Skip to Content
The Puppy Mag is an Amazon associate and earns a commission for qualifying purchases. Affiliate Disclosure

Skinny Border Collies: Why & What To Do (Vet Approved)

If you think you have a skinny Border Collie on your hands, you’ll want to know why and what you can do about it. This article highlights the common causes of weight loss and outlines various tips that will help your collie gain healthy weight.

Underfeeding, too much exercise, inadequate nutrition, or underlying health issues are the four main reasons why Border collies become skinny. Thankfully, there are many safe and healthy ways to help collies gain weight.


Is Your Border Collie Underweight?

Before you start trying to bulk up your Border Collie, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what their body weight should be in the first place. The terms skinny and lean are often used interchangeably when discussing dogs, so it can be tough to get to the bottom of what’s normal and what’s not. 

While you can always have your vet examine your Border Collie’s weight in person, there are a few ways to assess their weight at home. The three areas to examine when discussing body weight in dogs include the areas around their ribs, waistline, and hips.  

Check the ribs

The last couple of ribs may be visible during movement, but you should not see the outline of each rib when standing next to or above your Border Collie. There should be a small amount of body fat covering most of the ribs, though you may still be able to feel the outline of the ribs when petting them. 

Check the waistline

A healthy Border Collie may have a slight dip after their last rib creating the waistline, but it should not be drastic. An underweight Border Collie may appear sucked in after the last rib or have a harsh hourglass shape.

Check the hips

A Border Collie with a healthy frame should have a gradual rise from the waistline to the hips. The difference in the abdomen to hip ratio should not be drastic and almost flow smoothly. You can likely feel the hip bones when petting your Border Collie, but you should not see any obvious outlines of the bones in the area. 

If you think your Border Collie may be underweight, it’s important to have this confirmed by your veterinarian. 

4 Reasons Why Your Border Collie Is Skinny/Underweight

So why is your Border Collie underweight anyways? There is a list of potential causes of weight loss in Border Collies, ranging from being underfed to underlying medical conditions. 

It will do your dog no good to attempt to put on extra weight if you are not treating the underlying cause, making it so important to get to the bottom of their weight loss before starting this journey. Not only will your attempts be unsuccessful in some cases, but they could begin to decline in other ways as well. 

To help you understand the many reasons why your Border Collie may be underweight, let’s list some of the most common factors below. 

1. Underfeeding

If your Border Collie is too skinny, underfeeding could be a possibility. Just like you and I, our pups require a certain amount of daily calories to not only survive but maintain a healthy weight.

Border Collies will need a certain amount of food based on their age, their activity level, and any other factors that impact their metabolism. If these dietary needs are not met, a Collie may struggle to put on weight. 

2. Too Much Exercise

If a Border Collie is extremely active, their daily food intake will need to reflect that. An active dog will likely burn more calories than a sedentary pup, meaning they will need to consume more food to keep up with the calories burned.

If their food portions cannot keep up, a dog can easily become too skinny. Some active dogs require up to 1,000 additional calories a day based on age, so it’s important to always speak with your vet about your dog’s calories consumed to calories burned ratio. 

3. Inadequate Nutrition

Inadequate nutrition can be a cause of a skinny Border Collie. Dogs will need to consume a diet that is not only formulated to meet the needs of a dog their age but a dog their size as well. For example, an 8-month-old Border Collie may struggle to put on weight if they are eating a diet created for adult, small breed dogs. 

Border Collies of different ages will have different needs, and it’s essential for their diet to reflect that. If you are ever unsure of whether or not your dog’s diet is appropriate, be sure to run it by your veterinarian. 

4. Underlying Medical Conditions

There are multiple underlying medical conditions that can lead to weight loss in our Border Collie friends. Whether these conditions make it tough to absorb nutrients or lead to serious metabolic complications, these underlying causes can deeply impact a dog’s overall health. 

Some of the most common medical conditions that cause weight loss in Border Collies include intestinal parasites, chronic GI conditions, dental disease, diabetes, and kidney disease. If you ever fear an underlying medical complication in your pup, it’s time to speak with your veterinarian. 

The Importance Of Healthy Weight Gain

If you have an underweight Border Collie, your first instinct may be to help them bulk up at any cost. While most dogs will happily accept a surplus of treats and fattening foods, this can be extremely damaging over time. Unhealthy weight gain can be dangerous for humans, and it’s no different for our canine friends. 

Helping your Border Collie put on weight with approved and controlled methods is the best way to offer them success in the long run. This means always speaking with your vet when attempting to beef up your canine friend, and making sure their diet provides a safe journey to weight gain.  

How To Help A Border Collie Gain Weight: 4 Safe Tips

If you have confirmed that your Border Collie is indeed underweight, you may be searching for safe methods in helping them put on some extra pounds. To offer your pup the best chance at healthy weight gain, let’s discuss a few of our favorite weight gain methods in dogs below. 

1. Rule Out Health Issues

Before you attempt to help your Border Collie gain weight, it’s important that you first rule out any underlying health conditions that could be causing their weight loss. Your pup will not only continue to lose weight if their medical struggle is not addressed, but they could become more ill over time if a vet does not intervene. Once you rule out any health issues, you can then discuss the following methods of weight gain with your vet. 

2. Offer A Higher Calorie Food

Some underweight Border Collies simply need a dog kibble that is higher in calories and protein. Many canine athletes will need to consume a diet with a high-calorie count, meaning this method can help other active Collies as well. 

If you are choosing to go this route, just be sure that you have any diets of interest approved by your vet before offering it. Also, be sure to transition your dog to this new diet over a 1-week time span, as this will help to prevent any GI upset. 

3. Incorporate Wet Food

Sometimes the addition of wet food to your dog’s daily kibble can help them put on some extra pounds. Wet food is packed with extra calories and protein, easily offering added nutrition that can help your Border Collie gain weight over time. 

Not only can the additional calories be helpful in safe weight gain, but it will make your dog’s food tastier. This can help to ensure that your Collie pup eats every bite of their diet, increasing the likelihood of safe weight gain. 

Just be sure to remove a bit of their standard kibble when incorporating wet food into their diet, as it can be too large of a serving when not doing so. If you are ever confused about proper feeding amounts, be sure to have a chat with your veterinarian. 

4. Supplement With Treats

Adding additional treats to your dog’s daily food intake can help them put on some extra pounds. Approved dog treats can range from healthy pre-packaged treats to fresh human food, as long as they are approved by your veterinarian. 

Some of the most common supplemental treats for dogs include approved fruits, approved veggies, natural dog treats, and even dog-safe peanut butter. If you are ever short on ideas for healthy dog treats, be sure to speak with your veterinarian. 

Interesting read: How much do border collies cost? Full breakdown

Final Thoughts

Border Collies can struggle to put on or maintain a healthy weight for multiple reasons. Be sure to review the information we discussed above, and you can help your pup gain weight safely in the future!

Thank you for reading! Go back to more Border Collie articles >>>


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.