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Border Collie vs. Golden Retriever: Breed Differences and Similarities

Comparing the Golden Retriever and the Border Collie for your next canine companion? Find out which is the better dog breed for your lifestyle!

Emma Braby

Last Updated: November 24, 2020 | 9 min read

Border Collie and Golden Retriever in a Tree

Are you comparing the Border Collie vs. Golden Retriever for your next canine companion? The Border Collie and the Golden Retriever are very different looking breeds. And being very popular dogs, most people can easily identify them.

But unless you know both breeds inside out, you might not know the differences in their personality, grooming needs, training requirements, and more. But here we are going to walk you through everything that you need to know. Both breeds are friendly, and great with kids, but they also have some distinct differences.

So, whether you’re just curious about their differences, or you’re here because you are trying to narrow down the choices for your next family pup, you’ve come to the right place. Both these breeds are excellent choices for family companions, but let’s dive in a little deeper and see what you can expect if you welcome either dog breed into your home.

Breed Comparison Chart

 
Border Collie
Golden Retriever
Height
19 - 22 inches (M)
18 – 21 inches (F)
23 – 24 inches (M)
21.5 – 22.5 inches (F)
Weight
30 – 55 pounds (M)
27 – 50 pounds (F)
65 – 75 pounds (M)
55 – 65 pounds (F)
Temperament
Smart, Work-orientated, Energetic
Gentle, Intelligent, Loving
Energy
High Energy
Energetic
Health
Above Average
Average
Grooming
Weekly
Weekly
Lifespan
12 - 15 years
10-12 years
Price
$1,000+
$1,000+

Breed History

Let us take you back to the very beginning where both of these guys began. Looking back into their past will tell you a lot about them as dogs, and more importantly, what they will be like as family pets.

Border Collie

Black and White Border Collie
The Border Collie is an extremely popular sheepdog breed.

The Border Collie originates from the wet and harsh lands of Wales and Scotland. He was the result of the Romans and Vikings herding dogs. After their invasions, the Viking’s Icelandic Sheepdog was the key component in the Collie breed. With herding in his blood, he was set for the herding lifestyle. Unlike many working dogs, he is still used as a working dog just as much as he is a family pet.

According to veterinarians and canine behaviorists, he is ranked as the most intelligent dog breed in the world. Immortalized in the film ‘Babe,’ he is the Shepherd’s doggy dream for sure. He is often said to be the world’s best herding dog too. In 2020 he is America’s 35th most popular, and he is even more popular across the pond in the United Kingdom. Their striking good looks and lovable demeanor often have Border Collies paired with other dogs as a parent to create a unique designer dog, without the health issues.

Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever outdoors in Grass
The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular breeds in the United States.

The Golden Retriever is also from Scotland, but he is a much newer breed. He was created by Lord Tweedmouth in the 19th century on his quest to create the perfect gun dog. His doggy makeup consists of the now-extinct Yellow Retriever, Tweed Water Spaniel, Irish Setter, and the Bloodhound. He is known for his gentle mouthing, which was ideal when collecting his master’s hunt.

It wasn’t until 1908 until he came to America. American sport hunters were so impressed by their skill that they began using them here too. It wasn’t long until humans realized just how loving and fun he was as a family pet. And today, and for many years, he is the 3rd most popular dog breed in America. Characterized in far too many films to name, there is no one person in America (probably!) who has never met a Golden Retriever. They are also extremely popular as crossbreed parents, due to their family-friendly reputation.

Appearance

Two Border Collies and Golden Retriever Outdoors
Border Collies and Golden Retrievers are extremely easy to tell apart.

Unlike other Border Collie doppelgangers, Border Collies and Golden Retrievers are easy to tell apart. The Border Collie is a medium-sized dog, and the Golden Retriever is a large-sized dog. The largest of Borders is the same size as the smallest Golden. And Borders are shorter by a few inches too. So, their size difference might be the answer they need to choose between the breeds for some families.

The Golden Retriever has a medium-length coat, and it takes a variety of Golden shades. From pale white to dark red, there is a shade to suit every taste. The Border’s most common color is black and white. But he can also be black, blue, merle, sable, lilac, brindle, gold, and red, all with different patterns. So, if you like a bit of color to spice up your life, the Border is the most colorful of them both. In addition to this, he can also inherit the multi-colored or blue eyes, which are more rare.

The Border’s coat can either be short and tight or medium in length, just like the Golden Retriever’s coat. Despite their flowing locks, both breeds are pleasant looking canines, both very elegant in their appearance. Under their coats, they are muscular and athletic.

Temperament

Border Collie hugging Golden Retriever
Border Collies and Golden Retrievers do share some temperament traits.

Breed temperaments are usually the reasons why a family might choose one over the other. We’ll start with the similarities first. They are both full to the brim with love for their family. So much it can be sickly sweet, sometimes, and too much for those who prefer less needy pets. But it’s all part of their friendly charm. Expect canine cuddles on tap if you are in the main human pack.

They are also gentle with their family members and make great canine siblings for children. They love to have fun, and you can also count on them both for hours of entertainment in the yard. Energetic and always up for a laugh, they will bring sunshine to anyone’s day. Despite their high energy needs, they are reasonably calm in the home.

When it comes to other animals in the home, they are both well-behaved and accepting. Just as long as they have both been socialized well as a pup. The only concern with the Border Collie is that he might try to attempt herding the other pets. And sometimes even smaller children.

The other main difference between the two breeds is that the Border is aloof with those outside the family unit. Even after he has been introduced to them, he can be very reserved. And then there’s the Golden Retriever, who is everyone’s golden boy. He is super friendly, never suspicious, and believes everyone is his friend. Even with a robber’s sack in hand!

If your family is forever hosting parties, the Golden boy would be better suited to your sociable and vibrant lifestyle. The Border Collie much prefers the quieter life in the countryside with his humans. If you are a super-duper active family, the Border is the most active of the two. And if you are seeking a farm dog, well, there’s no question about which pup is the better choice.

Exercise

Exercising Golden Retriever and Border Collie
Both breeds have high energy levels and need consistent exercise every day.

Both the Golden Retriever and the Border Collie are high energy dogs. They both need intense exercise to keep them happy and healthy. They will both become problematic, unhappy, and destructive if you fail to meet their exercise needs. If you haven’t got the time to commit to their active schedules, please do not take either of these guys on.

This is even truer of the Border Collie, which is why they are often compared to other high energy breeds. They are a farm dog and herder, and he could quite happily work for 12 hours of the day and more. This means that he is the more active out of the two. The Golden boy needs 60 minutes of intense exercise, and the Border will need between 60 and 90 minutes, if not more.

They are both intelligent dog breeds, and obviously, the Border Collie is the most intelligent. They both need access to a basket full of dog toys for those times when they need to keep themselves entertained for a few hours. Not only will this keep them stimulated and healthy, but it could save your furniture and belongings from being destroyed. Think heavy-duty and puzzle solving toys.

Training

Border Collie on Top of Golden Retriever
Both breeds are extremely quick to learn and don’t react well to harsh training methods.

Both the Golden Retriever and the Border Collie are easy to train. They are among the easiest to train dogs in the canine kingdom, and they are very obedient. This is why they are both suited to first-time dog owners because it doesn’t take a lot of experience to get them doing tricks. Utilize the positive reinforcement training method, and it’ll be a breeze.

Both do well with crate training if you start at an early age. We recommend looking at a medium or large-sized dog crate for Golden Retrievers, and a medium-sized crate should do just fine for the Border. Keep in mind, you’ll need to ensure you have enough room for either, so keep that in consideration if you plan to crate train your pup.

But, and this is a big but, neither of these dogs transforms into polite pooches without your help. Many owners make this mistake, assuming that they can train themselves. But no, they both need early obedience training and socialization to be polite and pleasant pooches. Expose them to as much as you can when they are young, such as dogs, other animals, different environments, and people.

Health

Two Healthy Dogs Outdoors Playing
While both breeds are generally healthy, they can each suffer from breed specific health problems.

Both the Golden Retriever and the Border Collie are relatively healthy dog breeds. The Border Collie is the healthiest out of the two, and he enjoys a longer healthspan as well. The key to these guys’ health is top quality nutrition, regular exercise, and coming from screened and healthy parents.

Just like all purebred breeds, they are more susceptible to some health concerns over others. The Border Collie needs to be screened for hip dysplasia. As well as a variety of eye conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, and collie eye.

The Golden Retriever is also prone to hip dysplasia, but he is also prone to elbow dysplasia. He also needs to be screened for various eye concerns such as the ones above, as well as cardiac conditions. Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis is a relatively unheard of health condition, which affects his nervous system.

On top of this, Golden Retrievers are known to have the highest cancer rate in the canine kingdom. Although there is little you can do about cancer, working with reputable breeders can decrease the chances of him getting it. They will screen for cancer in their family, and they will not breed those that have had it.

Nutrition

Two Dogs Playing Outdoors in the Snow Running
Both the Golden Retriever and the Border Collie have breed specific nutrition needs.

Despite their differences, both breeds eat almost the same quantity of food every day. The Border Collie will eat around two and a half cups of food, and the Golden Retriever eats about three cups. This might seem very similar despite their size difference, but the Border Collie burns much more calories than the Golden.

They both need high-quality dog food to provide them with the energy they need to keep them sustained throughout their day. High-quality kibbles will also provide them with a well-balanced diet. The Golden Retriever would do much better on a kibble designed for large breeds. Whereas the Border can eat all breed-sized kibble.

Grooming

Two Young Dogs Playing Outdoors in the Snow Running
Expect plenty of dog fur, and grooming responsibility if you welcome either breed into your home.

Their grooming routines are determined by their coat lengths. The Golden Retriever has a medium-length coat that needs brushing two to three times a week to keep him looking healthy. As well as to prevent matting. This is the same for Border Collies who have a medium-length coat. If the Border opts for the shorter coat, you’ll need to brush him once or twice a week. Both breeds have medium or longer fluffy coats, so regardless of which breed you land on, be prepared for an intense grooming commitment.

They are both moderate to heavy shedders, and they will both blow their coat during the shedding seasons. It may seem like the Golden Retriever sheds more than the Border Collie does, but this is usually just because of the size differences, and the colors of their coat. So, it’s safe to say that if you aren’t a fan of doggy hair on your clothes or sofa, you need to stay clear of these two.

You should look to bathe these two breeds once every 8 to 12 weeks. We would suggest a gentle and conditioning shampoo for them both, as this will lower the chances of fur matting. Other grooming routines, such as ear and dental cleaning, are the same as any other pooch. Be sure to keep a close eye on their eyes, considering their potentially poor eye health.

Price

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Puppies Outdoors
Expect to pay upwards of 1,000 for either breed as a puppy.

The average price of a puppy from a reputable breeder is almost the same, for both breeds. The Border Collie price is slightly lower than the Golden Retriever just because he is less popular and in demand. You need to be aware of backstreet breeders, especially when it comes to the Golden Retriever and his long list of health concerns.

Final Thoughts

And that is the end of that, folks – the Border Collie versus the Golden Retriever in all of their glory. There is no doubt that they both make wonderful family pets, but they both prefer a different type of family. All you need to do is to work out which dog breed better suits you and your lifestyle.

The Border Collie is the more intensely active one, and he prefers having his family all to himself. The Golden Retriever is the sociable butterfly out of the two. He is more likely to enjoy a snooze in the afternoon. Maybe making him the better Netflix and chill partner. Ultimately, as long as you can meet their needs, they will both meet your canine expectations, and more!

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