German Shepherd vs Border Collie – A Detailed Comparison Of Both Dogs!

Hi my names Shelby and I know a thing or two about dog breeds! I have a loveable Springer Spaniel Beagle mix who I love named Sage.

When I decided to adopt a dog of my very own, I knew I wanted to rescue a dog that needed my help! Sage was dropped into my lap and I immediately fell in love. I knew that I needed to be her forever family.

I have had many dogs over the years. These breeds include Beagles, Labradors, German Shorthairs and a few other mixes.

One thing I have learned over the years is the breed of your dog can make a big difference so you want to make sure you have the right breed that works for you!

Picking the Right Breed for You!

There are a few things to consider when picking your dog breed.

These things include size, energy level, temperament, hair type, and ideal environment.

In this article we are going to delve into how to pick the right breed for you while comparing German Shepherds with Border Collies.

German Shepherds

Large brown dogGerman Shepherds have served many roles throughout history including in the police force and private protection, search and rescue, shows, and as the name would suggest shepherding.

German Shepherds are one of the most versatile breeds of today and are very popular.

German Shepherds are large dogs with a protective temperament. They connect very strongly with their family and can be wary of strangers both human and animal.

German Shepherds are sometimes labeled as aggressive due to their protective and assertive nature as well as the fact that they are commonly trained as guard dogs and possible attack dogs.

Border Collies

Border Collies have been known throughout history as shepherding dogs. They are believed to be first known as sheepdogs. They are commonly used to herd cows, sheep, or other animals for farmers.

Border Collies are often medium sized dogs with a high energy temperament. They are known as incredibly intelligent and are always eager to learn.

Border Collies are highly energetic and active and need plenty of space to run around and release some of their pent up energy.

Because of this they might seem high maintenance if you are in a situation where their exercise is mainly walking with their owner.

German Shepherd vs Border Collie Size: Which One is Bigger?

German Shepherds are bigger with the male averaging 24-26 inches (66-88lbs) and the female averaging 22-24 inches (49-71lbs).

Border Collies are a more medium sized dog with the male averaging 19-22 inches (30-45lbs) and the female averaging 18-21 inches (27-42lbs).

This would be something to consider if size is important to you, as they are pretty different.

German Shepherd vs Border Collie Temperament: How do they Behave?

A black and white dogA German Shepherd is very protective of their family. They can be dominating over other dogs.

While they behave well towards other pets in the home, they will most likely identify as the alpha.

Border Collies are highly energetic and loyal towards their family but they are less dominating.

Like the German Shepherd they do display instincts to guard their family but often by keeping their distance and keeping an eye out.

Both of these dog breeds are highly intelligent and thrive with training and direction.

German Shepherd vs Border Collie Life Span/Health: What’s their Life Expectancy?

German Shepherds have a life expectancy of 10-12 years. German Shepherds can be prone to health issues though, and should be taken to the vet routinely.

These health issues can include elbow or hip dysplasia, cardiomyopathy, hemangiosarcoma, panosteitis, von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD), degenerative myelopathy and cauda equina.

Also other health issues are malignant neoplasms, pannus, hot spots, skin allergies, gastric torsion, cataract, and perianal fistulas.

German Shepherds are also known to have fatal fungal infections due to the Aspergillus mold.

Border Collies can have a longer life expectancy of 10-14 years. They do not have as high of a rate of fatal health issues but they can also have hip dysplasia.

They are known for more minor issues such as seizures, progressive retinal atrophy, osteochondritis dissecans, lens luxation, hypothyroidism, patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), and Collie eye anomaly (CEA).

They can also suffer from compulsive behavior.

My Border Collie mix has minor compulsion behavior and will constantly lick whatever is near her.

German Shepherd vs Border Collie Appearance: What do they Look Like?

A large brown and black dogThe German Shepherd is a large dog that is usually tan and black in color. They can also be red and black or less commonly all black, all white, or more blue.

The German Shepherd has a double coat which gives them very dense hair that can be either straight or wavy.

This is a breed that will shed all year long which is something to consider if you want to have one in your home.

Border Collies are a medium size dog that can be bi-color, tri-color, merle, and sable. They often have white patches on their body or head.

When a Border Collie’s hair is short it can be smooth but as it gets longer it can be wavy or even rough.

Both dogs have a long body in proportion to their height. This allows a long gait that will help them with their speed, strength, and agility.

German Shepherd vs Border Collie Grooming: How Much do they Require?

Both German Shepherds and Border Collies have similar grooming needs.

They do not need excessive baths but the do need more frequent brushing due to their double coats. This should be accomplished at least once a week or more.

Like all dogs German Shepherds and Border Collies will need regular dental care. Make sure to check their teeth for plaque and brush their teeth and gums weekly.

As well as their teeth, both of these dogs need regular ear care. This can be accomplished using Q-Tips and ear drops. A dog should get ear cleanings once a week or they could get infected.

German Shepherd vs Border Collie Training: Can they be Trained Easily?

A black and white dogGerman Shepherds training can be easy to moderate. They are highly intelligent, but they are headstrong and independent.

Fostering a good leadership role with your German Shepherd is essential to a successful training experience with your pet.

With a good leadership standard between you and your pet, training should be generally easy.

Border Collies are even easier to train. With a drive to please a Border Collie will do anything they can to make you happy.

These dogs are also highly intelligent and eager. Border Collies will need to be socialized as a part of their training.

They often have social anxiety around strange pets and humans and this could be an issue if not properly addressed. With time and effort these dogs will be very easy and well behaved.

If you are struggling to train your German Shepherd or Border Collie we have created a great article which reviews Brain Training 4 Dogs an amazing programme that can teach your dog amazing tricks!

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German Shepherd vs Border Collie Diet: What do they Eat?

Both German Shepherds and Border Collies eat similarly to other dog breeds. They should have something that is healthy and natural. Make sure that their food is not high in grain or fillers.

With their high energy levels, they need food that is high in protein and healthy fats. This will allow them to build more lean muscle and will improve their speed and strength.

Natural lean ingredients are ideal for both of these breeds.

German Shepherd vs Border Collie Family Dog: Are they Good with Children?

German Shepherd dogBoth of these dog breeds are family dogs.

A German Shepherd will love their family and become very protective over them.

They are more dominant and headstrong animals and may be overly protective around strangers and other animals. They will not be a problem around children or other family pets.

Border Collies are also family dogs. They thrive from attention and socializing with their family.

They are also protective of their family and may be more alert around strange humans and pets, but they are more watchful than overly protective.

These dogs will use their herding instincts around small children and other animals that may have a tendency to wander.

My border collie mix always helps to bring my beagle back when he is off chasing a smell.

German Shepherd vs Border Collie Environment: Where are they Best Suited?

German Shepherds are best suited in colder to moderate temperatures and will not be as comfortable in extreme heat. They can be either inside or outside dogs.

They need somewhere that allows them plenty of exercise and if you have them in a smaller space you might need to walk them more often. Restless German Shepherds may act out and possibly be destructive.

Border Collies could live outdoors but prefer to live indoors. They thrive where they can socialize with their family.

Like German Shepherds they require exercise and large space. These dogs are not ideal for an apartment. If they do not keep their mind and body active and stimulated, they too might act out.

German Shepherd vs Border Collie Running Costs: Are they Expensive to Look After?

Both Border Collies and Shepherds will be average cost for a dog. While they do need additional brushing, they will not often need to go to a professional pet groomer and that can save you some money.

They both will require regular vet check-ups like every other dog. This can be costly, and you will need to make sure you can afford this kind of care if you get any dog breed.

Because of the larger size of the German Shepherd they will require more food and this can be a larger expense over time.

Final Thoughts: German Shepherd vs Border Collie

A black and white dogBoth German Shepherds and Border Collies will make excellent family pets. They are highly intelligent and versatile dogs who thrive under socialization and training.

They both require plenty of exercise and attention. For a family that has the time and energy to give, these will be great pets.

Border Collies are ideal for someone who needs a smaller and less stressful dog breed.

They are less headstrong and more willing to please and they will love to socialize with a family. Training them will be easier and they are a great and loyal pet to have.

German Shepherds will also be a good family pet with some considerations. They will require more training and time since they are headstrong.

One thing to keep in mind when looking at a German Shepherd is that they can be viewed as aggressive due to them being commonly being trained as guard dogs.

With extra time and attention these dogs will be loyal lifetime friends.

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