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Border Collies originated in northern England and Scotland, primarily for herding sheep and other livestock. In fact, they are still often used for herding, and have a strong desire to work. Although Border Collies do make good pets, their high-energy level and need for mental stimulation make them sometimes a poor choice for novice dog owners. You will also have to take these qualities into consideration when deciding what to feed a Border Collie.
Best Commercial Dog Foods for Border Collies On Amazon
So, how many calories does a Border Collie need? When determining what to feed a Border Collie, first consider the size of the dog. You can generally expect a male Border Collie to stand 19-22 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 30 and 45 pounds. A female will stand between 18 and 21 inches and weigh between 27 and 42 pounds. A Border Collie that is active and weighs around 40 pounds will typically need to consume about 1110 calories in any given day. A spayed, neutered or less active dog will need a bit less. Puppies will need more calories – a 20-pound Border Collie puppy, for instance, should receive about 735 calories per day.
What Kind of Food?
The most important thing when choosing what to feed a Border Collie is to select a good-quality food. You don’t have to worry about deciding between “small breed” and “large breed” foods for this medium-sized dog, and you can feed dog food that contains grain or is grain-free. The only time you might need a special diet for a Border Collie is if the dog has sensitivities to certain foods, or has allergies. Otherwise, the choices are pretty much wide open.
If you ask breeders what to feed a Border Collie, many will recommend foods that are heavy on natural ingredients. The theory behind this is that doing so will lead to a healthier, stronger immune system. Also, some Border Collie owners prefer to avoid grains and soy products in the belief that these foods can provoke allergic reactions. Consider, though that dogs are more likely to be allergic to poultry, beef or dairy products than to grains, so going soy and grain-free is really more of a personal choice than anything else.
What Are the Best Ingredients?
Border Collies are no different from most other breeds in that the main components in their diet should be protein and fat from good sources. Ideally, when you look at the list of ingredients on your bag of dog food, you should see at least two (and preferably three) meat proteins among the first ingredients. You could see whole meats like fish, chicken, lamb or beef listed, and youmight also see “meat meals” as an ingredient. Meat meals are concentrated meat – in other words, meat with the moisture taken out.
Dogs also need quality sources of fat, and when it comes to what to feed a Border Collie (or any other dog, for that matter), the type of fat is very important. You should never settle for a dog food that doesn’t specifically name the fats it contains. Most dogs can benefit from omega-3 fatty acids for skin and coat health. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is another type of omega-3 that can be beneficial to puppies when it comes to eye and brain development. However, as I pointed out in The Facts About Fat in Your Dog’s Food, DHA can break down very quickly (often in less than a year), and when it does, it can turn rancid and lead to very serious health problems, including major organ failure.
Some dog food manufacturers don’t include DHA for this reason – because it’s better that your dog gets no DHA at all than rancid DHA. The potential for rancidity is also why fish oil supplements are best avoided. If you want DHA in your dog’s diet, it is better delivered in the form of a natural source like water-packed sardines.
As previously stated, if you are debating what to feed a Border Collie, and you have decided that you would prefer to avoid wheat and soy, and perhaps corn, your dog can still benefit from other grains like oats, barley or rice. After all, your dog still needs some carbs in his diet. If you prefer, though, you could go grain-free entirely, because there are grain-free dog foods that provide carbs in the form of vegetables like sweet potatoes.
Now, let’s get specific about what to feed a Border Collie. Remember that every dog is different, and what suits one Border Collie perfectly may have less pleasing results with another.
The Best Commercial Dog Foods for Adult Border Collies
Regular readers know that I feed store brand food to my dogs, with the occasional supplement. However, I don’t show my dogs, and they don’t compete in athletic events – they’re just nice, healthy pets. If you and your dog aspire to something more, you might need a somewhat enhanced diet. So, with that in mind, the following are my preferences for food choices for adult Border Collies.
1. Fromm Gold
If you want to go grain-free as far as what to feed your Border Collie, skip over this one. Fromm Gold Adult Dog Food does contain grains, although not in the form of wheat, corn or soy. You will find pearled barley and brown rice listed in the first 5 ingredients, so if you are striving for a very low-carb food, you will probably also want to give this one a pass. However, it has 24% crude protein and 16% crude fat (including salmon oil), and is approved by AAFCO for growth and maintenance.
ANCANA Grasslands Regional Formula Grain-Free Dog Food offers 33% crude protein, much of it in the form of lamb, fish, duck and eggs. Overall, the formula is 60% premium meats, and 40% regional vegetables and fruits. Not only does this dog food contain no grains, it is also free of tapioca and potatoes. Your Border Collie will thrive on this quality food.
3. Victor Yukon River Salmon & Sweet Potato Grain-Free
This dog food is family-made in east Texas, and the company sources more than 80% of the ingredients for their dog food from within 200 miles of their manufacturing facilities. Victor Yukon River Salmon & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Dog Food contains no wheat, corn, soy or grain by-products, and no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. The formula is 32% crude protein (76% of which comes from fish), 15% crude fat and 34% crude carbs, making it a great preparation for an active adult Border Collie.
4. Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato
Real de-boned beef is first on the ingredient list, followed by lamb meal, sweet potatoes and peas. Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Dog Food contains 70% meat and 30% vegetables, minerals and vitamins. This grain-free product has 38% crude protein and 15% crude fat, as well as 3.5% crude fiber. This is another Texas product that is made using local ingredients and is good for active adult Border Collies.
Now, what about the younger set? Are you wondering what to feed a Border Collie in the puppy stage?
The Best Commercial Dog Foods for Border Collie Puppies
Some Border Collie owners recommend feeding a dog food that is specifically for puppies from the time that they are weaned until the time when they can reasonably be assumed to have attained their full growth. Others suggest that puppy formula should be fed for about a year in all circumstances. Your best source of information in this regard is your breeder – of course I am assuming that you are buying from someone who can show you beautiful, strong, healthy parents – whatever they’re doing in terms of feeding is almost certainly a good course of action.
The following are a couple of very good foods for Border Collie puppies.
1. Canine Caviar Pet Foods Inc. Grain Free Puppy Alkaline Entrée
As you could probably guess from the product name, this isn’t exactly the cheapest puppy food you’ll ever be able to buy. Canine Caviar Pet Foods Inc. Grain Free Puppy Alkaline Entrée is, however, very good. The protein comes from just one source – dehydrated chicken – and the carbs come from brown rice. The formula also contains flax seed and fish meal. It contains no gluten, nothing that is GMO, and no potatoes or tapioca, and is very nutrient-dense. Canine Caviar is also available in other formulas, so if you want to vary the proteins and other ingredients, you can.
Annamaet Ultra Formula is an “all life” preparation that is good for performance dogs as well as growing puppies. The main ingredient is chicken meal, and the product also contains brown rice and healthy fats. Be sure to check the manufacturing date on the product, though, since Annamaet Ultra does contain DHA, and you have no way of knowing how long the food has been sitting in the store or in a warehouse. There is much to love about this product, but it must be used within a year of manufacture.
Your Border Collie Puppy will likely do very well on either of these preparations. So, that’s the little ones. Now, let’s consider what to feed a Border Collie that has reached his senior years.
The Best Commercial Dog Foods Senior Border Collies
One thing that is disheartening to those of us who favor large dogs is that we seldom see them live beyond the single digits. Medium sized dogs, though, often live into the teens, so if you have a Border Collie, you need to be prepared for changing nutritional requirements as he grows older. Even a Border Collie will slow down a bit as he ages, and you may find that you need to switch your dog over to a lower-calorie preparation, or at least cut back a bit on his regular portions. If he can handle it, a little more exercise can be helpful as well.
If you’re wondering what to feed a Border Collie that’s getting up there in years, here are two good choices.
1. Weruva Caloric Harmony Venison and Salmon Meal Dinner
This is a great food containing grass-fed venison along with pumpkin, as well as herring and salmon meal, and is good for pretty much any older dog, not just Border Collies. It’s low-glycemic and contains no wheat, corn or potato. The breakdown for the dry matter is 37.8% protein, 14.4% fat, 35% carbohydrate and 3.9% fiber. Each cup contains 348 calories. Weruva Caloric Harmony Venison and Salmon Meal Dinner is ideal for senior Border Collies who need a bit more protein and a bit less fat in their diet.
Orijen Senior is comprised of wild-caught fish, free-run turkey and chicken, and eggs. It is low-glycemic, and comprised of 35% crude protein, 15% crude fat, and other ingredients designed to keep your dog’s blood sugar stable. It also contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health. Each cup contains 445 calories, and provides the extra protein that aging dogs often need.
Most manufacturers of premium dog foods have varieties that are suitable for every life stage, so if you have been accustomed to using a brand other than Weruva or Orijen, you can always look into senior brands from your usual provider.
There are a number of very good dog food brands for Border Collies that you intend to show or use for herding or agility. You can go with a grain-free formula if you like, although many breeders and trainers have no objections at all to good-quality grains in dog food.
As your Border Collie ages, he will no longer be occupying the show ring, and will probably not be participating in agility trials or other athletic events, either. However, a sudden move from the premium dog food he’s used to, to a store brand, is not likely a good idea. Your Border Collie has served you long and well, so what to feed a Border Collie in his senior years shouldn’t differ all that much from what he enjoyed throughout puppy hood and adulthood.