Best Dog Food for Border Collies in 2021

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border collie dog

Border Collies are an extremely smart and active breed. So active, in fact, that they were originally bred to help farmers herd their sheep. 

Known for having “the eye” — aka intimidating you to do what they want — a Border Collie can easily use this look to get their favorite treats and food. 

Because Border Collies are so active and need both a high protein and higher calorie diet, it’s important to choose the best dog food that will fit those needs, as well as give them enough fuel to run around all day (their favorite activity!). 

After researching the best dog food for Border Collies, my personal pick is Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dry Dog Food

Not only does it have all of the calories and protein that your Border Collie will need, but it also has vitamins and minerals that will keep them sharp.

On top of that, I’ve reviewed nine of the other best dog foods for border collies as well — including for those with allergies, sensitive skin, and who need to lose weight.  

Our Best Dog Food for Border Collies

10 Best Dog Foods for Border Collies Reviewed 

All of the dog foods on this list meet the AAFCO nutrient profile guidelines for dogs. Before switching to any new dog food, always consult with your veterinarian. 

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal
  • Key Feature: Best overall recipe with real meat for adult breeds
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 24% Crude Protein, 14% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 378 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: No Corn, Wheat, or Soy 
  • Life Stage: Adult

The Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula was created for holistic health, and to provide your Border Collie with all of the nutrients they need during their active day. 

Blue Buffalo keeps the ingredient list simple, with the first being real deboned chicken. There are other nutritious ingredients as well, including blueberries, pea fiber, sweet potatoes, and peas

The recipe also includes what the company calls “LifeSource Bits” — a blend of antioxidants and vitamins including B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin D3. These help maintain eye health, boost immune systems, and keep coats healthy. 

Calcium and phosphorus are added to the recipe as well, to support strong bones and teeth. 

And, this formula also includes glucosamine, which helps support joint health and mobility. Perfect for the active Border Collie! 

This recipe isn’t completely grain free. However, it doesn’t include wheat, a common allergen for Border Collies. If your Border Collie can handle grains like oats, but not whole wheat, this is a great option to feed them.


Purina Pro Plan Puppy Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Puppy Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Poultry By-product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Wheat
  • Key Feature: Food exclusively made for puppies
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 28% Crude Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 3% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 456 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: High Protein; Includes DHA
  • Life Stage: Puppy 

Purina Pro Plan Puppy dog food is packed with DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) — an Omega-3 fatty acid found in fish — for cognitive development. With fish oil as an ingredient, you can feel comfortable feeding your puppy this food that will help them grow both physically and mentally.

This recipe includes calcium and phosphorus for strong teeth and bones. And, with the higher protein content, you can be sure that your Border Collie puppy will be satisfied after eating — ready to tackle their day with play, and even if they help herd sheep. 

Chicken is the first ingredient in the formula, offering high quality protein and fat for your growing pup. 

It also utilizes both probiotics and antioxidants to support a healthy immune system and a healthy gut. Antioxidants promote good bacteria in the body, and probiotics help the good bacteria fight off the bad, thus maintaining good digestion. 

This food doesn’t include any artificial colors or flavors, which are known for exacerbating allergies and, in the worst cases, causing cancer. Without these, your Border Collie is getting a completely natural food. 

Purina Pro Plan Puppy dog food was created exclusively for puppies between 8 weeks to 12 months old. 

Because they are larger in size, many Border Collies won’t transition into adult food until about 12 months. If your Border Collie is a working dog, you may want to wait even later to switch them.

Every Border Collie manages their food differently, so talk to your veterinarian to see when your dog can make the switch.


Nutro Natural Choice Senior Dry Dog Food

Nutro Natural Choice Senior Chicken & Brown Rice
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Barley, Split Peas, Brewers Rice
  • Key Feature: High fiber and calcium dog food for senior Border Collies
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 24% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 319 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: No Corn, Wheat, or Soy; Non-GMO
  • Life Stage: Senior 

Border Collies can live a long time — up to 15 years. But, even the most active pooch will start to slow down as they age. 

Take care of your Border Collie in their senior years (starting at about age 7) with Nutro Natural Choice Senior dry dog food. 

The formula was created with senior dogs in mind, offering essential antioxidants to support their aging immune system through ingredients like fish oil and beet pulp. 

It also includes a high protein percentage, which will help your senior Border Collie retain their muscles and ease possible joint issues and inflammation. 

Calcium is also added to maintain their nervous system, as well as keep their teeth, bones, and joints strong. Plus, this recipe is high in natural fiber, helping your Border Collie digest their food and go regularly.

Nutro Natural Choice Senior dog food is non-GMO, made with real chicken, and has no corn, wheat, or soy.


ACANA Wholesome Grains Dry Dog Food

ACANA Wholesome Grains Red Meat Recipe Gluten-Free
  • First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Deboned Pork, Beef Meal, Oat Groats, Whole Sorghum
  • Key Feature: High protein formula for energetic adult Border Collies
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 27% Crude Protein, 17% Crude Fat, 6% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 371 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: High Protein; Gluten-Free; No Corn, Wheat, or Soy
  • Life Stage: Adult 

Border Collies are known to be naturally athletic, active, and high energy. But, if your Border Collie is consistently active and constantly exercising, they’ll need more protein, calories, and fat to keep up with their lifestyle. 

That’s where ACANA Wholesome Grains Dry comes in. 

This high-protein food is made with ranch-raised beef, grass-fed lamb, and Yorkshire pork. These grass-fed meats are even higher in protein content, as well as in vitamins and minerals, offering more bang for your buck. 

ACANA also includes wholesome grains like oats, sorghum, and millet. But, even with the grains, this food is gluten free. 

On top of that, it’s also free of corn and soy — ingredients that can cause allergies in pets and that may be hard to digest, which can cause digestive and bowel issues. 

This recipe is free of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, which means your Border Collie is eating the freshest food possible, just like you get to. 

Every batch of ACANA food is made right in Kentucky, with ingredients that have been sourced from local farmers, fishers, and ranchers.


Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dry Dog Food

Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Brewers Rice, Chicken Meal, Yellow Peas, Cracked Pearled Barley
  • Key Feature: Limited ingredient dog food for Border Collies with allergies or sensitive stomachs
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 21% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 382 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Sensitive Digestion; Recommended by Veterinarians 
  • Life Stage: Adult 

Some common allergies that Border Collies experience include allergies to wheat, pork, and soy, as well as grass. While many Border Collies won’t suffer from any kind of allergies, this could still turn out to be a problem for yours. 

If you think your Border Collie has allergies, consult with your veterinarian. Once the allergen has been confirmed, they will recommend a food made with sensitivities in mind. 

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin dog food comes highly recommended, and for good reason. 

This food is made with real chicken, and contains prebiotic fiber to support healthy digestion. It includes vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids to promote healthy skin and coat, and help reduce shedding. 

These vitamins are known to aid the skin in healing as well, since allergies can cause irritation in this area.  

Besides chicken and peas, this formula also includes ingredients like beet pulp, brown rice, and cranberries. All of these ingredients are highly digestible and help provide the vitamins and minerals that your Border Collie needs.


Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Canned
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Turkey, Chicken Liver, Whitefish
  • Key Feature: Moderate protein and higher fiber content wet food 
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 10% Crude Protein, 6% Crude Fat, 1.4% Crude Fiber, 78% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 222 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Grain-Free; No Corn, Wheat, or Soy 
  • Life Stage: Adult 

Is your Border Collie picky? Wet food may be a better option for their daily diet. 

For this, Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Canned Dog Food is a great option. 

The food is high in moisture content, which keeps your Border Collie hydrated, and has fiber to keep them regular. However, keep in mind that this is not a high protein food. 

If your Border Collie is younger or super active, this can be a great addition to their dry food, but shouldn’t be their only food source.

Wet food doesn’t usually have as much protein or fat as dry food, mainly because the focus is on the moisture content. 

Whole Earth Farms only includes real ingredients in their food, including sweet potatoes, carrots, salmon oil for heart health and allergy relief, and chicken

This formula is also grain and soy free.


Ollie Customized Fresh Dog Food (Beef Recipe)

Ollie beef
  • First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Carrot 
  • Key Feature: Fresh and raw like food on a budget
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 9% Crude Protein, 7% Crude Fat, 2% Crude Fiber, 70% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 1540 kcal ME/kg
  • Type of Product: Minimally Processed; Human-Grade; No Wheat, Corn, or Soy
  • Life Stage: Adult 

Raw and fresh food can be expensive. But, quality matters when feeding your dog. If you want to offer your Border Collie a better food option that specifically fits their diet and lifestyle, you can try Ollie Customized Dog Food. 

Ollie works differently than other kibbles. Instead of buying pre-made food, you’ll first start with a quiz about your Border Collie. 

You’ll include their weight, activity level, and the type of food they already prefer. You’ll also include if they have any allergies, and if they’re neutered or spayed. From there, Ollie will calculate the perfect diet and food options for your dog. 

Recipe options include beef, lamb, chicken, and turkey. Ollie ships completely fresh and ready every two weeks, and they make their food in small batches. This guarantees that your pup is eating the freshest food possible.

It’s up to you to choose between getting just one recipe or all four every shipment. 

Plus, it’s less than the price you’d pay for organic, homemade, or even store bought raw food. 

The formulas also come with a feeding guide, storage container, and scoop. All to help you store the food easily, and to know exactly what portion and how often to feed your Border Collie.


Iams Adult Large Breed High Protein Dog Food

Iams Adult Large Breed Real Chicken High Protein
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Ground Whole Grain Barley, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Chicken By-Product Meal
  • Key Feature: Budget friendly dog food with whole ingredients 
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 22.5% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 351 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: High Protein; Formulated For Active Dogs; Farm-Raised Chicken
  • Life Stage: Adult 

Dog food can get expensive, especially when you have an active and larger breed like a Border Collie. But, that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality food and ingredients. You can find dog food on a budget that is still made with prime ingredients. 

The top choice for this criteria would be Iams Adult Large Breed High Protein Dog Food. 

This formula has real farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient, and has carrots, flaxseed, beet pulp, and egg

The food includes prebiotics, as well as vitamins like vitamin A, for eye health, and biotin for a healthy coat. Each of these are supplemented or sourced from natural ingredients like brewers yeast, to provide healthy nutrition on a budget. 

With the protein percentage being higher, you can be sure that your Border Collie keeps the muscle mass and lean figure that helps with running and activity. This is also a great food for working Border Collies.


Natural Balance Fat Dogs Low Calorie Dry Dog Food

Natural Balance Fat Dogs Chicken & Salmon Low Calorie
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Salmon Meal, Chickpeas, Dried Peas, Oat Groats
  • Key Feature: Low fat and high fiber to aid weight loss for overweight or obese Border Collies
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 7.5% Crude Fat, 10.5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 315 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Weight Control
  • Life Stage: Adult 

This funnily named food was created to help dogs like Border Collies keep lean muscle mass and avoid weight gain. 

This formula offers a special protein and fiber blend to help your dog lose weight, without sacrificing on protein or flavor.

The higher protein and fiber percentages help keep dogs like Border Collies full between meals, which prevents begging, overeating, and weight gain. 

Along with chicken and salmon, this recipe also includes ingredients like carrots, spinach, and parsley, which promotes a healthy smile and fresh breath. 

And, the recipe is also high in Omega-3 and Omega-6, which supports healthy brain function, a shiny coat, and heart health.


Merrick Grain Free Recipe Dry Dog Food

Merrick Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes
  • Key Feature: Limited-ingredient recipe made for dogs with sensitivities or digestion issues
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 34% Crude Protein, 17% Crude Fat, 3.5% Crude Fiber, 11% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 388 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Grain-Free; Gluten-Free; No Corn, Soy, or Wheat
  • Life Stage: Adult 

This dog food is not only grain-free, but it also doesn’t include corn or soy, which can cause gastrointestinal problems. So, if your Border Collie has a sensitive stomach, you can feel good about feeding them this food. 

This recipe offers balanced nutrition — 65% protein and healthy fats, and 35% fresh fruits and vegetables, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. 

A few of the fruits and vegetables used are sweet potatoes and blueberries, which include antioxidants that support your Border Collies immune system. 

Plus, glucosamine and omega fatty acids support healthy skin, hair, and joints. 

While this food is grain and gluten free — as well as corn, soy, and wheat free — it also doesn’t include any artificial preservatives. 


Guide to Buying Dog Food for Border Collies

Every dog breed has different needs, including Border Collies. Here’s what you want to look for in their food. 

Nutrients Your Border Collie Needs

High activity levels and the need for long-lasting nutrients and calories mean Border Collies require quite a bit of food to keep up with their lifestyle. 

Here are the most important nutrients that your Border Collie needs. 

Higher Protein  

Due to their size, muscle mass, and frequent and long-lasting periods of exercise, Border Collies need a higher protein diet. 

They need to keep their weight to about 40 or 50 lbs in their adult life. With higher protein content, their brain will be fueled as well, keeping them from being sluggish and restless. 

Look for your dog food’s protein content to come from real meat and from other sources like peas, spinach, and even pea protein. All of the dog foods on this list meet this ideal. 

A growing Bordie Collie will need about 1,000 – 1,400 calories a day, with about 25% of those calories being from protein. Their food will usually include the recommendation of calories per serving (which is usually 1 cup or 8 ounces). 

You can also find measuring cups through your veterinarian that show how much dog food you should be feeding your Border Collie. 

Moderate Fat

Unlike more sedentary dogs, Border Collies need more fat to sustain their runs and herding tendencies. So, don’t look for dog food with low fat content. 

Many of the dog foods on this list contain at least 10% crude fat, which is about the normal amount a Border Collies needs. However, upwards of 20% of crude fat is okay, as long as your Border Collie sticks with their active lifestyle. 

If your Border Collie shows signs of diarrhea, fat content can be a factor. If that’s an issue, try choosing a lower fat dog food. 

Fish oils, broths, and even fats from duck can be beneficial in your Border Collie’s diet. Not only do they protect their joints, but they also offer healthy fat sources that keep them active and provide other nutrients like DHA. 

Carbohydrates 

Although some grain-free foods are naturally lower in carbohydrates, your Border Collie will need carbs to support their activity level. The general consensus is that about 20% of their daily calorie intake should be from carbohydrates. 

Look for foods like potatoes and sweet potatoes, rice, or whole grain oats for higher quality carbohydrate sources. 

Of course, ingredients like barley and corn are healthy in moderation as well, but these may not work for a Border Collie that needs a more limited ingredient diet. 

Vitamins & Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are essential for any dog’s health, including for your Border Collie’s. 

This breed needs higher doses of vitamins and minerals — such as glucosamine for joints, Vitamin A for sharp and focused eyes, and Omega’s for heart and brain function. 

B vitamins and antioxidants are all helpful as well, and make for a healthy and well performing Border Collie. 

Most commercial dog foods, including the options on this list, already include all of the vitamins and minerals that your Border Collie needs in their daily diet. 

black and white border collie

How to Best Feed Your Border Collie

Once you find a food that fits your Border Collie’s dietary needs and lifestyle, there are a few more key factors to keep in mind. 

Your Border Collie’s Age, Weight, and Caloric Needs

Growing Border Collies (i.e. puppies) need around 1,400 calories a day. But senior Border Collies only need about 700 – 900 calories a day. 

Because of this huge difference, it’s important to properly calculate what your Border Collie will need based on their age and weight. 

You can talk to your veterinarian about this, or use a calorie calculator specifically made for dogs. 

Of course, your Border Collie will also need more protein and fat when they’re younger, because they’re more active. As they grow older and become more sedentary, you can also look to lowering these.  

As an adult, a Border Collie will need about 35 calories of food per pound of weight they have. If they are at the standard weight of about 40 pounds, that’s about 1,400 calories a day. 

If your Border Collie needs to lose weight, subtract 5–10 calories per pound, for a total of 25–30 calories per pound. 

Common Border Collie Health Issues 

Luckily for Border Collies, they aren’t known to have many allergies or health issues that affect their lifestyle. However, there are a few health issues that may arise as they get older. 

Intestinal Cobalamin Malabsorption

Intestinal cobalamin malabsorption disease makes it hard for a dog to get adequate amounts of a protein and to absorb certain nutrients (including the B vitamin — cobalamin). 

This causes a cobalamin deficiency, which can lead to severe weight loss, epilepsy, and even death. 

Intestinal cobalamin malabsorption is an inherited disease, so if your Border Collie doesn’t have it by adulthood, chances are they won’t get it later in life. If your Border Collie does suffer from this disorder, they will need to have the nutrient cobalamin supplemented for life via injection. 

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative myelopathy affects senior Border Collies. This neurological disease is caused by a mutation, and it has a close resemblance to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) found in people. 

Degenerative myelopathy typically affects senior Border Collies, showing up between the ages of 7 and 10. Because of this, it’s important to watch your Border Collie for signs like wobbling, slower pace, and urinary incontinence. 

While they will need treatment, your veterinarian may also recommend a higher protein diet to help with muscle retention.  

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)

Usually, this disease affects the shoulder joint. But it can also affect the dog’s stifles, elbows, hocks or other joints. 

Osteochondritis Dissecans (also known as OCD) has no known cause, though repetitive stress on joints, lack of vitamin D, and genetics can play a huge part in its existence. 

If your Border Collie gets this condition, they will have swelling in the joints and will most likely be in pain. With OCD, the bone underneath the cartilage of a joint “dies” due to lack of blood flow. The bone or cartilage then breaks loose, which hinders the joints moving. 

This condition occurs primarily in puppies between the ages of 4 and 9 months of age, and is a common disease in medium and large breeds, like Border Collies. It is seen twice as often in male Border Collies as in females. 

Usually, this disease affects the shoulder joint. But, it can also affect the dog’s stifles, elbows, hocks, or other joints. 

This is why proper nutrition, even during the puppy stage, along with monitoring hormones and growth is so important. 

OCD can best be prevented by avoiding overnutrition and activities that could result in injury to the joints. 

This disease should be diagnosed and treated as early as possible to provide the best quality of life, so check with your veterinarian if you notice any issues with your Border Collie’s movement. 

border collie resting

FAQ About Border Collie Dog Food

Have any questions about your Bordie Collie? I may have the answer. 

How often should I feed my Border Collie? 

Most dogs do well on 2 to 3 feedings a day. 

When your Border Collie is a puppy, however, you may find yourself feeding them more around 3 to 4 times a day to keep up with their hunger cues and potty breaks. 

Of course, remember to follow nutrition guidelines and don’t overfeed or underfeed your Border Collie. Remember, the average Border Collie needs at least 1,400 calories a day, depending on their age and activity level. That’s around 450 calories per meal if feeding twice a day. 

Can Border Collies eat grain-free diets?

If your Border Collie doesn’t have any grain or gluten allergies, they may do well with a diet that includes them. 

No matter what, a grain-free diet isn’t better (or worse) for any dog — it’s all about how you want to feed them. Talk to your dog’s veterinarian about a grain-free diet before switching. 

Is raw food better for Border Collies?

Dogs have been domesticated over hundreds and thousands of years. So, unlike wolves, they don’t need a raw diet in order to survive. However, there have been studies that state there are some benefits to a raw diet. 

Of course, there’s no harm in trying a raw diet, but talk to your dog’s veterinarian first. That way, you can know what nutrients your Border Collie will need on a daily basis. 

Also, always know the source of the ingredients in the raw diet you feed your Border Collie. Tainted ingredients or sources can cause Helminthosis (from parasites in the food), or gastrointestinal problems. 

Our Verdict

Border Collies need protein, proper nutrients, and healthy fats to keep their muscles and joints strong, and to provide them with the energy they need to run around all day. These active dogs also require higher calorie diets in order to sustain their activity levels. 

So, what is the best dog food for Border Collies?

I recommend the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula. It provides all of the vitamins and minerals a Border Collie needs for strong bones, muscles, and joints, but it also includes glucosamine for heart health, and antioxidants for immune support. 

It’s a simply made food with all of the flavor and none of the junk, which means you can feel good about feeding it to your Border Collie — no matter what stage of life they’re in. 

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AUTHOR
Kim Studdard is a freelance writer for many websites in the pet universe. When she isn't spending time with her family and pets, or saying "Look a dog" everytime she sees one, you'll find her reading a book or traveling the U.S.

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