Right Breed Choice: Border Collie vs German Shepherd
Anything German Shepherd Team
Author: Anything German Shepherd Team
Published date: December 15, 2022
Updated date: May 25, 2023
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Right Breed Choice: Border Collie vs German Shepherd

Selecting the correct dog breed for you is a matter to be taken very seriously.

When making the decision, there are several factors to consider, including:

  • Breed History
  • Physical Characteristics
  • Defensive Capacity
  • Exercise
  • Grooming

When comparing the Border Collie vs the German Shepherd, it is also important to engage the whole family.

If you decide to pick a puppy, make sure you conduct in-depth research before buying.

There are many options for adoption, including breeders, animal shelters, and breed rescues.

Whichever path you choose to follow, you should always begin with the type of dog you want.

Many factors are taken into consideration when trying to choose between a German Shepherd and Border Collie.

But some crucial factors include size, compatibility, maintenance, health, energy levels, and special needs.

Border Collies

According to AKC, With origins in Northumberland, the Border Collie ranks as the top dog breed for herding, obedience, and intelligence.

They are also very energetic and athletic. Today, this breed is recognized as the descendants of the tri-color dog, the Old Hemp.

The name Border Collie was first coined in 1915 by James Reid, the International Sheep Dog Society Secretary, during registration.

Despite this, the breed gained popularity at the end of the 19th century in Wales during the first sheepdog trial. They’re also very playful.

German Shepherds

According to the American Kennel Club, The German Shepherd has its origins in Germany since 1899.

Like the Border Collie, though very large, the German Shepherd first started as herding and sheep guarding dog.

They are compliant, strong, and smart dogs, which make them ideal for military use.

The first German Shepherd dog to be registered was Horand von Grafrath by Max von Stephanitz, a Berlin Veterinary College ex-student.

He spotted the then named Hektor Linksrhein at a dog show and later founded the Society for the German Shepherd Dog.

Horand turned out to be the hotbed for the breeding programs, with Hektor von Schwaben becoming the most fruitful puppy.

This breed first gained international popularity in the UK at the decline of WW1, and then to the US.

Now, you want to know which breed between the two is best for you, right?

We will go through the different aspects that define them, and from that, you’ll make your verdict.

While there are similarities, there exist significant differences that distinguish them.


Physical Characteristics

Border Collies

The Border Collie is sporty and attractive and has a furtive, purposed, and stable movement work-oriented, and have excellent field and overall performance.

Border Collies have been bred from Viking and Roman herding dogs and are very intelligent.

Also, it possesses a well-poised physical body, reasoning capacity, as well as strength.

Its herding eye is among its celebrated traits, which makes it a perfect herding dog.

The Border Collie’s coat can be either smooth or rough, but they both boast a thick double coat.

Its outer coat is rough, while the undercoat is soft and fluffy.

They are available in many colors, which makes them stunningly beautiful.

German Shepherds

The German Shepherd was also primarily bred to guard sheep and included several separate regional German dogs.

At heart, this breed is a working dog that is both durable and sturdy.

They are also hardworking and smart, which makes them capable of performing many tasks.

While they are well-known to form a solid bond with known people, they can be cautious of strange dogs and people.

Sadly, their temperament can be impulsive due to their usefulness. Working Shepherds are bred to be harsher than peaceful show lines.

If bred by reckless breeders, Shepherds can have shocking tension and anxiety levels.

German Shepherds are large and impressive, with pointed ears and big chests that show confidence.

They have a coarse and medium-sized outer layer coat and are available in many colors.

Lifespan and Size

Border Collie

On average, the Border Collie has a life expectancy of twelve to fifteen years.

They are typically healthy but can have health issues that might affect their lifecycle.

To ensure you get the quality pup, source from an honest breeder, and awareness on any genetic conditions.

However, you must be prepared as your dog can be sick at any time.

These solid herders are the ideal average size and rough exclusive of being huge.

Border Collie males are 19 to 22 inches tall, while females stand 18 to 21 inches, with a weight of 30 to 55 pounds.

German Shepherd

German Shepherds, on the contrary, have shorter lifespans compared to other breeds, living for about 7 to 10 years.

When aging, they also suffer from infamous health issues such as joint problems. These conditions can either cut or shorten their life quality.

It’s crucial that you get from a reliable breeder, and observe a proper diet and workout.

As of the size, male dogs can become huge, with weights of up to 90 pounds.

Females are usually known to weigh between 50 and 70 pounds. At the shoulder, they’re 22 – 26 inches tall.


Defensive Capacity

The Border Collie’s natural herding instinct makes them exceptionally protective of their family or flock.

Also, they are loyal and watchful dogs and can be reserved with aliens.

They are known to be charming and defensive without being arrogant.

German Shepherd, Doberman, and Rottweiler are reputable for being guard dogs.

Their huge and fit features, as well as scaring teeth, make their image threatening.

If defensive, the Shepherd is a terrifying sight.

Their strong bonding ability and trait makes them suitable for protection. While they can be reserved at first, they’re very devoted to their humans.

German Shepherds can lay their lives at risk if necessary, to protect you as their owner.

Due to this characteristic, it’s essential to start reward-based exercise while still young.

To prevent any interactive issues later, pay special attention to mingling with strange folks and dogs.


Border Collie

The Border Collie is regarded as a trainable dog because of its intelligence, willingness to learn, and the ability to reason well.

The nature of work aids them in picking up orders fast, and they can outshine at canine sports like herding and quickness.

For effective dog exercise or training, make sure you use constructive support.

Training Border Collie needs tools such as constant and positive compliments, tolerance, sports, and treats.

While they love learning, ensure you motivate them with fun action or a yummy snack.

But be cautious not to make your dog overweight with treats.

Also, ensure early socialization to expose them to many new dogs and circumstances. They will grow into a polite and friendly dog.

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is an exceptional learner.

Their traits, such as intelligence, hard work, and capability, make the breed ideal for the most significant canine workforces.

You will find them in areas such as drug enforcement and bomb squads.

Since they are hardworking, they require adequate stimulation and quality training. Otherwise, they can turn into chaos.

So, make sure you engage your Shepherd in exciting and interactive actions.

Most of these breeds stand out in showmanship and skill.

Make sure you begin exercising your German Shepherd in its early stage and with a cool trainer.

This makes your puppies social and obedient during exercise before picking up bad behaviors.


Levels of Energy

Border Collie

Its an irony to call a Border Collie breed energetic.

While being on the move is their nature, it’s also significant for their health. So, make sure they do regular exercises.

If you love being physical, then this breed is a great companion for you.

The breed is good with a family sitting around and having fun.

But most importantly, the high levels of energy mean that you will have to walk them before they’re ready to sit.

Thus, no matter how tired you come home, workouts are vital for mental stimulation.

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd stands out as a high-energy breed. Notably, they desire specific tasks instead of general play.

Many of these breeds enjoy working in exchange for a fetch.

As such, you will need no treats during exercise. Workouts are vital for both mental and physical.

To help them prevent health conditions, which occur with age, ensure both physical and mental exertion. It’s vital to their lifespan.

Maintenance & Grooming

Maintaining these two breeds requires a lot of effort and dedication and quality time.

This means knowing their regular upkeep and exercise needs, as well as environmental requirements.

Unless you want your dog to be miserable and destructive, you must dedicate your time and effort.

Shedding and cleaning or grooming are also crucial in maintenance.

You can find here our recommendation for the best grooming tools for your dog.

Workout Requirements

The Border Collie breed likes to play. Hence, they require a lot of daily workouts and mental stimulus.

Since they are sporty, ensure regular workouts to improve their agility.

Another great supplement to their exercise is backyard playtime. Here, you get to bond quickly.

This breed hankers after real work and finds satisfaction in sustained intellectual and carnal spur.

Like the Border Collie, workouts are essential for the German Shepherd. However, you must begin these exercises when they are young.

Take them for many long walks if you want them to enjoy running with you when they are adults.

Shepherds also need secure and fenced areas where they can go off the chain.

Since they enjoy running and are extremely fast, allowing them to exercise at full speed keeps them fit.

In their routine, make sure you include mental tasks such as fetch and obedience.

Do you love playing hide-and-seek and puzzle toys?

Well, make your German Shepherd dog a companion or player. They will be both vigilant and in high spirits.


Knowing how tolerant your dog is to different environments is crucial. As such, understand your dog’s heat and cold tolerance abilities.

Border Collies are adaptive to both cold and hot climates. They have a thick double coat that keeps them warm during winter seasons.

When its summer, they shed the coat to cool them down. Ensure you observe them in harsh temperatures and when at work in such climates.

German Shepherds are an energetic breed and can endure both cold and hot climates, hence suitable for most climates.

Always make sure they have access to water and shade.

This breed requires plenty of outdoor time and activities to stretch its legs, but with a companion.


Shedding and Cleaning

Even though the Border Collie has two different coat types, the rough and soft, they have similar grooming.

Ensure you brush the dog a few times daily and weekly during the shedding period.

This makes their coats attractive while giving them a healthy appearance.

Here is our recommendation if you searching for a perfect brush for your dog

Similarly, the nails should be trimmed regularly to keep them comfortable. Also, perform a regular ear check-up and cleaning.

German Shepherds are well-known for extensive shedding.

Typically, they shed heavily twice or once annually, and maintain average shedding during other times.

While this is the case, maintaining this breed isn’t difficult.

German Shepherds need weekly brushing to keep their shedding controllable and infrequent baths. Like the Border Collie, ensure regular nail trimming.


According to AKC, Hip dysplasia is a common health concern for Border Collies.

So, be prepared for this likely issue by taking them for regular screening.

Other concerns include deafness, collie eye anomaly, ear infections, among others.

German Shepherds are mostly associated with joint problems, hip and elbow dysplasia, and specifically degenerative myelopathy.

You can curb passing on these issues to their pups via preventive actions, consistent veterinary care, and enough workouts.

Ensure the breeders you buy from show proof of health testing.

Behavior Issues

In both the Border Collie and the German Shepherd, behavioral problems come as a result of being idle and lack of enough training and socialization.

They are known to love bonding with their owners, so make sure you have time for your dogs. Keep your dog busy.


Both the Border Collie and the German Shepherd must be fed on foods of high quality. Make sure your dog’s diet matches its age.

The AKC Pet Insurance advises against feeding your dog with table scraps as they can cause digestive upset.

In conclusion, both the Border Collies and the German Shepherds may need extra mental support and healthcare. So, buy from a reputable breeder.

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