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Collies/Shetland Sheepdogs/Border Collies How Are They Different?

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Tags: Collie, Shetland Sheepdog, Border Collie

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Great Dane

Three breeds of dog that are commonly confused are the Collie, the Border Collie and the Shetland Sheepdog. All three are distinct breeds. And, while they have some similarities, they also have many differences. Following are some of the most common differences and similarities between the breeds.


Collies were developed in Scotland as sheep herding dogs. They come in two varieties: the rough coated, or long haired collie, and the smooth coated or short haired collie. They stand approximately 20-25 inches tall at the shoulders. Males weigh between 46-66 pounds and females weigh between 39-55 pounds.

Collies are believed to date back to the 17th century where they were used to keep herds of sheep together in a group. They are elegant and refined dogs, with a very graceful appearance. They are typically calm and well mannered.

Shetland Sheepdogs

Shetland sheepdogs, also known as shelties, are sometimes referred to as "miniature collies" but this is a misnomer. Shelties are a completely different breed, though they look very much like a smaller version of the rough coated collie. Shelties date back to the 1800s. The breed comes from the Shetland Islands. They were also used as herding dogs, but instead of herding sheep into a group, they were used to protect crops on the farms from the sheep. So, the sheltie's task was to herd the sheep away from the fields and back toward their fold.

Shelties and collies were developed independently of one another, though the collie is one of the breeds used to develop the sheltie breed. Shelties are never short coated, and are considerably smaller than collies. Shelties weigh about 15-25 pounds. Shelties have a livelier personality than the collie, who tends to be a bit more subdued and refined in behavior.

Border Collies

Border collies were developed as herding dogs in the border country between England and Scotland. They are highly prized as herding dogs because of their unique ability to "fetch" a member of the herd who has gone astray. They are considered to be the most intelligent of all dog breeds, and are still widely used as farm and ranch dogs.

Border collies are typically black and white, though you will find other colors, too. They are medium sized dogs, typically weighing 25-55 pounds. They come in both rough and smooth coated varieties.

It is typically fairly easy to tell a border collie from a standard collie. Their hair, even on a rough coated border, is not nearly as long and showy as that of a standard collie. They have shorter noses and resemble an Australian shepherd far more than a standard collie.

Because of their intelligence and because they are bred to be working dogs, the border collie needs a purpose in life or else he may become bored and destructive. They will perform beautifully in the show ring or in agility competitions, and this will keep their active minds and bodies occupied.

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