9 Best Dog Foods for Border Collies in 2020 with an In-Depth Nutrition and Feeding Guide

One of the biggest questions new border collie owners often ask when they start to research the breed is “What should I feed my new pooch”. The world of dog food can be surprisingly confusing, especially if you are a first-time dog owner. Different brands will advertise different things about their food claiming that it’s the best thing to ever be invented – but who do you believe?

Border Collies are smart and athletic. They are agile and love to be active.

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They were originally bred as sheep and livestock herders in the border country of England and Scotland and many Border Collies are still used as working dogs. Border Collies can make great pets but they do have intense personalities at times. They do best with an owner who is committed to doing things with their dog to keep him mentally and physically happy. A Border Collie will not be happy just relaxing at home all the time. They are definitely on-the-go, active dogs.

When deciding what to feed your Border Collie, you need to think about your dog’s activity level, the breed, any food allergies or sensitivities, and their personal tastes. It can be overwhelming to choose a food that you know your dog is going to love, while still providing him the nutrition he needs to live a happy life.

Today we’re going to take away all of the guesswork for you and provide you with everything you need to know about border collie nutrition and feeding schedules. We’re going to conclude with a rundown of 8 of the best dog foods on the market suitable for border collies (both adults and puppies).

Let’s get started.

What To Look For In A Good Border Collie Dog Food

Border collies are a reasonably hardy breed of dog, it’s what made them so popular as working dogs for herding sheep. They have very few specific dietary requirements, and they don’t really suffer from many allergies like some other breeds do. That being said, because they’re reasonably active dogs there are a few things that are beneficial (but not essential) for you to provide in greater quantities.

Calcium

Border collies are well known for their love of playtime. They are an incredibly active breed that will be running and jumping all day long given the chance. All of this activity can put a lot of stress on the bones and joints of your pooch. Because border collies are hardy dogs all this activity won’t cause issues – but it’s always good to give a helping hand. By finding a food that is high in calcium you’ll promote stronger healthier joints and reduce the chance of issue or injury.

Protein

Like all dogs, border collies require a huge amount of protein in their diet. They are still very closely related to the wolves they descended from who eat a diet of almost pure meat. Ensure that any dog food you choose has a huge amount of protein in it (nearly all good foods on the market already have this as standard).

Carbohydrates

Because border collies are such an active breed they need a huge amount of calories to be able to be as active as they inherently want to be. Try and find foods that have a large amount of slow burning carbohydrates in them to fuel your pooch throughout the day. Avoiding low-quality carbs (grains) is better if possible, but it’s not the end of the world if you can’t.

Your Dog’s Reaction

To be totally honest, because of the hardy nature of border collies perhaps the most important thing you need to be looking at when picking a food is your dog’s reaction to it. Do they seem to be enjoying it and gobbling it up? Or are they slowly picking at it throughout the day? Does their coat seem full and shiny or is it shedding more?

Keep an eye on these things and see how a change in food affects the mood and health of your pooch. If you notice issues, change the food to another brand and see how they get on. It’s amazing how much of a difference it can make.

Best Foods for a Border Collie

American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry

Healthy Ingredients : Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes
Key Features :

  • Grain free
  • Digestible
  • Great for pets with food sensitivities
  • DHA and omega fatty acids
Why You Should Buy

American Journey Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is a popular choice amongst dog owners. It features sweet potatoes as a digestible carb and salmon as the main protein source. It’s great for dogs with food sensitivities.

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We’ve searched high and low for what we think is the best value food to feed a border collie on the market. We came up with several products we’re comfortable with recommending (and we’ll list them below). However, we think the best overall value for money food is the salmon and sweet potato mix from American Journey.

We’re not biased, but we absolutely love this food (and recommend it for several breeds). It’s all based on a recipe that goes above and beyond to provide all natural ingredients that are going to fuel your pooch throughout the day. The protein sources in this food are of an exceptionally high quality and all come from real salmon (which brings with it a whole heap of essential oils and amino acids).

As we mentioned earlier, your border collie needs a decent chunk of carbohydrates to stay active and happy all day long. Like the protein, the carbohydrates in this food are also of a very high quality and are derived from sweet potato and chickpeas. There are also a bunch of added vitamins and minerals to keep a healthy coat and to help reduce shedding (and it’s high in calcium too).

Essentially this is everything a border collie could ever need from a food, and we’re willing to bet your pooch will love it.

Best Overall – Ollie Fresh Subscription Dog Food

Healthy Ingredients : Varies based on recipe chosen
Key Features :

  • Human-Grade
  • Convenient Subscription Service
  • Portioned Individually for your dog
  • All fresh ingredients
Why You Should Buy

Ollie

Ollie is a fresh, human-grade dog food option delivered directly to your doorstep and perfectly portioned and created for your dog.

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Our next recommendation is a fresh dog food from Ollie. Although they’re a bit different than many other brands, there’s a lot to like here. Ollie meals are fresh, nutritious, and customizable. Each meal is created for your dog’s specific needs. You choose between beef, chicken, lamb, or turkey. Next, you then choose from a variety of superfoods, fruits, and vegetables. All portions are custom-created based on your dog’s age, activity level, and other factors. It’s an easy way to provide your dog with all-day energy without weight gain.

All ingredients are both fresh and human-grade. Because it’s fresh, you can’t store large quantities of it for a long time. However, Ollie ships the meals directly to your house as part of a subscription plan. Although it’s not quite as convenient as a bag of dry food, the top-quality taste and nutrition are worth the extra storage steps.

Finally, we also like how you can customize the meals for your Border Collie’s needs. Ollie’s fresh food is an easy way to deliver the nutrition they need. Even better, dogs love the fresh taste!

UnKibble by Spot and Tango Chicken and Brown Rice

Healthy Ingredients : Chicken Brown Rice, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Apples
Key Features :

  • Three recipes available
  • Dried slowly at a low temp
  • Portioned specially for your dog
  • Human-grade ingredients
Why You Should Buy

UnKibble by Spot and Tango Duck and Salmon Recipe

UnKibble by Spot and Tango Duck and Salmon Recipe is a fresh dog food made with human-grade ingredients. It is dried slowly at a low temperature to preserve its nutritional integrity, and delivered right to your doorstep!

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UnKibble is made with 100%, whole, human-grade ingredients and is delivered right to your door with a perfectly portioned scoop just for your dog. The recipes are developed by veterinarians, and you can be sure that your pet is getting only the best. There are 3 different, simple recipes to choose from. When you sign up for Spot and Tango, you create a unique profile that will include the correct portion size, just for your dog. You won’t have to guess or measure, just follow your pet’s personalized plan and use the scoop specially sized for your dog. UnKibble is dried slowly at a low temperature so as not to compromise the nutritional integrity. Spot and Tango haven’t had any recalls, either. If you want the benefits of human grade food, at a cheaper price point, or in dry food form, we think UnKibble might be what you’re looking for!

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Healthy Ingredients : Buffalo, Bison, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes
Key Features :

  • Novel proteins
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Ideal for pets with food allergies
  • Prebiotic support
Why You Should Buy

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Food

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain Free Dog Food contains both bison and buffalo and has many nutritious ingredients to support healthy digestion for your border collie. It is grain free and has fresh fruits and vegetables.

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This grain-free food from taste of the wild is an exceptionally popular choice among border collie owners. It provides a huge amount of calories from complex carbohydrate sources (peas and sweet potatoes) without resorting to low-quality grains. The 3 protein sources are all animal-based, your pooch will think they are at a fine dining restaurant with the roasted bison, beef, and venison that are included in the recipe.

Vegetables like tomatoes and raspberries provide antioxidants and the addition of chicory root provides much-needed probiotics to keep your dog’s stomach happy and healthy too. As an added bonus it’s gluten free too, so if your pooch does have allergies – it’s a great option.

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

Healthy Ingredients : Deboned Beef, Lamb Meal, Salmon Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes
Key Features :

  • Roasted Texas beef
  • Made in the USA
  • Locally sourced ingredients
  • Well balanced recipe
Why You Should Buy

Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Merrick Grain-Free Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food is made in the USA with locally sourced ingredients. It is a well-balanced recipe with roasted Texas beef and a variety of fruits and veggies.

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Some of the dog foods we came across while researching this article looked good enough for us to consider eating them ourselves (almost). This product from the world famous Merrick was one that particularly stood out. The majority of protein in this food comes from genuine roasted Texas beef which is blended with a variety of fruits and vegetables to make a healthy tasty treat for your pooch. It’s well balanced, full of vitamins and minerals, and it’s got fatty acids and omega oils for a healthy shiny coat with minimal shedding.

Eagle Pack Original Adult Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

Healthy Ingredients : Lamb Meal, Oatmeal, Ground Brown Rice, Dehulled Barley, Chicken Fat
Key Features :

  • Well balanced food
  • Dogs seem to love it
Why You Should Buy

Eagle Pack Original Adult Dry Dog Food

Eagle Pack Original Adult Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Formula Dry Dog Food is a well-balanced meal that dogs really seem to love. It has roasted lamb as the source of protein and minerals to support a healthy, shiny coat.

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Eagle pack have taken a slightly different approach to many other products on this list with their original recipe food. They have opted to go for a single protein source instead of blending several together (roasted lamb). This promotes super lean muscle mass and contains minerals that will keep coats happy, healthy and shiny. The carbohydrates in this food leave a little to be desired compared to other brands as they come from oats and brown rice – but despite this, it’s still a very well rounded food that should be high on your shortlist.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy

Healthy Ingredients : Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Peas, Tapioca Starch
Key Features :

  • Great value for money
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Chicken protein (not chicken meal)
Why You Should Buy

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy is from a reputable and well-liked dog food brand. The protein comes from real chicken and it has complex carbohydrates and omega oils and amino acids to create a well-balanced meal for your puppy.

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We’d be shocked if any dog owner reading this article has not heard of Blue Buffalo. They’re one of the biggest (and best) dog food manufacturers in the world, and for a good reason too. Their products hit the sweet spot between quality and affordability time and time again – and this one is no exception.

The protein in this food comes from real chicken and is complemented with a healthy dose of complex carbohydrates in the form of brown rice. It’s high in calories and high in nutrients too (with added omega oils and amino acids). It’s everything a growing puppy could need.

Victor Select Nutra Pro Active Dog & Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

Healthy Ingredients : Chicken Meal, Blood Meal, Whole Grain Millet, Chicken Fat
Key Features :

  • Smaller portion sizes
  • 90% Animal protein
  • Vitamin E creates healthy coats
  • Very good value for money
Why You Should Buy

Victor Select Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

Victor Select Nutra Pro Active Dog & Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food is great for an active dog like your Border Collie. It has various protein sources and added Vitamin E for a healthy coat. It’s also designed for smooth digestion.

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If there is a single word that could be used to describe a border collie it would probably be active – which is what makes this food perfect. Its been specifically formulated to provide active breeds like the border collie with the calorific content (and nutrients) they need to grow up to be happy healthy adults.

There are various protein sources that have been combined to make this food, and 90% of it comes from real meat, chicken, and fish. There’s added vitamin E for a healthy coat and the formula has been specifically designed to be efficiently digested. This means that pound for pound your pooch will get more out of each bowl of food than many other brands (so portion sizes are smaller). This makes the already very reasonable price of this food even better value than it was.

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Healthy Ingredients : Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes
Key Features :

  • Smoked salmon protein
  • 100% Grain free
  • High-quality ingredients
Why You Should Buy

Taste of the Wild Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food has smoked salmon as the main protein. This 100% grain free recipe is made with only the best ingredients and is specially designed for puppies the size of border collies.

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This is the second Taste Of The Wild product we have mentioned today, and it’s just as good as the first. As the name suggests this is a product that has been specifically designed for puppies of breeds that are the same size as a border collie. It’s high in calories and is 100% grain free (which means you’re getting good carbohydrates). Smoked salmon is the main protein source and the oils and acids it contains promote a healthy coat and strong joints.

How Often Should You Feed A Border Collie

How often and how much you should feed a border collie depends on how old they are.

The oldest and wisest dogs who are “retired” and don’t do much physical activity can be fed around 700 calories per day. They may seem like they want more food, but it’s unlikely they are burning more than this amount.

If your pooch is reasonably active and gets a long day of play then between 900 and 1000 calories a day is a happy medium. This will give them enough energy to do what they do best all day long without becoming overweight.

If your border collie is going to be a working dog then you need to increase the calorific intake further. Being out and about herding sheep is a lot of hard work! 1400 calories per day would not be excessive in these situations – but again keep an eye on their weight.

The recommended feeding schedule for adult border collies is twice a day (breakfast and dinner). Working dogs can have a little midday snack, but it’s almost always better to avoid this if possible. It’s the same for puppies – but remember to adjust the amount of food you’re giving them.

Always use the recommended quantities on the package of the food you’re using as foods can vary dramatically in terms of calorific content.

If you’re a new border collie owner then you should be aware of what we commonly refer to as “bottomless stomach syndrome”. Like several other breeds, border collies are seemingly incapable of self-regulating the amount of food they eat in a single sitting. They will just keep eating and eating and eating until they physically cannot eat more.

This means that you need to be super strict with the amount of food you provide in a single serving. Some border collie owners mistakenly think their pooch is still hungry and give them a second (and often third) portion – which is clearly a mistake. This ability to keep eating and eating also means that automatic feeders are out of the question for the breed, they’ll eat a day’s worth of food for breakfast (and do the same again at lunch) without breaking a sweat.

Conclusion

So there you have it, everything you could ever want to know about how (and what) to feed your border collie.

Any of the foods we have mentioned above are more than worthy of your consideration, quite honestly they are all winners to have made it into this article today. Your border collie will enjoy eating any of them.

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta is a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine Dog News. She's also the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, the Dog Writers Association of America Adoptashelter.com Award winner for 2013. In addition, she's written Canine Cuisine: 101 Natural Dog Food & Treat Recipes to Make Your Dog Healthy and Happy.

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