Top-Rated Dog Food For Border Collies
The Ultimate Border Collie Food Buyer’s Guide
Developed from landrace collie dogs found throughout Britain, the Border Collie was bred in Scotland and northern England to herd sheep and other stock. Border Collies are often considered the most intelligent of all breeds. They excel in many dog sports such as obedience, agility, rally, flyball, and other events.
Many Border Collies are still used for herding today and they compete in sheepdog trials. They can make very good pets but they often have an intense work drive and need a job. They may not be the best dog for a first-time dog owner. Some Border Collies are probably smarter than their owners. They are definitely a breed that that requires mental challenges and training to be happy. They don’t enjoy lying around at home with nothing to do. Border Collies love to play and have lots of energy. They can become destructive at home if they don’t have work to keep them busy. They usually get along well with children but may try to herd them – along with any household pets you may have.
Like many other herding breeds, Border Collies can have a tendency to bark, so they may not be the best choice if you have neighbors who live nearby. Border Collies were recognized by the AKC in 1995. Today they are the 38th most popular breed in the United States.
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Border Collie Diet & Nutrition
Border Collie males typically stand about 19-22 inches tall; females usually stand about 18-21 inches tall. Males usually weigh about 30-45 pounds and females weigh slightly less (27-42 pounds). Dogs can have a rough or smooth coat though people are probably more familiar with Border Collies with the medium-long rough coat. Many Border Collies are black and white but they can come in lots of colors and patterns.
As mentioned in the introduction, Border Collies tend to be very active dogs. They like to have a purpose and want something to do. Many of them have an intense drive, especially if they come from working bloodlines. You will need to take this activity level into consideration when determining how many calories your Border Collie needs.
Growing puppies and young adults use a lot of energy. They require a diet that features good quality protein. According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, an active adult Border Collie weighing 40 pounds requires an average daily caloric intake of 1109 calories. Dogs that have been spayed/neutered, or that are older, may need slightly fewer calories. Some dogs may need more calories depending on their level of activity and their individual metabolism. Growing puppies, for example, consume more calories than adult dogs and so do young adult dogs. A Border Collie puppy weighing 20 pounds needs an estimated 733 calories per day.
Feeding Your Border Collie
Border Collies are considered a medium-size breed. Adults can generally eat most good quality dog foods. They don’t require a small breed or large breed food. If your dog has allergies or food sensitivities you may have to look for a special diet but otherwise you should have a wide variety of foods from which to choose. They can eat foods with or without grain – that choice is up to you.
As always, we recommend that you choose a food with good quality nutrition and good sources of protein. Experts usually recommend that you choose a food that has two or three meat protein sources listed in the first five ingredients. (Ingredients on a dog food label are listed in order of weight before cooking so there are more of the first few ingredients in the food.) It’s also a good idea to select a food that has fewer carbohydrates. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t necessarily mean grain free. Many grain free dog foods are loaded with carbs. Potatoes and sweet potatoes, for example, can send carb percentages very high. And some dog foods with grains have modest amounts of carbohydrates.
For medium and larger size dogs, it’s usually easier on the pocketbook to feed kibble instead of canned food. Kibble costs less per ounce than canned food. Canned food can have more protein than kibble but some dry dog foods today have very high percentages of meat protein. They can also be very expensive. Again, some of these things are personal choices that you have to make for yourself depending on your budget. You can find very good kibbles with good meat protein for reasonable prices, especially if you order online from sites like Chewy.com. We always recommend that you figure the dry matter basis for the foods you are considering, whether they are canned or kibble, so you can make a good comparison of the protein, fat, fiber, carbs, and other nutrients.
We also suggest that you measure the amount of food you feed your dog instead of free feeding. Free feeding – or leaving the food sitting out all day – tends to encourage dogs to overeat which can lead to obesity. Even active dogs like Border Collies can become overweight. Most adult dogs do well eating two meals per day. Puppies usually do well eating three meals per day until they are old enough to switch to an adult schedule.
Theoretically, when you buy and feed better quality dog food you feed your dog less food. Unfortunately, we do not find that to always be the case. If you are used to feeding two scoops of the old food, for example, you may continue to dish out two scoops of the new ultra super max premium dog food – which has double the calories. And your dog happily eats all the food. Next thing you know, Rex is the size of a Thanksgiving Day float. If you are switching foods, make sure you check the label and see how many calories the food has. Have a good idea how much food you need to feed so you don’t accidentally overfeed your dog.
If you are still uncertain about what to feed your Border Collie, we recommend checking with your dog’s breeder. We also like the site DogAware.com.
And, of course, keep plenty of fresh water available for your dog at all times.
Border Collie Health Problems
Like all dogs, Border Collies can experience some health problems. The most serious problems found in Border Collies are hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and Collie eye anomaly (CEA). These health problems are genetic though not necessarily easy to avoid. At least health testing and careful breeding can reduce the likelihood of producing affected dogs but it doesn’t always guarantee it.
The Border Collie Society of America, the AKC parent club for the breed, recommends that dogs considered for breeding have the following health tests:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Eye Examination by a boarded ACVO Ophthalmologist, recommended annually until age 7
- DNA Repository
- Elbow Dysplasia (Optional)
- Shoulders (Optional)
- Autoimmune thyroiditis (Optional)
- Congenital Deafness (Optional)
- Congenital Cardiac Database (Optional)
- Collie Eye Anomaly (Optional)
- Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (Optional)
- Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (Optional)
You will notice that some of these tests are optional but they refer to conditions that can occur in the breed, even if only rarely.
Border Collies are reported to live, on average, around 12 years but it’s not uncommon for them to live much longer.
Along with good breeding practices, health testing, and good vet care, many dog lovers try to keep their dogs healthy by feeding dog food that has more natural ingredients. There is a belief that this can helps keep a dog’s immune system stronger. Many people recommend feeding a food that is free of some of the most common food irritants such as corn, soy, and wheat. These are not the most common dog food allergens – beef, dairy products, and chicken, for example, lead to more food allergies for dogs than corn, soy, and wheat. But many people like to avoid soy and grains in dog foods. There are many good grain free dog foods today if you want to feed one to your dog. Avoiding artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives is also suggested as a way to help keep the immune system stronger.
Ingredients to Look for and Some to Avoid
Protein and fat are the main ingredients in the diet for the Border Collies, as they are for most dogs. However, not all proteins and fats are the same. It’s important that the protein and fat in the dog food comes from good sources if you want your dog to be healthy.
Ideally you will select a dog food that features two or three meat proteins in the first several ingredients listed. Both whole meats and meat meals are good sources of protein. Whole meats refer to foods such as whole chicken, beef, fish, and lamb. Some people don’t like meat meals as much as whole meats but they are a concentrated form of the meat in which the moisture has been removed. They contain several times as much protein as a whole meat. Meat meals are usually quite acceptable as one of the first ingredients in a good quality dog food. They are used by many good dog food brands. “Meat meal” is not the same thing as a named meal such as chicken meal. These terms have specific meanings according to AAFCO which determines what they are allowed to contain. If you are in doubt about what a term means, you can always check the AAFCO meaning – though be warned that AAFCO definitions make everything sound pretty awful.
Dogs also need good sources of fat. You should look for named fat sources such as chicken fat. Other named fats also provide needed nutrients such as fish oil which can provide omega-3 fatty acid to help keep the skin and coat healthy. Puppies can benefit from DHA which is Docosahexaenoic acid. This is a specific form of omega-3 fatty acid that helps with brain and eye development. Older dogs seem to benefit from medium chain triglycerides which feature medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). These have been found to help older dogs feel and act younger. They are often made from a combination of coconut oil and other oils.
If you want to avoid corn, soy, and wheat in your dog food, your Border Collie may still be able to eat rice, barley, oats, or some other grain or cereal. Oats and barley, for example, can be good sources of dietary fiber. Or you can feed a grain free dog food that uses an alternate source of carbs such as sweet potatoes. You don’t have to feed a dog food with an excessively high percentage of protein but it’s a good idea to keep the carb percentage low to moderate.
If you would like to get some idea of what it’s like to make kibble, we suggest getting a good cookbook for dogs and spending a few hours making various dog food treats and cookies. Use different flours and other ingredients. Avoid ingredients you don’t want your dogs to eat. Try to make low carb cookies. Try to make cookies and use substitute ingredients. After you have tried a few recipes and found how things work (and don’t work) when you cook using even the best quality ingredients, it can give you a new appreciation for dog food.
Recommended Dog Food For An Adult Border Collie
Every dog is an individual. Even dogs in the same breed can have different food needs. Some dogs need more calories than others. Some dogs will do better with more protein or fat than other dogs.
We think that most Border Collies are active dogs but we are still recommeding a variety of foods here. Some have grains and some don’t. We have selected foods without corn, wheat, and soy unless otherwise noted. You may have to try a couple of foods to find which one is best for your dog. You should also keep in mind that your dog’s diet needs can change as he grows and ages so you may have to change foods to accommodate him.
Best Dog Foods for Border Collie Adults
We have heard great things about Victor dog food from lots of people. Victor is made by Mid America Pet Food – a company that co-packs for some other well-known brands. Mid America is a family-owned and operated company located in east Texas. According to the company, more than 80 percent of the ingredients used in their foods come from a 200-mile radius of their facility. They currently have six highly active and sporting dog formulas; five formulas for normally active dogs; and five grain free formulas. All of their foods are free of corn, wheat, soy, gluten, and grain by-products. They use no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The Yukon River Salmon formula has 32 percent crude protein, 15 percent crude fat, and 34 percent crude carbs. Seventy-six percent of the protein in the food comes from fish. We think that active Border Collies would do well on this food. Or you could check out one of Victor’s other foods. Many of them get raves from the people who feed them.
We found this food when we were looking at bestsellers on Chewy.com. It looks like people have identified a really nice food from Merrick. The first five ingredients in this food are Deboned Beef, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, and Potatoes. This recipe is an all life stage food with 422 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated). It has 70 percent meat ingredients, 30 percent vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. It is grain free – no corn, soy, or wheat. No gluten. No poultry by-products, no artificial preservatives. No ingredients from China. It has 38 percent crude protein and 15 percent crude fat, with 3.5 percent crude fiber. It also has glucosamine and chondroitin added, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Merrick uses local growers from Texas, where the food is made. We think this is good quality protein and other ingredients for Border Collies that need good nutrition for an active lifestyle.
Lest you think we only like grain free dog foods, we also really like Fromm Family Foods, especially their Gold and Four-Star product lines. Their Adult Gold formula has duck, chicken meal, and chicken as the first three ingredients. It has 24 percent crude protein and 16 percent crude fat, and 3.5 percent crude fiber, with 408 kcal/cup. It is AAFCO-approved for growth and maintenance. The food includes salmon oil – a great source of omega-3 fatty acid for healthy skin and coat; probiotics, and prebiotics. No corn, wheat, or soy. The food is also made at the family’s own facilities in Wisconsin. The Fromm family has been making dog food and dog products for over 100 years and they have a great reputation. The food includes brown rice and pearled barley in the first five ingredients. It also contains oatmeal and potatoes so if you are trying to keep the carbs very low you may not like this food. However, we think the ingredients are good quality and many dogs will do well on this food.
Best Dog Foods for Border Collie Puppies
Border Collie puppies can usually begin eating a puppy food after they are weaned or they can eat a good all life stage food. Some people like to feed a puppy food for a few months and then switch over to an all life stage food when their puppy is a few months old. If you have questions about how to feed your puppy, we recommend talking to your puppy’s breeder. They often have the most experience with raising Border Collie puppies and can guide you, especially when it comes to avoiding hip dysplasia.
With all puppies – and especially breeds where hip dysplasia or other joint problems can be an issue, it’s important to pay attention to the calcium in the dog food. The recommended calcium to phosphorus ratio should be about 1.2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus, though there is some slight room for variation such as 1.5:1. Most puppy foods should have a calcium to phosphorus ratio in this neighborhood. It’s also important that dog and puppy foods do not have an excess (or deficiency) of calcium since this can affect bone growth. Do not supplement with any added calcium such as yogurt or other dairy products. Giving your puppy extra calcium can lead to bone problems later.
Here are some of the puppy foods we like for Border Collie puppies.
No question about it: this is an expensive food. However, it has a lot desirable points. No corn, no wheat, no soy. It’s grain free, gluten-free, GMO-free, and it’s considered a limited ingredient diet. It contains no by-products, tapioca, or potatoes. It’s specifically designed for small and medium breed puppies so it’s nutrient-dense. It has a single protein (dehydrated chicken) and carbohydrate source (split peas – though we aren’t sure if sun-cured alfalfa counts as a carbohydrate or not) and the meat is hormone-free, pesticide-free, and antibiotic-free. There’s more, but you get the idea. If you are trying to be very careful with your Border Collie puppy, then this LID holistic puppy food from Canine Caviar is definitely a food you may want to consider. Canine Caviar also has several other formulas so you can rotate the proteins. Seriously, this food is so holistic we don’t even know what some of the stuff means, but we are impressed with it. For example, who knew that dog food could be alkaline? We’re still trying to figure out how lemons can be alkaline.
Annamaet Ultra is an All Life Stage formula that is suitable for puppies as well as performance dogs. It has 32 percent crude protein and 20 percent crude fat. The calcium to phosphorus ratio makes it a good fit for growing puppies. It comes in at 480 kcal/cup. The first ingredient is chicken meal, followed by brown rice, and chicken fat preserved with mixed tocopherols in the form of Vitamin E. Annamaet uses algae as a source of omega-3 fatty acid for good skin and coat, and healthy heart development. The food also contains DHA for good brain development. It also features chelated minerals so they are more easily digested. The chicken is raised free of antibiotics. Since this is an All Life Stage food, you can go on feeding it as your puppy gets older and becomes an adult. People who feed this food seem to love it. There are several other Annamaet formulas and we have started liking them more and more.
Castor & Pollux also has a good puppy food. The first ingredient is organic free-range chicken. No corn, wheat, or soy. Organic ingredients are produced without chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, artificial preservatives, added growth hormones or antibiotics.
Best Dog Foods for the Senior Border Collie
It’s not unusual for many medium-sized dogs like Border Collies to live into their teen years. This means that you will probably need to consider what kind of food to feed your Border Collie as he gets older. You should plan an annual senior check-up with your vet. Many older dogs begin to put on pounds as they become less active. For this reason, most senior dog foods have fewer calories and they can skimp on protein. You should watch your older dog’s weight as he gets older to make sure he doesn’t become overweight. In some cases you can simply cut back on the portions of his regular dog food to help him stay fit or increase his exercise.
On the other hand, very old dogs often start to have some problems metabolizing nutrients, including protein. It can become hard for them to keep good muscle tone and weight as they age. For this reason, you may wish to avoid many dog foods labeled “senior.” These foods are often formulated for older dogs that have gained weight. Instead, look for a senior dog food that we like which has lots of protein. As long as your older dog doesn’t have any problems with his kidneys or with phosphorus, there is no reason to avoid higher protein levels.
Orijen Senior provides plenty of excellent quality protein for your older medium-sized dog. This food features free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and nest-laid eggs. It helps keep older dogs in good muscle even as they become less active. Made of 80 percent meats and fish, the food is low-glycemic and has low carbs to help keep your older dog’s blood sugar steady. The food also contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to keep your dog’s joints healthy. The food is 38 percent crude protein and 15 percent crude fat. It checks in at 445 kcal per 250ml/120g cup. We think this is a very good food for senior dogs who often need extra protein as they get older.
Another food you may want to consider for older dogs is Weruva’s Caloric Harmony Venison and Salmon Meal Dinner with Pumpkin. This food (and several others in this product line) is potato-free with no corn or wheat, easy to digest, and low-glycemic. It contains pumpkin and oatmeal for healthy gut motility. Meat protein comes from grass-fed venison and the food also features salmon meal and herring meal. The dry matter basis for this food is an estimated 37.8 percent protein;14.4 percent fat; 3.9 percent fiber; and 35 percent carbs. The calorie count (calculated) is Metabolizable Energy (ME) 3320 kcal/kg; 348 kcal/cup. Those look like good figures for senior dogs who need more protein without extra fat.
Best Dog Foods for Border Collies with Skin Problems/Allergies
Any dog can have skin problems due to allergies. If your dog is having skin trouble, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet and get a diagnosis. This can ultimately save you a lot of money – and help your dog. You don’t want to keep buying expensive dog foods thinking your dog has a food allergy if he really has a problem that’s not food-related.
If your dog’s skin problems are food allergies, here is a food we think might help. It is free of ingredients that commonly result in allergic reactions.
Any dog suffering from skin problems or food allergies may benefit from Wild Calling!’s Xotic Essentials recipes. Formulas like their rabbit meal recipe use exotic meats that are rare in today’s pet food market so your dog hasn’t eaten them before – less chance of having an allergic reaction. The foods are also highly digestible. Wild Calling! also uses what they call LITe (limited ingredient technology). They don’t use any of the ingredients commonly found in most dog foods such as chicken, grain, gluten, egg, yeast, corn, wheat or soy. The foods are formulated for rotational feeding and they offer several Xotic Essentials recipes, such as kangaroo and bison, so your dog doesn’t get over-exposed to one kind of meat protein. This is an All Life Stage food. We think that dogs with skin problems and food allergies can definitely benefit from these recipes. (Note that it is no longer possible to buy products containing kangaroo ingredients in California as of January 2017. We have heard that the California assembly may reconsider this law. The Australian government is working to try to have the ban lifted.)
Best Dog Foods for Border Collies with Sensitive Stomachs
Some dogs are susceptible to food sensitivities that affect their digestive tract. If your Border Collie has a sensitive stomach it can be an indication of a food sensitivity, which is different form a food allergy. A dog with a food sensitivity will have gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea. Or it could be something more serious.
A dog with a sensitive stomach can often be helped by feeding the right dog food. Sticking to a limited ingredient diet food with as few ingredients as possible can reduce the chance of your dog having a bad reaction to something in the food.
If your Border Collie can eat potatoes, we recommend Natural Balance L.I.D. Potato & Duck Formula Dry Dog Food. This food is grain free with limited ingredients. It has good quality, alternative ingredients that are easily digestible for a dog with a sensitive stomach. And it contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Natural Balance has several L.I.D. foods so you can check them out to see if one would help your dog.
Best Dog Foods for Overweight Border Collies
We don’t see a lot of overweight Border Collies because they seem to manage to stay busy, but if your dog does become overweight, it may be due to overfeeding and not enough exercise. You can help your dog lose weight by cutting back on his portions and encouraging him to get more exercise.
If your dog needs to lose more than a couple of pounds, however, you may need to consider a weight control dog food.
We do not recommend a weight control dog food for a puppy or a very old dog. These foods generally have fewer calories and may have some other differences in nutrients that make them inappropriate for growing puppies or older dogs who need special nutrition.
If you have a dog that needs to lose weight we recommend Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe. We like the fact that this food has 32 percent crude protein. The crude fat percentage is between 8 and 11 percent with 5 percent crude fiber so your dog should not feel like he’s starving. It is AAFCO-approved for a maintenance diet. The food has 3,210 kcal per kilogram or 360 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated). It is grain free and made from 55 percent beef and poultry. And it contains no corn, wheat, or soy and no ingredients from China.
If your dog needs to lose weight, you should proceed slowly. No crash dieting. You should aim for your dog to lose no more than 3 to 5 percent of his body weight per month or about one percent each week.
Border Collies are the great over-achievers of the dog world. There’s a joke about how many Border Collies it takes to change a light bulb: “Just one. And I’ll replace any wiring that’s not up to code.” A dog like that has to have a good diet. We hope the information here helps you keep your Border Collie healthy and happy while he’s herding, doing agility, training your kids, and probably painting your house and fixing your roof. These dogs do it all.
Below is a list of Products reviewed in this article
- *New* ACANA Grasslands Regional Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- Victor Yukon River Salmon & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food
- Fromm Adult Gold Dog Food
- Canine Caviar Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy Holistic Entrée Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- Annamaet Ultra Formula
- Orijen Senior Dog
- Weruva’s Caloric Harmony Venison and Salmon Meal Dinner
- Wild Calling! Xotic Essentials Rabbit Meal Recipe
- Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Potato & Duck Formula Dry Dog Food
- Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe