What do you get if you cross a Border Collie with a German Shepherd?
Answer: a Shollie
A brief history of this dog
The Border Collie German Shepherd Mix is a large dog that you get when you cross, yes you guessed it, a German Shepherd with a Border Collie; it is often called a Shollie. The Shollie is a new type of cute designer dog breed and only been recognized for about 20 years or so. Therefore it does not really have a specific history to trace so you have to look at the heritage of its parent mix.
It has an impressive heritage from both parents:
The German Shepherd Dog (GSD), gives it the capabilities of a skilled continental herding and protection dog, that originated in Germany in 1899. The Border Collie also brings strong herding and working instincts from the early farming communities in the borders area of England and Scotland. They are still very prevalent in the Scottish Borders area.
Fact: Did you know that the word Collie means ‘sheepdog’ in the Scottish Gaelic language?
The hybridization of these two easily recognizable breeds produced a crossbred dog that is highly intelligent, obedient, energetic and particularly loyal with a strong work ethic. The Shollie, has the best of both of these popular breeds. But, why do some of them look a bit like a wolf?
Folklore stories say the German Shepherd is part wolf!. Possibly because of its mysterious eyes and wolf-like features.
After World War I, when there was sensitivity towards Germanic sounding names, the German Shepherd Dog’s name was changed in the UK, to Alsatian or occasionally the Alsatian Wolf Dog. Although this hints that they were a type of wolf and despite looking a bit like a wolf, they are not!
Fact: It is believed that today’s domestic dog is actually a genetic divergence from grey wolves and that it was humans, possibly nomadic hunters, who domesticated dogs in Europe some 15,000 years ago. Not many domestic dog breeds today still look like their early ancestors, but some of the Shollie dogs do.
The Border Collie German Shepherd Dog is not a purebred dog and it is therefore not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC); unlike the GSD which was recognized by the AKC in 1908 and the Border Collie in 1995.
Hybrid dogs can be recognized by the American Canine Hybrid Club (ACHC) and the Dog Registry of America (DRA). The Shollie is now recognized by both of these in the US.
What are the main characteristics of a Shollie?
Loyalty and companionship:
A Shollie can make a wonderful family dog and a loyal working companion. They quickly fit into family environments as the protector and will guard their family and property forcefully.
It is not a well-known canine breed yet. Its German Shepherd Border Collie mix can make it look like an aggressive dog that is often stand-offish with strangers and should not be approached easily.
The Collie Shepherd mix are very good as herding, military or search and rescue dogs given their intelligence, agility and love of action.
They may bite at or nip children or other smaller animals as puppies until they are properly trained and socialized. The Shollie can make the most affectionate family pet when treated well and trained early.
Fact: any dog that is not treated well or trained properly can have behavioral problems, or become aggressive.
The german shepherd border collie mix are very cute, especially as puppies! This designer mixed-breed dog is a blend of 2 of the most popular dogs in the world and therefore will always attract attention, and be loved whether it is part of a family or working as a protective guard or service dog.
It is always best to begin obedience training early in the puppy years. This is one of the most easily trainable hybrid dogs; it’s very smart, energetic and strong. It’s a highly-disciplined breed with a good work attitude and memory. It will learn to follow instructions and behave when trained properly.
Power and intelligence:
It is a very powerful and smart working dog with sharp instincts and will show great strength when required.
Early socialization and discipline is strongly recommended with this dog breed, especially if it is being introduced into a family setting. This will familiarize them with different situations, people and surroundings. The will display great loyalty to their master and can be family-friendly, as they love attention and active play. They have very high energy levels and must be trained properly to control their energy with other animals and people.
They are not the quickest dog to make friends easily but once it does it will be very loyal and trusty. It loves to chase, play fetching games and is highly skilled in agility challenges and can be a fun dog to play with.
Shollies, like their parents, are highly disciplined, hard-working and thrive on having a purpose. Their purpose is to keep active, work hard and please their master. They are an excellent herding dog suited to different terrain and climate.
Obedient and focused with lots of energy. Therefore they need to be regularly exercised, kept active and not left alone for long periods of time; otherwise, they’ll become mischievous and possibly destructive, and bark or chew things. This breed was developed from two skilled herding dogs and is used to following commands. They will behave as commanded when trained properly and will enjoy doing so.
MaleFemaleSizeMedium to Large-sizedMedium to Large-sizedHeight21-29” (53-74cm)21-29” (53-74cm)Weight70-80lb (31-36kg)70-80lb (31-36kg)Lifespan13-15 years13-15 yearsLitter Size5-9 puppies/litter
Coat: Medium length, rough double outercoat with a soft undercoat
Coat Color: It depends on the parent mix – usually mixed color, from 17 different colors such as – Black and white, Tan with Black and white, Sable, Bi-color, but rarely solid Black/White. You just have to wait and see!
They typically get their temperament from their parents. They are a cautious dog but usually friendly in the right environment. If trained as a puppy, they will interact well with people and other dogs, enjoy play and adore rough and tumble fun. They need to be kept occupied a lot of the time and may rebel if not given the attention or activity they feel they deserve!
Feelings and signals:
Look at the tail! The german shepherd collie mix don’t usually inherit the great bushy tail of their GSD parent but they will use their tail as a signal for how they are feeling. Most dogs communicate with their tails.
Fact: ‘Tails up and wagging’ is a good sign – they are happy, content, agree with you or feel excited.
‘Tails down’ is not a good sign – they may feel threatened, need to retreat or have just lost an encounter with another dog and this signals its surrender. This act is an attempt to back off by making itself appear smaller. In other words, it means just leave me alone and at this point you should do just that and not be tempted to approach a dog with its tail down or tucked in.
We sometimes use this phrase as an example in human conversation to mean defeat or humility – ‘Tail between the legs’.
How should you train a shollie?
Although the Shollie puppy is adorable and cute, this mixed breed dog will become strong, wilful and always want to be highly active. It is therefore advisable to begin training early, as a young puppy.
There are several of types of training required: obedience, discipline, agility and socialization.
These types of training are all important to enable your little Shollie to adapt to its intended role and future surroundings. The wider the training, the more versatile and adaptable this smart cross-breed dog will be.
Some Shollies are used as show dogs and discipline and agility become very important training requirements for this purpose. Working dogs or family dogs will need a different blend of training.
How do you begin puppy training with a Border Collie German Shepherd Mix?
All puppies are excitable and want to keep playing; however in order for you to be able to take them out in public and socialize with them they need to learn how to behave. It will take time and patience but it will be worth it in the end.
So, if you are not going to use a professional dog trainer:
1) Develop your basic command words: Find keywords such as Sit, Stop, and Fetch etc. and be consistent each time you use them. Use small treats as a reward in early training.
2) Crate – Buy a crate and get puppy used to going into it. This will eventually become its nest and it will sleep there. You will have to lock the cage in the early days so it knows it has to sleep there, plus it’s useful experience when transporting your pet.
3) Potty training – May be hit and miss for a new puppy who gets easily excited and lacks control, however products are available, such as mats and odour sprays to attract puppy go to the same spot each time.
4) Walking on a leash -Voice commands and road awareness is very important for your puppy’s safety.
Health and Risks
Coming from two large purebred dogs there can be congenital health problems from their breeding history. The Shollie may inherit certain common health conditions from both parents.
Any Shollie will not be an exact 50% GSD and 50% Border Collie and it’s therefore difficult to predict with any certainty which health issues will be more prevalent. Those with the highest possibility include:
Hip Dysplasia (and also Elbow Dysplasia)
This is common in both parent breeds. Hip dysplasia is a mal-formation of the hip joint, where the ball at the top of the leg does not fit properly into the socket and the ligaments attaching it are weak. This allows excess movement of the fitting which can eventually lead to stiffness and pain for the dog.
Continuous use, wear and tear with this naturally overly active dog can lead to hip degeneration in one or sometimes both hips causing pain and a limit on the dog’s mobility. Even with early diagnosis and treatment it can lead to further issues such as arthritis, extreme pain and even osteoarthritis.
Early warning signs are – it appears stiff when getting up or walking, it’s reluctant to get up when prompted and its usual walking style can change. It can occur early in the puppy years or not until later much later in life. The only way to investigate is to trace the health history of the birth parents.
There is no cure for hip dysplasia; only pain management, where anti-inflammatories may be prescribed by your Vet. You must be careful not to allow the dog to jump too much or risk slipping or falling and be mindful of the possible pain causes by exertion.
Bloat (Gastric Dilatation-volvulus)
This can affect many deep-chested, larger dog breeds and their hybrid offspring, if they like to eat large volumes quickly, drink too much water after eating or even eat too close to exercising.
Any of these factors can cause excess gas to build up in the stomach and if the dog is not able to pass the excess air, the stomach can twist and reduce the blood flow to the heart, which can result in death.
Early signs are restlessness after eating, a bloated stomach and an inability to reject the air and excess food through ineffective retching. The dog may become listless and uncomfortable with a faster than usual heartbeat. If this happens urgent medical attention is required to dispel the gas.
EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency)
Another genetic disease seen in cross-breeds, where there are insufficient enzymes being produced in the pancreas and food absorption and digestion is compromised as a result.
Early signs are wasting, a lack of appetite, weight loss, change in stool consistency and excess gas. Identification is via a blood test and if diagnosed can be cured with a replacement enzyme food supplement.
Other conditions to be aware of include – a variety of eye problems – Cataracts, Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA), Epilepsy, and allergies causing skin conditions and itching. All of these need medical attention too.
Caring for your Shollie from puppyhood into old age – what’s needed?
This puppy will soon demonstrate how energetic it is and how important regular exercise is for it to keep healthy and occupied.
Like its parents, this puppy will want to be kept busy.
These puppies will need lots of exercise, through walks or play – a suggested 2 hours a day is recommended. Puppies should not be exercised too much on hard ground as their paws are still delicate so a mix of hard and softer ground is recommended until they are at least 2 years of age.
When the Shollie becomes older, it will continue to need a lot of exercise such as walking, running and any other active opportunities to burn off energy, especially if not being used as a working dog. At least 2 walks a day is recommended for this medium to large-sized breed. Leash training is strongly recommended at an early age to get the puppy used to a leash, even though it may not always require one.
The Shollie should be fed as a large-sized dog with a recommended type of specially-formulated dry food. This can possibly be supplemented with vitamins and minerals, as advised by the Vet appointed for its ongoing health care and check-ups. Be careful not to overfeed as additional weight can exacerbate hip problems common in the breed and cause bloating.
This dog will require daily grooming! Like its parents it will be a medium-length haired, double-coated dog that sheds a lot of hair. Therefore you will need to buy a good brush (and a good vacuum cleaner!). Daily brushing is recommended, if possible. They will shed hair all year round and twice a year will have an extra shedding of their coat.
Is recommended only when needed, but not too often as their coats contain natural oil, which can be stripped with over bathing. Certain shampoos have double effect of cleaning the dog coat and protecting it against fleas and insect bites.
Cleaning teeth, nails and ears:
Like each of their parents they need to look after their teeth and can develop a build-up of plaque in their back molars if not managed properly. Chewing can help to break down plaque, so the use of doggie chew toys and bare-bones are recommended along with specially adapted soft toothbrushes and toothpaste. Nails grow quickly due to activity level and need to be trimmed regularly, say once a month, and checked for infection. Their ears also need to be regularly checked for dirt build-up or infection. A Vet can advise.
What is life like for a Border Collie German Shepherd Mix?
They like to have fun! It should be very active with lots of tasks and play. In return, you will have one of the closest relationships you can have with an animal that wants to protect you completely. They are at their best when working, running, chasing, herding or playing.
The Shollie gets its energy levels and agile ability from both of its parents. The mix produces a smart dog that will follow commands and also act on initiative in any working environment. It will become a strong dog and not like to keep still for a long time.
Otherwise, with their high energy levels they may show their boredom through barking or sulking like their parents would.
Like their parents, they’re equally suitable for herding on farms, protecting property and homes or fitting into most family environments. The Shollie is a large-breed dog and is therefore not suited to cramped conditions or solely indoor living. They thrive when they have lots of outdoor space where they run around, with or without company.
They love a family environment and are best suited to active, busy environments. It is not advisable to have a shollie as a pet if you are not able to match its energy levels and love of keeping very active.
This should be born in mind when choosing a Shollie. They are sometimes more active than imagined and this unfortunately results in many having to be re-homed.
A Quick guide to the Pros and Cons of owning a Border Collie German Shepherd Mix
- Fiercely loyal to Master and family
- Affectionate and looks friendly
- Highly intelligent/Smart
- Easily trained, not a yappy dog
- Active and energetic
- Sociable and can be gentle
- Cute appearance and popular with kids
- Loves food
- Not instantly friendly, Will be fiercely protective of their family
- Not always easy to approach if a stranger
- Unsettled if not stimulated. Needs to keep active
- Naughty and noisy only if alone for long times. Will bite things
- Not good in sedentary or cramped environments, will wander if allowed
- Cautious with strangers, can appear aloof, sometimes fierce
- Will shed hair everywhere, needs to be brushed regularly.
- Should not be left alone with young children
- Could weight gain easily which puts pressure on its hips risking future problems
Commonly asked Questions:
Q: What is the proper name of the Border Collie German Shepherd Mix?
A. The Border Collie German Shepherd Mix Breed Dog is referred to by many names; a German Shepherd Border Collie dog, German Shepherd Collie, Shollie, Sholli or Sholly dog.
Q. How much does a Shollie cost?
A. As a designer dog they can cost anything from $450 – $1000 from a reputable breeder. However, many are abandoned or given to rescue kennels due to their overactive nature so it is always best to adopt rather than buy if you can.
Food will cost around $50 per month, and Vets fees and accessories also need to be factored into the cost of owning a Shollie.