How To Take Care of A Border Collie

Border collies are still often used as working sheep or farm dogs. However, they have become more common as guide and therapy dogs over the last decade.

Caring for a border collie as a family pet requires patience, time. Importantly Border Collie owners should have the willingness to stimulate this intelligent breed’s brain and exercise its body.  

In this article, we will discuss how to take care of a border collie. This includes discussion on diet, exercise, vet care, etc.

To learn how to take care of a border collies coat, check out our article on border collie coat grooming.

lady hugging a border collie
Border Collie

How Hard is it to Take Care of a Border Collie?

As far as grooming, diet, veterinary care is concerned, taking care of a border collie is not significantly harder than taking care of any other breed of dog. However, unlike other dog breeds, the border collie is very intelligent and highly active. 

Consequently, a border collie will require owners who can provide activities that are long-lasting and can challenge his desire to work. Border Collies require more mental stimulation and more exercise than most other dog breeds.

We will discuss the important routines necessary for taking care of a Border Collie.

Border Collie Care

How to Take Care of Border Collie Coat

If asked to describe a border collie, many would report the dog is black and white with medium-length hair. They would not be wrong; many border collies are the traditional black and white, but they come in many other varieties. Their coats can be short or long, rough or curly. Their colors range from (but are not limited to) black and white, red and white, tri-color, blue, merle, red merle, blue merle lilac, and brindle.

The border collie has two coat styles, rough and smooth, or “long and short” to the novice. Both types are double coats, with the undercoat softer than the outer one.

The rough coat border collie will need to be brushed weekly if possible. This will keep the coat oils distributed and prevent matting. However, professional grooming is often unnecessary; with a bit of effort, the border collie looks beautiful naturally.

The BV Dog and Cat Brush is a highly rated brush that will suit both rough and smooth coat border collies.

A Good Brush for Brushing your Border Collie

If your border collie is prone to matting, an undercoat brush may be beneficial. An undercoat brush looks different from a regular brush; it has metal teeth that will detangle any potential mats in the undercoat. In addition, grooming the undercoat will help your dog with the itchiness of the shedding and tangles. The Pat Your Pet Deshedding Brush is an affordable option for this task.

border collie de-shedding brush
A de-shedding brush for a Border Collie prone to matting

How to Keep a Border Collie Clean. Best Shampoo for Border Collie

Border collies don’t need to be bathed often. Bathing your Border Collie every four months would be reasonable unless they play too much in the dirt that they quickly get filthy or smelly.

When a bath is required, you should use a shampoo that is natural and non-allergenic. You may need to try a few different options; border collies can be fussy about smells. Buddy Wash Dog Shampoo and Conditioner in Lavander and Mint is an excellent all-natural option.  

shampoo for border collie
Best Shampoo for Border Collies

How to Take Care of Border Collie Teeth

Your border collie’s teeth should not be neglected. Although dogs cannot get cavities, dogs are prone to plaque buildup and gum disease.

When not taken care of, gum disease can lead to painful gum swelling and loss of teeth. If possible, your border collies’ teeth should be brushed once a day. A few times a week should suffice if that can’t be accomplished. It is important to get your border collie used to the tooth brushing process early on.  

There are a variety of kits created to support the dental care of your dogs. A good dental kit for the Border Collie is this one. Most dental kits contain a toothbrush and toothpaste intended for use with dogs.

border collie dental kit
Border Collie Dental Kit

Additional products can help you maintain your border collie dental health. For example, there are additives you can add to your dog’s water that is intended to help prevent plaque.

Treats like Greenies can also help to remove plaque in your border collie when given to your border collie every day or every other day.

dental greenies for border collie
Dental Greenies for Border Collie

How to Take Care of  Border Collie Nails

You cannot forget your border collie’s nails! Most border collies get so much exercise that nail trimming isn’t necessary, but you should check their nails often to be safe. Nails that become overgrown can damage the paw and make activities difficult. A border collie’s nails will need to be trimmed if the nails touch the ground when your dog is standing.  

It is important you start to train your puppy early to be familiar with the nail trimming process. The earlier they are acclimated to nail trimming, the easier it will be on all of you. Nails should only be trimmed down to the ‘quick,’ a nail center area with nerves and blood vessels.

Cutting the quick will cause pain and bleeding, and a dog that may be hesitant to continue nail trimming. If the nail is light-colored, you should see the quick with the naked eye. It will look like a dotted line. If the nail is dark, using a flashlight on the nail should make it clear where the quick is.

There are a variety of nail clippers you can use. The most common is the guillotine-style, the nail has to be put into a metal circle, and a blade will come up from the bottom to cut the nail. For example, the Boshel Dog Nail Clipper is a guillotine-style nail clipper that includes a safety stop to prevent cutting the nail too short.  

border collie nail clippers
Border Collie Nail Clippers

How to Take Care of Border Collie Ears

Like all dog ears, it is important to keep your border collie ears clean. Start cleaning their ears when they are a puppy, so they acclimate to the process quickly. You should ask your vet for a demonstration, but generally, you fill their ear canal with an ear cleaning fluid and massage their ear canal vertically from the outside. Then you use gauze to wipe out the ear canal. Eco Ears Ear Cleaning Solution is a top-rated natural ear solution that you can use.

Border Collie Ear Cleaning Solution
Border Collie Ear Cleaning Solution

How to Take Care of Border Collie Eyes.

To take care of your border collie’s eyes, be sure to inspect them regularly. Daily, if possible, look for redness and any clouding of the pupil. These may require a trip to the veterinarian. Every week use a damp wool cloth to wipe around their eyes gently, this will keep them free of debris and dirt. There are wipes you can purchase, like Lid and Lash Ocular Hygiene cleaner, to help with the task.

Dog Eye Cleaner for Border Collie
Dog Eye Cleaner for Border Collie

Taking Care of a Border Collie Puppy

A border collie puppy is one of the cutest beings on earth. Border collies are usually born between 7 and14 ounces and will need to stay with their mother for at least weeks. But, as with many other dogs, as soon as their eyes open, you can get a sense of their personalities.  

Taking care of a border collie puppy is not much different from any other puppy.

You will want to potty train them to establish sleep, exercise, and feeding routines. However, the intelligence of the border collie can make this a bit of a challenge. Inconsistency in training or the commands given can give your pup a reason to forget the rules and do their own thing. Repeating expectations, using the same commands, and positive reinforcement for good behaviors are essential to successful training.

How To Train a Border Collie Puppy

Training a Border Collie Puppy is an essential part of taking care of a border collie puppy.

When training your border collie puppy, there are two initial goals you should focus on:

  • Curbing herding behavior, and
  • Providing enough exercise

Specific to the border collie, you may see herding behaviors emerge right away. For example, they may chase after cars, try to run around your child while they are biking or skating, and nip at the heels of small children. They will likely grow out of this behavior, but to help that process, you can use a few techniques.

First, you can discourage the behavior by preventing it from being any fun. For example, if the dog latches onto a foot or pant leg, remain entirely still. Your little nipper will interpret the resistance as the beginning of a game if you jerk it away. So, after your puppy, let go wait until they are focused on something else and give them affection and attention. In combination with this, you can use a rest period in their kennel immediately after nipping to discourage the behavior.

Second, the best way to see your puppy doesn’t establish any bad habits is to make sure they get enough exercise. A border collie pup will need lots of varied exercise throughout the day to be happy. This may include walks, games of fetch, and complex training sessions to learn physical skills.

The border collie puppy will be most relaxed in the home when it has had up to two hours of varied exercise a day.

Amazon carries a variety of beginner dog agility kits at affordable prices. You can use this kit to exercise and train your border collie. 

border collie agility kit
Agility Kit for Exercising and Training a Border Collie

Ensuring Your Border Collie’s Safety During Play

When you take walks with your pup and see the herding instinct displayed as they want to run after every car and bicyclist that passes, you will want to make sure you are using a harness that will keep them safe.

One of the best and most affordable options is the Pet Safety Easy Walk No Pull Dog Harness. This harness prevents pulling and helps you direct your border collie where you want him to go. In addition, it will help you to focus your herder on things other than passing vehicles.

border collie harness
Safety Harness For Border Collie

Your Border Collie Needs Good Mental Exercises

Exercise for your border collie should also include mental exercise. So when you finish exhausting your pup physically, some indoor mental puzzles might be just the thing.

A quick google search can give you some ideas for DIY dog puzzles to keep your little one occupied. There are many fun dog puzzles available for purchase as well. For example, the Tornado Dog Enrichment toy by Onfsevy is a layered puzzle that spins around, allowing for access to the treat to change continually.

This toy has easy and difficult settings allowing your dog to grow with the toy. This is a good toy that you can use to mentally stimulate your Border Collie.

metal stimulation game for border collie
Mental Stimulation Game for a Border Collie

Feeding a Border Collie

As your border collie grows, you will want to provide the best nutrition possible. A quickly growing and active puppy will need about 1400 calories a day.

For a puppy younger than six months – feeding them small meals throughout the day is an ideal feeding routine. As they enter the second half of their first year of life, they can settle into three meals a day, with the ultimate goal being two meals a day when they reach adulthood. Adulthood reduces calorie needs to about 1000, and an elderly border collie needs closer to 700.

You can feed your border kibble, wet food, or a raw diet if you have the time to dedicate to that kind of project.

Kibble should be of high quality with some sort of meat or fish as the first ingredient. Kibble with too many fillers can be unhealthy for your dog.

Farmina Natural and Delicious and Ancestral Low Grain Puppy Formula is a fantastic example of healthy Kibble. The first five ingredients of the Farmina Puppy formula are deboned chicken, dehydrated chicken, whole spelt, whole oats, and chicken fat.

Veterinarians recommend puppy kibble provides at least 22%-32% protein; Farmina exceeds that at 38%.

kibble for border collie
A Dog Food for a Border Collie

It is almost a guarantee your border collie will enjoy wet food if you can afford to provide it. However, wet food does not protect a dog’s teeth the way dry kibble can or give your border collie a satisfying chewing experience. Despite this, wet food may be your only choice if you have a picky eater on your hands. Wellness Complete Health Just For Puppy provides a healthy wet food option. It comes in 8 flavors, and all have a protein content of up to 40%.  

wet dog food for border collie
A Good Wet Dog Food for Your Border Collie

If feeding your border collie a raw diet or BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) is your goal; it is a good idea to see a dog nutritionist before you embark on the raw diet. The nutritionist will help you determine the best foods to feed your dog.

The general guidelines around BARF state 70% of the diet should be raw muscle meat, 10% raw edible bone, 5% liver, 5% other organs, 7% vegetables, 2% seeds and nuts, and 1% fruits. As you can see, this diet takes dedication, effort, and time.

When to Spay or Neuter Your Border Collie.

There is some debate over when to spay or neuter all dog breeds including Border Collies.   Many dog owners, no matter the breed. Will want to spay or neuter by six months of age. Others will recommend you wait. A study investigating the risk/benefits ratio to surgical castration at six months vs. one year. Different breeds had different results, and waiting a year, or longer is correlated with better health outcomes.

When in doubt, follow the guideline of the American Animal Hospital Association on the best time to spay/neuter a dog.

Border Collie Health

Do Border Collies have Specific Health Concerns?

Yes, some health issues are endemic to the border collie breed.

For example, border collies are prone to hip dysplasia. However, ethical border collie breeders should be able to provide health clearances for hip dysplasia for both your puppy and their parents.

Hip dysplasia has many consequences; some dogs will show no symptoms early, while others will develop a lame leg. This condition will eventually develop into arthritis, a painful and difficult to treat this condition.

Border Collies can develop an eye condition called Progressive Retinal Atrophy. This disease causes the retina to slowly deteriorate, resulting in first-night blindness, then it leads to a total inability to see.

Another eye condition that usually appears by the time the border collie is two years old is Collie Eye Anomaly. Collie Eye Anomaly causes various degenerative problems in the eye, with the potential for total blindness.

If you want your Border Collie puppy to grow up to be healthy and free of genetic diseases, make sure that your Border Collie breeder screens your puppy or your puppy`s parents for the health problems that are endemic to the Border Collie breed. This will increase the chances that your puppy is free from genetic defects.

Border Collies are also vulnerable to epilepsy and allergies. Epilepsy often runs in families but not always. It is a neurological condition that can cause symptoms ranging from simply odd behavior to collapsing into an unconscious state.

The good news is epilepsy is often treatable long term the prognosis is good. Border Collies are also often the victims of allergies. There are many triggers for a possible reaction, including food, soap, flea treatments, and other household chemicals. If you think your border collie might be suffering from allergies, speak to a veterinarian. The veterinarian can help to determine what the cause may be.  

Border Collie Care

Are Border Collies High Maintenance?

Border collies are not high maintenance if what you want out of a dog-owning experience is an active lifestyle that includes your pet. 

The border collie can be a fantastic family pet when provided opportunities to stimulate the mind and body. They are fiercely loyal to their families and gentle with children.

Their active personalities and quick intelligence can truly enrich the lives of whoever they choose to love. If you are willing to put in the time and are able to provide them a place to run free, the border collie can be the perfect dog.