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Is my Border Collie overweight or is she just bigger than average?


Mana19
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Hi

I have a 16 month old Border Collie female. She is from working stock. I have been advised in the past by vets as well as read online that the way to tell if a Border Collie is overweight is by the following points:

- When looking up do they have a dip at the waist or is it flat?
- When looking at the belly, is there a visible dip upwards or is it straight?
- When you press your fingers lightly against the sides can you feel the rib cage?

My dog ticks all of these boxes, from above she has a clear dip inwards at the waist, her belly has a prominent dip, when I run my fingers across her sides I can feel her ribs with hardly any pressure.

With all that said, I was today advised by the vet that because she weighs 20kg she is overweight. I am trying to ascertain whether I am being too generous with treats and/or not providing enough exercise that is causing her to be heavier than the average female of this age and breed.  When I looked at a weight chart she is exactly the weight of the average male for her age.

So to clarify, her weight is 20kg, she is 18" tall from the spine. I exercise her daily, she has 2 hour long walks and an hour of fetch with a frisbee or ball. She is quite lean, with prominent and dense muscles all up her legs and upper body. 

Is the vet correct and is my dog overweight despite having traits that typically indicate a healthy body to fat ratio?

I've read posts of people who have a bigger than average border and I was wondering if it is possible that her particular genetics might mean she is just a bigger than average Border and she is in fact healthy?

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Welcome to the Boards.

Without being able to see her and put hands on her (that's actually the best way to tell) it doesn't sound to me like she's overweight either.

There's a big difference between a dog's being overweight and being oversized, i.e. larger than expected for the breed. I wonder if he meant that she's a big border collie.

Border collies have a much larger range of sizes than most breeds recognized by kennel clubs because until recently, size wasn't a consideration for breeding. Only the best working dogs available were chosen for breeding without consideration for color, ear set, size, etc. That changed with the acceptance of border collies into kennel clubs that like dogs to conform to arbitrary standards for physical characteristics. Most people, including vets, accept kennel standards for averages and many aren't familiar with the greater variation in working bred dogs.

That said, a fit 44lb. female border collie would be considered to be a large dog IMO. I'd even consider it close to the top range of a so-called "average" for a male, though I've known males that were bigger. I've also known small males weighing as little as 30 lbs. (about 13.5kg.).

It might be helpful for you to do a search here for a body condition score chart that many vets have hanging in their exam room and that's been posted here on these Boards a number of times. It's got good visuals that can help.

Oh, and we love it when people post pictures of their dogs. :)

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Sure doesn't sound overweight to me, although as GL says it's hard to say without a photo. I have had foster dogs who were 50 pounds or more, and who were definitely not the least bit fat.  As GL says, some are larger than others.  I my experience  with foster dogs,  40 to 45 pounds was common. If your dog is well muscled, that can also account for it, as muscle weighs a lot more than fat does.

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53 minutes ago, Journey said:

40 pounds on a 18" frame sounds extremely overweight to me...especially in a 16 mo pup.

Could there be a difference in where that 18" is measured from? The OP says "the spine," whereas I've always understood the withers to be the point to measure. Depending where on the spine the OP's measuring from, it could make a difference. The diagrams here might help. I've never gone to those lengths to measure a dog, but using something to create a right angle is very helpful, especially if you're trying to measure a squirmy dog.

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The spine runs between the wither's.  You are not going to have much if any difference in height.   Unless of course you are measuring at the loin... But I seriously doubt that's going to give you inches in difference. A 40 pound 16 month old that measures 18" in height sounds extremely over weight,  imo.

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16 hours ago, Journey said:

The spine runs between the wither's.  You are not going to have much if any difference in height.   Unless of course you are measuring at the loin... But I seriously doubt that's going to give you inches in difference. A 40 pound 16 month old that measures 18" in height sounds extremely over weight,  imo.

However, the OP has said in the first post that the dog "checks all the boxes" in terms of having a waist, feeling ribs, and so on, which an extremely overweight dog would certainly not do.

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3 hours ago, D'Elle said:

However, the OP has said in the first post that the dog "checks all the boxes" in terms of having a waist, feeling ribs, and so on, which an extremely overweight dog would certainly not do.

They did. However,  I have some 20" and 18", as well as larger. If my 18" carried 40# she'd be fat,  if she carried 35# she'd be fat..so, just going on written word, which hopefully is off..I still stand behind what I've said. A 16 mo 18" high 40# dog, is extremely overweight imo..

 

We need pictures!

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My departed Shoshone was a rectangular box with 4 legs. Head at one end, tail at the other. She was a rescue who came in along with a male border collie said to be her full brother. Kip was very typically shaped for a bc. These dogs were taken from a very bad situation and the rescue told me they were severely underweight when they came in.

My vet looked her over carefully, as I'd told him she'd spent a lot of time underfed. His first comment was, 'she's still skinny, see if you can get a pound or two on her.'  It was actually difficult to get those 2 pounds on her. And she didn't vary much in that weight for the 10 or so years I had her.

This is just to say that it's possible for there to be some variation in body type. Most of the healthy b collies I see have that tucked waist. I guess the odd rectangular one does come along every now and then.

Ruth & Gibbs

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2 hours ago, urge to herd said:

[Vet's] first comment was, 'she's still skinny, see if you can get a pound or two on her.' 

If she never gained it, then her weight was most likely perfect for her.

My ex-MIL used to hound me mercilessly about my first border collie's being "too skinny."   The only way anyone could have gotten him to eat more than he did would have been to hog tie him and force feed him.

The problem is that too many vets are used to seeing overweight pet dogs and or show dogs. For some reason I fail to understand judges seem to prefer somewhat overweight dogs. I had a friend who was trying to get a championship on her Rhodesian ridgeback. He was a beautiful fit and trim dog who wouldn't eat more than he did, but he couldn't get the points he needed because judges said he was too thin. :rolleyes:

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39 minutes ago, GentleLake said:

If she never gained it, then her weight was most likely perfect for her.

She did gain it, but very slowly. She had literally been skin and bone when taken into rescue, I saw a picture of her. I don't know if the rescuers ever considered bringing charges of animal cruelty against the people who surrendered her and Kip, (her brother) but if ever there was a case to be made, it was for those two dogs.

I got her after she'd been with the rescue a couple months. Even with a with a good diet for that long her ribs were still easily felt. I see plenty of overweight dogs as I'm out and about and she wasn't. She was simply built like a table.

Oddly enough, of the 3 I had all at the same time, we lost Buzz first, who was youngest, Samantha second, and Shoshone last. My then husband and I were sure she'd go first, as she was the one who needed the most trips to the vet for this and that. She was funny looking, but she turned out to be one tough dog.

Ruth & Gibbs

P.S. of course we didn't get them all 3 at the same time. Got Sam from a hobby breeder, not knowing anything about hobby breeders. Shonie because of a friend associated with the rescue organization. I heard through the grapevine year or so after we got Shonie that there was a bc at the local animal shelter who was due to be put down that day. I went and got him instead, intending to send him along to another owner. Couldn't bear to let him go.

R&G

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21 hours ago, Journey said:

hey did. However,  I have some 20" and 18", as well as larger. If my 18" carried 40# she'd be fat,  if she carried 35# she'd be fat..so, just going on written word, which hopefully is off..I still stand behind what I've said. A 16 mo 18" high 40# dog, is extremely overweight imo..

True....it does sound very heavy for a dog only 18" tall, now that I got my yardstick out and looked at what that height really is. Can't help but wonder if that measurement is wrong. 

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15 hours ago, GentleLake said:

The problem is that too many vets are used to seeing overweight pet dogs and or show dogs. For some reason I fail to understand judges seem to prefer somewhat overweight dogs. I had a friend who was trying to get a championship on her Rhodesian ridgeback. He was a beautiful fit and trim dog who wouldn't eat more than he did, but he couldn't get the points he needed because judges said he was too thin. :rolleyes:

Truer words were never spoken!

Our Levi, a BC of uncertain ancestry, is 3 years old and 20.5" at the withers and weighs 42 lbs.  During late adolescence, he peaked at 45 lbs., but lost 3 pounds in his third year.  We always give him as much food as he will eat, except for treats which are rationed.  By all criteria in the chart above, he is a very lean, fit, and athletic dog.  On our last vet visit I asked if he needed to gain weight, and the answer was "No!"

Our Aussie/BC? mix Buddy is 11 years old, the same height as Levi, and weighs 60 lbs.  He is a rescue and when we got him at about 14 months old, he was definitely overweight at 67 lbs.  At 60 lbs. he meets all the criteria for normal weight by the chart.  He is also very active for 11, regularly following me on off-road bike rides.

Is Buddy fat?  Under all his hair, Buddy has the blocky build of an Aussie, but still has a waist, tuck, and his ribs can easily be felt with light pressure.  Levi has the build of a greyhound, with a waist, high tuck, ribs under muscle, and LONG legs.  Is he too thin?

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Hi All

Thank you for the helpful responses. Apologies for any inaccuracies with terminology I am not too versed in dog biology. When using the above diagram I'd say confidently my dog has the purple boxed traits:
diagrammana.png.bc52b8c1b4c969c201353dbbb0ccbabd.png

I think what confuses me is she definitely has an abdominal tuck that rises above the rib cage and you can easily feel the ribs under slight fat cover. The only point I'd say she doesn't match this diagram on is the top view of the waist, where she isn't quite as thin as the Ideal diagram and is closer to the overweight top down view.


In honesty I think I do perhaps give her too many calories in a single day so I've reduced her daily intake as well as made a conscious effort to work her harder during our fetch/running sessions.


Her original daily feeding schedule:
800g of wet dog food (Approx 800 calories)
1x Rabbit ear (Unknown calories)
1x Dental Stick (Approx 232 calories)
Approx 320 calories of treats whilst training

When looking at recommendations for a 40lb female border collie guides I've seen say go for about 1110 calories to maintain a healthy weight. So I think this will be my goal, reduce her calorie intake from 1352 to around 1110, push harder whilst exercising and I think this will help.

Thank you for your tips and experience. If you have any tips regarding alternative types of food that might help in this endeavour that would be really helpful. She used to feed off dry food but got bored of it and would play with it/not finish it hence why I give her wet food. I am from the UK if that's worth mentioning.

 

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