Border Collie Health Problems & Issues

border collie health problems

Border Collies are often considered the Einstein of dogs. In fact, they’re capable of learning and retaining new commands in under 10 seconds. They were originally bred as herders, but now they make excellent companions.

If you’re considering adding one of these sharp-witted canines to the family, it’s important to be informed about Border Collie health problems.

Mental Health Care

The Border Collie was originally named a sheepdog because that was their job — herding sheep and cattle. That means these pups have a long family lineage of physical and intellectual stimulation. As a Collie owner, it’s important to serve their physiological needs with loads of exercise and mental activity. Under-stimulated Collies are prone to ill-mannered and destructive behavior such as chewing, biting, barking, excessive digging, and dog aggression.

They are perfectly happy living indoors, in fact, they probably prefer being cozied up next to their owners more than anything. However, they are only inclined to that type of relaxation if they’ve expended a healthy amount of daily energy. It’s important to keep playtime fresh and exciting. Don’t just let your dog run around on his own, engage him. There are plenty of ways to stimulate your dog’s mind that are fun for the whole family.


The lifespan of Border Collie is between 10-14 years. The overall average is 12 years. Of course, there are some outliers who can live up to 17 years, and in rare cases even older. The most common causes of death are cancer and old age.

Common Health Problems

border collie health issues


Despite their impressive vitality, Border Collies are prone to canine epilepsy. This is a neurological disorder caused by irregular neuroelectric activity. Symptoms include convulsions, twitching, spasming, and in severe cases a loss of consciousness.

Every seizure episode is different, sometimes it may be minor and sometimes it may be life-threatening. Therefore, it’s crucial to be well informed about Collie epilepsy.

A common form of hereditary epilepsy in Border Collies is Idiopathic Epilepsy. The first signs and symptoms should occur within the first 6 months to 5 years of age.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive retinal atrophy in dogs is a slowly progressing degenerative condition of the eye. Symptoms include a gradual loss of vision at night, in the daytime, or both. The end result is usually total blindness. It can develop as early as age three, but hereditary tests can detect it even sooner.

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA)

Another common hereditary condition of the eye is CEA. It develops due to a mutated ocular chromosome. Sometimes a dog may carry the genetic mutation but never manifest any symptoms. When problems do arise, they typically affect both eyes. Symptoms include cloudy eyes, sunken eyeballs, microphthalmia (small eyeballs), and eventual blindness.


Thyroid conditions disrupt the regular production of hormones. It usually results in lethargy, weakness, inactivity, hair loss, weight gain and a variety of other cosmetic issues.

Osteochondritis Dissecans

 health problems of border collies

Also known as OCD, this debilitating disease affects the cartilage and joints of Border Collies. In dogs with OCD, the cartilage that provides a buffer between bones begins to deteriorate. This leads to unstable joints and persistent discomfort.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus

This is congenital heart disorder and in many cases can be life-threatening. It occurs when an artery in the heart that is supposed to close, remains open. The excess blood flow leads can cause an overload on the left side of the heart. Other related processes can also lead to thickening of the blood.

Hip Dysplasia

This is a common progressive skeletal disorder that can develop due to genetic and environmental factors. Joints operate with a ball and socket arrangement. When Collies develop canine hip dysplasia this structure becomes malformed and they can have trouble running, jumping, and walking. It can be very painful which usually leads to inactivity and weight gain.

Final Thoughts

When you compare other breeds, Border Collie health issues are considerably less problematic. They are a healthy and vital breed, and as an owner, you can ensure your dog’s well being by providing a daily regimen of rigorous exercise and mental activity. Many of the medical conditions that affect Border Collies are genetic, so having a vet test your pup at a young age will help you get a jump start on managing any issues that may arise.

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