A border collie's drive is so intense, it's not unusual for a dog to work himself to the point of exhaustion. That's especially true in hot weather. The breed is also subject to a genetic tendency to collapse, easily mistaken for exhaustion.
Working 'Til He Drops
If you share your life with a border collie, you know what an active, workaholic dog he is. Your dog is smart as a whip, but perhaps not smart enough to realize when he's doing so much he's putting himself in danger. You must keep an eye on him and prevent overexertion. The ideal specimen combines the speed of a racing hound with the "eye" of a staunch setter, notes the United States Border Collie Club. To accomplish his tasks, this exceptional dog resulting from careful breeding for herding instincts will literally not stop 'til he drops.
If you and your border collie participate in strenuous hot weather activities, such as herding trials, both of you must take care to avoid heat exhaustion. Unlike some other types of collapse or exhaustion, it can take considerable time to recover from heat exhaustion and it can prove fatal. Provide plenty of water for your dog -- and yourself -- if out working in the heat of the day. If your dog suffers from heat exhaustion, get him to the vet as soon as possible. Kidney failure is a real possibility in severely afflicted dogs.
Exercise-induced collapse actually isn't that common in border collies, but it can happen to any canine. If your border collie is a "weekend warrior," rather than a dog who gets daily, fairly strenuous exercise, he's more likely to become a victim. If you go jogging or hiking with your dog regularly, even if putting in quite a few miles, he's probably won't become exhausted. But notch up the excitement level, such as a herding competition, and even a relatively fit dog could succumb to exercise-induced collapse.
If your border collie suddenly collapses while running or herding, don't assume it's exhaustion. Border collies are prone to collapse because of a nervous system disorder known as border collie collapse, notes the University of Minnesota Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences. While exercise triggers the syndrome, it's not the result of exhaustion. What happens is, an apparently healthy border collie becomes disoriented, staggers and falls within 15 minutes of beginning some sort of exercise or competition. After resting for about half an hour, the dog usually gets back to normal. If your border collie suffers from more than one episode of collapse, you shouldn't compete or exercise him vigorously.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.