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Border Collies and Australian Shepherds- what are the differences?


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#1 Gemmy4ever

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 06:53 PM

:D Hi everyone...I'm just wondering...what's the difference between an Australian Shepherd and a Border Collie? I have an Australian Shepherd right now and I know that Border Collies are cousins with them. I had a Border Collie before but I was very young, and I can't remember the behavior of him. I love my Aussie, but I'm wondering if I'm missing out on the BC. Thanks! I really appreciate the help :rolleyes: !

#2 Lizmo

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 08:00 PM

From my understanding, the most difference is "intensity". Aussies are more "laid back" compared to Borders.

#3 Barb Scott

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 08:05 PM

Aussies don't have the eye!

#4 stockdogranch

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 09:50 PM

To the OP: Are you asking about differences in working styles or trainability or something else connected to work? Or are you just asking as far as general behaviours for a companion animal?
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#5 hsnrs

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 10:57 PM

Glad to see you have Aussies. We love our guy and gals. BCs are great too. Our BC trainer has some really nice working dogs. Narita

#6 Rebecca, Irena Farm

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 07:55 AM

Border Collies and Aussies actually aren't really that closely related. Collies and English Shepherds share much more genetics with Border Collies than Aussies, except in cases where, ahem, the relationship was augmented with some cross breeding way back in the lines.

The ideal Aussie is less of a specialist than a Border Collie. They've got more of a "yard dog" makeup to their personality - not only can they be trained to move stock around, but they also naturally seek out other roles for themselves - protection of property, human companionship, alert dog ("Timmy fell in the well!"). That first one is important because one thing that happens first to ill-bred Aussies, is often overprotectiveness - dogs that lack the impulse control and discernment to judge friend from foe.

They were originally big flock sheepdogs, but have had so many years of being mostly cattle working dogs, that they have a strong tendency to resort to teeth. A certain springiness has been bred into them also, so that the first thing that strikes me as a difference between the two breeds is the "boing" in an Aussie, versus the quieter intensity of a Border Collie.

Aussies aren't really any less "hyper" than Border Collies - I find many of them, more so, actually, a frightening glimpse of where our breed might go if hyperness continues to be accepted as the norm. However, an Aussie that is controlling himself and knows his place in life, looks more like a Normal Dog to the outside observer. The butt wiggle is cute, the crouch and stare of a Border Collie, not so much.

A really good Aussie gets behind stock and pads like a lion. Many do have a good bit of eye. Eye is not just the really strong stylish moves of the Kelpie and Border Collie - it's the ability to control stock without cutting off their escape route physically. The Aussie doesn't typically drop his head way down, but a well-trained and well-bred one can work quite far off his stock. Aussies, like many cattle bred dogs, don't feel pressure as strongly as Border Collies - this makes them more comfortable in tight spaces, but it can also make them more difficult to train in the finer arts of stock work - larger outruns, pace.
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#7 Sue R

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 08:36 AM

Well said, Becca!

As an owner of several Aussies in the past, friend to a few in the present, and owner of Border Collies both past and present, I would agree heartily with what Rebecca said.

As in any breed, while their are tendancies to certain behaviors and mannerisms, there is a great deal of variety within a breed. However, certain trends can be generalized. I often find Aussies to be "springy", a bit pushy, sometimes bull-headed, superior to the Border Collie in terms of protectiveness, oftentimes rather soft-hearted beneath the bravado, but ready to give their best in getting a job done.

After we got the Border Collies, we still brought out old MacLeod when we needed a dog with lots of "push" in closer quarters. A guardian of home and farm with a neighborhood reputation, he was also the dog that mothered the baby calves, sometimes better than their own moms did! My Border Collies would no sooner "fraternize" with livestock of any kind than fly to the moon - they feel stock is for working, not for nuturing.

We still have a soft spot in our hearts for Aussies but I, for one, wouldn't choose one again if a Border Collie were an option. My husband still threatens to get another Aussie but I think our young Bute is winning him over to the "black and white" side.
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#8 Liz P

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 11:56 AM

I saw an Aussie work at a clinic that was frustrated because her sheep would not move so put her paws on their back ends and tried to push them. She rocked back and forth and threw all her weight into them. Strange and funny in an odd sort of way...

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#9 Gemmy4ever

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 10:35 AM

Thanks for all the help, guys! :rolleyes:

#10 Barb Scott

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 12:58 PM

Becca wrote: so that the first thing that strikes me as a difference between the two breeds is the "boing" in an Aussie, versus the quieter intensity of a Border Collie.
I once met an Aussie with its family in the park. The Aussie was BOINGING as high as the top of the baby's stroller! Of course I asked how old it was (thinking it was a young dog because of the BOING), but it was 7 years old!
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#11 1sheepdoggal

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 11:43 AM

I had an aussie once, before I went to the Border Collie, I found them to be a lot as Becca described them. But I also saw that they appear to be more of a driving dog, than a true gathering dog. Though this point has been argued and Ive been told that they are bred to do both, and that are they are a gathering dog.. My vote stays the same, that they are not a true gathering dog, that they can be taught to, but that its not as strong and instinct for them as it is for the Border Collie.
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#12 Soda-pop

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 07:40 PM

Does anyone have any video of a *good* Aussie working? I'd like to see it, just for kicks and learnin'. I realize I could probably find a video of an aussie working on youtube but i don't know good from bad. :rolleyes:

Thanks!

#13 Mojo

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 09:06 PM

I have no experience working stock whatsoever, so let me just say that first, but this one looks pretty good to me:

Luke fetching sheep

Video by Anne Jespersen. Her Birch Hollow is a working Aussie ranch/breeding operation from what I know; she has a lot of other working videos linked to her account, as well. I also like the dogs Hank and Missy. All her dogs seem very talented, really!

**ETA - if anyone more knowledgeable than I would care to comment on the above video, or any of Ms. Jespersen's other videos, I would very much appreciate hearing their opinions. I am eager to learn, as well!
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#14 DeltaBluez Tess

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 11:59 PM

Anne Jespersen has nice working Aussies.
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#15 kelpiegirl

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 06:53 AM

One thing I noted was that the dog did a lot of looking at the handler- I see that a lot in aussies- in general. I think this is because they are so intuned to their handlers. You can see the sheep are not spooked by the dog, and that is a nice thing to have in sheep :rolleyes:
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#16 Sue R

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 05:50 PM

One thing I noted was that the dog did a lot of looking at the handler- I see that a lot in aussies- in general. I think this is because they are so intuned to their handlers.


As endearing as this characteristic appears, I have always been under the impression that that is NOT what you want to see in a good working dog, or at least in a good working Border Collie. I have watched a small number of working Aussies and seen very little glancing at the handler but, as I said, my experience is very limited.

The dog that takes its eyes off the stock is not, I believe, more "intuned" to the handler. Absolutely terrific handler/dog teams (like Bev Lambert and Pippa and Bill, Alasdair MacRae and his dogs, Tommy Wilson and Sly, and many others) do just fine without the dog visibly moving its focus from the stock. What's the saying? "The eyes are for the stock and the ears are for the handler."

It seems to me that a dog that does a lot of looking towards the handler is either a dog that is lacking confidence in itself ("back me up here, boss") or its handler ("what the heck do you want me to do that for?"), or a dog that is too easily diverted from paying attention to the stock.

Just my impression and I could easily be wrong.
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#17 Lenajo

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 05:58 PM

I've worked with quite a few Aussies over the years and they are gathering dogs. The ones I saw that were called "driving only" were either poorly, or deliberately d/t handler preference, trained that way.

There are few truly good working Aussies lines left. Most are "hit and run" workers...they do a little chasing, a little grabbing and barking, then check out of contact with the stock. It's frustrating for the stock, and even worse for a trainer that knows to expect more. A stockman walks away from such dogs.

Keekers are prominent in a few BC lines as well. Training methods can also make a dog look away from his stock more - and again, handler preference.

Luke would be an excellent example of a good working Aussie. He remind me of my old Joey, one of the few Aussies who actually has won a Novice trial at a normal (USBCHA) herding trial. Joey has a touch more eye, which now would be penalized as "non-Aussie" herding behavior. Which is stupid...but that's another political story.

#18 stockdogranch

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 08:50 PM

Most are "hit and run" workers...they do a little chasing, a little grabbing and barking, then check out of contact with the stock. It's frustrating for the stock, and even worse for a trainer that knows to expect more. A stockman walks away from such dogs.


That's been my experience as well. I also have met quite a few who are willing to work as long as they can make a game of it: split the sheep so they can then go gather them together again. When pressed to just work seriously, I have met very few who are willing to hang in there,
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#19 JLP

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 09:23 PM

I ran across a article at Working Aussie Source that tackled this subject, perhaps you will find it interesting.
http://www.workingau...sbc_article.htm

#20 Rebecca, Irena Farm

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 10:17 PM

I appreciate any attempt to understand a breed for the sake of its unique merits. It does not amuse me, however, to see a contrast of a breed done by someone who understands little about the "other" breed.

Someone who can say, with a straight face, that the Border Collie was not bred to handle large groups of heavy breed sheep, has neither read about the history of the breed, nor done much examination of the breed in its native land. The three tier system of sheep breeding could not have been developed without such a versatile sheepdog as the Border Collie, able to handle both the light, wily native maternal breeds and the tough, heavy down terminal breeds and lambs - in the same operation. Thousands of them, thank you kindly.

*stomping away to cool off*
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