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10 Things to Know about the Border Collie German Shepherd Mix

Designer dogs have long had dog lovers swooning over them for decades now. Breeders and owners alike have sought after hybrid pooches to negate negative parent traits and illnesses and bring out the best of both worlds.   

Shepherd Collies, or “Shollies,” are one of the newer hybrid dogs that continue to grow in popularity (like border collie husky mixes). They’re the descendants of Border Collies and German Shepherds. This breed is intelligent, energetic, loyal, and playful like its parents.   

As a result, they make for great pets in different settings and can also herd flocks like their parents. But, it’s only natural to wonder if they’re the right dog for you, despite their glowing reputation. Or maybe you’ve already got one and are interested in learning a little more about these large dogs.   

Regardless of what has piqued your interest, carry on reading to learn all about the Border Collie German Shepherd mix.

10 Things to Know about the Border Collie German Shepherd Mix 1

1. Border Collie German Shepherd Origin

As a relatively new designer breed, there isn’t much information regarding the Shollie’s history. What is known, though, is that this hybrid dog has only been recognized for about 20 years. It’s assumed that breeders were after the ultimate big dog — playful, intelligent, protective, and athletic.   

As a result of its relatively thin origin story, you can look at its parent breeds to gather something about these purebred dogs. Luckily, its parents have been around for decades and have a storied history behind them.

Border Collie Parent

This intelligent, energetic, beautiful dog breed has a history that stretches back around two thousand years. However, the Border Collie only came to be recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1995.   

border collie

The Border Collie originated in Northumberland on the border between England and Scotland. It was here where the dog gained prominence for its sheep herding abilities. The breed is famous for using “the eye” to guide sheep; they stare at the flock to intimidate and control them.   

Fun fact: “Collie” means sheepdog in Scottish Gaelic.   

Their smarts don’t stop at just herding, though, as they’ve also proved to be capable search-and-rescue canines. Outside the working world, they’ve got a wit only rivaled by a select few dogs. Chaser, a Border Collie, was considered the most intelligent dog in the world for her ability to understand over 1,000 words.   

brown border collie barking

Today, Border Collies continue living up to their reputation as herding dogs, particularly on ranches. They’ve also carved themselves an excellent role as loving family pets who love nothing more than playing with their humans.

German Shepherd Parent

The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) has long had the world’s adoration and was recognized by the AKC in 1908. The purebred german shepherd dog originated in Germany in 1899 when Max von Stephanitz bought the canine at a dog show. Along with other breeders, he used only dogs with favorable traits to breed what became the standard GSD.   

german shepherd

The dog bought by von Stephanitz resulted from generations of breeding, which Europeans had been doing since the 1850s in a bid to standardize breeds. Several years of breeding and inbreeding led to the standardized GSD.   

The German Shepherd is a natural herder whose primary purpose is herding flocks. However, it’s an intelligent and loyal breed, so it has worked in various settings outside its breeding purposes. Thanks to a keen sense of smell, agility, and strength, it has also worked as a police and military dog.   

While less friendly than the Border Collie, German Shepherds are playful and active dogs that make great family pets. Apart from being jovial in nature, they’re also adept at protecting and listening to their humans.   

german shepherd facts

Chaser isn’t the only famous member of this family, though, as German Shepherds have also had a really popular member. Rin Tin Tin was a renowned dog that appeared in 27 Hollywood films. During World War I, the canine was rescued by an American soldier who trained him to become an actor.

2. The Shollie’s Appearance

If you’ve come across both the Border Collie and the German Shepherd, you’ve got an idea of how the german shepherd collie mix looks. If not, here’s a description of what this delightful designer dog looks like.   

Keep in mind, though, like every hybrid, these border collie mixes don’t necessarily come with standardized looks. Some may look like the Border Collie, some like the German Shepherd, and others may combine features so well they don’t look like either parent.   

3 german shepherd border collie mix dogs

As a result of being the child of big dogs, german shepherd and border collie mix dogs are on the big side and will stand between 21 and 29 inches. German Shepherds, on average, range between 22 and 28 inches in height, with males taller than females. A Border Collie’s height can range from 18 to 22 inches, with males also taller than females.   

How big they usually grow depends on which side was more dominant. When the GSD gene dominates, expect the Shollie to be taller and vice versa. The hybrid typically weighs between 70 and 80 pounds at its peak.   

Shollies may inherit the GSD’s medium-length double coat, the Border Collie’s medium-length coat, or somewhere in-between. This smooth or shaggy fur can come in different colors depending on their parents’ appearance. This includes black, brown, white, golden, or a mix of several colors with some patterning.   

Akin to their parents, the Border Collie German Shepherd mix can have either pointed or floppy ears as well as brown eyes.

3. Border Collie German Shepherd Personality Traits and Temperament

Personality and temperament are among the most critical factors to think of when considering getting a dog. Will they get along with the kids and the family? Will they gel well with the other pets already home? What about strangers or small children? These are all questions you should ask yourself before bringing a shollie puppy home.   

Both parents are loyal, intelligent, playful, strong, energetic, and loving, with the average Shollie also having these traits. The affectionate hybrid will go to great lengths to ensure its human(s) are happy, so long as you play with them.

black and white german shepherd border collie mix

Shollies, like Borders and GSDs, are fond of children as they can match their energy levels and may even herd them. However, their playful nature means they aren’t too self-aware of their own size. This can put the kids at the risk of getting injured as the Shollie can easily overpower them during friendly play.   

Thanks to the parents’ herding history and ability to work with other animals, you can rest assured they’ll get along with other well-mannered pets. But as always, be sure to keep an eye on them for any behavioral issues.   

Due to the German Shepherd’s aloof nature, Shollies may also display this aloofness toward strangers. However, they are rarely too shy or too aggressive towards people they don’t know, so you can count on them for protection or friendliness.

4. Socialization, Training, Exercise, and Activity Levels

If you’ve owned a dog before, you’ll know that caring for these delightful creatures isn’t as easy as most would like. They require a lot of attention for socialization, training, exercise, and activity levels. How much of this do Shollies need?


While naturally social like its parents, early socialization is essential for Shollies, especially for large families. Depending on the socialization, or lack thereof, the breed can be overly timid or aggressive towards anyone who isn’t their human. Additionally, GSDs are fiercely loyal to their owner, so Shollies can be a little aloof towards people or pets they don’t know.   

For best case result, socialize this adorable critter early on by introducing them to the family they’ll be spending their days with. This will familiarize them with soon-to-be familiar surroundings, pets, and people.   

black german shepherd border collie mix

If you’re getting your Shepherd Collie from a shelter and they’re already a little old, it may be harder to socialize them. For the best results, consult with your shelter to find a dog with a history of sociability with kids and animals.


As an intelligent breed, Shollies are easily one of the easiest dogs to train. They’re also eager to please, meaning training will be a breeze but be sure to train them how your specific dog prefers.   

You can train them to follow easy and advanced commands, but this should be done from an early age. However, they retain their wit throughout their lives and can be trained even older, although it’s more challenging.   

Like most dogs, the Border Collie German Shepherd mix thrives on positive reinforcement training. When they do good as instructed, you can give them a tasty treat for their efforts.   

If you feel ill-equipped for the job, you can always outsource their training, but you lose out on the bond you can form during this process.

Exercise and Activity Levels

German Shepherds and Border Collies are historically hard workers with high energy levels only matched by a few other dogs. As such, Shollies are a highly active breed ready to put their energy to use doing just about anything.   

Previously set aside for herding, the breed needs someone who can keep pace with its fast-paced nature. They also need to be engaged in physical exercise and activities that benefit both mind and body.

border collie german shepherd dog face

5. Are You an Ideal Human for the Border Collie German Shepherd?

Having read the above, you should know what these  are like and why they would make great pets. But, are you the right human for the average Shepherd Collie?   

Shollies are a walking ball of energy that must be used regularly to ensure they’re happy. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, opt for a different breed, as the dog needs at least an hour of activity daily. This active dog is a good idea for you or your family members are active as they can accompany you on your runs or days out.   

Having been used for herding, this hybrid breed suits expansive environments where they can run to their heart’s content. This means they won’t be happy campers in small apartments with little-to-no yard space.   

Due to their coat and build, they are prone to overheating in hot conditions. So, if you live in warm climates, opt against getting a Shollie. 

The Shepherd Collie loves nothing more than spending time with its human(s) as a social animal. When devoid of this affection, they can develop separation anxiety and may even be depressed if too long a time passes without seeing you. Therefore, get the German Shepherd Border Collie mix only if you’re generally going to be around or have someone at home most of the time.

6. Border Collie German Shepherd Mix Health Problems

While hybrid dogs were originally developed to avert the negatives that the respective purebreds had, not every designer breed ends up down that path.   

Both the Border Collie and German Shepherd parents have inherent health issues, and the Shollie is highly likely to inherit these problems. If you’re unprepared for this, you may be shocked at how much you potentially have to pay to keep your pooch in tip-top shape.   

No one Shollie is ideally a balanced mix of the Border Collie and German Shepherd, so it’s not easy knowing which health issues they will face. However, there are some prominent ones discovered in most Shepherd Collies, including the following:

Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia

Common in both parents, hip and elbow dysplasia are conditions that occur during a dog’s growing phase. These conditions refer to when the joint socket becomes malformed and causes dysfunction and pain for the dog. They can later lead to arthritis and limited mobility.   

While no prevention methods are known currently, there are ways to help the dog live a normal life. Once discovered, proper surgical and medical treatment can help a dog with either condition get in good shape. Visit your veterinarian every six months for physicals for improved muscle strength and mobility.   

brown german shepherd border collie mix in daisies

High-risk breeds like the Shollie are encouraged to take joint supplements from a young age, with the vet’s approval. Early warning signs include a change in walking style and looking stiff while moving.


Bloat is a condition where food can stretch your dog’s stomach, leading to abdominal pain. This health issue can be caused by old age, eating too quickly, being overweight, and various other factors listed here.   

Symptoms include dry-heaving, sudden pacing or anxiety, panting and drooling, collapsing, a racing heartbeat, pale gums, positioning themselves in a downward-facing dog pose, and guarding or looking back at their belly.   

Luckily, bloat is curable by either immediate surgery, medication, or fluids. As a serious condition, any dog showing signs of bloat must be rushed to a vet as soon as possible as the issue can be fatal within hours.

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) refers to a dog’s inability to produce enough pancreatic enzymes to break down fats, carbs, and proteins. This indigestion results in poor absorption of nutrients, leading to weight loss. While vets are best to diagnose the issue, suspect it to be the case if your dog excretes large volumes of pale, fatty feces.   

While not wholly curable, digestible and low-fat diets can help manage the issue. Also, affected critters are provided with pancreatic enzyme replacement supplements, usually for their entire life.

brown german shepherd border collie mix on pumpkins

Life Expectancy and Minor Concerns

Apart from those major issues, Shollies can also face minor health concerns. This list includes diabetes, cataracts (clouding of the eye), epilepsy, Collie eye anomaly, and other common dog conditions.   

Despite these issues, on average, Shollies can live a healthy life for between 10 and 15 years. This depends on how well they’re cared for. Given its large stature, a life expectancy that long is really impressive.

7. Shollie Dietary Requirements

For dogs, nothing may be more important than knowing how to feed your furry friend. Overfeed them, and you risk obesity, underfeed them, and you risk malnourishment. You’ll get them on a bad diet with both overfeeding and underfeeding, and you’re bound to pay a lot to fix it.   

As such, it’s important to know exactly what your dog should eat. This is particularly important for Shollies as the breed and its parents have a few dietary-related health issues they can face.   

Shollies need to enjoy high-quality dry food from a young age to ensure they live the long lives they deserve. As an adult, three cups of this food is enough to ensure your pet gets the necessary nutrients. For pup Shollies, choose dog food made for puppies as adult and young dogs require different nutrition.   

Due to potential health issues like EPI, you need to make sure the food you feed your Shollie is low-fat and doesn’t have too much fiber.   

Shollies, like all big dogs, love food and will eat until it’s all gone, even when they aren’t starved. Therefore, keep an eye on how much you feed them to avoid obesity, and don’t ever free feed the Shepherd Collie. If they do become overweight, they could worsen the risk of dysplasia.   

brown german shepherd border collie mix

Also, keep feeding and exercise time separate by a decent amount of time. As Shollies are susceptible to bloating, running just after eating can unnecessarily open them up to the condition.   

As always, speaking to a veterinarian before choosing a dog’s diet is crucial, as they’re best equipped to let you know what’s best. As the Shollie is at risk of several diseases, vets may even suggest getting them on various supplements to ensure excellent health.

8. Maintenance Needs of the Shollie

The Border Collie German Shepherd mix is a high-maintenance dog that requires an owner who can care for its needs daily. Like its parents, it has a medium-length coat that sheds a lot. Twice a year, they will experience extra shedding.  

Tip: If you aren’t a fan of its shedding habits, check out these big dogs that don’t shed.


The Shollie requires daily grooming to ensure it always looks as beautiful as when you first got it. You’ll need to brush its coat daily as it sheds all year round, with a good brush and a vacuum cleaner necessary. This keeps your place clean of hair and dander and helps remove dirt and debris as well as reduce tangling.   

Shollies also aren’t known for drooling, so they’ll do their part to keep your home clean.


Luckily, the Shollie breed isn’t known to have a strong odor, so they don’t need to bathe too often. Only wash your canine when necessary, as anything more than that may reduce the amount of natural oils the dog produces, leading to skin irritation.   

When bathing the Shepherd Collie, be sure to use a hypoallergenic shampoo that can also take care of ticks and insects. As with overbathing, don’t overuse the shampoo to the point where it interferes with the natural oils.

german shepherd border collie mis with big ears

Nails and Teeth

As with all dogs, Shollies need their nails to be cut before growing too long. When left uncut, nails can grow so big that they make movement uncomfortable for the canine. If the dog spends a lot of time outdoors, they also risk getting debris stuck inside its paw pads if not cleaned regularly.   

While Shollies aren’t prone to dental issues, you need to brush their teeth a few times a week. This will keep their mouths and teeth clean while also preventing any unexpected dental problems.

9. Can You Afford a Shollie?

While it isn’t one of the most expensive dog breeds globally, Shollies don’t come cheap at all. You’ll incur expenses from the moment you get a Shollie; how much it eventually costs depends entirely on how you get the dog and how long it lives.   

To help you see if you can afford the Shepherd Collie, check out the information related to the costs of owning a Shollie.

Getting a Shollie

As a designer dog, you have the best chance of getting a Shollie from a reputable breeder. However, you can also find it at a rescue shelter waiting for you, although these rescue dogs are usually older.

Buying a Shollie from a Breeder

When getting a Shollie from a reputable breeder, expect it to cost you between $450 and $950, although this can be higher or lower depending on several factors. Getting one from a breeder allows you to raise it how you want, and you have greater control over its appearance and behavior.

Getting the Shollie from a Shelter

While you still have to pay an adoption fee to the shelter, this is the cheapest way to get a Shollie. You get to give a deserving dog a home and enjoy nearly all the traits that Shollies have.   

On the other hand, the Shollie may be ill-trained and ill-socialized, and you can’t control its appearance. If, however, you get to find a young Shollie, you can raise it into the model canine you like.

Food and Health Costs

The Shollie will have to eat high-quality food over the course of its lifetime, meaning that’s another cost to consider. While this number differs from individual to individual, expect to spend at least $40 per month on food, excluding supplements.   

A visit to the vet, which the Shollie requires often, also doesn’t come cheap. On average, routine vet checkups can cost from $50 upwards. Exams, tests, screening, and the like also come with their costs. There are also many general medication costs that you’ll have to pay every month.   

The health issues that Shollies commonly face often require surgery, further running up the bill. Hip and elbow dysplasia surgery can cost anything between $1,500 and $7,000. Serious cases of bloat will also set you back a similar amount of money. EPI-specific treatment supplements cost average between $150 and $300, depending on dog size and the required dosage.   

german shepherd border collie mix in the snow

Over the course of its life, these costs can add up to thousands, so be sure you can afford a Shollie before getting one. But, you may not have to foot that much yourself if you get pet insurance.

Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is similar to any type of insurance you take out. It can help you take care of unexpected vet bills in the future, meaning it’s essential to have.   

You can avoid having to pay thousands out of pocket by paying anything between $750 and $2,000 per year to an insurance provider. There are many such companies out there; you just have to find the one perfect for you and your Shollie.

10. Male or Female Shollie?

Now that you know all the above, should you opt for a male or female Shollie? The truth is, you won’t go wrong with either one.   As with most breeds, male Shollies are a little bigger than female Shollies, and they’re also a little more energetic and aggressive. Females mature a little quicker than males, as in all breeds.   

If spayed or neutered as puppies, these differences will be really subtle. As a result, you won’t encounter many gender-influenced traits as you’ve effectively eliminated them.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Shollie

How big can a German Shepherd Border Collie Mix get?

The average border collie shepherd mix weighs between 70 and 80 pounds. They can be up to 29 inches in height. 

How long does a Border Collie mix German Shepherd live? 

The average life span for a Shollie is between 13 and 15 years. 

Are Shollies Protective? 

Yes. Shollies are playful dogs but tend to be protective of their owners and their owner’s children. 

How smart is a Shollie? 

The shollie is a mix of two intelligent working dog breeds, the border collie and german shepherd. They are generally intelligent dogs and can be trained. 

Final Thoughts on the Border Collie German Shepherd Mix

Shollies, a Border Collie and German Shepherd mix, are a delightful breed any human would be lucky to own. The breed has inherited a lot of the traits that have made the world fall in love with both its parents.   

Having read the above, you should clearly see what makes this breed special and how they’re a solid addition to any setting. With a playful and loyal nature, unmatched energy, and an eagerness to please, the Shollie will be by your side, whether playing or protecting you.   

If you’re the ideal person for them, go to your local rescue or breeder and try to bring the Shollie home — hurry, though, you aren’t the only one swooning over these lovely critters.

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