Border collies and Shetland sheepdogs are both herding dogs, but they are quite different from one another. Shetland sheepdogs -- sometimes known as Shelties -- have some border collie blood, but the breed has changed a lot since its inception. If you're considering which breed to get as a pet, you'll be interested in their attributes.
Meet the Breeds
The exact history of border collies is unknown, but it is clear that they originate from the Scottish border territories, where they were bred as working dogs, primarily to herd sheep. They weren't recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1995. As their name suggests, Shetland sheepdogs come from the Scottish Shetland isles. They're thought to have some border collie blood, in addition to other collie bloodlines. By 1911, they were recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Height and Weight
Male border collies should stand between 19 and 22 inches at the withers, whereas females should stand between 18 and 21 inches. They should weigh roughly between 30 and 45 pounds. Shetland sheepdogs are far smaller, measuring between 13 and 16 inches at the withers. On average, they should weigh less than 30 pounds, with their weight proportional to their height.
Coat and Color
Border collies come in both rough- and smooth-coated varieties, with the rough-coated kind having longer and coarser hair than the short-coated kind. Both rough and smooth border collies have double coats. They can come in all colors and markings, from solid to bicolor or tricolor to sable. Shetland sheepdogs have double coats, with thick, dense undercoats and long, straight and harsh outercoats. They can be black, blue merle or sable, with varying amounts of white or tan markings.
As working dogs, both border collies and Shetland sheepdogs have fairly high exercise requirements. Both breeds require daily walks, as well as daily play or training sessions, to help keep them mentally active. As they're smaller, Shelties require slightly less exercise. Border collies are reasonably low-maintenance when it comes to grooming, only needing their coats brushed once or twice a week. As a long-coated breed, Shetland sheepdogs need daily brushing as well as semi-regular professional grooming.