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Differences between Border Collies & Aussies?

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#1 Colton's_Mom



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Posted 02 November 2008 - 03:06 PM

I am officialy moving hopefully next Sunday (relocation company = slow, slow, slow) and will be looking for a puppy around upcoming spring/summer after attending a few trials. I want a working dog. Before I started looking at Border collies I looked at Australian Shepherds. I talked to a working breeder of Australian Shepherds and he said Aussies are like Border collies with an 'off switch'. I'm sort of stuck inbetween these two breeds seeing as there doesn't seem to be a *huge* deal breaking difference except how they work stock (I'm no farmer I'd compete for fun so it's six in one half a dozen in the other). Can anyone help me out here?
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#2 Shetlander


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Posted 02 November 2008 - 03:21 PM

I talked to a working breeder of Australian Shepherds and he said Aussies are like Border collies with an 'off switch'. I'm sort of stuck inbetween these two breeds seeing as there doesn't seem to be a *huge* deal breaking difference except how they work stock (I'm no farmer I'd compete for fun so it's six in one half a dozen in the other).

I don't know Aussies very well (never much cared for most I see) but from what I can gather, it is more difficult to find a good working Aussie than it is to find a good working Border Collie. Obviously you must go to the right breeders for either dog if you want it to work stock. The belief that BC's do not have an off switch sounds like breed prejudice, ignorance and/or seeing only badly bred and/or poorly trained Border Collies. I used to think Border Collies were non stop drive and motion too. But a good Border Collie has a good off switch. At least any Border Collie I would want to live with does.



#3 JaderBug


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Posted 02 November 2008 - 04:13 PM

I think you're right... it's six in one half a dozen in the other. I've had Borders my whole life, but lately I've known a lot of people with Aussies. My personal opinion is that Aussies seem to be a bit more happy-go-lucky than many of the BCs I've seen, and personally I love watching their fluffy butts bouncing and bounding around when they're running after something. :rolleyes: I also think it's harder to find working-bred Aussies, but with a little elbow grease and digging you shouldn't have too much of a problem.

I agree with Shetlander- a good BC should have an off-switch with no problem. I worried about that when I got Jade because she never stopped, but now that she's almost a year old, she's much better about laying down and taking a nap when mom's busy.

Try to expose yourself to both breeds, not sure what kind of outlets you have near you to do something like this, but doing your homework and talking to owners will be a big help. I'll always have BCs, but I hope to have an Aussie someday as well.

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#4 bsms99


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Posted 02 November 2008 - 05:06 PM

When I was in college, I had a roommate with an Aussie (this was in the 70s). He was good at working livestock and a good all round dog. At the time, Aussie people were worried about the AKC coming in and ruining the breed.

In the 90s, I owned a PB Border Collie from a farm in England. She was a great pet. She also herded everything that moved. The one time she had a chance to work sheep, she rounded up a couple dozen in a pasture and moved them at a walk into a nearby pasture based on my pointing with my hand. She had zero training.

She also had an 'off switch'. She played hard, was very intense - but also loved being around her people. And when it was time to sleep...she did!

I recently started looking for a Border Collie. It wasn't all that easy to find someone who bred pups for herding, but some good folks helped with recommendations. I've agreed to buy for a male born about a week ago from parents used in trials. I also looked at Aussies. I found ONE breeder who bred for herding, but he wouldn't sell to anyone except farms. The rest bred for agility, companionship, etc. All of which is nice, but that isn't what an Australian SHEPHERD is about!

I went to my first agility show Friday and had a blast. I'm hoping to adopt a BC from rescue, and won't care if that one herds everything or not. Lots of great dogs don't herd...they just aren't, IMHO, Border Collies. Border Collie look-alikes, and very possibly great dogs...neuter them and enjoy them. I hope to!

I obviously don't have a lot of data points in my personal sample. FWIW - I'd say the main differences between Border Collies and Aussies are 1) a tail, 2) fewer merles, and 3) Aussies are farther down the road of being ruined as herding dogs due to AKC nonsense.
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#5 ness_bc


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Posted 02 November 2008 - 05:19 PM

My observation is that the Aussies do tend to be goofier and less serious about "work" whereas BCs are super serious when it comes to what they consider "work". I am sure there are individual differences but on the whole I don't see the same intensity in the Aussies. Then again the Aussies over here are all mainly show bred Aussies which may explain it whereas there is still enough working bred BCs around but even the show bred BCs are more intense in general.

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#6 MrSnappy


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Posted 02 November 2008 - 06:01 PM

I have handled lots of both. I'm not the biggest fan of Aussies (*shakes fist at Tweed*) and would rather have a BC any day. Border collies have an off switch too - if they don't, the problem is usually that their handler has not taught them one.

IMW, Aussie have a lot more to say (BARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARK) and are as thick as bricks - they aren't stupid, just a lot less eager to please. They are much more body dogs (slam into this, slam into that) than Border Collies and what's that old saying? It takes an Aussie 3 years to grow a brain, and another 3 to learn how to use it? They are not very sensitive dogs, more likely to be reserved/spooky with strangers, and they don't have the drive a BC does.

If I wanted a dog to work, I'd get a border collie. Watching Aussies work makes me cringe (bark bark bark, bite, body slam, bark bark bark) but again, I'm not watching working BRED Aussies work, just plain old Aussies. Still, it's quite different.

Some lines of Aussies are fantastic, bright, driven, capable dogs and working bred Aussies can be slender, fine boned dogs who look and act a lot like BCs, but most of the Aussies I know don't fall into that category. Having said that, I have two Aussies mixes, so apply the appropriate discount to my two cents above.

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#7 stockdogranch


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Posted 02 November 2008 - 06:18 PM

It really depends on what you want the dog to do--what your purposes are. If you want a fun-loving companion and pet, an Aussie can be a great dog. If you want a working dog, then you want a BC. The reason is that since '77 (I believe that date is correct), even ASCA has bred for a "breed standard." That means that dogs are bred to "look" a certain way--size, ear set, color, and so on. (Good) working bred BCs have ONLY been bred for working ability--so we don't give a rip what they look like or what color they are, although most of us have some sort of preference AFTER working ability. Border Collies that are bred for anything other than a high level of working ability are "Border Collies" in name only.

I've worked with a fair number of Aussies over the years (on stock). For the most part, they bounce around a lot behind the stock, do lots of "shark attacks"--go in for cheap shots (dive in to bite but then do a hasty retreat, only to repeat this process), and are very easily distracted from their work--sort of "space cadets." Many I would refer to as "jokesters"--if they can make a game out of what you are trying to do, they will. The serious work ethic of a well-bred working BC is missing. Of course, not all are like this, but the vast majority are.

Now as for working-bred BCs, it's totally crap a myth that they're nut jobs or don't have an "off switch." (Lack of an "off switch" in poorly bred BC's (i.e., sports bred, conformation breed, etc.) is a whole other issue.)

So, again, ask yourself what you want a dog for, then go from there,

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#8 Debbie Meier

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 07:41 PM

A couple years back an open handler told me that if I want to have fun at trials that I should go out and buy a border collie, we were trying to make a go with ACD's, we are still working with out ACD's but the trialling is going to the border collies. The Aussies I have worked with tended to be more like our ACD's, they can do it, it just takes a lot longer and alot more diligence. Compared to the border collies they tend to need more time to be taught to release pressure and to read pressure, and balance does not seem to come as naturally, actually some of my ACD's have a better sense of rate, balance and control then the Aussie's have had that have been here. I can only think of one female that I have seen with nice natural balance and feel when she was young, but last time I saw her she was a sheep chasing machine, but that could be just poor training.

Another big pro to me, the smooth coat option, I'm a smooth coat fan and I've yet to see smooth coated (short hair) Aussies. The Aussies we had here (6 for almost a year) actually had more coat then our rough coated border collie, and it was real stinky.

If you have no real preference you might want to see what trainers and style of trials are available in your area, if there is a good Border Collie support system go with Border Collies, if there is a strong ASCA and Aussie support system you might want to go with Aussies. It's kinda tough to have an Aussie and end up in an area where the trainers only work with Border Collies.

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#9 ErinKate


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Posted 02 November 2008 - 09:16 PM

I am with Liz. For someone to say BCs have no off is foolish. A poor trained dog of any breed has no off. I also agree with the person who said they are more serious workers. Also not a big aussie fan.

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#10 Ooky


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Posted 02 November 2008 - 09:25 PM

I don't have a good sample size but I can say Odin is from a potentially not-great working breeder (I really don't know) and still has a lovely off-switch. His energy is boundless, but focused and focusable, if you know what I mean. So much so that every person who meets him is impressed with how absolutely calm he is if they meet him in that mode, until they see him in his "on" mode - then they are like, "wow, he has a lot of energy!" Switching between the two is easy, more so after effort we've put into the "off" mode. I'm not saying that all dogs from questionable breedings are going to be great, BTW, I'm just saying I didn't even take the care I should have and Odin is nowhere near the "monster" I set myself up to expect. And I am a lazy person. He is 7.5 months now.

This brings back memories as I would have gone with an Aussie or GSD if I'd had my complete choice on the matter, and had heard that same line about Aussies vs. BCs. But we had a size limit of 50 lbs, and didn't think it likely an Aussie or even gsd mix would really settle that low. All I can say is I'm SO glad for the limit and the persistence of DH in telling me over and over this was my breed! Now I can't think of a better dog in personality, size, looks, energy, quirks, liveability. YES I am biased. :rolleyes: They are certainly not for everyone, but I wouldn't make the decision thinking you'll have to live without an off switch for the rest of the dog's life in order to have a good worker around.

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#11 WildFlower


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Posted 02 November 2008 - 09:35 PM

I have no personal experience with Aussies and I must admit that I am biased having grown up with a BC. But as many others mentioned, BCs do have off switches. It drives me nuts that most people have this perception that BCs are uncontrollable energy-filled freakshow dogs! As long as you channel their energy into something good - like herding, agility, or even just hiking - they are wonderful.

Best of luck with your decision! :rolleyes:


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#12 nancy


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Posted 02 November 2008 - 10:02 PM

I wish you'd been at any of our North Carolina Border Collie picnics, when Becca has provided sheep with which we can test our dogs and a flock for those with working dogs to demonstrate what border collies can do.

Working border collies have every switch you could ever want.

#13 Pat W.

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 03:41 PM

I have an aussie and 3 bc's I disagree that aussies dont have good work ethic, They have a great work ethic just different, aussies are more cattle than sheep dogs bred more to get down and dirty with tough cattle than sheep. I do agree that aussies are far more vocal about things Riley always has something to say about everything. Aussies are wonderful dogs that if bred and trained properly are wonderful companions that can get out and do just about anything a bc can do just with a different style. They excell in agility, sar, herding ect and make great family members as long as they have a strong leader. Buyer caviet: most aussies have very strong ideas as to how things should be done and woe betide the owner who is not as smart and strong willed. They do play by body slamming (mine did) and not only is it no fun but is dangerous for you and/or other dogs, but can be eliminated with training. Riley is a very special dog and I am very lucky to be HIS person. Aussies are bred to be somewhat aloof with strangers but not spooky with them, they can form strong bonds with a single family member.
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#14 BustopherJones


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Posted 04 November 2008 - 03:48 PM

I have never had an Aussie, but my vet does. (She also has an ACD.) According to her, the only difference between an Aussie and a BC is a higher tolerance for hot conditions (Aussies were originally bred to herd sheep imported from Australia in the hot conditions of the American Southwest; hence the name) and the lack of a tail. Otherwise, they are equally focused, driven to work, athletic, and INSANE!!!
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#15 Lenajo


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Posted 04 November 2008 - 05:33 PM

The biggest original difference in the 2 breeds is that the Aussie has a genetically thicker skull.

Seriously :rolleyes:


#1 thing people have to understand is that the Aussie and the BC are the same breed - split apart by purpose and region. They do *not* come from Australia, and some of the more famous original "breeders" simply docked and sold their merle pups as Aussie, and their undocked black and white pups as Border Collies. There is some similarity of the Aussie to the German Koolie of Australia, as well as the Smithfield Bob. Both of these "breeds"....oops, also came from Scotland. Bob's had bobtail genes in many, and Koolies (German communities un Australia who kept them spelled/said Koolie for "Collie") often come in the merle and work with a bark and upright stance. Basque shepherds (the human version) were universal - the poor culture that migrated with the flocks and the dogs to many countries

You will have trouble finding a modern bred Aussie for real work. They are being bred for show (excessive bone, size, pretty colors, and lots of hair), speed (flyball and agility), and drive by sheep and cattle shootings (aka arena trial "titles") and pets (pretty and dumb). They are capable of an off switch - but unfortunately most don't need one as by adulthood most too disinterested and lacking in drive to do much of anything that doesn't require a dinner bowl. Worse...you get one with drive, but they have the focus of a spastic flea.

Add to that lines full of poor temperaments (as in will leave their work to eat humans in the vicinity) and seizures and you've got a real mess

I started out with the breed, and I like the orginal Aussie a *lot*, but what has been done to it by poor breeding has made it nearly impossible for me to find what I want any more (or at least so much effort I find it not worth the time sadly). If you do find a good one, finding an equally good one to breed it too for your next generation is searching for a straw needle in 2 haystacks.

The modern Aussie, for we Border Collie lovers, is a horrible horrible warning. Want to see what happens when the show ring, versatility and color breeding, "titles" and health testing mean more than work and functional soundness?.....look at the Aussie. And try not to cry.

#16 Mudpups


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Posted 04 November 2008 - 06:34 PM

Just for interest sake, here are some photos of a working bred australian Koolie (my sisters dog Smudge), and a show bred Aussie.

Smudge is my nephew and I am biased, but beauty *AND* brains can be seen in jut one photograph I think;) His ears will probably prick up at some stage, he has recently turned one.

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#17 hsnrs


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Posted 04 November 2008 - 11:11 PM

My Aussies are all different but they do have a off switch (sort of).
They are very intense when they are working. Granted they can't do long outruns but when the sheep escaped to the back 40 they went after them. We don't have BCs but do admire them and their great work ethic.

#18 Bo Peep

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 01:08 AM

I am officially moving hopefully next Sunday (relocation company = slow, slow, slow) and will be looking for a puppy around upcoming spring/summer after attending a few trials. I want a working dog. Before I started looking at Border collies I looked at Australian Shepherds. I talked to a working breeder of Australian Shepherds and he said Aussies are like Border collies with an 'off switch'. I'm sort of stuck in between these two breeds seeing as there doesn't seem to be a *huge* deal breaking difference except how they work stock (I'm no farmer I'd compete for fun so it's six in one half a dozen in the other). Can anyone help me out here?

I see that you found a "working breeder of Aussies" that is good- there are very few left. My old neighbor had 3- and one show dog. The show dog, oh we tried so hard on her with sheep, but she just didn't get it. Aussies seem to "trot" even the well bred ones. They lack the real eye that the border collies have. If you really want to compete, even for fun, get yourself a well bred border collie.

All of my well bred BC's had (I hate the word) off switches. They were comfortable lazing around the house, playing some ball and really, their moods reflected mine. I'd take a border collie any day over an Aussie, but that's just my opinion - if you go to an Aussie board, I'm sure you will hear other views- LOL. Best of luck to you finding the dog of your choice!!
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#19 Marilyn T

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 09:21 AM

Years ago I had Aussies, not border collies. All three were working bred. The best way to describe the differences goes as follows. (BTW, my dogs were VERY different from the show bred Aussies I see everywhere now. Show bred Australian shepherds remind me of golden retrievers. The ones I have seen recently cannot even catch up to a softly thrown frisbee.)

I do beliveve that the Aussies (I had) were as intellegent or maybe more so than my border collies, But they were less biddable. They were very clever. Could work out any method possible to get what they wanted. You could ask them to do something for you, and as long as you left them alone to work out the how to get it done part, all was fine. Mine (all from very different bloodlines, but working) were fairly resentful about being told how to do something. I could say 'bring in the horses' and they would do it. If I said do it a certain way... uhh uhh... ( I would never use a dog to gather horses these days, but I was younger and more stupid then)

I have since gone to border collies, and won't go back. BTW.. an 'Off Switch' needs to be trained into any breed. People can make any dog an obsessive compulsive. I taught puppy class for 12 years, and saw all kinds of breeds that had need of an off switch trained into them.


#20 mobcmom



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Posted 05 November 2008 - 02:00 PM

When we were looking for a family dog we looked at a number of breeds including border collies and australian shepards. We love both breeds but settled on border collies. It seemed as if Aussies tend to bark more than border collies and I think that was one of the factors.

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