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What Health Problems Are Border Collies Prone To?

What Health Problems Are Border Collies Prone To?

Are you thinking of getting a Border Collie and want to know what health problems they could be prone to in later life? Maybe you want to find out how you can improve your Border Collie’s health and wellbeing? Here’s everything you need to know about the health problems of Border Collies.

What Health Problems Are Border Collies Prone To? Border Collies are generally a healthy breed but can be prone to Hip Dysplasia, Osteochondritis Dissecans, Collie Eye Anomaly, Glaucoma, Idiopathic Epilepsy, Raine Syndrome, Patent Ductus Arteriosus, and Border Collie Collapse Syndrome.

Read on to find out more about the most common health problems Border Collies face, and what you can do to keep them healthy.

Never use the advice in this article as a substitute for professional veterinary advice or treatment. I am NOT a Vet, qualified dog trainer or dog behaviourist. This article is based on research, personal opinion and experience of owning dogs over the last 12+ years. 

What Are The Most Common Health Issues For Border Collies?

The most common health issues for Border Collies are:

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is the dislocation of the hip bone from its correct position.

It can be mild or severe, but it tends to worsen progressively as your Border Collie gets older. It causes pain and reduced mobility in your Border Collie’s hip joint.

Parents that have been hip scored and received good scores, are less likely to produce puppies prone to the condition. 

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)

Osteochondritis Dissecans is caused when the cartilage in your Border Collie’s joints starts to break down.

It can be worsened by feeding low-quality food, or over-exercising them before their bones and joints have properly developed. 

Border Collies tend to suffer this issue primarily in their shoulders, but their knees, elbows or hips can also be affected. 

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA)

Collie Eye Anomaly is a hereditary disease of the eye, passed on from affected parents. It causes the blood vessels in the eye to be underdeveloped, leading to partial or total blindness.

There’s no cure for this issue and the only way to stop it from being passed on, is to test any Border Collies before they’re bred from. 

Collie Eye Anomaly affects both eyes and is most commonly seen in Border Collies and other herding dog breeds like Shetland Sheepdogs and Australian Shepherds. 


Glaucoma causes a build-up of fluid in your Border Collie’s eye, which causes their eye pressure to be significantly raised.

This can quickly damage the optic nerve and retina, leading to blindness.

Glaucoma can be caused by genetics, as well as other conditions like infections or tumours. 

Border Collie on a purple background with a speech bubble that says 'What health issues am I prone to?'
Border Collie Health Problems

Idiopathic Epilepsy

Idiopathic Epilepsy is a hereditary condition that causes your Border Collie to have seizures. It’s a life-long condition that can usually be managed with medication.

Health testing parents before breeding from them, can reduce the risk of their puppies inheriting this condition. 

Raine Syndrome

Raine Syndrome causes a Border Collie’s teeth to wear down extremely quickly. This can lead to tooth damage and gum inflammation which can be really painful.

It’s passed onto puppies when both parents are carriers of the faulty gene.

Thanks to genetic screening by reputable breeders, t’s not as common as it once was. 

Merle-to-Merle Matings

When two merle coated Border Collies are bred together, this can cause their puppies to have severe health issues.

They’re known as double merles or lethal whites. Their eyesight and hearing are most commonly affected, resulting in blindness and deafness.

This can be completely prevented by not breeding two merle coated dogs together. 

MDR1 Gene Mutation 

MDR1 stands for multi-drug resistance and it’s thought 75% of pedigree Border Collies suffer from it.

It’s a genetic mutation that reduces or stops your Border Collie from metabolising certain types of drugs. This can cause adverse side effects much more quickly than unaffected breeds.

Many worm, flea and cancer treatments can be unsuitable for Border Collies with the MDR1 gene mutation.

Thankfully there are blood tests to screen Border Collies before they’re bred from. 

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) causes an overflow of blood on the left side of your Border Collies heart. In severe cases, it can lead to heart failure and eventually death.

It’s a hereditary condition passed on from a puppy’s parents. 

Unfortunately, there are no current tests to determine if parents will produce puppies affected by PDA. Although, it’s understood siblings and close relatives are often affected. 

Border Collie Collapse Syndrome (BCC)

Border Collie Collapse Syndrome or BCC is usually triggered by high-intensity, strenuous exercise.

It can cause your Border Collie to have a wobbly gait, scuff their feet, shake, stagger or sway side to side, become disorientated or even collapse completely.

Studies are currently being carried out to determine the exact cause and contributing factors.

It’s commonly seen in working or sporting dogs but any Border Collie can be affected. 

How Can I Keep My Border Collie Healthy?

Although Border Collies are prone to some health issues, there are things you can do to keep them as healthy as possible:

Make Sure Your Border Collie’s Getting Enough Exercise

Border Collies are very active dogs and adults need at least 2 hours of daily exercise.

Without this, they can be prone to gaining weight, putting extra pressure on their joints and organs.

Lots of high-intensity exercise can aggravate joint conditions too, so be sure to tailor their exercise to their own needs. 

Border Collie puppy laying down on a textured white blanket with a speech bubble that says 'What health issues am I prone to?'
Border Collie Health Issues

Consider Doing Dog Sports With Your Border Collie

Border Collies are super intelligent, so they often excel at dog sports. Flyball, agility, rally, obedience, frisbee and sheepdog herding are popular choices.

They all keep their minds busy and bodies active, helping them to stay healthier. 

Visit Your Vet Regularly 

It’s a good idea to take your Border Collie to your vet at least once a year for a health check. This way, they can check them over and pick up on any potential issues.

If your Border Collie already has a health problem, you’ll likely need to visit the vet more often. Then, they can monitor any medication they’re taking. 

Feed Your Border Collie High Quality Food 

Feeding your Border Collie a high-quality diet can help better support their health.

A dog food containing premium, natural ingredients and no artificial ingredients tend to be a good choice. 

Health Check Your Border Collie Regularly

As well as taking your Border Collie to the Vets for health checks, you can check them over more often at home too.

Check their teeth, eyes, ears, feet, nails and feel over their body for any changes.

You’ll know what’s normal for your Border Collie, so you can pick up anything different quickly and get to your vet sooner. 

Consider Giving Your Border Collie Joint Supplements 

Many joint supplements are available to help support your Border Collie’s joint health. Speak to your vet to find out which one may be best for them. 

Because they’re such an active breed, they can have even more stress on their joints than other breeds, so it’s a good idea to protect them. 

Keep Up With Your Border Collie’s Vaccinations

Keep up to date with your Border Collie’s vaccinations to make sure they’re not at risk of catching diseases like Parvovirus, Distemper or Hepatitis.

The frequency of vaccinations varies between different parts of the world and vaccine brands, so check with your vet.

Titre tests could also be an option too. These check the levels of antibodies your Border Collie has against the diseases, so you can decide whether to vaccinate them. 

Always speak to your Vet for advice on vaccinations and what’s right for your Border Collie.

Treat Your Border Collie For Parasites 

Left untreated, fleas and worms can have a very severe impact on your Border Collie’s health.

Speak to your vet about suitable drugs for use if they’ve got the MDR1 gene mutation.

To see if they actually need worming treatments, certain vets also offer worm counts, before giving them the drugs unnecessarily. 

So there you have it! Although generally healthy, Border Collies can be prone to joint, eye, neurological, dental, genetic, and heart problems – and they can even get nervous system conditions too. But by keeping them fit, watching their weight and feeding them good quality food, you’ll be doing all you can to give them a happy and healthy life! 

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