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Border collie leg problems?

Species: Dog
Breed: Border Collie
Age: 3-6 months
Hi Doctor, from Surrey in The UK,

We have a gorgeous Border Collie pup. We think he is about 6 months old.

He's a clever little thing and learns quickly.
He has a great appetite and 'wee's and poops' normally and is house trained.
He has a great little temperament, both with people and other dogs. He can be quite passive though when meeting other dogs.

My Partner, walks him and our other two collies for about 2 hours per day.

We got him from a Border Collie rescue shelter. Apparently he was not suitable for sheep herding. The rescuer didn't know the reason why.

He was checked by our Vet who said he was fine. We mentioned to the Vet, that we felt his back legs were weak. His muscle development in his hind quarters seems to be a bit arrested. Sometimes and i stress sometimes he has a alittle difficulty getting up. He sometimes just flopps down. He can be a bit wobbly when walking.

I think when we got him at 5 months, he had been crated for 4/5 of those months. I guess that could be a reason?

Do you think that his muscle development with improve with age?

What other advice could you offer, Doctor?

Also, his eyesight isn't the best but as the vet said after checking his eyes and everything was fine was that he may be a little short sighted. So he may not be able to read The times in the morning, but he was ok.

Thank you Doctor.


Mike Christodoulou

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Mike. Thanks for your question.

This is a tough question to answer without being able to examine Indie. If there was a problem with his bones or joints such as a hip problem then you would really be noticing problems after going for a 2 hour walk.

The flopping down could be normal for him. I have owned several border collies and they can be very dramatic with their movements. If you do feel that he has difficulty getting up and that he is wobbly when walking then there are a few possibilities. It may be hard to pinpoint though.

It's not likely to be just weak muscles from being crated. If this were the case he really wouldn't be able to do a 2 hour walk.

If this were my case I would likely want to take some xrays to start with. Although a hip problem is unlikely, it is the first thing I would want to check out.

There are some rare conditions that can cause muscle weakness such as a condition called myesthenia gravis. There is a blood test for this condition, but it is quite pricey.

Another possibility would be a heart condition. However, most dogs with heart conditions will have a very obvious heart murmur when the vet listens to the chest with a stethoscope.

I wonder if you could videotape his difficulties with getting up and his wobbliness in walking and show that to the vet? Sometimes this can really help as we may not see the actual issues when the dog is in the office.

Eyesight is a difficult thing to test in dogs. In people, the only way we can test whether or not someone is near or far sighted is to have them read a chart and communicate which letters they can see. Obviously that is not possible with dogs....even really smart dogs like border collies. :)

I'm not sure if I've answered your question, so if you have more concerns, just let me know.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you Dr. marie,

Just noticed you are in Ontario. I hope the snow isn't too bad for you.
I have noticed that he tends to be wobbly when he's tiered. Also he had never been in a house before he came to live with us.

He's also scared of the stairs, but thats OK, he'll do them when he's ready.

Are there any supplements i could give him? His vacs are up to date, but I need to worm him. I feed him chicken,wet puppy food and a bit of dried puppy food to mix.

Luckily he has a lifetime £20000 insurance. So I will visit our vet. If he needs to be referred, I know a veterinary surgeon (Noel Fitzpatrick), from years ago who performs innovative surgery on dogs. He operated on my west highland terrier for double ruptured cruciate. He's made TV programmes about the amazing surgery he's performed. I think he may even be on YouTube.

We've always had rescue Border Collies and they all have their issues, but I'll tell you. they always pay back the love you give them back 10 fold.

Any way thanks for your help. I will keep you informed.

Kind regards,


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Our snow is deep, but we are handling it well!

As far as supplements go, this is a tough call because we don't know what the problem is (or even if there is one.) Most of the "natural" supplements that exist for joint problems in dogs don't really do much. The one exception is glucosamine with chondroitin. Some good products are Cosequin and Dasquin. These products are expensive but they may help protect joints.

That is great that Indie is insured! I think something like myasthenia gravis is a long shot but it's worth testing for if you take the cost factor away. Similarly, there is no harm in taking xrays.

Dr. Marie.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.