Border Collie Health Conditions

Border Collie Longevity

Serious Border Collie health problems are few. They have an average lifespan of twelve years but many dogs live much longer than this, sometimes even into their twenties!

Hip Dysplasia

Most border collie health conditions are of a genetic type.

Border Collies are more prone to developing hip dysplasia than other breeds of the same size. This is a genetic condition that normally becomes apparent by the time the dog is two years old.

Elbow dysplasia is also common and the two conditions will sometimes exhibit at the same time. Border Collies that are recognized to suffer from hip or elbow dysplasia should not be used for breeding.


Epilepsy is another common Border Collie health risk, which also is thought to be genetic. Epilepsy can lead to seizures and periods of unconsciousness. Although epilepsy in dogs cannot be cured, the condition can normally be managed by a prescription from your veterinary surgeon so these dogs can lead full and otherwise healthy lives.

Collie Eye Anomaly

Another common Border Collie health problem is a condition called Collie eye anomaly, which is another hereditary disease that
can lead to blindness.

How serious the condition is will vary and there is no treatment for the condition however, the disease is not progressive, and so the dog’s level of vision should not decline over time due to the condition.

Other Eye Conditions

Other eye conditions of the Border Collie that are less commonly seen include juvenile cataracts and glaucoma, both of which are normally treatable.

These conditions are rarer than Collie eye anomaly, but they may accompany the condition and so complicate things.

Border Collie Hearing

There are two sorts of inherited hearing conditions that can affect the Collie. Adult onset hearing loss, and a deafness or hearing disability that sometimes accompanies one of the genes linked with coat colour pigmentation.

Adult onset hearing loss is progressive, and is commonly evident between the ages of one and eight years old, in spite of normal hearing during the adolescent stage of the dog's life.

The exact cause of adult onset hearing loss in the Collie and what gene or mutation is responsible for the anomaly is presently not known.

Neuronal Ceroid Lipofusicinosis

This is a condition that is unique to Border Collies. It is presently only detected within show dog bloodlines and not working dogs.

This disease stimulates life-threatening neurological impairment and shortens the lifespan of the dog dramatically. Affected dogs seldom live longer than two years of age.

Although the condition cannot be cured, it is possible to run a DNA test to look for for the presence of the gene within possible parent dogs, and so prevent reproducing puppies that will inherit the condition or become carriers.

Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome

Trapped neutrophil syndrome is a hereditary disease in Border Collies that contributes to the dog’s bone marrow being unable to effectively discharge white blood cells into the blood stream.

This results in a much weakened immune system which increases the dog’s susceptibility to contracting and being unable to repel infections and illnesses.

Because of this, the condition normally proves fatal. There is no cure or treatment available for trapped neutrophil syndrome, but DNA testing for the presence of the condition or the carrier gene can be done.

The Merle Gene in Border Collies

Merle is a type of coat pattern stimulated by a particular gene, which induces a mottled colouration of the skin and coat and can also contribute to odd-coloured eyes, with one of them normally being blue.

Often, this coat pattern does not come accompanied with any border collie health problems. However when two merle dogs are bred together, this leads to two copies of the merle gene being present in the subsequent puppies.

This carries an elevated chance of both vision and hearing problems in the newly born dogs.

Merle is actually a heterozygote of an incompletely dominant gene. If two such dogs are mated, in all probability, one quarter of the puppies will be "double merles", and a high percentage of these double merle puppies could have eye defects and/or be deaf.

Enlightened breeders who would like to raise merle puppies, mate a merle with a non-merle dog. This means that approximately half the puppies will be merles, and none will have the vision or
hearing defects connected with double merle dogs.