Are Border Collies Related to Wolves? Genetically Similar Or Vastly Different?

One would expect that some of the common questions regarding Border Collie dogs that you’d find on the web, would be things like “How intelligent are Border Collies?”, “Do Border Collies bark a lot?”, “Are Border Collies good hunting dogs?” 

And so on.

And, while all of these questions are valid, and in fact pretty common…

one of the more common questions that we’ve found, is the question “Are Border Collies related to wolves?”.

The answer to this question, is yes. Well…More or less. Border Collies are genetically close to wolves, but they’re completely different species of animals. They do belong to the same Canidae family, which includes dogs, wolves and foxes, and thus share most of the traits.

Both Border Collies and wolves share around 99.9% of their DNA with each other, and this genetic similarity is due to the fact that dogs, were domesticated from wolves thousands of years ago.

In this article, we’ll be looking to dig a bit deeper into the question of whether or nor Border Collies are related to wolves, by looking at these genetic differences, differences in behaviors and more. 

Let’s take a look.

Are Border Collies Related to Wolves

The Canine Family Tree

The Common Ancestor

All domestic dogs, including Border Collies, have evolved from wolves and the domestication of these, began around 15,000 to 30,000 years ago when humans began to selectively breed them for specific traits such as hunting, herding, and companionship.

Over the years though, wolves evolved into various breeds of dogs, each with unique characteristics that make them well-suited for different tasks.

According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), domestic dogs and wolves belong to the same taxonomic family called Canidae, which also includes coyotes, foxes, and jackals.

All members of this family share similar physical and behavioral traits, such as sharp teeth, keen senses, and the ability to hunt and communicate with each other.

Evolutionary Path of Border Collies

Border Collies, in particular, are genetically close to wolves, sharing around 99.9% of their DNA with their wild ancestors, and they’re maybe a bit farther away from foxes and coyotes (genetically speaking) than to wolves.

This genetic similarity is easy to see.

They are they’re physically more similar to wolves. Everything from their coats to their eyes. While foxes and coyotes for example are smaller, have different fur and so on.

The diversion in the genetic path for the Border Collie, started possibly thousands of years ago, and ended up with them (and other dog breeds) being smaller in size, and more domesticated than wolves.

Border Collies in particular were selectively bred for their herding abilities, which required traits such as intelligence, agility, and a strong prey drive.

And so, over time they evolved into a distinct breed with unique physical and behavioral characteristics, that can be easily differentiated.

In conclusion, while Border Collies have evolved into a distinct breed, they share a common ancestor with wolves, and their genetic similarity to their wild ancestors is a testament to the power of selective breeding and evolution.

Comparing Border Collies and Wolves

Physical Traits

Border Collies are a medium-sized breed of dog that typically weigh between 30-55 pounds and stand around 18-22 inches tall at the shoulder.

They have a double coat of fur that can come in a variety of colors, including black and white, red and white, and blue merle. Their ears are usually erect, and their tails are long and bushy.

Wolves, on the other hand, are much larger than Border Collies, with males weighing between 70-110 pounds and standing up to 3 feet tall at the shoulder.

They have thick fur coats that can range in color from gray to black to white, and their ears are often rounded. Wolves also have longer legs and a more elongated snout than Border Collies.

Behavioral Traits

Border Collies are known for their high energy and intelligence, as well as their herding instincts.

They are often used as working dogs on farms, but also make great pets for active families. Border Collies are highly trainable and eager to please their owners.

Wolves, on the other hand, are wild animals that live in packs and hunt for their food.

They are highly social and intelligent animals too, and have a complex communication system that includes howls, growls, and body language.

Wolves are pack animals, and are known for their fierce hunting skills and their ability to work together to take down large prey.

While Border Collies and wolves share some physical and behavioral traits, they are very different animals with distinct characteristics.

Border Collies are domesticated dogs that have been bred for specific traits over many generations, while wolves are wild animals that have evolved to survive in their natural habitats.

Are Border Collies Related to Wolves 2

Genetic Similarities and Differences

Genetic Markers

Border Collies and wolves share a significant amount of genetic material. According to studies, they’d share around 99.9% of their DNA with each other.

This means that the two species are genetically very similar.

However, they’re not the same species and can’t interbreed, so while they may share many genetic markers, there are also significant differences between the two species.

Inherited Traits

Border Collies have been selectively bred for centuries to perform specific tasks such as herding and obedience. As a result, they have developed a unique set of traits that are not found in wolves.

Some of the traits that are unique to Border Collies include their high energy levels, their intense focus and what’s called the “Border Collie stare“, and their strong desire to please their human handlers.

These traits have made them very popular as working dogs, and their link with humans has naturally become a lot deeper and warmer. 

Wolves, on the other hand, have evolved in the wild and have developed a set of traits that are well-suited to their natural environment.

They are highly social animals that live in packs and work together to hunt and survive, and for the most part are very territorial, are aggressive, a lot more independent and have simply had less communication with humans, than dogs have had. 

Misconceptions and Myths

There are many myths and misconceptions about the relationship between Border Collies and wolves.

Let’s look at what some of these are: 

  • Border Collies are part wolf. This is a popular myth that has been perpetuated by movies and TV shows. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. As we’ve mentioned throughout this article, while Border Collies share some physical and behavioral traits with wolves they’re different species altogether.

  • Border Collies are aggressive and dangerous. While it’s true that any dog can be aggressive if not properly trained and socialized, Border Collies are not inherently aggressive or dangerous and won’t be as aggressive as a wolf can be. In fact, they are known for their friendly and loyal nature

  • Border Collies are difficult to train. While Border Collies are highly intelligent and independent, they’re not difficult to train. Border Collies are, at the end of the day, domesticated animals and are one of the most trainable breeds of dog. They can learn a wide variety of commands and behaviors.

It’s important to separate fact from fiction when it comes to Border Collies and their relationship with wolves.

While there may be some similarities between the two, they’re distinct and separate species with their own unique traits and characteristics. 

Are Border Collies Related To Wolves? Conclusion

In conclusion, and to answer the question of are Border Collies related to wolves, the answer is: yes, Border Collies are closely genetically related to wolves.

They belong to the same Canidae family, which includes dogs, wolves, foxes, and other similar species like coyotes.

With that said, while Border Collies and wolves share many similarities, they are different species altogether.

  • Border Collies have been bred for specific traits such as herding and have been domesticated for thousands of years.
  • Wolves are wild animals that hunt for their survival. 

So, with all this said, the conclusion is that while Border Collies may be genetically close to wolves, they are not the same animal.

Border Collies have been domesticated and bred for specific traits, while wolves remain wild animals that are not suited for domestication.

Overall, Border Collies are fascinating animals that have a unique genetic connection to wolves, but they are also very different animals with their own unique characteristics and traits.

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