5 min read

Rough, Bearded, or Border? Which Collie is Right for You?


Written by Adam Lee-Smith

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 11/23/2021, edited: 11/23/2021

National Collie Day is November 24, and there's no better time to round up a cute Collie pup of your own. It's easy to see why pet parents love Collies, with their high intelligence, endless energy, and loving nature. In fact, several Collie breeds rank among the top 50 most "pawpular" dog breeds in the US for 2020, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC)

While you may think of Rough Collies as the true Collie breed, there are actually many variations and breeds, including Australian Sheepdogs, Australian Kelpies, and Shetland Sheepdogs

We'll be comparing three of the most common Collie breeds — Rough Collies, Border Collies, and Bearded Collies — to find out which is the right Collie for you!

Rough Collie

closeup photo of a rough collie

The Rough Collie, known in the US as the Collie, is the most recognizable Collie breed. Their ancestors were brought to Scotland by Romans over 2,000 years ago and bred with local dogs to become the modern Rough Collie. 

The term "Collie” first appeared in the English language around 1800, and the breed gained popularity in the 19th century due to their association with Queen Victoria. 


As with most Collies, Rough Collies are highly intelligent and enjoy training. You should begin socializing and training your Rough Collie from a young age so they don't become wary of strangers. 

Rough Collies require lots of stimulation, so training is perfect for keeping your Rough Collie happy. Rough Collies can be one-person-minded, so ensure you take turns feeding and walking your Rough Collie so they bond with the whole family. 


Collies are very active and social dogs. They thrive when their favorite humans walk them several times a day. You shouldn't leave a Rough Collie outside alone for long periods, as they’ll get bored and start barking. Teach your dog some games like fetch to help wear them out while on walkies. 


As with most dog breeds, Rough Collies are more prone to certain health conditions than others. Some Rough Collies have the MDR1 mutation, which causes sensitivity to some drugs, like ivermectin, which is found in heartworm medication. Your vet may recommend testing for the MDR1 mutation. Healthy Rough Collies live on average 12 to 14 years. 

Common health conditions found in Rough Collies include:


While you may think of Rough Collies as being big and bushy, there are actually two different types of Collie: Rough Collies and Smooth Collies. A Smooth Collie's fur won't mat, but as they have double coats, they still require regular brushing, especially during shedding periods. A Rough Collie's fur does mat and requires weekly brushing down to the skin. 

The best breed for: families

Border Collie

border collie carrying ball

Border Collies originate from along the Anglo-Scottish border, where they've been used to herd sheep and other livestock for centuries. It's believed Border Collies originated from cross-breeding between Roman dogs and Viking spitzes. Until 1915, Border Collies were simply known as Sheepdogs until the International Sheep Dog Society renamed them Border Collies. 


Border Collies require early exposure to people and other animals in order not to become fearful or over protective. As long as obedience training starts from a young age, your Border Collie should be very easy to teach commands due to their high intelligence. Like Rough Collies, they can be very one-person-minded. 

Border Collies are regarded as perhaps the best herding breed on the planet. Border Collies do better with older families due to their strong herding instinct. Regardless of their training, Border Collies can be occasionally cautious around strangers. 


The workaholics of the herding world, Border Collies could happily run around a hillside in Britain all day long. Their high energy levels mean they will need at least 2–3 long walks each day. Border Collies are not well-suited to people who work long days. Agility training and herding events will help keep your Border Collie mentally and physically stimulated. 


Border Collies also come into two variations: rough-coated and short-coated. However, their grooming needs are the same. Both variations have double coats and require brushing twice a week. You may need to brush your Border Collie every day during shedding season. 


Border Collies can develop some hereditary conditions but are generally considered to be a healthy breed. Like Rough Collies, Border Collies can have the MDR1 mutation. You should check a Border Collie's ear regularly for signs of infection. A healthy Border Collies can live anywhere from 10 to 17 years but can live even longer. 

Common health conditions found in Border Collies include:

The best breed for: an active lifestyle

Bearded Collie

closeup photo of a bearded collie

The least common of these three Collie breeds is the Bearded Collie. These long-haired pups originate from the Scottish Highlands. They are thought to be descendants of Polish Lowland Sheepdogs left in Scotland in the 16th century. Bearded Collies are famous for the "Beardie Bounce," where they'll goofily leap in the air to spot their herd. 


As with most Collie breeds, Bearded Collies need to be socialized during puppyhood to develop into social butterflies. Bearded Collies tend to have a stubborn streak that makes them more difficult to train than other Collie breeds. Bearded Collies have a tendency to jump up at people if not trained properly.

That said, Bearded Collies still rank among the most intelligent and friendly dog breeds. They are considered to be good with children but can be too energetic for young families. 


Bearded Collies are high energy, but not quite as much so as Border Collies. They are fun-loving and easy-going, enjoying all types of play as long as their favorite humans are involved. Due to their thick coats and history living in the Scottish Highlands, Bearded Collies loves walkies even in frigid temperatures. 


Bearded Collies are among the most complicated Collies to groom. Their very long coats mean they'll need daily brushes to remove any tangles and debris. Once or twice a week, you'll want to use a wire brush to remove any dead hair. Depending on how long or tangled your Bearded Collies fur is, you may want to visit a professional groomer. 


While they may require more training and grooming than other Collies, Bearded Collies are among the healthiest Collie breeds. Bearded Collies can have the MDR1 mutation. You'll want to check your Bearded Collie's ears regularly to remove any wax and check for infections.

Common health conditions found in Bearded Collies include:

The best breed for: experienced pet parents

Think you’ve got the cutest Collie around? Share pics of your Rough, Bearded, or Border Collie with us on social media. Use #wagwalking for a chance to be featured on our Instagram page!

Comments (3)

Sarah higgins


Forgot the pic...he's great with my autistic grandson
comment photo

Sarah higgins


Our border/bearded collie Cross is adorable so full of energy will play all day...he adores people...children and other pets ...

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