How much food does a border collie need? (complete guide)

Border Collies are active breeds and need plenty of food to keep their energy levels up. A regular sized 40-45 pound border collie needs around 1,000 calories worth of food per day.

The exact amount of food a border collie needs will vary greatly according to their weight, their age, how much exercise they get, and what type of food they eat.

In this article I’ll go over some dietary considerations for your collie, as well as explain how to ensure your collie gets the perfect amount of food for them.

How many calories does an adult border collie need?

An adult border collie needs plenty of food to keep their energy levels up. As a rough guide, a standard 40-50lb (18-22kg) collie needs approximately 1,000 calories of nutritious food each day.

See the table below for a rough idea of the required calories per day according to your collie’s ideal weight. This is the required calories to maintain a medium sized dog with normal activity levels.

A simple method for working out the ideal volume of food for your collie is to check the back of your food packaging. Usually, manufacturers have a helpful guide as to how much food they should be eating, taking in to account the specific nutritional qualities of the food.

Here is a useful chart with an approximate calorific intake for your border collie according to their weight.

If you want to work out roughly how much food your collie needs, you can use the table below, or work it out using this formula from Pet Obesity Prevention:

Daily Calories = 1.6*((((Weight in lbs)/2.2)^0.75)*70)

Border Collie Weight (lbs)Daily Calories Required (kcal)
Source: Pet Obesity Prevention

This table should NOT be used for Border Collie Puppies, Border Collies with any underlying health conditions, pregnant Border Collies, or border collies who are severely under or over their ideal weight. Consult your vet or nutritionist in these situations.

How often should you feed your adult border collie?

Border Collies are not usually food driven (although some can be) so it’s perfectly normal for them to leave their dinner until they are hungry.

Border Collies should have two meals per day, one in the morning and one in the evening. Make sure they also have access to water during the day.

Collies are usually quite good at regulating their diet themselves, so if they aren’t hungry first thing in the morning they will just leave their food until they are hungry.

Don’t blindly trust misleading recommendations of dog food packages, experiment with your own dog to find what schedule works best for them and your schedule.

Tip for feeding your Border Collie:
If you’re feeding your Border Collie from a bowl, get them a food bowl stand, which saves them from having to bend down to eat their food, and keeps their food away from any dirt that might be on the floor.

Collie Food How Much
Luna eating her dinner out of her food bowl stand.

Feeding your border collie before exercise:

You should not feed your border collie in the two hours leading up to a long walk or other exercise. Your collie needs time to digest their food before they exercise, to avoid cramps or other digestion issues.

What type of food is best for a border collie

Border Collies need a high-protein dog food, with low fat and low carbohydrates. This can come in many forms, including wet food, dry kibbles, or raw food (also known as BARF).

The best type of food for border collies is a high-protein, low carbohydrate food which contains meat and vegetables. This can come in dry, raw, or wet format and will ensure your collie gets all the energy and nutrients they need to sustain their active lifestyle.

Check out the collie diet section for more collie food tips.

How to introduce a new food to your collie

When you’re changing the type of food you’re giving your collie for their regular meals, you should gradually introduce it over 7-10 days to let their digestive system get used to the new food.

Over the period, gradually increase the proportion of the new food you add to their meals, until eventually after 10 days they are completely eating their new food and no longer eating their old food.

Collies can be picky, and may not appreciate their meal being switched out completely for a new food straight away, and introducing the new food gradually allows you to make sure your collie doesn’t have any adverse reaction to it.

How to know when your border collie has had enough food?

Borders are not as food driven as some other breeds, so you will know when your border collie has had enough food because when they have had enough they will just leave their dinner until later.

Don’t be tempted to replace their regular food with treats or something you think might be more tasty for them, since this can form unwanted habits as your collie tries to replicate the behavior that led them to receiving a treat.

Some dogs (including some border collies) are more food oriented than others, and so may devour whatever you put in front of them, regardless if they are hungry or not.

In cases like this, it’s important not to cave in to their begging and to regulate the amount of food your collie has to avoid obesity and the health problems that stem from it.

collie not eating food
Sometimes Luna’s just not feeling it

What happens if your Border Collie has too much food?

If your collie has too much food in the short term, they will get rid of it by being sick. You might notice them going outside and eating grass if this happens.

Usually, this is nothing to worry about and is a natural response when your collie knows they have had too much to eat.

In the long term, if your collie eats too much food it could lead lead to them becoming overweight, which can seriously affect their quality of life and potentially lead to some serious health problems when they get older.

If you’re worried about your collie overeating, check out our guide to obesity in collies for some tips to help them return to a healthy weight.

My Border Collie is not eating their food!

If your Border Collie is not eating their meals, it’s not necessarily anything to worry about.

Most Border Collies will eat when they are hungry, and don’t always eat their dinner as soon as you put it out for them.

If you’re concerned about your collie not eating their food, you could offer them a high value edible treat to check they can still eat if they want to.

Luna’s favorite treat is a Fish Donut. If she isn’t eating her dinner, but she will gladly snack on her Fish Donut I know there’s nothing wrong with her and she’s just not hungry right now.

If your collie refuses to eat their dinner AND they won’t eat any treats, it’s worth taking them to get checked out at the vet, just to rule out any health problems.

Sometimes Luna doesn’t want her dinner, but she would never say no to a Fish Donut!

What type of food is best for a border collie puppy?

Border Collie puppies should eat a complete puppy food specifically designed for growing dogs.

Puppies shouldn’t get regular adult food until they are at least a year old.

How much food does a border collie puppy need?

Border collie puppies need more regular meals than fully grown dogs, and should eat only puppy food specifically formulated to help puppies grow.

Puppy food is usually higher in protein to help with development and may be a little more expensive than regular dog food.

According to the Kennel Club, puppies should be on four meals every day until they are four months old. This regular feeding will help them take in the energy they need without filling their tiny stomachs.

After four months, they can move on to thrice daily meals instead, and after six months they can move on to two meals per day.

Once your collie puppy is six months old, they can stay on two meals per day forever.

The exact quantity of food your puppy will need depends on which food you use. In general, a young border collie puppy will need approximately one cup of dry complete puppy food four times per day. Once your puppy is four months old, they can move to three slightly larger meals, and once they are six months old they can move to two regular sized meals.

When to switch your Border Collie on to adult dog food

Although puppies can often appear fully grown after only six or eight months, Border Collies are not fully developed until they are between 16 and 18 months old.

You should keep your puppy fed with complete puppy food until they are at least one year old. Once your puppy is a year old, you can start gradually introducing them to adult dog food, until they are 18 months old at which point you can change them over fully to adult dog food.

This will ensure your collie gets the nutrients they need while they are still growing.

About the author:

About the author:

Hollie and Border Collie

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

I'm an experienced collie owner from Scotland. I started Colliepedia to share everything I know about collies. All the pictures you see on colliepedia are of my beloved collie Luna

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