Border Collies and Shelties are popular breeds that often get confused with one another. Because they look so similar, it is difficult to tell them apart.

While these breeds are closely related, there are some key differences that allow you to distinguish them.

Here, we will discuss some of the differences to help you determine which one of these energetic and playful dogs is right for your family.

If you are planning on bringing a dog into your family and cannot decide between a Border Collie or a Sheltie, learning about the two breeds will help you decide.

Before we talk about the distinctions, you need to learn the history of these breeds.

Border collie and sheltie
Border collie and sheltie

Key takeaways

  • The border collie and sheltie are friendly and make for a great family dog.
  • Border collies are slightly larger and weigh more than collies.
  • They have a slight difference in appearance.
  • Shelties tend to be more protective and vocal than border collies.
  • Border collies and shelties are active dogs and require plenty of exercise.

History of the Border Collie

The Border Collie is a British dog breed that was originally bred to be a herding dog. These dogs are highly intelligent and are said to be descendants of the Landrace Sheepdog.

Border Collies continue to be employed as herders but are now primarily pets.

History of the Sheltie

The Shetland Sheepdog, Sheltie for short, is a herding dog that hails from Scotland. The original name for this dog was Shetland Collie, but due to controversy, the name was changed to the Shetland Sheepdog. These dogs are a descendant of the Rough Collie.

What Are the Differences Between Border Collies and Shelties?

Before deciding between these two dogs, you need to learn about what makes them unique. The following are some of the top differences between Shelties and Border Collies.

Border collie and shelties
Border collie and shelties

Differences in Size

One of the first contrasts we will discuss is the size of these two dogs. Border Collies grow just a little bit bigger than Shelties. The top height of Shelties is 16 inches, while the top height of Border Collies is 22 inches.

Border Collies also usually weigh more than Shelties. Shetland Sheepdogs typically only weigh as much as 25 pounds, while Border Collies can weigh twice as much, up to 50 pounds.

Differences in Their Coats

Another thing that helps you tell Shelties and Border Collies apart is their coats. Both coats are similar in appearance, but Shelties are much fluffier and softer. Shelties are so fluffy that it is difficult to see their form, whereas you can tell the shape of Border Collies.

Shelties come in white with brown, merle, red, and blue tones.

Border Collies are primarily black and white but can sometimes have blue, merle, black, sable, lilac, red, and gold tones.

Differences in Their Ears and Noses

There is also a difference in the two dogs’ muzzles. The Sheltie has a longer and pointier nose. Border Collies have a more proportionate nose.

The pointy nose of the Sheltie definitely helps you see they are different than Border Collies.

You will also discover a difference in these dogs’ ears. The Sheltie has smaller ears that are placed farther towards the back of its head. The Border Collie has larger ears that slightly drop down on the sides of its neck.

Differences in Personality

While the Sheltie and Border Collie have similar personalities, there is a key difference. This discrepancy occurs because of the reason for breeding each dog.

border collie with frisbee

Border Collies were bred to be sheepherders. Shelties were also bred to be sheepherders, but they were used as general farmhand dogs.

As you might have guessed, Shelties can be highly protective dogs that are very vocal.

Shelties will sound the alarm and let you know if there is a stranger around. Border Collies, on the other hand, are much quieter and have a more easy going personality.

These differences do not mean Border Collies will not protect their owners. A Border Collie will stand beside its owner and watch, but typically will not growl or bark when it sees a stranger. Border Collies remain aloof with strangers.

Shelties are happy to see anyone. While both dogs are very fun, the Border Collie is undoubtedly more serious.

Both of these dogs are very loveable and enjoy showering their owners with kisses. Border Collies are happiest sitting with their owners and learning new tricks, while Shelties need variety and excitement.

Which Dog Is Better for Multi-Dog Households?

Both of these dogs will do well with other dogs in your home, as long as they are socialized from a young age. In the same fashion, these dogs also do well with children in the home.

It’s important to note that Border Collies are very serious when it comes to herding. Border Collies sometimes forget they are no longer in the pastures and will try to herd other dogs or small children.

If you should see this kind of behavior, make sure to discourage it because it can lead to slight aggression in Border Collies.

Sheltie standing in grass
Sheltie

Which Dog Needs More Exercise?

Both the Border Collie and Sheltie need plenty of exercise. These dogs are both highly active. Because these dogs were bred as sheepherders, they have a lot of pent-up energy that needs to be released.

Border Collies need slightly more exercise than Shelties, at between 60 to 90 minutes a day. Shelties need less activity at between 45 to 60 minutes a day.

Warning: if you do not give these dogs enough physical activity, they can become bored and destroy things. These dogs may also try to herd other animals or people. Be mindful of their need for exercise when selecting a dog.

border collie running in sand
Border collie

Border Collies and Shelties Make Wonderful Companions

Now you know some key differences so you can tell these two dogs apart. Survey the information above to help you determine which dog will be the best addition to your home.

No matter which one you choose, Border Collies and Shelties are wonderful dogs that are full of life and fun. These dogs make wonderful companions and do well in homes with other dogs and children.

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