Border Collie Health
Border Collies are fun-loving, energetic, and incredibly intelligent dogs – it’s no wonder that they’re one of the most popular breeds in the world! It’s always a good idea to review common health problems of a particular breed before bringing a dog home, so let’s take a closer look at some issues that the Border Collie may face.
Like a great many other breeds, the Border Collie is known to be affected by Hip Dysplasia – the abnormal function of the hip socket. Many Collies will experience only pain and arthritis of the joints because of hip dysplasia, but it its most extreme forms, it may cause an inability to walk normally or complete lameness. This disease is genetic, though it can also be prompted or affected by environmental factors as well.
Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS)
Collies are susceptible to an immune system disease called Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS), which occurs when white blood cells produced by the bone marrow become trapped and cannot be effectively released into the bloodstream. Since white blood cells are vital in the fight against infection, the result is most often that dogs simply lose the ability to fight sickness over time, and will eventually succumb to the disease and pass from an infection. Thankfully, this is largely a genetic disease, and breeders do have DNA testing to confirm genetic status and whether this disease might be a problem.
Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (CL) or Storage Disease
CL, or Storage Disease is a rare illness that affects the nerve cells within the dog’s body. Most of the symptoms for this disease do not appear until 18 months or later, but they do increase rapidly. Symptoms include unreasonable apprehension, abnormal gait, and demented behaviour; most Collies that are affected by this disease only live until about 2 ½ years old. DNA testing is also available for CL to determine whether or not a bloodline is susceptible to the disease.
Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA)
Another inherited disease for the Border Collie is called Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA). This disease occurs when there’s a lesion or scar on the back surface of the eye, just beside the optic nerve. It’s diagnosed when the pale patch can be seen on a puppy during a physical exam, though as the pup changes and grows it’s likely to take a different form, sometimes appearing to disappear altogether. Unfortunately, in most cases, this isn’t a permanent disappearance of the patch, and extreme results over a long period of time are usually loss of sight. Breeders have access to DNA testing that will indicate if this disease could be a problem for a particular bloodline.
MDR1 (Multi Drug Resistance Gene)
The MDR1 gene is the gene that ensures the body’s natural P-glycoprotein functions properly as it protects the body from toxins. In dogs with this disease, the gene malfunctions, which means toxins – anything from environmental toxins like smoke to administered toxins like drugs - may leak into major organs. There’s also DNA testing for this disease to distinguish the status of the bloodline.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Another eye disease that commonly affects Border Collies is called Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and is an inherited disease of the retina in which the dog has eyes that, for no known reason at all, will go blind. Though this cannot be predicted, annual testing can be done by a BVA eye panelist.
Increased pressure within the eye often causing loss of sight is called Glaucoma, and has recently been seen in a small number of Border Collies. Gonioscopy is the test performed to check for the drainage angles in the eye, as a poorly draining eye is often one that ends up with Glaucoma.
Though there’s not a lot of information on known causes, Epilepsy has been known to affect a small number of Border Collies. There’s no predisposition testing that can be completed to prepare for this diagnosis, and there’s not much that can be done to reverse the disease in most circumstances. Though treatment may help, the disease will likely need to be managed over the dog’s lifetime.
By far, the best thing you can do for your Border Collie to ensure optimal health is to find a reputable breeder who will complete all available DNA testing to ensure great health before you bring your Collie home. A responsible breeder may very well be more expensive, but he’ll be upfront with testing and the extra money will be well worth it. Once you bring home your healthy Collie pup, you’ll want to ensure that regular grooming becomes a part of his routine.
Many Collies are allergic to fleas and other environmental toxins, so keeping their skin and fur clean is ideal for their health. In addition to grooming often, you’ll want to ensure you’re providing your super active dog with a healthy diet – high in protein and fiber – to ensure his body is getting the nutrients it needs to maintain that hard working and energetic lifestyle he loves and thrives on.
Finally, speaking of that lifestyle, you’ll be doing your dog (not to mention yourself) a major disservice if you forgo giving your Border Collie the active lifestyle he needs. Your Collie requires at a minimum of two hours of vigorous exercise every day, and this is for his mental health as well as his physical health (keeping him fit and in great shape).
Generally speaking, Border Collies are incredibly resilient and healthy dogs. Doing DNA testing before you bring home your Collie will ensure that, for the most part, your pup stays healthy for the duration of his life.