Australian Shepherd Border Collie Mix | Meet the Border Aussie

Also known as the Border Aussie, the Border Collie and Australian Shepherd mix has been getting some recent attention as a designer dog breed that combines parents from two of the most beloved and highly regarded herding breeds in the world.

This article is designed to be your one stop guide for all things Border Aussie. It includes a full breakdown of the likely canine characteristics this working dog hybrid, as well as a detailed look at each of the parents of this cross mix.

Read on to learn more about this superstar crossbreed and find out if it is the right hybrid breed for your lifestyle. Be sure to check in at the bottom of this article where we will cover the types of owners that will do well with this breed, as well as some tips on where to find Australian Shepherd Border Collie Mix puppies (responsibly).  


Australian Shepherd Border Collie Mix | Meet the Border Aussie!

Temperament:

There is almost no way to end up with a dumbbell when it comes to this hybrid breed. Expect an inquisitive, highly energetic (yes, even hyper if under exercised), assertive and intense spirit when it comes to your Australian Shepherd Border Collie mix puppy. Frankly, this is a mix of two of the hardest workers in all of dogdom – a terrible mix if you are looking for a couch potato.

If kept busy with a real job (such as herding, competitive dog sports, or odd jobs on the ranch) this is a hybrid cross that is very likely to be eager to learn with an undying work ethic and positive attitude. Easy to train, fast on her feet with plenty of endurance, this is a cross that is popular among dog sport enthusiasts in games such as freestyle frisbee, flyball, and agility.

However, both of the parent breeds tend towards becoming neurotic, obsessive, and even destructive if people with little training experience, time, or space try to keep these smart athletes. They absolutely require high levels of mental and physical stimulation in order to be balanced dogs. Room to run off leash for regular games of fetch or herding practice and an owner with some training experience doesn’t hurt either.

On the other hand, if you happen to love the outdoors and have the luxury of spending a great deal of your time on the ranch or hitting the trails, then few hybrids would offer a better mix of traits for a canine companion. This is not a dog that will tend to wander off and get into trouble – rather, she is likely to stay close waiting for a chance to shine for a little affection and/or a quick bite from a treat pouch for a job well done.


Size:

Both the parent breeds are of a similar size, with the Aussie being slightly stockier than the BC. Expect an adult Australian Shepherd Border Collie cross to be between 18-23” with a weight of 40-60”.


Coat and Appearance:

Both parent breeds share the same coloration patterns that are acceptable, despite the fact that reds tend to be more popular among Aussies, and black and whites are more popular among Border Collies.

One of the most exciting coloration patterns that occurs in both breeds is known as merle, a striking marbling pattern that really stands out. In many cases, merle coloration also includes polychromatic eyes where the eyes are either also marbled, or each has its own unique color.

Both parents tend to have soft, medium length hair which will develop a thick downy undercoat in colder climates. Border Aussies tend to be relatively moderate to heavy shedders and a weekly brush through outside is recommended.


Health and Life Expectancy:

Both parent breeds have pretty solid health overall. However, eye problems such as retinal atrophy, Collie Eye Anomaly, and lens luxation can be a problem in both breeds.

Merles in particular seem to be more prone to eye problems, and double merles (that is when both parents are merles) are exceptionally vulnerable to eye problems. Many responsible breeders will avoid breeding merles together as a result.  

If you are buying from a breeder, be sure to ask for the health records of the parents and pay particular attention to eye problems. Be sure to take a good look at the shape and health of the eyes if you are picking out a puppy as well.


Australian Shepherd | Parent Breed Profile

History:

Despite their name, this breed is a distinctly American one, although the predecessors of the modern breed did pass through Australia along their journey alongside the sheep they guarded as they moved across the world.

For centuries sheepherders in the Pyrenees mountains, known as the Basque people, worked alongside athletic, intelligent, and hard-working canines to move their sheep in the rugged mountain terrain. They pushed into Australia bringing both their sheep and dogs with them. Here they interbred with dogs such as the Border Collie, the Australian Cattle Dog and some speculate even native Dingoes to improve their endurance over the very different terrain of the outback.

The truth is that their exact lineage is a matter of controversy among lovers of the breed. However, once these sheepherders and their dogs came to California, the dogs became the basis of the modern breed.

The breed was not stabilized until after breeding in the U.S. where they were further mixed with herding and ranching dogs of ranchers in the western and midwestern parts of the country.

Surprisingly, the breed was not formally recognized by the AKC until 1991.


Temperament:

The Aussie is really at his best when he has a job to do, even if that simply means keeping an eye on the kids or long games of fetch. This breed loves a challenge and, in fact, needs a great deal of both mental and physical stimulation to thrive.

Although they can be socialized to do well with other dogs and pets, Aussies do seem to have a bit more aggressive tendency than their BC cousins, so proper socialization with Aussie pups is a must. In fact, expect this slightly more guarded instinct to show up in Border Collie and Australian Shepherd mix puppies and be sure you give them plenty of socialization when young.

Aussies are well known for having an affectionate and playful disposition. They tend to be good with kids, although they are liable to herd small children and should be supervised with them. They are loyal to the family and are up for any adventure – a great companion for active outdoor loving families.


Since they have excellent recall skills, this is a good breed to take on the trail since they are not likely to roam when off leash and can easily be trained to reliably come when called.

Aussies tend to be a bit pushier than BCs and an experienced hand providing consistent and firm leadership with dogs is recommended for this breed. Otherwise, they can become overbearing and demanding if given enough room.


Size:

Similar in stature to the BC, but considerably denser, the Aussie averages between 18-23” tall, and 40-65 pounds. Although not quite as long and lean as the BC, this breed remains an incredible athlete that is very popular for competitive dog sports. However, they really shine on the ranch as a tireless working hand.


Coat and Appearance:

A short to medium length top coat covers a downy undercoat that is triggered to grow in the winter season (particularly in colder climates). Colors are variable, although red with white flash is probably the most common.

Although some Aussies are born with naturally bobbed tails, many of these working dogs are actually docked not long after birth. If allowed to grow, their tails are often long, curved, and feathery – beautiful but impractical for a dog spending the day working through scrub brush covered terrain. 


Health and Life Expectancy:

12-15 years is the average lifespan of this breed. The most common health problems include hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as various eye problems including Collie Eye Anomaly, colobomas, cataracts, retinal atrophy.

Since they share common congenital eye problems common also to BCs, it is important to take a close look at the eyes of your Border Aussie puppy before adoption, or ask the breeder to provide a clean bill of health after a vet examination.


Pros/Cons:

PROS
  • Very smart, eager to please, and easy to train
  • Hardworking and playful disposition
  • Affectionate
  • Healthy and sturdy
  • Long lifespan and minimal health issues
CONS
  • High exercise requirements
  • Cannot be left alone for long periods regularly
  • Must be mentally stimulated or can become destructive
  • Can become aggressive with other dogs if not properly socialized
  • Can be pushy if not given consistent leadership

Border Collie | Parent Breed Profile

History:

The origins of the Border Collie are found in the British Isles where lightweight, agile, and high endurance dogs were used to herd sheep in the highlands.

More precisely, the geographical region most responsible for the origin of this breed was in the hills on the Anglo-Scottish border, hence the name to distinguish the ancestors of this breed from the many other herding dogs developed by herders on a regional basis.

In the 1800’s, efforts were made to standardize dog breeds with various clubs and kennels devoted to developing the confirmation standards of various breeds. As a herding dog, the validation of BCs has taken two different paths – those dogs that are bred and ranked by their standing in various field trials of note, and others bred for the show ring, sometimes called “Barbie Collies.”

Perhaps the most famous BC of all time is Old Hemp, a dog owned by Adam Telfer, who was born in 1893. Old Hemp was chosen for his working style, quieter and more precise than others of his time, but terribly intense.

His style became the hallmark of the breed and included the famous “Border Collie Stare” that seems to push sheep with nothing more than a look. It is said that all purebred Border Collies are descended from Old Hemp.

The Border Collie has become the champion of sheep herding in the years to follow. In addition to being favored in sheep herding trials, BCs are prized as competitors in sports such as agility and flyball where they reign supreme.


Temperament:

BCs are thought by many to be the most intelligent breed of dog which is part of their popularity. However, intelligence comes at a price because being smart raises the bar when it comes to the amount of mental stimulation these dogs need to stay balanced and satisfied.


Bred to have a strong drive to work and almost endless endurance, BCs absolutely require high levels of exercise. A fenced yard that is safe for a daily game of fetch is almost a bare minimum for this hyper breed.

If allowed to be perpetually bored or if their very high exercise needs are not met, it is not uncommon for BCs to become destructive in the home or develop obsessive behaviors such as problem barking, spinning, and other compulsive ticks.

If well socialized as puppies, Border Collies tend to do well with children, other dogs, and other pets. They respond well to training and learn the boundaries of the household quickly if trained with positive methods and consistency. They are affectionate, loyal, eager to please.

Give them a job and stand back! BCs love to work (and sure, fetch, flyball or frisbee all count as work!). Exceptionally easy to train, affectionate, and appreciative of praise, the BC is an excellent family dog for those that are active and have the time to give her.

By the way, a Border Collie Australian Shepherd mix is likely to share most, if not all, of these characteristics.


Size:

Medium build with a lightweight frame, BCs range between 18-22” high at the shoulders, and 30-55 pounds at maturity. Males tend to be slightly larger than females.


Coat and Appearance:

A medium length silky coat is typical, although there are also smooth coated varieties of this breed. Although the most common color of the breed is far and away the black and white variety, they also come in red, tri-color and merle in both red and blue.


They are a double coated breed and they do shed significantly throughout the year. Expect to do a blowout in the spring to clear the undercoat when it sheds. Otherwise, a weekly brushing is plenty of grooming for this dog.


Health and Life Expectancy:

The average life expectancy is 12-15 years.

Thanks to years of breeding for their working ability and hardiness, this is a relatively healthy breed all around.  Problems to look out for include progressive retinal atrophy, lens luxation, hip dysplasia, and Collie eye anomaly.


Pros/Cons:

PROS
  • Extremely intelligent and easy to train
  • Affectionate and willing to work for praise
  • Overall healthy breed with few congenital problems
  • Tends to do well with children and other dogs
  • Adapts well to family life as long as they get enough attention and play
CONS
  • Extremely high exercise requirements
  • Can become destructive if allowed to become bored or if neglected
  • Hyper active energy might be off putting for some

Is the Australian Shepherd Border Collie Mix Right for You?

This might be an excellent crossbreed for you if:

  • You are experienced with dogs and are looking for a high strung, easy to train, enthusiastic canine athlete partner.
  • You have a very active family of dog people that love the outdoors and enjoy finding ways to include the family dog in adventures.
  • You live on a ranch or farm where a trusty working companion capable of learning various handy odd jobs, including moving livestock, is a job requirement.
  • You love the outdoors and want a hiking and camping companion that you can trust off leash to enjoy nature at it’s best.

This crossbreed might be a disaster for you if:

  • You live in an apartment with little access to open spaces for daily and vigorous off leash play.
  • You have never had a dog before.
  • You are interested mostly in a cuddly lap dog.
  • You work long hours and are looking for a dog that will tolerate long hours alone during the day.

Where to find Border Aussie Puppies

Hybrid dog breeds such as Australian Shepherd and Border Collie crosses are prone to being irresponsibly bred by backyard breeders with little interest in anything other than profit.

If you don’t want to support a puppy mill, or fall for an internet scam, we recommend you stick to these guidelines to find a puppy or adult dog in the breed you are looking for:


Breed Rescue Groups:

It is very common for BCs, Aussies, and their crosses to end up in animal shelters or in volunteer foster programs. The reason is that these dogs tend to be very good looking, but few owners are prepared to deal with their considerable physical and psychological needs.

Often perfectly good, smart and loyal dogs of these breeds are surrendered as a result. Before you buy from a breeder, check with the breed specific rescue groups in your area and see if a dog meeting your needs is looking for her forever home.


Animal Shelters:

Did you know that it is easier than ever to adopt a dog of just about any breed? Websites such as PetFinder work with local animal shelters and animal welfare non-profits to get the word out about the adoptable dogs in your area.

You can refine your search by breed and even set your email up to get alerts when a dog of your desired breed type becomes available in your area! You don’t even have to step foot in the shelter until the puppy of your dreams shows up waiting for you to come rescue her!


Breeders:

Before buying any hybrid dog breed from a breeder, there are a few things you should be on the lookout for to make sure they are responsible breeders that care about the health and wellbeing of their parents and all of the puppies they have bred.

Here are some great signs of responsible breeding:

  • They insist you tour their breeding facility to make sure conditions are clean, spacious and devoted to providing toys and social time for the puppies.
  • They either show or compete with one or both of the parent breeds demonstrating a love for the breed itself that goes beyond profit motives.
  • They want you to provide proof that you have experience with high performance dogs, have a veterinarian willing to provide a reference, and that you have the resources to provide for the long term well being of their puppy.
  • They offer to show you the health records of the parents and provide vet records for the puppy.
  • They ask you to return the puppy to them if things don’t work out and may even have you sign a statement to that effect.

Do you have an Australian Shepherd and Border Collie Mix dog?

We would love to hear all about her or him! Please share your story in the comments below and help our readers decide if this is the right choice for their next pet!

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