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Feeding & Dietary Needs of Border Collies

Source: PetWave, Updated on May 23, 2016
Border Collie

Diet & Food

The Border Collie is a high-energy working breed that requires a protein-based, high calorie, yet balanced diet in order to maintain health and happiness. The individual needs of every dog are unique. Older dogs have nutritional needs that younger dogs do not. And Border Collies that spend their days running and playing will require a higher calorie intake than less active dogs. When choosing a dietary plan for a Border Collie, it is important to keep both the needs of the breed and the needs of the individual dog in mind.

Caloric Needs

Border Collies were originally bred to herd sheep, a task that requires intelligence, speed, stamina, and energy. Their herding tendencies make them known for heel-nipping – it’s their natural instinct to keep groups in order. These deeply-rooted herding instincts are also evident in the extreme energy levels and stamina exhibited in companion Border Collies. They require several hours of exercise each day, and when they are not running or playing, this breed requires constant mental stimulation. Many Border Collie owners liken their dogs to hyperactive children.

When a Border Collie is getting the optimum level of exercise each day, a balanced, high-quality, calorie-rich diet is in order. Protein is critical for building muscle and maintaining stamina, and a diet that is rich in meat-based protein is often the best choice for an active Border Collie. The more active the dog, the more protein he will require. However, owners should not simply increase food intake based on increased activity. Total nutritional content is far more important than the amount of food the dog takes in.

As Border Collies age, their nutritional needs and daily caloric intake will change. Their activity level will decrease, and a diet modification will be required in order to prevent weight gain. No matter a Border Collie’s age, a balanced diet that includes meat-based protein and a variety of vitamins can help maintain health and quality of life.

Coat & Diet

The medium-length coat of the Border Collie can either be “rough” or “smooth.” Regardless of texture, all Border Collies have a thick undercoat that sheds lightly throughout the year, and sheds heavily in the Spring and Fall. While regular brushing and grooming can manage the mess, a proper diet can help reduce and prevent shedding associated with poor skin and coat quality.

The coat of a Border Collie should never be dull or overly dry-feeling. If the coat lacks sheen and feels like straw, or if the skin is excessively dry, the dog may not be getting enough fat or nutrients. A diet that includes omega fatty acids and B vitamins can help keep the skin and coat of the Border Collie healthy.

Supplemental Needs

Border Collies have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. They are prone to some minor health problems such as deafness, seizures, hypothyroidism, Collie eye anomaly, cataracts, and lens luxation. This breed is also prone to hip dysplasia, a painful, degenerative condition that affects a dog’s ability to properly stand, walk, and run. Glucosamine and chondroitin are commonly prescribed for dogs who have a predisposition to hip and joint problems, as they support collagen in the body. While supplements can improve a dog’s intake of these nutrients, it can help to choose a diet that includes glucosamine and chondroitin, especially if the Border Collie does not handle pills very well.


Active Border Collies require a high-protein diet that is rich in vitamins and nutrients to help them maintain their energy and stamina. But every dog is unique, and it is important to consider a dog’s age, activity level, and health concerns when choosing a dietary plan. Food labels can be confusing, so it can often help to consult veterinarians and dog-nutrition experts when mapping out a diet for a Border Collie.

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