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9 Best (Healthiest) Dog Food For Border Collies in 2020

Border Collies are some of the cutest dogs around. They’re ultra-smart, very energetic, and so so so fluffy.

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You’re probably most familiar with rough coats, especially those adorable black and white medium coated ones, but they come in a variety of coats and colors. Every one of them, however, will need careful grooming to prevent matting and keep shedding under control.

They’re bred to be working dogs, and if they don’t have a “job,” they’ll find one. The internet is full of owners laughing and lamenting their Border Collie’s antics, but all they need is regular exercise and mental stimulation. They may be reserved when around strangers, but once they warm up, they are affectionate and loyal.

Why Quality Food Matters for Your Border Collie

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Border Collies have high energy and higher mental acuity. Food for Border Collies should be nutrient dense and contain essential fatty acids to help keep that beautiful coat shiny. Their high levels of activity mean that most normal adult dogs need about 1109 calories per day to maintain energy levels without gaining unnecessary weight.

Puppies and older dogs will need to alter that number, but overall, a Border Collie’s caloric requirements will need nutrient dense food that doesn’t add fillers or other artificial ingredients that can add calories and not nutrients.

Poor quality foods can cause weight gain and could potentially cause skin allergies that can affect the coat. Smooth and rough coats are profoundly affected by skin allergies, so foods should support the health of the coat.

3 Common Health Issues

Depending on how your Border Collie came into the world and what kind of genetics it inherited, there could be a few different health issues to be worried about. Here are three common ones that you should keep an eye on.

  • Canine Hip Dysplasia – Hip Dysplasia is a frequent issue with working dogs and bigger breeds. It’s primarily a genetic issue where the hip doesn’t develop properly. It can cause your dog a lot of pain and difficulty with movement if not treated or prevent ahead of time. Foods that contain ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin can help keep your Border Collie’s hips in a healthier condition. You need to make sure the food has plenty of ingredients that can support the health of the joints and the skeleton.
  • Hypothyroidism – Also a genetic condition, but some of the ways you exercise and feed your dog can make the problem easier or harder. One cause could be an iodine deficiency which could be helped with a properly balanced diet. Some symptoms of hypothyroidism are lethargy, recurring skin infections, unexplained weight gain, and mental dullness. If you know the temperament of the Border Collie, you’ll know that something is wrong.
  • Skin Allergies – Border Collie coats are beautiful but food allergies can cause skin to become inflamed, affecting the quality of the coat. Avoid foods with fillers such as corn or soy because these are common causes of food allergies. Others might be wheat or gluten, and some dogs even have poultry sensitivities so it’s important to avoid poultry by-product meals.

What to Look For in a Quality Dog Food for Border Collies

One of the essential values of a Border Collie’s food is to make sure that there are no ingredients that can make any allergies worse. Border Collie’s coats are very delicate and require a lot of maintenance. Things like corn or soy can be difficult for the dog to digest and may cause a lot of skin issues.

Food should also have ingredients that support bone and joint health. Glucosamine and Chondroitin are some excellent options for making sure your Border Collie’s joint health are healthy. Calcium and essential fatty acids can help build bone and keep skin and coats healthy.

9 Best (Healthiest) Dog Food For Border Collies in 2020 7

Ingredients to Avoid in Your Border Collie’s Dog Food

Corn and soy are some of the biggest offenders in skin and other food allergies. They’re frequently used in lesser quality foods to reduce cost and keep caloric contents high. Your dog is an omnivore, but corn and soy wouldn’t have been part of your dog’s natural ancestral diet.

Whole meats can be costly to process, so budget dog foods often work around using complete proteins by using by-product meals and other types of protein sources. Also, some use what’s called 4-D meats, meaning dead, diseased, dying, and disabled. These aren’t fit for human consumption, but they are available for pet foods.

Stay away from anything that doesn’t have whole protein sources listed in the first ingredient, and the subsequent ingredients should be a combination of whole fruits and veggies plus complex carbohydrates.

You may want to consider finding alternatives to potatoes and legumes for the future as well. Preliminary studies showed a link between a diet heavy in these ingredients and an uptick in a canine condition known as canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Although the connection hasn’t been established officially, you should use your best judgment when choosing your food.

Purina Beneful brand is an excellent example of dog food you may want to avoid. The first ingredient is corn, and that could be difficult for your Border Collie to digest. Other foods to avoid could be the brand Ol Roy, which uses a lot of fillers, or Kibbles n Bits, which uses a low-quality kibble with artificial preservatives and plenty of fillers.

Border Collie Feeding Chart

Border Collies need well over 1000 calories per day, but that can go up to nearly 1400 calories for true working Collies. You should always get the go-ahead from your vet before deciding precisely how much to feed your pet because lifestyle and health issues can change the recommendations.

In general, you should aim to feed your Border Collie the following amounts:

  • Puppies: check with your veterinarian because the nutritional requirements of puppies change rapidly.
  • Adults: 1.5 to 2 cups twice per day. Border Collies can burn through a lot of energy quickly, so feeding them twice a day can help keep energy up and stable throughout the day.
  • Seniors: generally, feed your aging dog the same amount it was receiving before, but you want to check with your veterinarian to make sure other plans aren’t a better fit.

Best Dog Food for Border Collies

We’ve put together a list of our top picks for the best food for Border Collies. They all offer dense, quality nutrition that can help support your Border Collie’s high energy without all the empty calories. They don’t have fillers or common ingredients associated with food allergies, such as soy or corn. Let’s take a look.

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Great Plains Red Recipe with Beef, Lamb & Rabbit Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Great Plains Red Recipe with Beef, Lamb & Rabbit Grain-Free Dry Dog FoodWe are big fans of Merrick, and their Backcountry Raw formula uses real freeze dried meat to supplement high-quality kibble. Deboned beef is the first ingredient plus those freeze dried bits of meat for texture and taste. There’s no grain and no common fillers such as corn or soy. This formula should alleviate a lot of your Border Collie’s issues with skin allergies and other allergy problems. Omega fatty acids also support skin and coat health and aid brain function. Glucosamine supplementation helps give your Border Collie better joint health.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. Deboned Beef
  2. Lamb Meal
  3. Salmon Meal
  4. Sweet Potatoes
  5. Potatoes

About The Company – Merrick is a small company that started with food made in a kitchen and now 25 years later produces diets that mimic your canine’s ancestral diet. They’re based in the United States and manufacture food from locally sourced ingredients.


  • freeze dried meat for texture and taste
  • whole proteins
  • no grain, soy, or corn


  • meat chunks are difficult to even out throughout the bag
  • contains potatoes

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog FoodBlue Buffalo’s salmon recipe uses their famous LifeSource bits for essential nutrients and vitamins. Deboned salmon provides an excellent source of essential fatty acids and high-quality proteins essential for your Border Collie’s high energy. Fish is excellent at helping dogs maintain a beautiful coat and this one should be no different.

There’s no soy or corn, and it’s gluten and wheat free. It uses whole, quality products with none of our usual suspects with skin or other food allergies. It’s meant to mimic the ancestral diet your canine would have had before the days of human couches and apartment living.

First Five Ingredients:

  • Deboned Salmon
  • Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine)
  • Peas
  • Pea Protein
  • Menhaden Fish Meal (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids)

About The Company – Blue Buffalo got started with the desire for a dog named Blue to get the best food options available. It uses ingredients sourced from the US and is a US based small company with excellent customer service.


  • whole proteins with salmon as the first ingredient
  • excellent source of essential fatty acids
  • LifeSource bits for extra nutrients

Common Complaints:

  • on the expensive side for a budget food
  • 24 pounds is the largest option for many sources

NomNomNow Fresh Pet Food Delivery

9 Best (Healthiest) Dog Food For Border Collies in 2020 17

If you want to feed your dog a raw diet, but you don’t want to be responsible for it, you can outsource that responsibility to a company like NomNomNow. It produces excellent raw meals for your dog that can help clear up pickiness and skin issues your dog may be experiencing.

Whole veggies and fruits help with antioxidants and vitamins to promote bone health, coat health, and proper brain function.

You can design your dog’s meal plan directly on the website, and the meals are delivered to you to be frozen or refrigerated until you need them. They’re easy to do, and if you’ve got the budget, you may transform your dog’s mealtime.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. lamb heart
  2. Lamb
  3. butternut squash
  4. Rutabaga
  5. Chickpeas

NomNomNow teams up with canine nutritionists to help create the most fulfilling raw food diet for your pet. You have meals delivered, making everything simple, and you can fill out a questionnaire to find the right dog food for your Border Collie.


  • easy raw food
  • delivery is convenient
  • whole protein options


  • requires refrigeration
  • takes time for dogs to get used to it

Puppy Food

Puppies have changing nutritional requirements, so it’s crucial for you to make sure consult your veterinarian before you start. Puppies have higher caloric needs on average and need dense nutrition that doesn’t cause massive amounts of growth that can tax the skeletal system.

Let’s look at our favorite puppy foods.

Nutro Ultra Puppy Chunks in Gravy Canned Dog Food, 12.5-oz

Nutro Ultra Puppy Chunks in Gravy Canned Dog FoodThis one has three different proteins to help your growing puppy get plenty of building blocks for excellent growth. It has precisely measured amounts of fat including DHA for growing brains and healthy coats.

Wet food may be more comfortable for your puppy to digest especially coming off drinking mother’s milk. It’s palatable for smaller teeth, and it should be tasty enough that even picky puppies won’t complain.

It’s good for the immune system and for supporting growth without causing too-rapid growth that can damage your puppy’s growing bones and joints. It does have wheat gluten so make sure your puppy isn’t sensitive to wheat before you begin serving it.

First Five ingredients:

  • Chicken Broth
  • Chicken
  • Chicken Liver
  • Potato Starch
  • Wheat Gluten

About The Company – Nutro specializes in whole, natural foods with high-quality proteins and great vitamins and minerals. They started out of love for dogs and wanting dogs to get the best food available. They have a variety of products including wet and dry dog foods.


  • three protein sources
  • good portion sizes
  • most puppies enjoy the taste


  • uses wheat gluten
  • Messy

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Puppy Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

9 Best (Healthiest) Dog Food For Border Collies in 2020 18Merrick’s raw infused puppy food uses the same bits of freeze-dried meats to entice your puppy through taste and texture. It supports building muscle and bone structure. High-quality kibble using deboned chicken for whole protein helps control growth.

The puppy formula uses salmon oil for essential omega fatty acids, which can help with coat and skin. It has no gluten and no other fillers such as corn or soy that can inflame the digestive system and prevent puppies from digesting their meals thoroughly.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. Deboned Chicken
  2. Chicken Meal
  3. Sweet Potatoes
  4. Potatoes
  5. Peas

Merrick uses high-quality ingredients and mimics an ancestral diet your dog may have had if it were born well in the past. Real meat and whole protein is always the first ingredient, and the company proudly manufactures in the United States.


  • whole proteins and quality meats are the first ingredients always
  • Affordable
  • freeze dried raw meat


  • uses potatoes in the first five ingredients
  • raw bits tend to fall to the bottom of the bag

Senior Food

Seniors frequently have issues with weight gain and joint health. Border Collies may retain a lot of their energy up to the end, but it’s especially important that they maintain a healthy weight so they can continue doing things they love. It’s also vitally important that those foods also have proper skin and joint support so that your Border Collie can live life fully.

Nulo Freestyle Trout & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Senior Dry Dog Food

Nulo Freestyle Trout & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Senior Dry Dog FoodNulo’s Freestyle recipe uses proteins from fish sources including whole trout and salmon meal. It supplements with turkey meal as well giving senior dogs a high protein beginning to their kibble. Sweet potato is a good source of complex carbohydrates to keep energy levels stable with the addition of L-Carnitine to help your senior dog digest the meal properly.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin offer joint and hip support while pure probiotic strains help keep the digestive system working well. Chicken and egg proteins further encourage muscle resilience and a healthy coat. Fruits and veggies offer base nutrients while the whole kibble formula mimics an ancestral diet of a variety of foods found in the wild.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. Deboned Trout
  2. Turkey Meal
  3. Salmon Meal
  4. Yellow Peas
  5. Sweet Potato

About The Company – Nulo was inspired by the nutrition of world-class athletes, and the small company aspires to give pets a proper nutritional foundation in the way they would have consumed in the wild. They have a patented probiotic that encourages adequate digestion, and over 80% of protein sources in Nulo foods comes from whole meats. It began in the search for better nutrition for animal diabetes and obesity caused by terrible food and is based in Texas.


  • multiple, whole sources of protein
  • hip, joint, and digestion support
  • egg proteins


  • the name is misleading for dogs who have poultry allergies
  • Some seniors don’t like the taste

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

9 Best (Healthiest) Dog Food For Border Collies in 2020 19Blue Buffalo’s senior formula uses their trademark LifeSource bits, freeze-dried chunks of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, to deliver quality nutritional support. It uses deboned chicken as a whole protein source, and the formula helps support senior energy levels and strong muscle structure.

There is no soy or corn, and they do not use any artificial flavors or preservatives. L-Carnitine helps your senior pet’s digestive system and muscles while probiotics help everything digest properly. Glucosamine and Chondroitin support bone health, and omega fatty acids support the coat and skin.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. Deboned Chicken
  2. Brown Rice
  3. Barley
  4. Oatmeal
  5. Chicken Meal

About The Company – Blue Buffalo was started in the search for better nutrition for a dog named Blue. Since then, the company has provided high quality yet affordable kibble to a variety of breeds and life stages of pets. It’s based in the United States and doesn’t use any fillers or potential allergy-causing ingredients such as corn or soy, and their kibble contains no artificial colors or flavors. They’re based in the United States and source ingredients locally to create their kibble.


  • no fillers, soy, corn, by-product meals, or wheat
  • full support for muscle, bone, joint, and coat health
  • smaller kibble size


  • some seniors won’t eat the LifeSource bits
  • Some Lifesource bits fall to the bottom of the bag

Final Thoughts

Your Border Collie is the light of your life and keeps you on your toes, so feeding it with high-quality food is essential for better brain function and physical support. Your Border Collie will likely test the limits on how many calories it can burn in a day, so feeding a nutrient dense, high protein food is essential to maintaining those energy levels.

Even your senior Border Collie benefits from a lifetime of quality foods because the foundations for hip and joint support are there. Plus, keeping that coat shiny and healthy can help reduce shedding (not entirely but it can prevent hair loss from unhealthy, inflamed skin).

The biggest thing to remember about Border Collies is that they’re happiest with a job or task to do and a bored Border Collie can be quite a handful. Foods that support this energy allow your pet to get to work whether the task is herding sheep or patrolling your backyard for squirrels without losing strength. A good food builds that foundation and the only thing you’ll have to worry about is how to keep your Border Collie busy.

What’s the funniest or smartest (or both!) thing your Border Collie has ever done? Let us know in the comments below.


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