Border Collie vs. Australian Cattle Dog - All About Dogs

Border Collie vs. Australian Cattle Dog

Border Collie vs. Australian Cattle Dog

Born to herd – the Border Collie in comparison to the Australian Cattle Dog

Border Collies and the Australian Cattle Dog were bred to help people work with all kinds of farm animals. These clever and athletic dogs are also popular for people who love sports that involve dogs or are keen to do agility training with their dogs.

The Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) is a real Australian. It owes its existence to the local cattle breeders. They needed an energetic, persistent, yet quiet dog. Today it is not known anymore, which breeds were crossed for to arrive with the Australian Cattle Dog. This breed is not only highly multitalented; they are a breed of many names, such as:

  • Blue Heeler
  • Red Heeler and
  • Queensland Heeler.

Some people assume that the ACD might be a cross between the Australian native dog, the Dingo, and a Collie. However, there is no certainty about it. This is more a rumor which circulates between hardcore Australian Cattle Dog fans.

Border Collie

The Border Collie, on the other hand, is not a genuine Australian. His name goes back to the 18th century when the local farmers needed a border between Scotland and England. They used dogs, usually in pairs, to keep their sheep on either side of the border but maybe even more so, to look after the sheep and bring them back safely at night into their pens. Besides, the four-legged helpers often had to track down individual animals and bring them back to the herd, as well as separate some sheep from the rest.

From work animal to fashion dog

Since 1978 the Border Collie has become extremely popular as a show dog. His stunning appearance, as well as the increasing presence on television and in advertising, helped the Border Collie to its well-deserved fame.

In the following, I would like to give you an overview of both breeds. Whether you are looking to get a Border Collie, an Australian Cattle Dog, or any other pet for this matter, you can never know enough about the breed of the dog you invite into your life!

   Border Collie    Australian Cattle Dog
General HealthThere are no particular health issues with the Border Collie. To avoid hip dysplasia some breeders, recommend agility training from an early age on. Might need regular vet checks Male: 14 – 20 kg, Female: 12 – 19 kg Lifespan: 12 – 14 years  The type of breed is very healthy; there are no know inherited diseases; however, due to his agility, the Heeler might endure some injuries. Commonly the healthiest dog! Life span: 12 – 15 years Male: 17 kg, Female: 15.5 kg
PopularityIncreasing popularity as a family dog.  Most popular working dog in Australia.  
IntelligenceHighly intelligent, recommended for herding, sports, and agility training — one of the brightest breeds.  Not quite as smart as the Border Collie but is not far behind it!
Trainability Both breeds are easy to train  
Energy levelHigh, the Border Collie is a working dog by nature and needs much exercise. Not recommended for apartment dwellers.Pretty much the same applies to the Heeler. Bred to work on a farm, this dog needs a lot of exercise and is not recommended for apartment dwellers.   
Good Family dogThe Border Collie makes for an excellent family dog, which is good with children and other animals.The Heeler shares many of the Border Collie’s features but could be regarded as a one-person dog as well. Owners of Blue Heelers know that this breed has the capability of focusing all its energy on one person!  
Good with other dogsThe Border Collie will accept cats, but they are not necessary buddies. Might befriend other pets.  The Blue Heeler is not keen on sharing space with a cat!
Good with strangersBorder Collies are genuinely loyal, soft, and gentle, loving, and affectionate dogs toward their handlers as well as strangers.Blue Heelers, on the other side, are friendly, loyal, and affectionate dogs as well. However, due to their high level of independence, they can appear somewhat unfriendly. Maybe not the most-stranger friendly breed.  
Good with kidsAs an excellent family dog, the Border Collie is good with children  The Australian Cattle Dog has many excellent features; however, the acceptance and friendliness towards children are not one of them.  
Good for new ownersBoth dog breeds tend to stubbornness and require training, which can only be provided by an experienced dog person. Therefore, not recommended for first dog owners.  
Good with other petsMight befriend other pets and then get on with them.Does not get on with other pets.  
Easy to groomTo keep the coat of the Border Collie luster, more grooming is required than compared with the Heeler. But when done every other day, it should not be too hard or time-consuming.  Effortless: Due to its dense short hair, the Blue Heeler requires minimal grooming.
BarkingThe Border Collie as well as the Blue Heeler hardly ever bark  
Weather TolerancePrefers average to cold weather conditions The Border Collie can adapt well to cold weather conditions; some dogs even can be a good mountain dog.    The Blue Heeler tolerates warm as well as cold weather.  
Social needsThe Border Collie, as the perfect dog for families, has high social needs.  The Heeler on the other side, bonds deeply with one person, but might be somewhat antisocial to the rest of the world.  
Watchdog abilities  The Border Collie, as well as the Blue Heeler, both are excellent watchdogs.  
TerritorialBoth breeds are extremely protective guard dogs  
Playfulness Both breeds are highly playful!  


If you consider inviting a new dog into your home and you have shortlisted the Border Collie or the Blue Heeler, a genuine Australian Cattle Dog, you have decided on great breeds, which both come with their advantages and disadvantages. On which of those breeds you finally decide depends on your personal needs and circumstances. Both dogs are working dogs and need at least a big back yard, even better a farm. They are not suitable for offices and apartments.

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