must maintain regular vet checkups, consume high-quality food, and be active enough.

Both are susceptible to a condition known as hip dysplasia, which is when the hip socket doesn’t properly form. They should also be examined for a variety of eye issues, including progressive retinal atrophy, collie eyes, and cataracts.

This isn’t a complete list, but these are the most prevalent health issues that impact them. If you’re about to introduce one of these into your home, it is important to be aware of them and the symptoms to be aware of.

Reputable Breeders and Puppy Prices

The cost of a Border Collie puppy purchased from a reputable breeder begins at approximately 1,000 dollars. The Sheltie is about the same amount. Before you decide to jump head first, make sure to investigate the breeder you choose and make sure they are trustworthy and ethical. Beware of any breeder who refuses to let you meet the puppies or their parents or refuses to show you the documents.


We hope that after reading this article, you will have made their similarities and differences easy to comprehend. More importantly, I hope we helped you determine the best fit for your household. Since they all require different families, you should pick the breed you can keep up with.

The Sheltie is the smaller dog that has less energy requirements. She could easily live within an apartment, but the Border Collie couldn’t. A Border Collie needs access to fresh air and a spacious backyard. However, he requires an active family that can keep up with his high-spirited nature. Whatever Scottish dog you choose, know that both are beautiful, affectionate, and super fun to have for the whole family.

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