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Border Collie - breed information and advice

This highly intelligent, graceful dog is born with an instinct to work and responds extremely well to training, which is why it is often used as a mountain-rescue or sniffer dog. Border Collies make loyal, faithful pets that thrive on company and aren’t happy sitting around the house all day.

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Breed information


Size: Medium

Coat: This breed’s weatherproof double coat makes it suitable for being out in any conditions. Its coat needs to be groomed at least once a week.

Exercise: 2+ hours a day for adult dogs. Border Collies can get easily bored and possibly destructive if they’re not exercised enough.

Life span: 12+ years

Breed group: Pastoral dogs were originally bred to herd sheep and cattle, and to help ‘drovers’ move stock to the market. As such, they have a strong natural instinct to herd.


Border Collies can suffer from conditions that affect the brain, spine and some nerves. Epilepsy is a brain disorder that results in seizures or fitting, which may begin in dogs as young as six months old. Epileptic seizures look painful, but generally aren’t. However, depending on the severity, they may need to be controlled with medication for the dog’s entire life to ensure a happy, normal existence.


Epilepsy is the third most common illness we see in Border Collies

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Eye disorders

The eye is a complex structure consisting of several layers, any of which can become damaged. Border Collies can suffer from an eye condition called retinal atrophy, which damages the light-sensitive cells in the retina (the lining of the back of the eye). The retina is crucial to normal vision, so this can result in total or partial blindness. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to treat retinal degeneration.


We paid £2,792 to treat Harry the dog for eye disorders in 2016

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Hip dysplasia

Border Collies are one of the breeds that are prone to hip dysplasia. This occurs when the bones that form the hip joint don’t fit together perfectly, causing wear and tear to the joints. Like other dogs, Border Collies can develop arthritis (which means ‘inflammation of the joints’) as a result of this wear and tear. They may show signs of stiffness (especially after lying down), and be reluctant to exercise or go up or down stairs and steps. Long-term treatment or surgery will be required to keep the dog active.


Arthritis is the second most common illness we see in Border Collies

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A dog’s pancreas produces insulin, which is required to regulate body sugar and fat metabolism. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin. Certain conditions make dogs more likely to develop diabetes, such as being overweight, inflammation of the pancreas, and drugs that interfere with insulin (such as prescribed steroids and hormones). Also, some breeds are more prone to the illness than others, including Border Collies. Diabetes can be managed successfully in the long term with an injection of insulin once or twice a day, along with regulated feeding routines.


We paid £3,055 to treat Jake the Border Collie for diabetes in 2016

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Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence describes conditions that lead to a dog losing control over when he or she urinates. Urethral sphincter mechanism incompetence (USMI), which is like a leaky tap, is the most common cause of urinary incontinence. Although it sometimes affects male dogs, it’s most common in females that have been spayed (which is not to say that all spayed females will become incontinent). Medication or, very rarely, surgery, is used to manage USMI, allowing the dog to remain active and happy.


In our experience, Incontinence is the most common urinary problem in Border Collies

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