Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Border-Aussie
Marty Barr /

The Border Collie and Australian Shepherd share many similarities – two extremely intelligent and capable breeds that can be trained to a high degree and are skillful workers. High energy (and somewhat high maintenance!), the cross of these two breeds can rather be a handful.

Border-Aussies will not be suited to every home as they require tons of mental and physical stimulation and will quickly acquire behavioural issues if their needs are not met. With their muscular bodies, shining eyes and long fur they are handsome dogs with a striking appearance.

About & History

The Border-Aussie was established in recent years by crossing two of the most popular and well-loved herding breeds; the Border Collie from the Scottish borders and the Australian Shepherd of America (not Australia as most assume!). This hybridisation has resulted in the development of a new cross breed that tends to inherit the best traits from each parent.

The Border Collie

Border Collies are black and white herding dogs sometimes known as ‘sheep dogs’. The word ‘Border’ refers to the fact that they hail from the border region in between England and Scotland. Herding dogs had been around for centuries and farmers would breed the most talented and biddable workers in an aim to create the best farm workers they could.

These dogs were mainly bred to herd livestock and became experts at following intricate commands from their masters. It was in the 1800s that the breed we know today as the Border Collie began to finally emerge. While still used on farms and to compete in sheepdog trials, Border Collies have also branched out into other disciplines, including agility, canine dancing, Frisbee and Flyball in which they absolutely excel.

The Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds are thought to be direct descendants of Border Collies and they come from the western United States. It was in the middle of the 19th century that the very first Australian Shepherds were developed, with emphasis being placed on their ability to thrive in the harsher climate of the local mountains and ranches.

As is true of Border Collies, Australian Shepherds were primarily used for herding; a task which they continue to carry out today with immense talent and discipline. Initially, most dogs had blue coat colours but now merle patterns and tricolours are more frequently seen. While Australian Shepherds have existed for almost 200 years, it was only at the end of the 20th century that they were officially recognised around the world by a number of Kennel Clubs. The UK Kennel Club have categorised them within their Pastoral Group.


Border-Aussie Large Photo
silent7seven /

Border-Aussies already have a quite uniform appearance despite not having been around for very long. This is, of course, because their parents are closely related and share many physical characteristics. Australian Shepherds are moderately taller and heavier than Border Collies, so it comes as no surprise that the Border-Aussie will typically fall somewhere in between. On average, they will measure from 48cm to 56cm and weigh between 25kg to 28kg making them a good, average-sized breed.

With a lithe body that is built for stamina, pace and a quick turn of foot, Border-Aussies are a medium-sized dog with solid muscles and well-proportioned frames. They have medium-sized skulls with good-sized muzzles. Their ears stand semi-erect to the side of their head and will ‘engage’ when the dog is interested in something. Their eyes are bright and sharp, giving us an indication of their intellect. They can have light blue or brown eyes and there is a current trend for heterochromia (having one eye of each colour).

The Border-Aussie’s coat is a double coat and thickness and length will vary from dog to dog. There are many potential colour combinations, including the traditional black and white of the Border Collie as well as the sought-after merle, red and white and blue tricolor among many others.

Character & Temperament

The most prized features of the Border-Aussies are their impressive intellectual capability and the speed at which they can pick up on a range of new tricks and tasks. They are extremely biddable and always eager to please their humans. They are known for being able to learn a vast number of cues. This is a double-edged sword as while it can allow for a highly-trained working dog, it means that these guys require almost constant stimulation to remain balanced and content. The biggest downside of the Border-Aussie is that, in the wrong hands, they can turn into very troubled pets. A lack of exercise and/or mental stimulation can lead to tail chasing, tail biting, incessant barking, digging and other negative vices.

Border-Aussies are not the cuddliest of dogs but will have a loving relationship with their own family. When it comes to new people, they are typically aloof. Introducing them to children from a young age should ensure that they tolerate them, however, they have a tendency to want to control and ‘herd’ children as soon as they start walking!

This is not the breed for those that live in urban areas in small homes. They require plenty of outdoor space and freedom. On top of this, they need to be around people and do not do well when left alone for too long.


Photo of Border-Aussie puppy
Stephen Routh /

This hybrid dog is the perfect partner for the professional trainer who wants to hone their skills and see how far they can take things. They can be real superstars in practically an discipline going, with some individuals even being trained to dance!

On top of their obedience and sporting prowess, the Border-Aussie makes a wonderful working dog who, like its ancestors, slots into any farmyard and can herd like a pro with minimal training. Their attention span is never lacking and they are tenacious when on the job.


As this dog has been bred mainly for ability and function rather than for looking a certain way, emphasis has always been placed on their health and aptitude. This approach has helped to safeguard their well-being. However, as with all breeds (cross-breed or not) there will be certain conditions that they’re prone to.

Collie Eye Anomaly

This inherited eye condition is seen in both Border Collies and Australian Shepherds, so it is something that should be screened for in the Border-Aussie’s breeding parents. There is no treatment for Collie Eye Anomaly and affected dogs are affected in both eyes from birth. Symptoms vary and while some dogs can live relatively normal lives, others will be blind from birth.


Linked to the merle coat colour, affected dogs are born deaf rather than becoming deaf as they age. These dogs are not suited for work but can make quite normal pets. However, owners need to take extra care of them and they should never be allowed off the lead in busy places or near traffic, as they are unable to hear moving vehicles as they approach.


Epilepsy is one potential cause of seizures. When an animal has a fit under the age of six and there is no obvious reason for this (such as low blood glucose), they may well have epilepsy. Most epileptic dogs will be managed on daily medicine although those that are minimally affected may not require any medication at all.

Exercise and Activity Levels

One must never underestimate the exercise requirements of the Border-Aussie! This breed would make the perfect iron man competitor as they have both the speed and the stamina. Pet dogs should be provided with at least two hours of interesting exercise each day which can consist of varied hikes, swims and herding trials.

Realistically, the farm setting is the perfect place for the Border-Aussie but it is certainly possible to own one as a pet as long as the owner is aware of their needs and is able to provide them with all of the stimulation that they need.


The actual grooming requirements of the Border-Aussie will depend on if they have the longer or medium-length coat and on how dense it is. For most, brushing them a few times a week will help to remove any dead fur and prevent matting. Owners should focus on the areas prone to matting such as behind the ears, armpits and groin. Ears should be cleaned out a couple of times a month, especially if they tend to be waxy.

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