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Border Collies are beautiful and highly intelligent dogs, but they’re also very active and quite rambunctious. As such, they need plenty of physical and mental exercise to remain healthy and happy. And there is another thing they need for proper development and long-term wellbeing: the right kind of diet.
This diet must be packed with high-quality protein to help them build strong muscles, and it should also contain plenty of healthy fats and some complex carbohydrates to give them energy and stamina. To help you find such dog food for your Collie, we tried and reviewed dozens of different recipes – including the grain-inclusive and grain-free formulas – detailing some of our favorites below. And if you need more information on a healthy diet for Border Collies our comprehensive buying guide contains everything you need to know!
Crafted with novel and nutritious protein sources, including salmon and ocean fish meal, this tasty and well-balanced dog food is a good choice for all breeds, but especially Border Collies who are sensitive to typical proteins such as chicken and beef, as well as grains. Importantly, this recipe is also highly digestible thanks to added species-specific probiotics which not only boost gut health but also help strengthen your pup’s immune system.
But that’s not all – thanks to the many superfoods in this recipe, including blueberries, raspberries and tomatoes, the formula is also packed with antioxidants, which further help to boost immunity and overall health and well-being of your dog. To avoid any possible allergic reactions and to protect sensitive digestion, there are no eggs or grains, making this recipe ideal for sensitive Collies with high energy needs. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream is one of 7 dog food recipes mentioned in our overview of Taste of The Wild Dog Food.
25 percent protein content provided by high-quality fish sources
Blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes and other antioxidants
Packed with essential fatty acids for shiny coat and healthy skin
If you have a multi-pet household and you need a healthy puppy food as well as adult and senior dog food for your Border Collies, we highly recommend CANIDAE All Life Stages recipe. Made with multiple proteins, including chicken meal, turkey meal, lamb meal and ocean fish meal, this formula contains a minimum of 24 percent protein to help your dog build strong, healthy muscle. There’s also a minimum of 14.5 percent of fat thanks to salmon oil, chicken fat and flaxseed, which, aside from providing energy, is also essential for your pet’s skin and coat health.
The recipe also contains probiotics, added after processing so they are not damaged by the heat, making it easily digestible. To protect delicate digestion, the food is free from corn, wheat and soy, however, it contains wholesome grains for extra antioxidant and fiber content. CANIDAE All Life Stages Chicken is one of 5 dog food recipes included in our review of CANIDAE Dog Food.
Made from simple and wholesome ingredients, this is a limited ingredients recipe to keep your sensitive dog’s diet nice and clean. The primary ingredients are sweet potato and salmon which provide plenty of carbohydrate and protein content, needed for energy and muscle development. Just what an active dog like a Border Colie needs!
The sweet potato contains highly digestible fiber and is packed with potassium, while salmon and fish provide all the amino acids your dog needs, plus plenty of omega-3 essential fatty acids for healthy skin and thick, shiny coat. The kibble is completely grain-free and contains no artificial additives that could upset a delicate tummy. The recipe is formulated for all breeds but we find it suits best adult Border Collie dogs with high energy needs and sensitive stomachs. Natural Balance L.I.D. Small Breed Salmon & Sweet Potato is one of 5 dog food recipes included in our overview of Natural Balance Dog Food.
Feed your Border Collie this delicious, protein-rich food that consists of both crunchy kibble and tender shredded pieces for maximum enjoyment and watch them thrive. Aside from deliciousness, this recipe also contains plenty of nutritious ingredients, including real salmon, fish meal and wholesome grains.
There’s also natural prebiotic fiber sourced from wheat bran which promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, helping promote better digestion. Added vitamins and minerals are also there, making the food 100% complete and balanced for adult dogs.
Looking for high protein dog food for your Border Collie? Check out Merrick’s Chicken & Sweet Potato recipe as the protein and healthy fat content makes up 70 percent of the formula. There are three protein sources – chicken, turkey meal and salmon meal – plus several excellent fat sources such as salmon oil, sunflower oil and flaxseed.
Some of the ‘super foods’ are also part of the ingredient list, including sweet potato, blueberries, apples and peas, which deliver plenty of vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants. Since the recipe has a very high protein content (38 percent minimum), it’s best suited for highly active Collies as well as pups with tummy issues as there are no grains or artificial additives of any kind.
If you need delicious and nutritious wet puppy food, we suggest checking out Merrick Classic Grain-Free Canned Food. Made with multiple protein sources, including real turkey, chicken and duck, plus antioxidant-rich veggies and fruits like carrots, sweet potatoes, apples and peas, this is one healthy puppy food specifically formulated to support growth and proper development of young pups.
To provide a complete diet, the recipe is also fortified with added vitamins and minerals, however, it is free from grains and artificial flavors and preservatives, making it one of the best, if not the best food for a Border Collie puppy.
Minimum of 10 per cent crude protein
Multiple protein sources and easy to digest carbohydrates
If you want the best for your senior Border Collie, feed them a diet that is specifically formulated for their life stage. We recommend Orijen Senior dry dog food as it’s absolutely packed with highly nutritious, nourishing ingredients that will help your old canine companion thrive for many more years to come.
Made with real meat and fish, including real chicken and turkey, herring, flounder, mackerel, sardines and more, this high protein food contains a whopping 38% of protein. To preserve the nutritional content, a third of the meat has been air-dried at low temperatures, while the remaining meat content is fresh or raw and has been flash frozen. This removes the need for the use of artificial preservatives, making the food exceptionally healthy and biologically appropriate for your Collie.
It provides all the nutrients that a senior dog needs and has no grains or potato as cheap fillers. ORIJEN Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is one of the best dog food recipes presented in our detailed Orijen Dog Food Review.
38 percent protein, multiple high-quality meat and fish sources
Carefully prepared meat to maintain nutrients
No grains or potato
Packed with antioxidants and fiber
Free-run chicken and turkey, cage-free egss and wild-caught fish
Another high-quality, nutritious food that is ideal for active Borders is the ACANA Grasslands recipe. Made with novel proteins, including lamb, duck, goat meal, catfish meal, nest-laid eggs, rainbow trout and free-run quail, this is one high protein recipe that is guaranteed to satisfy even the pickiest of dogs out there.
The formula has been matched carefully to the diet of wild dogs to suit your dog’s natural physiology, so liver, tripe and cartilage are included to provide essential nutrients. A full 30 percent of the recipe is made up of carbohydrates, including easy to digest vegetables and fruits, such as pinto beans, green lentils, pumpkin, apples, carrots and more. All in all, a fantastic Border Collie food that is sure to nourish your pup and promote longevity. ACANA Grasslands Grain-Free is one of 4 dog food recipes mentioned in our review of Acana Dog Food.
A nicely balanced dry food, Nutro Wholesome Essentials contains everything your Border needs to thrive. As well as the protein to build strong muscles (farm-raised chicken), there are natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to support your canine companion’s healthy joints, plus carefully controlled levels of calcium to build strong bones.
The recipe is full of flavor and contains easy to digest carbohydrates such as sweet potato and rice which provide plenty of energy for a lively pup. There are no grains, no chicken by-product meal and no artificial additives that could upset a delicate digestion and trigger allergies, so it’s a safe choice for dogs with digestive issues.
Feed your Border Collie puppy this high-quality wet dog food that is rich in protein and healthy fat, and watch them grow and thrive. Made with three proteins – chicken, turkey and salmon – this recipe contains all amino acids your pup needs to develop strong muscles. And thanks to salmon oil and flaxseed oil, there is plenty of omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin and shiny coat.
Peas, sweet potatoes, organic alfalfa, carrots and apples are also part of the ingredients list, helping load up the antioxidant content. Of course, the recipe is also enriched with added vitamins and minerals, making it nicely balanced and 100% complete – perfect for Border Collie puppies who like wet food!
To ensure your Border Collie develops properly and remains healthy and happy throughout their whole life, it’s essential you feed them a healthy, nutritious diet that will support their fast metabolism and high energy needs. But which Border Collie food should you pick? With so many different recipes available, finding the right one for your dog may be somewhat difficult. To help you pick out the absolute best food for your pet, we’ve prepared this buying guide in which we cover literally everything you need to know about quality dog foods for Collies, including how to find the right one for your pup.
What to Look for When Buying Food for Border Collies
Hard-working and exceptionally intelligent, Border Collies need a high-quality diet to fuel both their bodies and minds. Here are some of the things you should ask yourself when looking for the best food for your Collie.
Will it provide plenty of energy? The calorie content is important because Border Collies are highly energetic and active canines so they need plenty of calories in their daily diet. However, you don’t want to buy the most caloric dog food you can find if your Collie is an indoor pet as this can easily lead to excessive weight gain. The best thing to do is to check with your vet to find out how many calories your dog needs each day.
Has it got enough of protein? Proteins provide amino acids which the body uses to build healthy muscles, and an active breed like the Border needs quite a bit of protein. If your dog is an outdoor pet who either works a lot or is simply highly active, it’s a good idea to look for high protein recipes (above 30%). If, on the other hand, your Collie is an indoor pet, there’s no need to go for the ultra-high-protein formulas; instead, stick to well-balanced dry and wet recipes that contain anywhere between 24% to 30% of protein for kibble, and around 8-12% of protein for wet food.
What are the carbohydrate sources? All dog foods will contain some sort of carbohydrates as they are needed for energy. Border Collies, in particular, need high-quality carbohydrate sources because they use up a lot of energy. Look for complex carbs such as whole grains, legumes and fiber-rich vegetables if your dog doesn’t have digestive issues, or something more refined and easier to digest if they do.
Will it support joint health? Because they’re so active, Border Collies’ joints have to put up with a lot of punishment. To avoid joint issues and arthritis in later years, it is a good idea to choose foods that either naturally contain glucosamine and chondroitin, or those that are fortified with these supplements, as they can help keep the joints healthy.
Is it good for their coat? Collies have a gorgeous thick coat but they do shed a lot! You can help keep your pooch’s coat healthy and shiny and minimize shedding by feeding them a diet rich in essential fatty acids, including omega-3s and omega-6s. These are found in ingredients such as fish (salmon especially), fish oil, and flaxseed.
Border Collies are highly intelligent and active dogs who need a lot of physical and mental stimulation to remain happy and healthy. Their diet is a big part of this so it is vital that you understand their nutritional needs. Here are the basics.
Overall calorie intake
This needs to be carefully worked out for your individual dog depending on their age, size, activity levels and lifestyle. Your vet will be able to give you an ideal weight that you should be aiming for and will advise on calorie intake to maintain that weight. Tailoring your pup’s diet to fit their specific needs may take some trial and error, but don’t give up. Border Collies will not self-regulate their diet and most will just carry on eating whenever there’s food available!
As a very rough guide, you could expect senior and less active dogs to need around 700 calories per day but an active dog that loves long walks and extended play sessions could need 1,000 calories per day. A Border collie that is actively working as a herding dog could need as much as 1,400 calories per day.
Because they are very active dogs, Collies need a lot of high-quality protein to build strong muscle. This is essential for an active lifestyle and especially important for a working dog. High-quality sources of protein from lean meat and fish are the best options.
Glucosamine and chondroitin
Working dogs place a lot of strain on their joints because they are running and leaping around so much. These two supplements are essential for healthy cartilage and joints. They can be found in food naturally as part of meat meals but they can also be added as a supplement. Look out for them on the nutrients list.
Calcium is essential for building strong bones and needs to be matched with phosphorous levels in the body. It is essential for active dogs but the levels of calcium in a pup’s diet need to be carefully controlled. Look out for food that is specifically crafted for active dogs.
These are essential to provide energy for an active lifestyle but they must be provided by healthy sources. Look for ingredients such as whole grains, legumes and antioxidant-rich veggies and fruits for carbohydrate sources as they’re also packed with fiber and will help regulate blood sugar levels.
Omega oils and vitamins
Border Collies do shed quite a bit and anything that helps minimize this is a good idea. Consider buying dog foods that contain chicken fat as it’s rich in omega-6 fatty acids, but more importantly, fish and salmon oil, flaxseed and flaxseed oil as these are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which besides being excellent for skin and coat health, are also important for a strong immune system.
Ingredients to Avoid Feeding Your Border Collie
Border Collies are a fairly tolerant breed when it comes to diet but there are still certain ingredients that you may want to avoid feeding them.
Cheap fillers. These are usually simple carbohydrates that offer little in terms of nutrition and are just there to ‘bulk out’ the volume of the food and make it go further. They can add to obesity problems. Some refined grains, tapioca and potato can be examples. That said, simple and refined carbs can actually be a good choice if your Collie has sensitive digestion.
Protein source. When it comes to dog food, not all proteins are equal! Chicken by-product meals are probably the cheapest source of protein but most are of poor-quality and will not provide all the amino acids that your dog needs. High-quality meat from lamb, chicken, game or fish is preferable.
Allergy triggers. Some dogs suffer from food intolerances and allergies which can cause digestive or skin problems. The common culprits are corn, wheat and soy so these are excluded from many recipes, however, some pups may be sensitive to common protein sources such as chicken and fish, so it’s always best to talk to your vet if you suspect your Collie has food intolerances or full-blown allergies.
Artificial additives. The highest quality recipes are based on natural ingredients and try to match the formulation with the diet of a wild dog. Therefore, it is best to avoid artificial flavors and preservatives because they are not necessary and may even trigger reactions in sensitive canines.
Potential Border Collie Health Problems
You can expect your Border Collie to live anywhere between 10 and 14 years and to enjoy remarkably good health provided they have a suitable diet and plenty of exercise. However, as with all breeds, they can suffer from some minor health problems.
Here are some of the more common.
Progressive retinal atrophy – a degenerative condition affecting the eyesight which can lead to blindness.
Osteochondritis dissecans – a joint disorder that causes articular cartilage to crack and the joint to swell and lock into position.
Lens luxation – a condition where the lens of the eye shifts out of place.
Hypothyroidism – insufficient thyroid hormone which can cause obesity and a brittle coat.
Collie eye anomaly (CEA) – an inherited eye disease that can cause partial or complete blindness.
One characteristic of the Border Collie breed is that they will not self-regulate their food intake: if you keep feeding them, they will carry on eating! This will inevitably lead to obesity and all the associated health problems, such as diabetes and joint problems. Left to their own devices, a Border Collie will easily eat their whole day’s allocation of food in just 15 minutes. Therefore, a strict feeding routine is vital.
So, how much food should a Border Collie eat? Speak to your vet about the total calories your dog needs and then stick to what they prescribe. Monitor your dog’s weight and make adjustments if needed. Border Collie pups need to be fed twice a day but this should be continued into adulthood. One meal a day is not going to suit this breed,no matter how rich. In fact, some owners find that their pets do better on three meals a day – this depends on how active your dog is. Finally, remember that food treats given as rewards for training need to be subtracted from the overall daily calorie allowance.
Our Top Pick
While all dog foods featured on our Best List are fantastic recipes, our top pick has to be Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Dry Dog Food. This is a nicely balanced formula that is rich in top-quality protein and contains plenty of healthy fats, plus some fiber- and antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies, making it an ideal Border Collie food for both indoor and outdoor pets. As a bonus, the recipe is supplemented with probiotics for healthy digestion, which means it’s suitable even for sensitive canines.
Sharon is a Ph.D. scientist and experienced pet content writer. As a life-long animal lover, she now shares her family home with three rabbits, a Syrian hamster, and a Cockapoo puppy. She has a passion for researching accurate and credible information about pets and turning it into easy-to-understand articles that offer practical tips. When it comes to our furry friends, she knows that there is always something new to learn!