Collies vs. Terriers: What’s the Difference?

There are many differences between collies and terriers, namely their size, purpose, and temperament.

Jun 10, 2024By Nikita Hillier
collies vs terriers difference

As we all know, dogs come in a wide variety of breeds, each with their own unique characteristics, traits, and purposes. Among the most popular groups of dogs are collies and terriers, each with distinct origins, appearances, and temperaments. Collies, originally bred as herding dogs, and terriers, developed for hunting vermin, are two very distinct canines.

In this guide, we will explore the key differences between these two breed groups, providing valuable insight for prospective dog owners.

What Are Collie Breed Dogs?

border collie dog herding livestock
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Collies are renowned for their intelligence, loyalty, and truly gentle nature. Historically, they were bred in Scotland and England for herding livestock, mainly sheep. Here are some of the most notable collie breeds:

  • Border Collies: Border Collies are one of the most intelligent dog breeds. They excel in herding and agility activities. These dogs are highly energetic and require a lot of mental stimulation and physical exercise.
  • Rough Collies: Rough Collies have a striking appearance and long, flowing coats. They are well-loved for their beauty and affectionate demeanor, making them ideal dogs for families with young children.
  • Smooth Collies: Smooth Collies have a much shorter coat than Rough Collies. They are super versatile working dogs that thrive on activity.
  • Shetland Sheepdogs: Although often mistaken for a miniature Rough Collie, Shetland Sheepdogs are a distinct breed known for their intelligence, loyalty, and agility. They excel in obedience training and other sports.

What Are Some Terrier Dog Breeds?

terrier dog laying on ground with ball
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Terrier breeds are often characterized by their feisty nature and strong prey drive. They were originally bred in Great Britain for hunting vermin, like mice and rats. These high-energy dogs are known for their tenacity and determination. Some popular terriers include:

  • Jack Russell Terriers: Named after Reverend John Russell who developed the breed for fox hunting, Jack Russells are known for their spirit, athleticism, and boundless energy. They require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and well-behaved.
  • Yorkshire Terriers: Affectionately known as Yorkies, these tiny terriers are characterized by their long, silky coats, and confident demeanor. Despite their minuscule size, they have huge personalities and make really loyal companions.
  • Bull Terriers: Bull Terriers are easily recognizable by their distinctive egg-shaped head. They are muscular, playful dogs that are known for their clownish antics and unwavering loyalty to their beloved families. These dogs are familiar mascots in the world of advertising because of their “anything goes” attitude.

The Differences Between Collies and Terriers

shetland sheepdog at beach
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While both collies and terriers are beloved for their loyalty and intelligence, there are several key differences between these two. For example:

  • Collies are bigger than terriers. With the exception of the American Staffordshire Terrier, collies are taller and weigh more.
  • Often, collies will have long, flowing coats that will require regular grooming, while terriers will tend to have short or wiry coats that are much easier to maintain.
  • Collies tend to be very gentle, sensitive, kind, and easygoing canines. Terrier breeds, on the other hand, are much more spirited, feisty, and independent.
  • Collies were originally bred for herding livestock, while terriers were developed to hunt small game and vermin.

You’ll have to consider many of these things when choosing a breed and bringing a new dog home.

Collies and Terriers Have Different Health Inclinations

different terrier types
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While both collies and terriers are generally healthy dogs, they are predisposed to different common health conditions. For example, terriers are more prone to obesity if they don’t get proper exercise. On the other hand, working collies are more prone to joint problems, such as hip dysplasia.

The good news is that with regular veterinary care, you can ensure your dog lives a healthy life. Also, by purchasing a dog from an ethical breeder, you can ensure your puppy is off to the best possible start health-wise.

Four Considerations for Prospective Dog Owners

tri color terrier dog running down path
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Regardless of whether you choose a collie or a terrier, there are many things to consider when getting a new dog. You should always consider a prospective pet’s:

  • Exercise needs: Both collies and terriers are very active breeds that require a lot of exercise to stay healthy and happy. You will need to engage in daily walks, playtime, and mental stimulation to prevent your dog from getting bored. In the long run, this can prevent common behavioral issues, such as destruction or over-chewing.
  • Training and socialization requirements: Early training and socialization are absolutely crucial for both collies and terriers to ensure that they develop into well-behaved companions. Positive reinforcement techniques work super well for both breeds. However, terriers may require a much firmer hand due to their independent nature.
  • Grooming requirements: Many collie dogs have double coats, meaning they need regular brushing to prevent tangles and mats. Some terriers have wiry coats, meaning they need periodic stripping to remove debris.

Both Collies and Terriers Make Good Pets

black and white border collie close up
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Collies and terriers are two great groups of dog breeds. They all have unique quirks, fun temperaments, and different purposes. Whether you’re more interested in the gentle, down-to-earth nature of a collie or the spirited personality of a spicy terrier, both breed groups make great companions for the right owner.

When you understand the difference between these groups, as well as the specific traits of the individual breeds in each group, you can make informed decisions to choose the perfect canine companion for your family. With proper training, care, and love, they will make your house a home for many years to come.

Nikita Hillier
By Nikita Hillier

Nikita is a huge animal lover who has grown up on a farm with many different animals, from dogs and cats to horses and cows! She has a lot of experience in the equine industry and is even in the process of studying for an internationally accredited Equine Sports Massage Certificate! In her spare time, she enjoys writing and spending time with her beloved animals!