Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

5 Common Border Collie Health Conditions (Vet Answer)

Dr. Joe Mallat

By Dr. Joe Mallat

border collie check by vet

Vet approved

Dr. Joe Mallat Photo

Written by

Dr. Joe Mallat

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Border Collies are known for making beautiful family pets, excellent working dogs, or a little bit of both! They are a medium-sized breed that originates from the border of Scotland and England, though they are often thought of as the classic Australian sheepdog. Being a working dog, the Border Collie is energetic, athletic, intelligent, and loyal. Like many purebred dogs, Border Collies are prone to developing certain health conditions, in particular, epilepsy, eye issues, hip dysplasia, and hypothyroidism.

This certainly shouldn’t deter you from taking on a Border Collie, but it’s always worth knowing a bit about common breed-associated health problems. This article summarizes five common Border Collie health issues to look out for.

Divider 2

The 5 Border Collie Health Conditions

1. Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological condition that causes seizures. Most epilepsy is considered “idiopathic”, meaning we don’t know why it happens, though there are likely genetic factors at play. Epileptic seizures are usually sporadic and vary in their severity—some are short and mild, others are longer and more drastic. Most dogs that develop epilepsy have the first seizure at a relatively young age—between 6 months and 3 years.

Thankfully, Border Collies suffering from epilepsy can generally be managed with anti-seizure medications, though these dogs require lifelong medication, as well as occasional blood tests and dose adjustments. If you notice your Border Collie collapsed or convulsing, always contact your veterinarian immediately.

a border collie rolling over or playing dead on grass
Image Credit: xkunclova, Shutterstock

2. Collie Eye Anomaly

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) is an inherited eye defect in which parts of the eye don’t form properly at birth. This means that normal tissues of the eye, which are important for a dog’s eyesight, are either abnormal or missing. This disease affects all breeds of Collie dogs, and it can affect one or both eyes. The disease varies in its severity—some dogs with CEA have relatively good vision, whereas other dogs are completely blind.

Vets diagnose CEA by using a special eye instrument called an ophthalmoscope, which enables them to visualize the tissues at the back of the eye. This can generally be done at 6–7 weeks of age, or around the time most puppies receive their first vaccination. While there is no treatment for CEA, there are good gene tests that allow the canine parents to be screened before breeding.

blind border collie
Image Credit: Safelight Images, Shutterstock

3. Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Another eye condition that affects Border Collies is progressive retinal atrophy or PRA. This is an inherited and degenerative condition in which the receptor cells at the back of the eye deteriorate over time. Vets recognize two forms of PRA—late onset (generally seen around 8 years of age), and early onset (generally seen around 2–3 months of age). Unfortunately, most Border Collies inheriting the gene for PRA develop the early onset form of this disease.

There is no treatment for PRA, and dogs generally become blind. Some Border Collies adjust incredibly well to being blind and go on to live full, happy lives. Your veterinarian will be able to guide you through managing a dog with PRA.

border collie eyes
Image Credit: Tattiliana, Shutterstock

4. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia affects a number of medium to large breeds of dogs—not just Border Collies. This is a condition in which the hip joint does not form properly. Think of the regular hip joint as a ball and socket, with the ball of the thigh bone sitting nicely in a dish in the hip bone. With hip dysplasia, the ball is misshapen and the socket is too shallow. Hip dysplasia predisposes the joint to arthritis, making the dog sore or “lame” when exercising.

As with the previous diseases listed, the severity of hip dysplasia is variable—some dogs can be managed with joint supplements and anti-inflammatories, whereas other dogs require corrective surgery. X-rays are the best way to diagnose hip dysplasia.

vet examining a border collie dog
Image Credit by: antoniodiaz, Shutterstock

5. Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is underproductive. Border Collies may be more likely to develop hypothyroidism than some other breeds of dog, though any breed can be affected. The thyroid gland is a tiny but important gland that sits near the throat; it sets and regulates a dog’s metabolic rate. Hypothyroidism is usually the result of immune-mediated disease (this is similar to “auto-immune” disease). Dogs with hypothyroidism tend to be lethargic, with a reduced appetite and changes to their coat.

A diagnosis is reached by fairly simple blood tests. While dogs require lifelong hormone supplementation and occasional blood tests, most Border Collies with hypothyroidism can be brought back to normal health.

border collie near food bowl
Image Credit by: Krasula, Shutterstock

Divider 2

Conclusion

Border Collies are lovely-natured, intelligent, and faithful dogs. The above health conditions are seen more commonly in Border Collies, but certainly not in every Border Collie. As with any furry family member, it helps to be aware of common health conditions, so that you know what to watch for and can provide them with the best care. If you’re thinking of buying or adopting a Border Collie, aim to choose a reputable breeder, and check to ensure that genetic testing has been performed where possible.

And, as always, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog.


Featured Image Credit: Kamil Macniak, Shutterstock

Dr. Joe Mallat

Authored by

Joe is a veterinarian from Sydney, Australia and has two beautiful Golden Retrievers who love the ocean as much as he does. Joe completed his Bachelor of Veterinary Biology and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Sydney in 2020, and his areas of particular interest include internal medicine, wound management and oncology. His passion for veterinary medicine comes not only from helping pets, but also from he...Read more

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database