The Best Dog Food for Border Collies (Review & Buying Guide) in 2019

Border Collies are highly intelligent and very active dogs. They hate a sedentary lifestyle and do best when they are either a working dog or when they live with a family that loves long walks in the country. They need a lot of exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. They also need the right food to support their particular health needs.

Food for a Border Collie must be packed with high-quality protein to help build strong muscle, it must have fats and healthy carbohydrates to give them loads of energy and stamina and micronutrients to support overall health. You also need to carefully control their calorie intake because they will not do this for themselves and will just carry on eating!

Border Collies need a food that will provide a balanced diet for medium-sized breeds and that will help them to maintain their active lifestyle. To help you make the right decision for your dog, here is our guide to the best dog food for Border Collies.

best dog food for border collies
Taste of the Wild Grain Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Grain Free Dry Dog Food

ACANA Grasslands Dog Food

ACANA Grasslands Dog Food

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

Best Dog Food for Border Collies Buying Guide & FAQ

What to Look for When Buying Dog Food for Border Collies

Border Collies are considered to be a medium-sized breed who can happily live on dry or wet food. However, they are known for being extremely active dogs who need a high-quality diet to fuel all that activity. Here are some of the things you should consider when looking for the best dog food for Border Collies.

  • Will it provide plenty of energy? The calorie content is important because Border Collies need a lot of energy. Check with your vet to find out how many calories your dog needs each day.
  • Has it got a lot of protein? Look at the crude protein content of the food. This will give you an idea of how much protein it will provide. Proteins provide amino acids which the body uses to build healthy muscle and an active breed like the Border Collie needs a lot of muscle!
  • What are the carbohydrates? All dog food will have some sort of carbohydrates which are needed for energy. Border Collies need high quality sources because they use up a lot of energy. Look for peas and sweet potatoes amongst the ingredients.
  • Will it support joint health? Border Collies’ joints have to put up with a lot of punishment. To avoid arthritis in later years, it is a good idea to choose foods that have plenty of glucosamine and chondroitin which will keep the joints healthy.
  • Is it good for their coat? Collies have a gorgeous thick coat but it does shed! You can keep it healthy and minimize shedding by feeding them a diet rich in omega oils. These are found in ingredients such as fish and flaxseed.

Nutritional Needs of Border Collies

Border Collies are highly intelligent and very active dogs who need a lot of physical and mental stimulation to keep them 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. It may take some trial and error. Many Border Collies will not self-regulate their diet and will just carry on eating!

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.

  • Protein

Because they are very active dogs, they 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 option.

  • 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. It may be found in food naturally as part of meat meals or it may be added as a supplement. Look out for them on the nutrients list.

  • Calcium

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 suitable for pups.

  • Carbohydrates and fat

These are essential to provide energy for an active lifestyle but they must be provided by healthy sources. Look for ingredients such as sweet potato and peas which provide both carbohydrates and other nutrients.

  • Omega oils and vitamins

Border Collies do shed their coat and anything that reduces this has got to be a good idea. They need omega oils in their diet to keep their skin and coat healthy.

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 it would be best to avoid.

  • Cheap fillers. These are usually 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 grains, tapioca and potato can be examples.
  • Protein source. When it comes to dog food, not all proteins are equal! Chicken by-product meals are probably the cheapest source of protein in dog food but the protein is 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.
  • All dogs need carbohydrates but not too many and not the wrong type. Cheaper carbohydrates, such as grains, are not easy for all dogs to digest and are best avoided. Preferable alternatives are pumpkin, rice and sweet potato.
  • Allergy triggers. Some dogs suffer from food allergies which can cause digestive or skin problems. The common culprits are corn, wheat and soy so these are excluded from many recipes.
  • Artificial additives. The highest quality dog food 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 can trigger reactions and are not necessary.

border collie eating food

Potential Border Collie Health Problems

You can expect your Border Collie to live for 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 – is a joint disorder that causes articular cartilage to crack and the joint swells and locks 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.
  • Canine hip dysplasia – a malformation of the hip joint.
  • Border collie weight issues – make sure you know what your Border Collie average weight should be because many will overeat and will become obese.

How to Feed a Border Collie

One characteristic of the Border Collie breed is that they will not self-regulate their food intake. Therefore, if you keep feeding them, they will carry on eating! This will inevitably lead to obesity and all the associated health 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 it. Monitor their 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. In fact, some owners find that they do better on three meals a day. Remember that food treats given as rewards for training need to be subtracted from the overall daily calorie allowance. It may be best to use a game or a toy instead.

Our Top Pick

Our top pick of the best dog food for Border Collies has loads (25 percent) of protein provided by salmon and fish meal. There are also omega oils and everything your Border Collie needs for a healthy digestion including live cultures and prebiotic fiber.

The recipe has no eggs or grains but is packed with superfoods such as sweet potatoes, blueberries and raspberries.


  1. Border Collie Dog – Pet MD
  2. Border Collie – American Kennel Club
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