Obesity in Border Collies and how to help your collie lose weight

Border collies are athletic and energetic dogs, so we don’t often think of them as being overweight.

In spite of their boundless energy, occasionally border collies can become overweight, usually because of their diet, a lack of exercise, or an underlying health condition.

If you notice your collie is becoming overweight, it’s important to try to help them get back to a healthy weight, since being overweight can have an adverse effect on your collie’s quality of life and shorten their lifespan.

In this article we will look at why collies might become overweight, how to help them get back to normal, and why it’s important for you to help your collie maintain a healthy weight.

My border collie is overweight! How can I help them lose weight?

If your Border Collie is overweight, the best way to help them lose weight is to ensure they are eating appropriate foods and in an appropriate quantity, and also to make sure they get enough exercise.

Ensure your collie isn’t eating too much food

Collies are athletic, and intelligent. They may need to consume more calories than other breeds, because of how much exercise they get, but it’s important not to give them too much.

Collies are usually not driven by food, but instead by toys and games. This means when you place their dinner down to them, it’s normal for them to leave it until they are hungry.

Don’t try to force them to eat when they aren’t hungry, and don’t try to replace their regular dog food with something you think may be more tasty for them.

While your collie may not eat their food straight away, they will eat it when they are hungry. Don’t be tempted to feed them unhealthy treats instead, since these can be unhealthy and lack nutrition.

Check out our Border Collie Food Guide for an idea of how many calories your border collie should be eating each day.

Ensure your collie is eating the correct food

Not all dog food is created equal, and you should make sure you feed your collie a food that’s good for collies.

Collies should eat nutritious dog food for medium sized dogs, which is low in carbohydrates and rich in protein. You should also ensure whatever food you give them has a vegetable component.

Raw food is another option for border collies. Lamb, beef, eggs, and turkey are all raw options your collie will love, although a high quality dried food contains all the nutrients your collie will need.

Read More: Can Collies Eat Eggs?

When rewarding your collie with treats, plant or vegetable based treats are a more healthy option than giving them meat all the time, although you do need to be careful as some fruit and vegetables are unsuitable for collies. Check out the Collie Diet section for more info on suitable foods for your collie.

Collies should not eat the same food as humans, since their digestion system is different from humans and they can not extract the same nutrients from food that we can, meaning even some healthy food for humans can be nutritionally worthless for dogs.

Ensure your collie is getting enough exercise

Collies are athletic and energetic. Just look at any dog agility championship results and the top 10 will be completely dominated by Border Collies.

Without sufficient exercise, collies have no quality of life. They are not content to stay indoors all the time, they need exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

It’s recommended to give your collie at least two hours of off-lead exercise every single day. If you have a nearby park, field, or countryside that’s the ideal spot for a collie, so they can really open up and run around.

Looking for collie exercise ideas? Check out my guide to exercising with your collie, where I go over how much exercise they need and give you some exercise ideas.

Collie Exercising
Come rain or shine, Luna loves running around the fields chasing her ball.

What to do if your border collie is overweight?

If your collie is overweight, it’s important to act quickly to help them return to a healthy weight.

The best way to help your collie lose weight is to ensure they are eating correctly, and by giving them plenty of exercise.

Since collies are usually so active and energetic, obesity is usually a sign that something is wrong with their diet or the amount of exercise they are getting, however there is also a small chance that there may be other health conditions affecting your collie’s weight.

If your collie is seriously overweight, or if their weight doesn’t drop even though you are giving them plenty of exercise, it might be a good idea to take your collie for a check up at the vet.

Your vet will be able to check for any underlying health conditions which may be causing your collie to gain weight and give you impartial advice about what food you should be feeding them.

Are border collies prone to obesity?

Collies are not usually prone to obesity because of how much exercise they get.

Since obesity is fairly uncommon in border collies, if you see your collie packing on the pounds it is usually indicative that something in your collie’s lifestyle, diet, or health is going wrong and you should take it seriously.

Why being a healthy weight is important for your collie

Collies are—by their nature—extremely energetic. They NEED exercise like a fish needs water. Without regular exercise, a collie will have no quality of life and may develop compulsive behaviors and other mental issues.

When a collie is overweight, it’s the canary in the coal mine. Obesity in healthy collies is not natural, and it’s a definite sign that something is wrong with your collie’s lifestyle, diet, or rarely that they may have an underlying health condition which is causing them to gain weight.

Obesity in border collies can cause a number of health conditions, just like it can in humans.

According to the VCA Veterinary Hospital, obesity in your collie can contribute to serious health conditions including an increased likelihood of arthritis and joint pain, and circulatory problems including high blood pressure and an increased likelihood of heart issues.

Unfortunately, the longer you allow your collie to remain overweight, the more irreparable wear and tear they will experience in their joints, significantly increasing the chance of them suffering from extreme pain and inflammation when they are older.

You owe it to your collie to ensure they are healthy and happy, and maintaining a healthy weight is a huge part of that.

Luna in her happy place, at the park with her ball.

Border Collie Weight Classification

The American Kennel Club classifies dog breeds according to their weight.

According to the American Kennel Club Breed Weight TableBorder Collies usually weigh between 35 and 55lbs, or between 16 and 25 kilograms.

As you can see from the table below, this places most border collies firmly in the “medium dogs” weight classification, although occasionally at the bottom end of the “large dogs” weight classification.

Dog Breed Weight Classification Table:

ClassificationWeight (lbs)Weight (kgs)
ToyUp to 12 lbsUp to 5.4kg
Small12 lbs – 25 lbs5.4kg – 11.3kg
Medium25 lbs – 50 lbs11.3kg – 22.7kg
Large50 lbs – 100 lbs22.7kg – 45.4kg
GiantOver 100 lbsOver 45.4kg
Source: American Kennel Club

How heavy should a fully grown border collie be?

A fully grown border collie should be between 35lbs and 55lbs, or roughly 16 to 25 kgs. Border collies should achieve their full grown weight at around 18 months old.

How heavy your border collie is depends on their diet, how much exercise they get, their build, whether they are male or female, what type of coat they have, their genetics, and even just what time of day it is.

Don’t worry too much if your collie’s weight fluctuates from day to day, or week to week. As long as they get enough exercise and aren’t unhealthily overweight they are fine.

Luna’s favorite indoor exercise is chasing the vacuum around the living room…

How to tell if my border collie is overweight?

Border Collies should be roughly 35 – 55lbs, but collies weight is impacted by many factors, including their age, activity levels, their genetics, what type of coat they have, and their diet.

If your collie doesn’t fall exactly within the usual weight range, it’s not a cause for concern if your collie is still happy and healthy, and their weight is in proportion with their overall size.

Using body weight as a guide, dogs are considered to be overweight when they weigh 10-20% above their ideal body weight. They are considered obese when they weigh 20% or more above their ideal body weight.

What makes a border collie become overweight?

Your collie may become overweight because:

  • They are eating the wrong type of food
  • They are eating too much food
  • They are getting insufficient exercise
  • They have an underlying health condition

The good news is most of these can be sorted by diet and exercise. Losing some weight will positively impact your collie’s happiness and improve their quality of life.

Is it bad if your border collie is overweight?

It’s a bad sign if your collie is overweight. Collies are active dogs and need to exercise to keep their minds and bodies healthy.

If your collie is overweight, it is bad because it can potentially be an indicator that your collie is receiving insufficient exercise, there is a problem with their food or diet, or that they have an underlying health condition.

Additionally, obesity in border collies can be a contributing factor to a number of illnesses developing in their later life.

It’s OK if your collie’s size is a little different

Finally, don’t worry if your collie is a little large, or a little skinny.

It’s normal for most dogs to be less active during winter and thus gain a bit of weight, and it’s normal for different dogs within the same breed to vary in size according to their genetics.

Collies’ weight can be affected by a number of things, including their diet, their genetics, their age, what type of coat they have, and the amount of exercise they get.

Collie Climbing Stairs in Slow Moti... x
Collie Climbing Stairs in Slow Motion

About the author:

About the author:

Hollie and Border Collie

Hollie

Howling and Growling Editor

Hollie

Howling and Growling Editor

Hollie is an experienced collie owner from Scotland and the original founder of Howling and Growling. Wherever Hollie goes, her beloved collie Luna is never far behind!

Learn More about Hollie and Luna's story on the about page!