What is the Best Dog Food for Border Collies?

Updated: March 4, 2023

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border collie

Border Collies are a lively and rambunctious breed. They were originally bred as work dogs. Originating in Scotland and northern England, these energetic dogs were used for herding livestock.

Modern Border Collies are still used on farms around the world, but they also make great house pets. However, they do require a lot of attention. Their impressive mental capabilities and constant need to get exercise require special care.

It's important to feed Border Collies correctly to promote proper health and prevent potential behavioral issues.

Best Dog Food for Border Collies - Our Top 5

1. CANIDAE Life Stages Dry Dog Food for Puppies, Adults, & Seniors - Best overal option for Border Collies

CANIDAE All Life Stages Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, and Fish Meal Formula Dry Dog Food

This versatile dog food from Canidae is designed for any dog of any age and breed. It contains a number of nutrients and vitamins that can benefit any dog.

The main sources of protein include chicken meal, turkey meal, lamb meal, and fish meal. They provide amino acids to build and maintain muscles.

It's free of corn, wheat, and soy. Instead, it utilizes healthy brown rice with peas and papaya as carbohydrates. These superior alternatives help produce energy to keep dogs active.

Effective probiotics are added to help with digestion while the numerous antioxidants work to keep the immune system strong. It's free of any artificial colors and flavors, making it a safe option for a large range of dogs.

  • Universally superb choice that can benefit Border Collies through all life stages
  • Nutritionally dense formula with approximately 506 calories per cup
  • Multiple high-quality protein sources, including chicken, turkey, lamb, and fish meals
  •  Fortified with probiotics for gut health and antioxidants for heart health
  • Higher price could be out of reach for some

Kibble shape

Canidae All Life Stages Premium Dry Dog Food kibble size

Minimal Nutritional Requirements for Adult Border Collies:

  • Protein: 20 %
  • Fat: 5%
  • Fiber for digestion: 1-5 %

This Food

  • Protein: 24%
  • Fat: 10%
  • Fiber: 4.5% max

Overal Score for Adult Border Collies

2. Annamaet 32% Ultra Dog Food - Best for Active Border Collies

Annamaet 32% Ultra Dog Food - 20 lb

If you're looking for a protein-rich formula that's designed for working dogs, this option may be for you. 32% of the calories come from the protein. The main sources of protein include chicken meal and fish meal from herring. 

As a carbohydrate, the dog food utilizes brown rice. Algae is used as a source of Omega 3 fatty acids to keep the skin healthy. 

The dog food also contains proteinated minerals. They make the protein sources more effective in developing lean muscle mass while also improving the immune system to help fight off harmful diseases.

It's a fairly simple formula that contains impactful ingredients that can enhance a Border Collie's overall health.

  • Higher protein content encourages muscle growth and continued maintenance
  • Chelated minerals support muscle mass and improve the immune system
  • Includes a supply of prebiotics and probiotics to support gastrointestinal health
  • Infused with L-Carnitine for improved cognitive function, faster metabolism, and lean muscle mass
  • Dogs may experience stomach upsets as they transition to this dog food

Kibble shape

Annamaet Original Ultra Formula Dry Dog Food kibble shape

Minimal Nutritional Requirements for Active Border Collies:

  • Protein: 24 %
  • Fat: 6%
  • Fiber for digestion: 1-5 %

This Food

  • Protein: 32%
  • Fat: 20%
  • Fiber: 3% max

Overal Score for Active Border Collies

3. Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food - Best for Puppies

Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Large Breed

Purina's high-quality offering contains a number of ingredients that can directly benefit Border Collies. Designed to improve focus, it contains DHA from fish oil that helps stimulate the brain and improve vision.

The fish oil also contains antioxidants and omega fatty acids to keep the dog looking their best.

Glucosamine is incorporated through natural ingredients like poultry meal and fish meal. It can help keep the joints and cartilage in good condition. There's also calcium to strengthen the bones and teeth.

Chicken meal is used as the main protein source while rice is used as the primary carbohydrate. This particular formula is designed to provide a complete and balanced diet with a great fat to protein ratio for active dogs.

  • Fortified with ingredients like DHA to support healthy brain, eye, and central nervous system development
  • Includes a healthy ratio of calcium and phosphorous, promoting strong teeth and bones
  • Good source of antioxidants for a stronger immune system
  • The formula is fine-tuned for active dogs needing a balanced diet and plenty of energy
  • Contains cheaper ingredients like corn and by-product meal

Kibble shape

Purina Pro Plan High Protein Chicken & Rice Formula Large Breed Dry Puppy Food kibble shape

Overal Score for Border Collie Puppies

4. Merrick Grain Free Recipe Dry Dog Food

Merrick Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Chicken-Free Adult Dry Dog Food

Upwards of 70% of the ingredients in this dog food from Merrick are derived from meat. The remaining 30% comes from fresh produce, resulting in a natural and healthy meal for Border Collies.

The main protein source is deboned beef.

It makes up 38% of the formula. It also contains a high amount of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids to enhance the dog's coat. 

These are introduced with salmon and flaxseed oil. Various antioxidants and nutrients are offered through fresh blueberries, peas, and other produce.

There's no harmful grain in this formula. Instead, the carbohydrates come from potatoes. The inclusion of beneficial glucosamine helps to prevent joint issues as the dog ages.

  • Varied protein sources, including beef, lamb, and salmon, provide a healthy array of amino acids
  • Higher fiber content promotes more regularity
  • Omega fatty acids from flaxseed, sunflower, and salmon oil, support cardiovascular health and improve skin condition
  • Doesn't contain grains or poultry
  • High price tag could make this formula a difficult long-term investment for some dog owners
  • Some pickier Border Collies might not enjoy the taste

Kibble shape

Merrick Grain Free with Real Meat + Sweet Potato kibble shape and size

Overal Score for Adult Border Collies

5. Acana Regionals Grasslands Dry Dog Food

ACANA Grasslands Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

This grain-free dog food from Orijen Acana is a great option for Border Collies because of its abundant protein and low carbohydrate levels. The formula contains natural lamb, eggs, duck, quail, and trout as its protein sources.

34% of the food's calories come from protein. This variety of sources supports lean muscles and better overall health.

The ingredients in this dog food are limited to high-quality essentials. Fast carbohydrates are replaced with nutrient-rich vegetables for optimal health. They make up 24% of the formula.

The unique alternative to substandard kibble is made daily with fresh and raw ingredients. This helps to limit processing, resulting in a product that's as natural and fresh as possible.

  • Filled with high-quality novel proteins, making it a suitable choice for dogs with intolerances or pickier eating habits
  • Organs like liver, cartilage, and tripe offer a boost of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients
  • Uses highly digestible carbohydrate sources for decreased stomach upsets and more regularity
  • Flavorful coating to appeal to picky eaters
  • Higher price tag due to premium ingredients

Overal Score for Adult Border Collies

How Much Food Do They Need?

Because they're so active, these dogs need a considerably higher caloric intake per day compared to other breeds. Adult Border Collies tend to have a high metabolism.

They need an ample supply of food to replenish their energy and provide enough fuel for the day.

These dogs aren't lazy by any means. Even older dogs are known to be quite active and always ready to expend their energy. When figuring out how much to feed a Border Collie, food should always be measured with calories.

Border collie with food tray

Typical adult dogs will need upwards of 1,000 calories per day to thrive. This is just a ballpark number to consider, as every dog is different.

1,000 calories should be suitable for the average active adult dog.

Dogs that are highly active or perform work regularly will need more calories per day.

On the higher end, they should be consuming roughly 1,400 per day.

This will help maintain a healthy weight while providing working dogs with the energy they need to run around a farm and guide livestock.

As dogs get older, they won't require as many calories. While Border Collies are relatively active throughout their whole lives, owners can expect to see a decline in energy and activity as they age. 

Senior dogs will only need approximately 700 calories a day. It's important to monitor their behavior as they get older to prevent over-eating and weight gain.

Active/Border Collie Puppies
Avarage Adult
Older Dogs
1400 Cal
1000 Cal
700 Cal

How to Feed a Border Collie

These dogs fair well with two separate meals a day. While many owners may choose to feed a single large meal a day, it's recommended to split up their caloric intake into at least two separate meals. 

This helps to regulate their energy throughout the day, which is especially important for working dogs. Feeding a single meal in the morning or evening can cause dips in energy that affect their performance.

It's important to avoid free-feeding.

This method, which involves leaving food out at all times, can cause weight gain in Border Collies. Free-feeding is great for ensuring that dogs get all the nutrition they need, but dogs don't always stop when they're full.

Over-eating will lead to weight gain and obesity. This is true with all dog breeds, even active Border Collies. It's important to pre-measure meals accordingly.

Wet vs. Dry Food

Border Collies are a medium-sized breed, so they can easily consume a vast majority of food options on the market.

They're not limited to specific types or sizes of food. When it comes to choosing dry or wet food, it's all up to personal preference.

Dry kibble is generally more affordable and versatile in terms of formula. Modern dog food manufacturers can pack their formula with all the essential nutrients, making it easier to regulate what the dog consumes.

The same goes for wet food. However, wet food tends to have a higher percentage of protein, which is beneficial for the dog. It also tends to be more appetizing due to a higher fat content and strong flavor.

When trying to decide between wet or dry food for Border Collies, take the dog's preference and price into consideration.

Keys to a Balanced Diet

With their high metabolism and constant energy, it's important to feed Border Collies a diet that's designed to keep up with their needs.

While other calmer breeds can get away with a simple balanced diet, these dogs require food that's heavier on proteins and fat.


The more protein a dog food has, the better it is for a Border Collie.

Typically, standard dog food formulas contain approximately 25% protein. This essentially means that a quarter of the calories in the food come from protein sources.

With this active dog breed, it's recommended to go for adult or puppy food that has upwards of 50% protein.

Proteins contain essential amino acids that contribute to their overall health and development. Regardless of how active the dog is,

it's likely to have strong muscles that need a constant supply of protein to maintain. Failure to supply a high level of protein can lead to weakness and lethargy.

While substandard dog foods usually contain a single source of processed protein, it's a good idea to go with multiple high-quality sources.

The best food will contain at least 2 different sources.

They should come from natural and unprocessed sources. Cheaper foods usually go with meat byproducts, which doesn't provide the same benefits as a natural source.

Fruits and Vegetables

Just because they need a lot of meat doesn't mean that formulas should be free of natural fruits and vegetables.

As a source of essential nutrients and vitamins, they play an important role in achieving good overall health.

Depending on the particular brand and formula, dog foods can contain a bevy of different ingredients. A variety of different fruit and vegetable ingredients is recommended rather than a single source.

It's good to look out for beneficial fruits and vegetables. Those high in antioxidants and beneficial vitamins are best. These include raspberries, carrots, peas, and so much more.


Contrary to popular belief, not all fats are bad. In fact, they are essential for achieving a healthy coat of fur. Border Collies are known for their long distinct fur coats. The right types of fat will keep their skin healthy and help add luster to their coat.

Fats are also easy to digest and provide an added boost of energy.

Most dog foods contain some form of fat already.

It's often used to make the food more appealing for dogs. The source of the fat is what's important. Ideally, the fat will come from the protein source. his ensures that the fat is all natural and unprocessed.

Fats from fish meat are best because they are rich in Omega Fatty Acids. However, flaxseed and separate fish oils are also great.

Ingredients to Avoid


Border Collies are usually able to handle mediocre ingredients, but owners should still be weary.

One type of ingredient that should be kept to a minimum is carbohydrates.

Almost every dog food has some form of carbohydrate in it. They don't offer much in terms of nutrition to dogs, instead acting as a fuel for energy production.

The ingredient is cheaper, so it's not uncommon for dog foods to contain up to 70% carbohydrates. Border Collies can consume carbohydrates and remain healthy, but it's important to keep their intake as low as possible.

Some carbohydrates to avoid include corn, wheat, and soy. 

These ingredients can cause allergic reactions and upset stomachs. Look for healthy carbs like sweet potatoes and peas instead to take advantage of nutritional benefits.

Other types of ingredients that should be avoided are artificial colors and flavors.

These contribute nothing to the overall formula in terms of nutrition and health. Instead, they can actually cause irritation and weaken the immune system.

Look for foods that are naturally flavored with healthy fats like salmon oil instead.

Common Health Problems:

There are a few common health issues that can occur in Border Collies. These health problems are genetic, though a healthy diet can help alleviate symptoms.

Joint Problems

Because they're so active, joint issues are relatively common. Dogs will experience a lot of stress in their joints the more they work and play. As they get older, the stress can catch up to them, leading to significant pain.

Hip dysplasia is especially common with Border Collies and can require serious medical attention.

There are a couple of ingredients that can help with joint pain. Calcium can be found in numerous dog food formulas. It helps strengthen the bones over time.

Another ingredient, glucosamine, will help with the connective tissue. It keeps the cartilage in the joints healthy and stable if regularly consumed.

Diminishing Eyesight

border collie eyesight

It's not uncommon for dogs to lose their eyesight as they get older. Symptoms of the problem can arise at a fairly young age, resulting in total failure as a senior.

 In most cases, this genetic issue is unavoidable. However, certain vegetables can help improve vision.

Regular consumption of orange vegetables can help put off issues. These vegetables contain a number of nutrients that are proven to enhance vision in humans and animals, including Vitamin A and Beta Carotene.

Border Collie Dog Food FAQs

1. Are Border Collies prone to allergies?

Border Collies aren't any more susceptible to food sensitivities than any other breed. However, allergies do occur. Sometimes, intolerances develop as a dog ages, forcing you to change your pup's diet.

In most cases, allergies result in bloating, diarrhea, and relatively benign issues. Sensitivities can cause noticeable discomfort in your dog, eventually worsening. Fortunately, the vast array of dog food choices on the market today makes intolerances easy to accommodate.

The first step is figuring out what ingredient causes an adverse reaction. Chicken is a common culprit, but any other element in your dog's food can cause trouble. Once you pinpoint the issue, you can choose a food with better alternatives.

Limited ingredient formulas and recipes for canine allergy sufferers are plentiful. They usually cut out the extraneous ingredients and focus on novel proteins to avoid allergic reactions.

2. How do you transition a Border Collie to new dog food?

Transitioning to new dog food is something you should do slowly over time. When your pup eats only a single food source for several months or years, its system can have difficulty adjusting to something brand-new. As a result, sudden changes can cause extreme stomach discomfort, diarrhea, and other messy problems.

Start by replacing only a quarter of their daily meals with the new food. Mix the old and the new. Your dog will get a taste of the new formula, but it won't be so dramatic that they have difficulty digesting it.

After a week, bump the new-to-old ratio to 50 percent. Say on the 50/50 mix for another week before phasing out the old food. The third week should consist of 75 percent new and 25 percent old food. After about a month, you can ditch the old food entirely.

This slow process is easier on your dog's system and will make the transition much more manageable.

3. Can the same dog food serve my Border Collie throughout its life?

Finding the perfect food can feel like discovering a diamond in the rough. But don't get too attached! Your dog's needs will change several times throughout its life.

For example, you'll start with Border Collie puppy food before transitioning to a new adult formula. Then, you may have to change recipes based on your dog's body condition and health needs. Years later, you might need to opt for a senior formula!

Work with your vet for more guidance. A top-notch formula can serve your dog well for many years, but you should remember the information you learn here. When your dog's health and circumstances change, you'll likely have to look for something else while keeping the fundamentals in mind.

4. When can my Border Collie Start Eating adult dog food?

Puppy formulas contain many extras that growing dogs need. They usually contain a more precise mix of calcium and phosphorus, growth supplements for brain development, and more. Stick to puppy recipes until your dog is fully grown.

For Border Collies, that's usually around 15 months old. However, all dogs age differently. It can be anywhere between 12 to 24 months. Work with your vet to determine the best time to move on to a balanced adult dog food recipe.

5. Will I need to adjust my Border Collie's diet when it gets older?

You will need to adjust your dog's diet as they get older. It's about more than just changing formulas. You'll also have to consider your dog's aging body, physical activity, and overall body condition.

Dogs will slow down as they reach senior status. Sticking to the same food and calorie count will result in weight gain. Old dogs don't need as much fuel as spritely pups with all the energy in the world!

Meeting your dog's dietary needs is a lifelong process that requires regular adjustment. Once again, working with your vet is crucial. Keep an eye on your companion's health and adjust accordingly to meet their unique needs during all life stages.

6. Should I choose wet dog food or dry dog food?

Whether you provide dry or wet food is entirely up to you. Both options have merit. Dry food is more affordable and accessible. Meanwhile, canned food has higher protein content and plenty of flavors.

In all likelihood, you'll provide both during your dog's life. Many vets recommend sticking with dry kibble as a diet staple. Modern dog food manufacturers put considerable thought into kibble design, turning it into more than just food. It also scrubs your teeth clean, doing wonders to improve dental health.

That said, your Border Collie may need wet food to improve their appetite, avoid pain during dental issues, and more. It's always good to have good options for both dry and wet dog food.

7. What should I do if my dog isn't interested in their dog food?

Border Collies do have a reputation for being picky. That's not the case with all Border Collies, but food pickiness is prevalent with this breed.

If your dog isn't eating, the best thing you can do is improve the formula. High-quality dog foods contain better ingredients. As a result, they're usually more flavorful, enticing even the most selective dogs.

You can also consider mixing the kibble with wet food, broth, or dog food toppers.

Of course, it's always a good idea to speak with your vet if you feel that the appetite change results from potential medical issues. Sometimes, disease and dental pain are to blame.

8. My Border Collie eats too fast. Should I be worried?

This breed's excitable nature makes fast eating a real issue. When Border Collies scarf down food quickly, they often take in too much air. That can cause significant bloating, increasing the chances of your dog suffering from Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). GDV is a potentially fatal condition, so eating too fast is a behavior you should address.

Consider investing in a slow-feed bowl. These feeders contain large protrusions and maze-like patterns. The kibble slips into the grooves, forcing your dog to slow down and be more methodical as they eat.

9. Will treats affect my Border Collie's diet?

Who doesn't love giving their Border Collie treats? Treats are lovely to provide, but you must account for them when planning your dog's diet. Dog treats are usually high in fat and calories. Ignoring the impact on your dog's nutritional needs could result in weight gain.

Treats should make up no more than 20 percent of your dog's daily caloric intake. While delicious, those tasty treats don't provide a balanced diet like traditional food. So, limit how much they snack to keep them healthy!

10. How often should my Border Collie eat?

Border Collies do best with two meals per day. You can offer three if they're particularly active. When planning meals, separate their caloric intake between the number of meals you provide.

Avoid free-feeding. Border Collies need structure to ensure they don't go crazy eating.

11. Should I give my Border Collie supplements?

It's OK to give your Border Collie supplements. But ideally, you shouldn't have to! High-quality dog food should be balanced and nutritionally complete, eliminating the need for extras. You can even find products that cater to your dog's unique needs.

For example, it's not difficult to find products that contain omega fatty acids for skin health, glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, and more.

12. Should I buy expensive dog food brands for my Border Collie?

When walking through the dog food aisle at your local pet store, it's easy to assume that a higher price tag automatically means better quality. While there's some truth to that sentiment, price is not an accurate quality indicator.

Don't just go for the most expensive choice. Look at the ingredients list, look for the factors we mentioned earlier, and make an informed decision.

There are good and bad options in all price ranges. It doesn't matter whether you have money to spend or you're on a tight budget. There are healthy choices for your dog, but you must find them and know what you're looking for during your search.

13. How much does a healthy Border Collie weigh?

Healthy adult Border Collies typically weigh between 26 and 44 pounds. Females are usually on the lower spectrum, while males are slightly bigger.

They're considered a medium-sized dog breed. That small detail is important to remember. Border Collies may not have their nutritional needs met if you provide a formula exclusively for small or large dogs.

14. What if my Border Collie is overweight?

If your Border Collie is overweight or obese, work with your doctor to develop an effective weight loss plan. A big part of that plan will likely include weight loss or weight management dog food.

These formulas typically have reduced calories without sacrificing other facets of your dog's nutritional needs. Paired with a strategic exercise regime, and these dog foods can do wonders to help your dog slim down and get healthy!

15. Are grains bad for Border Collies?

You'll encounter many grain-free recipes when searching for high-quality dog food for Border Collies. Grain-free formulas rose to prominence over the last two decades because cheaper grain ingredients of the past lacked important nutrients. Many high-profile contamination cases also turned grains into the boogeyman of dog food.

Grains acted more like fillers and were devoid of vitamins, minerals, and fibers. Cheap dog foods still use grains to pad the calorie count without adding much nutritional value. Grain-free recipes replace unhealthy grains with legumes and other complex carbs.

Dog food products with grain-free labels are an excellent choice. But grains aren't inherently wrong unless your dog has an allergy. Modern dog food manufacturers use high-quality grains like oats, barley, sorghum, and more. They are far better than the cheaper stuff, providing beneficial nutrients while infusing the food with some much-needed fiber.

16. What are the best protein ingredients for Border Collies?

You already know that protein is the most important thing in your dog's diet.

There are many types of proteins available in the dog food market. It's best to avoid byproducts and mystery meats. Instead of unidentifiable cheap meat leftovers, stick to high-quality whole meats and meat meals like:

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Salmon
  • Bison
  • Venison
  • Turkey
  • Lamb
  • Duck

That's a small collection of the most commonly used proteins in high-quality dog food. You may also encounter novel meats like kangaroo, boar, crocodile, and more!

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About the author 


Steve is a writer with over 10 years of experience in dog training and nutritiion.

His goal is to educate dog owners about the ins and outs of canine behavior as well as keeping up with the latest scientific research in the field.