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How Many Calories Do Border Collies Need: (All Ages)

Knowing how many calories your border collie needs is important for a lot of different reasons.

From choosing an appropriate food, monitoring treat intake, to managing their weight, all of this depends on calories.

However, there isn’t much information out there about how many calories are needed specifically by border collies.

I’ll run through this for both border collie adults and border collie puppies.

border collie calories

How Many Calories Do Border Collies Need

It’s crucial to understand these figures are rough ballpark figures, taken from veterinarians and border collie owners that have been tracking this information for a long time with controlled measures.

While there are specific calculators and formulas out there that give you a daily caloric need based on starting weight, they don’t take into consideration genetics, lifestyle, quality of food, rest and recovery, as well as daily activity.

Because of this, it’s hard to give an exact figure, and much easier (and safer) to give a range as below.

Border collie daily caloric intake

Border collies ageDaily calories needed
Puppies (under 1)1300-1500
Adults (1-8 years)900-1300
Seniors (over 8)600-800

➡️ The upper end of each range include those that are moderate to highly active.
➡️ The lower end of each range include those that are not so active.

It’s also worth knowing that border collies that have been neutered/spayed will need about 10% fewer calories than those that are still intact.

Border Collie Puppy Calories

As you can tell from the table above, border collie puppies need more calories than adults and seniors, and this is correct. About 1300-1500 calories per day is appropriate for growing border collie pups.

Growing puppies need a lot of extra calories to support their rapid growth and development stage. Their body will be burning through and using all of the calories and nutrients they consume. This is why growing pups MUST be on a special puppy-tailored food to ensure it has sufficient nutrition and calories. Adult food and even “all life stages” food do not contain enough calories or nutrients per cup.

Once your pup reaches 12 months old, it’s generally accepted as the time to move them onto an adult formula, which will also naturally reduce their calories.

Border Collie Adult Caloric Need

The standard range for most adult collies is between 900-1300 calories per day.

All the adult collies with highly active lifestyles (2-3 hours of intensive exercise) will fall on the upper end of this range, perhaps even higher depending on the extent of their daily activity.

For all those that are fairly inactive, only receiving one light walk a day, they’ll definitely be on the lower end of this range.

Again, it’s highly impacted by overall activity, genetics and general health and well-being.

Related article: How to help border collies lose weight

Calories From Treats

Treats are an important part of every border collies day, no matter what their age. From using them as training incentives to giving them as a reward for no real reason, your collie needs them!

But, it’s crucial that you don’t give too many treats.

Veterinarians state that treats should not make up more than 10% of your collie’s daily calories. So however much they need per day, 10% or less of that can come from treats, no more.

While treats are delicious, they don’t provide a complete nutritional profile like their real dog food does, so that’s why 90% of their diet needs to be their “real” food.

If you opt for a treat like Zukes Mini Naturals (which I highly recommend), you can give your collie a lot more treats on a daily basis. This is because these treats are small bites, very low in calories, and naturally healthy. With only 3 or 4 calories per treat, you can give 20, sometimes even 30 or 40 each day before you reach your collie’s 10% limit. This is perfect for when you’re training your border collie for an hour each day.

Some treats like heavy fatty chews might make up the 10% limit in one single go. Not very good for training purposes!

Related article: Skinny Border Collies: Why & What To Do

Exact Formula Veterinarians Use

Below is the actual formula that veterinarians use, and is included on sites like PetMd and other reputable pet medical sites.

Although this formula gives initial sensible calculations, it gets a little excessive when considering those that have moderate to high exercise routines. In most cases, it overestimates the calories needed by a long shot.

The regular steps used by veterinarians to determine a dog’s caloric needs (also known as their maintenance energy requirements) are as follows:

  • Divide a dog’s body weight in pounds by 2.2 to convert to kilograms (kg)
  • Resting Energy Requirement (RER) (without any exercise at all) = 70 (body weight in kg)^0.75
  • Maintenance Energy Requirement (MER) (including their exercise) = appropriate multiplier x RER

To find the MER, you can use the following inputs:

  • Neutered pet: 1.6
  • Intact dog: 1.8
  • Weight loss: 1
  • Weight gain: 1.7
  • Light work: 2
  • Moderate work: 3
  • Heavy work 6

I’ll give one example of how this works, so you can try out other calculations for yourself.

For example, an adult border collie weighing 45lbs that’s considered highly active (x6):
➡️ Step one: – 45 (lbs) / 2.2 = 20.45 (kg)
➡️ Step two: – 70 (20.45)^0.75 = 673 (calories)
➡️ Step three: – 673 x 3 = 4038 calories

This means an adult border collie weighing 45lbs that’s highly active needs around 4019 calories per day. Honestly, this is far too much, and is where this calculation gets a little unrealistic. This amount of calories is the equivalent of 8-10 cups of premium dog food per day.

The truth is that most collies weighing 45lbs that are extremely active will need around 2000 calories per day to maintain their weight. At the most 2500.

This is why it’s important to be careful when using calculators.

Last thoughts

There’s no better way to gauge your collie’s daily caloric need by carefully taking note of their weight. Understand the ideal weight ranges for puppies and adults, and then keep your collie on a sensible daily caloric intake for a few weeks while providing the same exercise to see their results.

I highly recommend taking into consideration the following numbers as sensible caloric intakes:

Puppies: 1300-1500
Adults: 900-1200
Seniors 600-800

Let me know how this works for you.

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Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.