Dogs are known as man’s best friend and are adorable fur angels. It may sound unfair, but their longevity seems to be getting shorter, and you can’t make them stay for as long as you like.
Fortunately, Border Collies are one of the most versatile canines around. If you’re interested in this working breed, find out what you can do to make the most of their lifespan.
What are Border Collies’ like – size, color, and temperament
Borders are medium-sized herders with an average weight of 30 to 45 lbs (14 to 20 kg) and about 18 to 22 inches (46 to 56 cm) tall.
With their line of work, the Border Collie’s double-layered hair helps the breed to adapt in different weather conditions. Borders are not hypoallergenic and shed heavily during the shedding season.
The Border’s coat can either be medium in length and rough, or short and smooth. They commonly come in black and white, but they have a wide range of colors, patterns, and markings.
Border Collies are highly intelligent and energetic, but they’re also sensitive and happy dogs that are suited for active families.
With that said, this is a breed where a regular-sized yard won’t suffice. They need to perform jobs or tasks and requires a lot of exercise with their owners and on their own. It is also why they’re mostly recommended to people who have a ranch or farm.
The herding nature of the Border Collie is a trait that you want to consider. There’s a possibility that they would herd and nip kids and other pets you have.
Some Borders would also chase squirrels and cars. They are also known for their intense gaze or “the eye.” They’d look standoffish, especially with strangers, and it seems like they’re on a staring contest.
Here’s a short video showing how Border Collies stare as if they’re on the prowl.
A Border Collie’s lifestyle
Not a lot of us have a ranch or farm where a Border Collie can run around freely to herd sheep and cattle to burn all its energy every day. Even if they’re bred to live that way, every owner of this canine should find creative outlets to exhaust and keep your dog satisfied.
Borders are athletic and agile, so you can have your pup or dog join canine sports, herding competitions, and even jobs such as search and rescue.
Without proper physical and mental stimulation, a bored Border Collie that’s filled with pent up energy will misbehave and get depressed, and eventually lead to health issues.
What health problems do Border Collies have?
All dog breeds have their own particular diseases, but it doesn’t mean they will all be affected. Border Collies are generally healthy, but they’re also prone to different illnesses.
Most of the time, when a Border Collie suffers from a medical condition, it’s connected to their genetic background.
Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) and epilepsy are considered primary concerns for Borders.
CEA is a congenital eye condition that affects the eye’s sclera, choroid, and retina. It rarely impairs the vision of the infected dog, so it’s considered a mild illness.
Another eye problem is Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). What it does is slowly disintegrate the retina that will lead to partial or complete loss of vision at night, then complete daytime blindness.
There are DNA tests to check PRA and CEA, which help breeders avoid using dogs who are affected as their breeding stock.
Border Collies can also suffer from two types of deafness.
The first one is found in puppies and is pigment associated. The pups can have congenital sensorineural deafness once they’re born, or it can develop while they’re growing up.
The second one is called adult-onset hearing loss. Once tested during puppyhood, the results would show a normal auditory brainstem, but within 1 to 8 years of age, adults gradually lose their hearing.
Blindness and deafness will also likely happen to Border Collies who are double merles or lethal whites.
Elbow Dysplasia is also common with Borders, but there are different types of hip exams such as PennHip and OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals).
Other conditions that Border Collies are susceptible to are:
Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS)
This is another hereditary illness where the bone marrow produces neutrophils or white cells, yet it’s not able to effectively release them into the dog’s bloodstream. It will impair the immune system of the affected pup, which may lead to death as its body is unable to fight infections. Although there’s no cure, a DNA test will help detect carriers or those who are affected.
Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (NCL)
This disease may be rare, but they’re fatal and is limited to show Border Collies. It causes severe neurological impairment that leads to an early death. Canines who suffer from NCL rarely survive and grow beyond the age of 2 years.
Also called “the wobbles,” working or herding dogs are the most common victim of this disease. It seems to be caused by high-intensity exercises.
The signs for Border Collie collapse include loss of attention, mental dullness, disorientation, unsteady hind legs or dragging them, and always needing to sit or lay down.
An example is if your Border Collie can run for hours without any symptom of the wobbles, but looks tired that he can’t even fetch his favorite toy. Unfortunately, there’s no way to diagnose and treat BCC for now.
Watch this video of a Border Collie who’s having a BCC episode after 5 minutes of exercise:
The common or leading cause of death in Borders are cancer (23%), old age (17%), and cerebral vascular (9.4%).
The Border Collie’s lifespan
Border Collies have an average life expectancy of 12 years. Overall, it’s from 10 to 15 years, but some of them reach 17 years of age or more.
Since most health problems that Border Collies get are hereditary, the first step you can do so you can spend more time with him is to check the medical history of his bloodline. Luckily, it’s one of the signs that you’re speaking with a responsible breeder.
Reputable breeders keep thorough documentation of their dogs’ health and would even proactively show it to you. If you have any questions like how long did their Border Collie’s relatives lived or the causes of their death, they’d be able to answer right away.
What can you do to help your Border Collie live longer
Before you bring your Border Collie puppy home, you have to make sure that it’s safe.
Puppies are curious little furballs that would try to put their sniffer in each corner of your house.
Some of these tips may seem obvious, but let’s admit it, we often forget what we’re supposed to do as owners. Besides, there’s no such thing as too safe when taking care of our doggos.
Watch what your Border Collie eats
Another main factor you have control over is providing a healthy diet for your dog. Whether you prefer dry kibbles or wet food for your Border Collie, choose a high-quality dog food that’s packed with protein and rich in omega fatty acid.
Some are full of additives and by-products, which can either trigger or lead to health problems.
If you’re willing to spend time and money to prepare a healthy meal for your Border dog, raw food or BARF is also a good option.
This diet consists of meat, vegetables, fruits, eggs, and more. You can also mix in dry or wet dog food with it.
It’s smart to research and consult a vet or a canine nutritionist before changing, adding, or removing anything from your Border Collie’s diet.
Make sure you keep your Border pup or dog from eating certain human foods that are dangerous for canines like chocolates, grapes, onions, and mushrooms. Store any prescription and over-the-counter drugs where your pet won’t be able to reach it.
Keep chemical products away from your Border
This applies to both indoors and outdoors. First, avoid using products and cleaners that have harmful chemicals such as dishwashing and laundry detergents, bleach, ethanol, mothballs, and of course, garbage.
Next is outside. Your Border Collie will spend time running and playing in the yard. From the time your dog comes home with you, make sure there are no chemicals on the lawn.
Be careful about indoor and outdoor plants that are harmful to dogs, as well.
Border Collies are on the medium range of dog sizes, but whether they’re miniature or large, a small amount of toxic substance can lead to life-threatening consequences.
Did you know that 16 ounces of chocolate can kill a 20-pound dog?
If in case your dog ingested or consumed any food or chemical that’s lethal for pets, contact or visit a vet clinic right away.
You may be an experienced pet owner who would opt to induce vomiting if your Border Collie ate something toxic or poisonous, so here’s a video if it’s recommended or not, and how to properly do it.
Ensure your Border Collie stays active
All dog breeds need exercise to maintain a healthy body. But we can’t stress enough the importance of the Border Collie’s need for a more intense mental and physical stimulation.
With a background of being hard-workers, it’s in their nature to be always on the move.
Did you know that exercise impacts the overall state of your pet? Pent-up energy may lead to frustration and depression, which will be the cause of behavioral issues then towards possible physiological problems.
There are a lot of toys and puzzles that can keep your Border Collie busy while indoors. Aside from taking him on a hike, a walk, or a run, let him swim on a nearby lake or run freely on a field or meadow. If that’s not enough, then give him a ball that he can toss around to get the treats inside.
A regular check-up with the vet is a good bet
After buying your Border Collie puppy or adopting an older dog, make sure your new family member gets his first check-up with a trusted vet.
Border Collie puppies and all other breeds are not safe to explore outside until they turn 16 weeks old (4 months), where they already got all their boosters.
To be safe, keep him within your home for the first six months to avoid health issues like Parvovirus. These little fur angels are not yet fully developed and are vulnerable to diseases that they can easily get just from sniffing a contracted area.
Vaccinations are crucial so that your dog will not get infected like feces and parasites.
Regular check-ups with a veterinarian will give them a chance to get familiar with your dog. It means there’s a better chance of diagnosing any illness or underlying condition early on.
Make the most out of your Border Collie’s lifespan
It doesn’t matter how long Border Collies live, whether it’s 10 or 17 years. Once they’re accepted and loved as a family member, they’ll do everything they can to bring companionship and happiness.
There’s a lot that can be done to ensure our pets get the best quality of life while they’re with us.
With all the medical advice when it comes to food and lifestyle, don’t underestimate what your attention, time, and love can do for your Border Collie’s health.
Providing overall care will keep your pooch mentally and physically happy.
How old is your Border Collie? What advice can you give to other Border Collie paw parents out there? Type it all in the comment box below.