Are Border Collies Picky Eaters?

By John Martin - August 4, 2022

Border Collie waiting to eat food

As a pet parent, it can be quite concerning to see that your Border Collie seems to be disinterested in the food you’re serving him and doesn’t want to eat it.

And, if your pet is a fickle eater, it may be quite a challenge to get him to eat during mealtimes. And, this concerning behavior may lead you to wonder if your pet is being stubborn or if in general, Border Collies are picky eaters.

Are Border Collies Picky Eaters?

When you consider dogs that are picky eaters, generally, it is the smaller breeds such as Yorkies, Maltese, etc. that are among the pickiest eaters. Although, in general, Border Collies are not known to be picky eaters, even this breed has a fair share of them.

Border Collies require sufficient calories to maintain their body weight, as well as energy levels and so, if your Collie is a picky eater, it can be rather worrying.

So, when you say picky eater, what does it really mean? If your pooch takes 20 minutes or more to finish his food or even when you feed him the recommended amounts, if he leaves some of the food uneaten regularly, then you can consider your pet a picky eater.

As we mentioned earlier, the best thing is that Border Collies are not picky eaters, but even if your pet is, then it will not affect his health.

Why Is My Border Collie Picky About Eating?

Border Collies have varied temperaments and eating habits. And, your pet may be particularly picky and finicky when it comes to eating.

So, you may be wondering why this is the case. Some reasons why your Collie may be picky during mealtimes include:

He Is Not Hungry

Often pet owners underestimate the amount their pets should eat, especially when feeding them energy-dense kibble or biscuits and tend to put more food in their bowls.

You may notice that your furry pooch does not eat the food that’s in his bowl but promptly eats the treat you give him.

Your pet, just like kids, will gobble up a treat that is offered to him even after he has eaten his entire meal because the treats are a lot tastier than his regular food and he simply can’t resist them.

And, you assume that your pet did not like eating his regular food and he ate the treat because he was still hungry.

If you keep giving your pet snacks and treats all through the day, then when it comes to his actual mealtime, your Collie will simply not be hungry and you would assume that your pet is a picky eater.

So, it is a good idea to weigh your Border Collie and determine if he’s underweight, overweight or healthy.

And if his weight is appropriate for his age and size, then it means that your pet is getting the food he needs and there is no cause to worry about how much he’s eating.

He Is Bored

Just as humans get bored of eating the same thing day in and day out, the same thing occurs with your four-legged furry friend and he too needs variety in what he eats.

The best thing is to feed your Border Collie a comprehensive and healthy diet comprising fish, eggs, meat, veggies and fruits. The key is to make the food as complete, yet varied as possible.

If your pooch is still picky about eating, then you can mix in other foods such as cooked veggies, different types of fish and meat, fruit chunks, natural yogurt, etc.

But when you vary the food all the time, you must exercise caution because changing the food frequently may affect your pet’s gut flora, causing stomach and digestive issues.

Once you have figured out what food is best for your pet that offers all the nutritional benefits without harming him, then it is best to stick to that food.

If you’re feeding your Collie dry dog food, then make sure to purchase high-quality kibble. Purchase a couple of different flavors and every few days rotate them to add variety.

You could also add some wet food as toppings to add flavor to your pet’s food.

Low-Quality Dog Food

Border Collies are working dogs and are highly energetic, which means that their diet must be rich in complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats that provide the nutrients they need. When purchasing dog food, know the ingredients in it.

Often, to reduce their production costs, dog food manufacturers use fillers such as soy, grains and other additives, which can be harmful to your dog. This can cause your pet allergies and sensitivities and be harmful to his health.

Your Border Collie may be refusing to eat the food because the dog food is making him feel sick. So, when you’re purchasing dog food, make sure you’re buying high-quality food, preferably from a reputable brand.

Your Pet Is Spoiled

Your Border Collie may be a picky eater because you have spoiled him. Border Collies are extremely intelligent and smart dogs and if they know that they are fussy about their food, they will get your attention and most likely get some yummy treats to eat.

Feeding your pet too many treats or passing him table scraps will only encourage his picky eating habits. Your pooch will learn to leave the food that you have put out for him in his bowl and wait for nicer human foods.

The key to putting an end to your Collie’s picky eating habits is to reduce his treats and stop feeding scraps from your table.

He May Be Anxious

In general, Border Collies tend to be nervous and when they are anxious or stressed, their appetite reduces and they tend to become picky eaters. Just like humans, dogs, including Border Collies, can get depressed, which can reflect in their eating.

Your Pooch Is Not Getting Enough Exercise

Border Collies are a highly active and energetic breed and need plenty of activity and exercise to burn calories. These active dogs have a high metabolism and they need energy from their food.

But if your Collie does not get sufficient exercise and eats the same quantity of food, as usual, he is probably not very hungry, which may translate into him becoming a picky eater.

Health Problems

If your Border Collie has a good appetite and eats a lot, but recently seems to be picky and finicky about food and is not eating as much as before, then he could be suffering from some health problem.

If you notice that your pet has diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, frequent urination, if he is lethargic or is losing weight rather quickly, then all this could indicate some underlying medical condition.

If your Collie’s teeth has a lot of tartar or yellow plaque, if his gums and lines of the teeth are red, inflamed or bleeding, and his breath smells unpleasant, then he could be suffering from some oral problem such as gingivitis.

All these things can cause a loss of appetite, which may be causing your Collie to be a picky eater. And, if you notice any of the above symptoms, it is best to take your pet to the vet.

Leaving Out the Food for a Long Time

If you leave your dog’s food out for a long time, allowing him to eat whenever he wants, then it may seem that there is no proper meal time. And, when the food is lying outside for a long time, it may no longer be appealing or appetizing.

So, it is best to feed your pooch on a proper schedule. Give your pet around 15-20 minutes to finish his meal, after which you must pick up any uneaten food and throw it away.

Serve smaller portions of food so that if your pet does not finish it, then you can minimize the waste.

He Is Distracted

Your Border Collie may not want to eat or is being picky because he has other more exciting things to do. Working or playing may seem to be more fun for your pet than eating.

So, when feeding your dog, make sure that he is in a quiet place without any distractions. Avoid talking or playing with your Collie when he is eating.

Before feeding him, make sure that your pet gets plenty of exercise so that he works up a good appetite.

Any Changes in Your Routine or Schedule

If there has been any change in your routine such as you’ve changed jobs and are away from home for longer periods, had a baby, moved homes or some other major change, then it may be making your Border Collie unsettled.

Usually, Border Collies are quite sensitive dogs and even the smallest changes such as different food, feeding times or a new bowl can cause your pet stress and make him lose his appetite.

So, if there is going to be some change in routine or schedule, make sure to acclimatize your pooch with smaller changes so that the change does not affect his eating habits.

How to Stop Your Border Collie from Being a Picky Eater

Once you determine the cause of why your Border Collie is being picky or finicky about food, you can find ways and means of stopping it.

Give Him Enticing Smelling Food

Dogs don’t taste food in the same way as humans do and in fact, they are attracted by the smell of the food rather than the taste. This is probably the reason why picky dogs prefer dog food rather than kibble.

Giving your Collie enticing smelling food is a sure way to make him interested in eating the food. You can add a bit of fish oil, some gravy or a little juice from canned tuna to the kibble to make it more tempting to your pet.

Also, dogs have a taste for fat and so adding something fatty will act as natural flavor enhancers and make the food seem tastier to your Collie.

Stop Feeding Him Table Scraps

Avoid passing all the scraps from your table to your Collie, as this habit can cause your pet more harm than good.

Ensure that you and your pet eat separately, even if it means putting your Collie in another room. And, when he finishes the food in his bowl, praise him.

Avoid Any Distractions

Border Collies are rather sensitive and may be startled by the smallest of noises such as the mixer, washing machine, lawn mower, television, etc.

So, it may be a good idea to turn off the TV during your pet’s mealtime to prevent him from getting distracted.

Your Collie can even be distracted by his reflection in the steel food bowl, so it may be a good idea to use a non-reflective bowl, such as a ceramic bowl, for feeding times.

Ease Your Pet’s Anxiety

Your Border Collie may not be eating his food because he’s anxious or stressed about something. Or he may be suffering from separation anxiety.

It may be a good idea to stay in the same room when your pet is eating. Or, if you can identify the reason for your pet’s stress, try to address the problem and resolve it.

It is extremely important to do this because if left unchecked, your pet can starve himself if his stress or anxiety continues.

Ensure That He Gets Regular Exercise

Border Collies, in general, are high-energy dogs and need their daily exercise and running around to keep them active, healthy and happy. Also, vigorous exercise helps to work up a good appetite.

And, the food that your pet eats will help his body recover from all the physical activity.

So, if your Collie is being a picky eater, it may be because he does not have an appetite.

Taking your dog for a run or playing with him before his mealtime so that he expends all his pent-up energy will help to work up an appetite and ensure that your pet eats well.

Also Read: Do Border Collies Bark Much?

Wrapping Up

Ensuring that your Border Collie eats well and is healthy is extremely important to you as a pet parent. But if your pet is being picky and not eating as well as he should, there’s no reason to panic.

Try to pinpoint the reason(s) that may have impacted your pooch’s eating and have caused him to be finicky and try the methods that we have discussed in our guide to get your furry friend interested in eating again.

However, if you have tried everything and your Collie is still not eating, is showing signs of being ill or is losing a lot of weight, then it is best to consult your vet and get a professional opinion.