Border Collie Collapse

Border Collie Collapse

In this article I want to discuss a condition known as Border Collie Collapse. It’s also sometimes referred to as Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC). Ewelina and I feel our own Border Collie Archie probably has this condition. We have yet to visit a vet to have it diagnosed but from the symptoms and our research we feel confident Archie is affected.

What Exactly is Border Collie Collapse?

Studies into Border Collie Collapse continue but essentially it’s a nervous system disorder brought on by strenuous exercise. For Border Collies this exercise usually takes the form of working sheep, manic herding behaviour or it can even be dog agility or flyball which Border Collies typically excel at. The symptoms can start as quickly as 5 to 15 minutes after the strenuous activity starts and is often combined with the higher temperatures of summer. It’s believed that it’s a genetic mutation that causes it and affected dogs are being tested to try and identify the common gene.

It’s similar to the Exercise Induced Collapse seen in Labradors for which the defective gene has been identified. It’s not the same gene in Border Collies though so tests continue.

How to spot Border Collie Collapse

The first signs are usually that your dog starts to have a stiffness or wobble about their walk. Owners often wonder if there might be a hip problem but it sometimes also looks like the dog is ‘drunk’. The signs of muscle weakness can continue and the dog will eventually collapse if they don’t lie down and rest. With hip problems stiffness can happen even without the exercise. If after 30 minutes rest your Border Collie seems to return to normal it’s a very clear sign that it’s probably Border Collie Collapse.

In our case Archie has had symptoms about 3-4 times so far. In each case it happened during warm weather. There is some evidence that affected dogs seem to be highly excitable and this certainly describes Archie. Whilst Archie is not overly ball obsessed he has a strong addiction to herding. Ironically we have not seen this behaviour around sheep but fast moving, ball focused dogs we come across. If Archie sees a likely dog to herd he will sprint over and begin to circle them. Usually he will have a fixed stare and often the circling will get faster and faster. It’s like endorphins have been released and it can be hard to break the spell.

Border Collie Collapse – Solutions

Unfortunately there is no treatment for the condition. It seems the veterinary profession are hoping to identify the defective gene and then prevent affected dogs from breeding. Whilst it can be fatal it’s rare if you know what to look for. Any change in the way your dog walks and you should stop the activity and find a shaded or cool location for your dog to relax until they return to normal. In hot weather we stop Archie’s manic herding within a couple of minutes. As many Border Collie owners will know it’s not always easy to stop what appears to be an addiction and something that was bred into them. The desire to work can be incredibly strong in Border Collies. We can tell when Archie is working too hard by the length of his tongue, saliva and a few other telltale signs.

If you have experience of Border Collie Collapse or think your dog may also be affected feel free to leave a comment. To read more about this condition please click the link below which will take you to an article on the Agilitynet website.

Agilitynet article 

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  1. Hi, just thought I’d leave a quick comment. My border Collie Chase seems to have had 2 of these episodes that you describe above. First when he was 5 months old just out lead walking in November. He spent the night at the Vets but to no real conclusion. He recovered over night.
    The second episode was today and it was temperature was in the 20’s. Chase was herding my Mum (he is rather obsessed) and I don’t use a ball anymore as he has arthritis in both front wrists. He had a good 45 minute off lead walk in the morning with no problems but in the afternoon with my Mum within about 5 minutes Chase had collapsed into the hedge and couldn’t get his legs back for at least 5 minutes. My sister was able to get him out of the hedge and bring him water but it took him sometime to come out of it. Was scary for them to witness. Chase is a highly strung chap and also has dog and human aggression. But for 3 years we have managed ok. Just don’t think he could cope with a lot of tests at the Vets. And by what I’ve read there is no test for BCC or cure other to manage his exercise and excitement.

    1. Hi Tracey,

      Thanks for your comment. The condition is similar to one found in Labradors. In the case of Labradors they have identified the gene that causes it so can test dogs to see if they have it. You are correct that you cannot test for it in Border Collies at present. I would still be tempted to visit a vet in your case just to be sure it’s not something like epilepsy. In our case it only really happens in very warm weather. Archie also has to be very focused and excitable. If I could see your dog doing it I could probably agree that it’s the same condition but I’m not sure based on what you describe. You mention first instance was after 45 minutes out lead walking. That sounds very untypical. Usually it happens only after short intense exercise.

      We have managed the condition simply by closely watching him and if he shows signs of being over excitable in hot weather we will stop him and take him away from the source of that excitement.

      Good luck with it and report back if you find out any more.

      Northampton Dog Walker

      1. Hi Gary, my name is Wendy Hart , our bc is 7 and seems to have the same symptoms as this bcc. However , it’s been a couple of months and it seems to be progressing . It hasn’t been temporary . She seems to be out of it most of the time . She usually herds our chickens, which is her obsession. After a day of excessive chasing of a granddaughter , she has been down for the count ever since . She has lost her sparkle . She isn’t the same at all . We took her to our local veterinarian who had no answers , didn’t mention bcc, just said she may have a brain stem tumor for which there’s no treatment and sent us home . She is tilting her head slightly , and something is different about her eyes. This is so strange and sad. We’re hoping to have a second opinion this week . Any advice ??

        1. Sorry for delay in replying, I’ve been away. Did you get a second opinion? I’m not sure what you describe is Border Collie Collapse. Tilting of the head is not something I’ve heard about as a symptom before. Also in the cases I’ve read about recovery is usually pretty quick and what you describe would lead me to believe it’s more likely to be something else. I would certainly seek another opinion and rule out a few other possible conditions before I would assume Border Collie Collapse.

          All the best

        2. I’ve just come across this very helpful website so my input is late but my dog had the head tilt and her eyes made very small darting movements. She was diagnosed with idiopathic vestibular disease by my vet. She was 12 when the episode happened and made a full recovery after a few days but sometimes the tilt remains. I hope this helps.

      2. Hi Gary, I have a 9 year old BC she has been with me since she was a new pup.
        This morning she went staggering across the floor until she collapsed. I thought she was having a seizure. She was not shaking like a seizure, her eyes were wide open. Her joints were stiff. I put her head in my lap. Until she seemed to be coming out of this. It only lasted 5 to 6 mins. I could tell she was scared. So I continued to comfort her. I put my little dogs in there kennels when it first started.
        At the time she was in this state. I had said I think she may have had a mild stroke or heart attack. After this spell went by, she seemed normal.
        She has always been a inside dog. She doesn’t do a lot of running around. This came out of no where. It scared me to death.
        I’m not one to let my pets suffer, so I will take her to the Vet for hopefully answers.
        She’s my best friend we’ve been through some hard times together.
        Hopefully she won’t have another.
        Q? Once theses spells start do they get more frequent?
        Hazel Green Alabama

        1. Hi Hazel,

          I hope the vet was able to help. It’s not Border Collie Collapse based on what you are saying. With BCC it seems to start at any age and there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of episodes increasing over time. If anything once you know the triggers you should find you can manage it so it happens less and less. As I say though your circumstances seem to describe something completely different.


  2. Hi my 14 month collie meg has this when I talked to the vet the wanted to do test on her but I started her on a higher protein dog complete and after 5 weeks on it she has not had another was frightening to see her collapse the first time, hopefully the higher protein food will help

    1. Hi Frances,

      Archie is raw fed which is high in protein. I’ve not read that this can help but your comment is interesting. It is scary when you witness them having the problem. In Archie’s case it only happens when the temperature is high and he mixes with other very manic, excitable dogs. We can almost detect the sort of conditions that are likely to trigger it and we can stop him and take him away from the source of the excitement before it happens.

      Archie could walk miles with us without issue. The condition seems to be triggered by a combination of slightly manic behaviour and hot weather. Now we know the signs we seem to be able to manage things so he has not had another episode recently.

      Let me know how you get on, I’m always keen to know how it affects other Border Collies.

      Northampton Dog Walker

  3. We have two collie cross retriever dogs , 7 year old sisters. One suffers from border collie collapse ( or so the vet thinks). However, it’s interesting that this is deemed to be after exercise only. Our girl has had two episodes when laying in our warm living room ( in front of the fire). Has anyone else experienced this with their dog?


    1. Hi Wendy,

      Interesting that you have experienced this at rest (albeit in front of a warm fire). In my experience in Border Collies temperature is a factor but I feel it goes deeper than that and the dog seems to need to be in an excited state. I’ve approved your comment so others can reply in the hope that the more case study evidence there is, the better professionals can better understand it. I’ve read the condition is also seen in labradors and I wonder if it’s also something retrievers can get? I’d read that they had identified the gene responsible in labradors and I wonder in the case of this breed whether it’s linked to high exercise like it seems to be in Collies.

      Our dog Archie hasn’t had an episode in months but then the weather hasn’t been hot enough and we can spot the triggers better and stop him becoming manic if needed.

      Good luck with your 2 dogs.

      The Northampton Dog Walker

    2. Our border collie, Daisy, is 4 years old and just had her first BCC episode which scared us horribly. It was the first day above 70 degrees and she was fetching a ball that we threw with a launcher. We have had her for 3 years and she has always been able to do this and fetch for long lengths of time. We would usually give up before her. Is this something that will continue to happen now that she has had an episode?

      1. Hi Rhonda,

        It does seem that Border Collie Collapse can happen at any age. Once you experience the first episode further episodes are likely given the same set of conditions. In our case we are able to stop the activity before collapse happens. Once you can read the signs it’s a condition that I feel you can manage fairly well. We certainly limit the duration of intense activity in warm weather. It’s not merely the duration of the activity but the intensity of the dog too and we will stop our dog herding if he’s showing signs of getting very ‘worked up’.

        Good luck with Daisy.


  4. Since this problem seems to mostly be noted in dogs in the U.K., US and Australia, I thought you might be interested in a report from France.

    I have two BCs who love playing ball. We always worried about our older (9-year-old) over doing things, but the problems we have are with the “baby,” who is 4 ½. We never noticed a problem until last year, because we didn’t have any outside space for ball playing. We bought a garden (what you in the U.K. would call an allotment I believe), thinking it would be great for the girls. And, they DO love it. Just thinking about going there gets them so excited they can barely contain their joy.

    I first noticed Puck having a problem last spring and did some research on BCC. As recommended, I controlled her activity as soon as I saw she was getting too tired, especially in the warmer months, we had et had any episodes for seven or eight months. Then, this weekend, we had one. I probably had let her play for a little too long, and the weather here has been warmer than normal for February (15° or 16°), which is certainly not “hot.” Still, I though perhaps the sudden change in temperature made it difficult for her body to adjust.

    Anyway, like most people, we just have learned to live with it. When we went out yesterday, I threw the gal three or four times, then stopped for a few minutes of rest, then let them play for another few minutes. I think that is the best coping mechanism until someone comes up with a viable treatment option.

    1. Hi Randy,

      Apologies for not replying sooner. Your comments are exactly what I have experienced. The week before last we went from temperatures of 3 degrees celsius at the start to 14 degrees celsius by the end of the week. Even this higher temperature is not warm but I did notice Archie overdoing things and had to step in to prevent him from having another Border Collie collapse episode.

      There are a certain set of circumstances that will cause it to happen in our case. He is attracted to very manic ball obsessed dogs. He feeds off that manic behaviour and a switch is triggered where it’s like an addiction. He is unable to pace himself or take a break. It’s for us to monitor him and the weather and step in if we feel he is at risk.

      From what I have read about the condition a treatment option is unlikely. In other breeds where the defective gene has been identified the cause of action has been to stop dogs that carry the gene from breeding to remove the condition from the gene pool. In our case it does not really impact on Archie’s quality of life, it’s just something we have to monitor.

      Enjoy your Border Collies!
      Gary, Ewelina & Archie.

  5. Hi I have a male border collie Max 5years 9month, in the UK but he is originally from Germany as it says on his dog pasport,

    we have had him for just under a year and he has had two of these episodes, both was after playing fetch for 20 mins, he is always fixated on his ball and anything he can fetch, we try to keep his ball play at a minimal 1 time a week as it becomes a problem as he won’t go toilet because he is always waiting for us to pull his ball out, but with us only letting him have his ball 1 time a week this has helped alot,

    Anyway the first time it happened was about 3 month ago in winter 1° after a 10 minutes ball chase, we just put it down to he has done too much and needs to cool down and he was fine after 10 mins of rest,
    The second time was today we was playing with his ball maybe a little too much but was only playing for about 10-20 mins we could tell he was getting tired so stoped went back to the car and drove home in the car he was slouched and couldn’t sit properly, (he is normals staring out of the window and he loves car rides) , he was panting loads and as we got home and out the car he couldn’t hardly walk, staggering, almost falling and couldn’t even walk up stairs, I had to carry him, he just looked like he was going to faint / collapse I gave him plenty of water he drank about two bowls I thought it could be his blood suger levels (I don’t know) so I gave him a digestive biscuit but he couldn’t even bite it he tryed but it just fell out of his mouth so I broke it up and he managed it,
    Anyway after 15 mins of being at home and after the biscuit he was fine back to his normal self like nothing had happened, I was terrified and didn’t know what to do that’s why I turned to Google and found this
    Now what is the best route to take can you guys help me as I never want this to happen again thank you

    1. Hi Ryan,

      It certainly sounds like Border Collie Collapse because of the quick recovery but I’d still speak to a vet to rule out any other possibility.

      The only difference in your case is that it’s happened in winter. In our case and most I’ve read it seems to be very manic behaviour combined with hot weather.

      The problem is many Border Collies are obsessive and manic by nature. Our Archie is obsessed by herding but is only attracted to other ball obsessed dogs like yours. The more manic and neurotic the other dog the more Archie seems to like it and feed off it. It’s like a drug to him.

      We have learnt to manage it. We limit his herding in warmer weather and watch him closely. If his tongue starts to extend a lot and there is any froth around his mouth we put him back on a lead to rest. Basically after two episodes we’ve learnt the signs in our dog and we intervene. Border Collies have such an intense working drive they won’t stop by themselves.

      We are always trying to find other activities that he likes that won’t over stimulate him. He enjoys long walks with us and playing hide and seek. There is no game with is that leads to Border Collie collapse. In his case it needs another manic ball obsessed dog to get triggered. In your case it sounds like the ball is the trigger so I’d try and manage that but it’s not easy I know.

      Good luck
      The Northampton Dog Walker

  6. We have a gorgeous 4 year old Border Collie cross Kelpie in Perth and she recently had 2 episodes following 15-20 mins of ball chasing in mild heat. She came good very quickly though. The vets have found no cause however believe it is BCC. She is a very excitable dog and as you state has an addiction however with ball chasing and her floppy kong frisbee at the park. It will be interesting to see how we go with such a young excitable dog and limiting her exercise… She is well looked after, uber-healthy and has been fed premium food her entire life. Therefore I too have surmised this to be a genetic mutation.

    1. Hi Callan,

      Yes certainly sounds like Border Collie Collapse. The almost manic excitable focus combined with warm weather and a quick recovery seem to be the telltale signs. Once you see it happen it can be quite scary but once you know your own dog it gets easier to spot the signs of it building and then stopping the activity before it happens.

      All the best

  7. Hi, we have three collies and our youngest has had two episodes now of collie collapse, we were in the park for only around five minutes and she too was very excitable running round holding her tuggy, when I noticed she was walking a little drunk like and sideways like a crab and prancing high with her front feet. Instantly I lay her down in the shade of the woods until she was calm and more focused then a slow walk back to the car. She had water and I wiped her face with water too and she seemed fine…. it is scary and the I phoned the vets who also thought it was collie collapse and it’s a neurological thing.

    1. Hi Sue,

      It certainly sounds like an episode of Border Collie Collapse. The first couple of times it’s quite scary to witness. We have found that we now know the sort of conditions that will trigger it and we will stop the activity if we feel it’s warranted. Even though there is no cure the condition can be managed in my opinion and our Archie still has a very full and fun life doing what he loves.

      Good luck.
      The Northampton Dog Walker

  8. I appreciate the stories from owners. Two days ago I experienced a bcc type reaction in my 2 year old border collie Jesse. This was after a strenuous ball retrieval session in warmer weather. He recovered quickly after stopping and cooling. Over the last two days I have observed him closer during exercise and have noticed a couple of wobbly episodes. Seems if I regulate the intensity of exercise and change focus he is fine. I’ve had three border collies and didn’t know this condition existed. I was a rather shocked when it happened. Thought that I had pushed him too hard. I do now remember an episode when he was a puppy which triggered a $400 vet visit. I will monitor him and change up his routine to reduced exercise intensity.

    1. Hi Dennis,

      It’s interesting to hear you say ‘change focus’ because that’s exactly what I notice. If we break the herding spell we can stop an episode from happening. Border Collies can be incredibly focused and driven and there is often a manic look in Archie’s eye once he’s started his circling. It’s like a drug and unsupervised he will get go faster and faster. It seems as if there is something chemically going on in his brain that combined with warm weather can trigger Border Collie Collapse.

      It’s not pleasant to witness an attack in your own dog but once you know the signs and the triggers it seems to be something you can manage.

      Good luck to Jesse.


  9. Nekünk eddig háromszor volt, egyenlőre nem tudtam el inni vizsgálatra de körülbelül két hét múlva megyünk.
    Szeretnék többet megtudni, amit csak lehet.


    1. Hi Zsanett,

      I don’t speak Hungarian but got a rough translation from Google. I’m not sure that there is much a vet can do to help a dog with Border Collie collapse. Most owners just get good at monitoring the triggers and signs and managing the dog’s activity during high risk times.

      Good luck.


  10. I think my 2 year old border collie has this too , he doesn’t have and signs of him limping , but his leg shakes . For a while now we haven’t been worried about it , we just thought it was just a thing he did (he’s pretty crazy) but I don’t know much information about this and would love to find out a lot more ! Does anyone know if it’s something that can effect the dog in the future ? Is it something to be worried about ? Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Kaleigh,

      I don’t think it’s a condition that decreases with age so it’s something you will probably always have to be aware of. It does cause some worry but in our case we know the triggers that cause Border Collie collapse in Archie. It’s not purely about the activity level or how hot it is (though heat does seem to add to the problem). Most of the stories I’ve heard from other owners it seems that we all have manic, crazy dogs. In Archie’s case it’s herding. He loves to do it but works himself into a frenzy if we don’t monitor and cease the activity. Combine this adrenaline with hot weather and you are asking for trouble. I don’t think it’s something we can expect a cure for. Knowing about the signs though means we should be able to manage the condition. If other people ever walk your dog though I would educate them about the condition and what to look for. To be honest I would not let anyone else walk Archie in warm weather for this very reason. I just don’t trust anyone besides my partner to pay close enough attention to him.

      Good luck.


  11. Hi, we live with five collie one has epilepsy but it is Wilf our five year old who collapses. He does it when the weather is warm and when he has got himself what we call worked up – if you take him out in my car but not our camper van he always gets hysterical. We had someone decorate the outside of the house and he collapsed when I took him out running. Every time he hears a car on the road – which isn’t often as we live down a small lane he is at the window again hysterical. He has just collapsed an hour ago panting, his eyes going funny – but now is asleep. The vet said he thinks it was heat stroke. But he can, and has run miles and miles and miles – but always wears a cooling coat even in winter. Since we adopted him I always said he wasn’t right he was like a collie on speed. I’ve always thought this was an activity based thing but he’s run literally marathons and seems fine. When I say run a walker could probably overtake me! We got another appointment at the vet tomorrow but are not taking him, am at a loss what to do, karen

    1. Hi Karen,

      I think it’s certainly worth mentioning Border Collie Collapse to your vet to see if they know what it is. As you say it does not sound like heat stroke. Hot weather alone does not seem to cause it. I could chase Archie our Border Collie around the garden or park in hot weather and he will be fine. It’s a combination of their trigger activity and warm weather that seems to bring it on. It needs that trigger activity to get them in the frenzied, worked up condition which seems to cause the chemical changes which in turn cause the balance and coordination problems. In our case it will ONLY ever happen when he’s herding a very intense ball focused dog. He feeds of their intensity and it becomes like a drug to him. In your case it sounds like different triggers.

      If your local vet has never come across the condition it might be worth getting another opinion. It might also be worth recording a video of the next episode and sharing it so other Border Collie owners who have experience of this can give you their thoughts. Once you feel confident that it is Border Collie Collapse, it’s not something that you can treat but you can try and limit the conditions that cause the trigger.

      Good luck.


  12. Hi Gary,

    I’ve just came across your post. My family have had several Border Collies over the past 15 years. We currently have a 3 year old and 14 week old pup. The 14 week old pup seemed to display similar symptoms to the ones you mentioned above over the week end. He was taken to an out of hours emergency vets where lots of tests etc were done but they couldn’t seem to figure out the problem. They suggested it may be an inner ear infection.

    He was being violently sick and walking lop sided. Then we realised there was a real problem when he aimed to walk into a room but ran into the wall instead. Several days on and he’s improving. He’s not making himself motion sick anymore and seems to be improving with his stability. As you’ll know, over the last few days we’ve had some ridiculously hot weather in the U.K.

    We will be looking into this more and talking with our vet in the hope of working order it what is going on with our pup.

    1. Hi Laura,

      Probably a good idea to see what they vets say after some tests. I’ve not known Border Collie Collapse to cause vomiting but would welcome comment from others. It has been very warm recently in the UK but you don’t mention what activity your dog was doing when the episode happened. In every case I’ve heard about it seems to happen only when the dog is very hyper and fixated on the activity they seem addicted to.

      Good luck.


  13. My 2.5 year old border collie is suffering the exact same symptoms. She was at her vet today to check her blood to rule out all other diseases. My vet was very well informed on exercised induce collapse syndrome and directed me to the University of Minnesota Veterinary articles on the syndrome and genetics. On another site I have been reading that ‘some’ dogs may benefit from a very low carb diet. I am going to try this and to restrict fetching the ball which unfortunately, is the trigger for my girl. Walks and hikes will have to do. I haven’t had her react negatively yet and I hope it stays that way.

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for commenting with your experience. Since it is genetic it would be interesting to know if either parent has shown similar signs. We can’t do that in our case as Archie was a rescue and we don’t have that information. I’m not sure about the low carb diet helping. Archie is raw fed which is high protein and low carb and can’t say we’ve noticed any change since changing to raw (though there have been many other benefits). In our case we’ve just learnt to spot the early signs and stop the activity before an episode starts.

      Feel free to come back and comment again if your research reveals any extra useful information.


  14. I have a black kelpie X border collie with white chest. He is a rescue and has been manic and excitable since I first took him in. I have had him 10 months and he is less than 3 years old. He loves fetching the ball but this is the very source of his collapse episodes which started about 6 months ago and he has had numerous episodes no matter how I limit his ball play. Six throws is about his limit and then he goes down front end first. It’s so sad to watch him stagger around but he wont stay down and will recover in about 20 minutes. I can take him to the beach where it’s all about waves and running through the surf and along the beach and no problem whatsoever. But the over-exciteability he exhibits and obvious total focus on fetching a ball is his downfall.. literally. It’s not about the weather and it’s not exhaustion. Just makes you feel helpless to watch.

    1. Hi Sheryl,

      Yes in most cases it seems the heat is only one part of the trigger. It has to be combined with the activity that sends them into a frenzy. Our own dog can be pretty calm walking alone with us but feeds off the intensity of other ball focused dogs. Yours does sound like an extreme case though if you can only throw the ball 6 times. It might be worth speaking to trainers about possible ways to lessen the fixation. Having seen Border Collie collapse a number of times I’m convinced the fixation causes something chemical in the brain.

      Good luck.


  15. Our 5.5 year old border collie mix (spaniel?) just had his second episode this evening. They each lasted about 20 minutes. The first was this past spring and both were triggered by surprise encounters with a fox that he then chased across the (fenced) yard. He has a strong herding instinct but his most strenuous exercise is running at a moderate pace. The pattern seems to be that he’s triggered when going from rest to high-alert and running at his top speed while laser-focused on the fox. We live in a large metro area and neither the emergency hospital vet nor our usual vet were familiar with the disorder. I pieced things together after a few Google searches.

    1. Hi Diane,

      It’s interesting that you mention it happens when running at a moderate pace. In my experience the level of activity is not the most important factor. It seems the level of mental excitement is the thing that seems to trigger it in most cases. We are able to manage it very well now that we know the conditions it will trigger in Archie.

      Good luck with your dog, hopefully you too will be able to cope with Border Collie collapse.


  16. My 12 year old BC Tess has this condition. She’s ball obsessed and we were kicking a football for her the first time it happened, it was summer and quite warm. We move her to shade after collapse and she recovers in 5 to 10 minutes. It’s very frightening to anyone who hasn’t seen it before but we manage it well now although she doesn’t appreciate being kept in the shade in summer.

    1. Hi Judith,

      Thanks for your comment, your experience is similar to what most owners experience, both in terms of the the obsession, hot weather and quick recovery time. As you say it is frightening to witness the first time. With Border Collie collapse it is all about knowing the triggers for your dog and managing the condition.


  17. My 5yr BC Grace has just had an episode that I think might be BCC. This is the second time this week, it’s 14 Feb, grey, cold and damp. Grace is Frisbee/ball crazy, I take the Frisbee and throw it for Grace on our wood walks. Both today and yesterday Grace lay down needing to rest when I put her back on the lead for home. Both today and yesterday when we got home Grace collapsed on the floor not wanting to drink or take treats, just wagging her tail when I sat on the floor with her. She is still sleeping now and we have been home an hour. I find it very disturbing but can only think it must be Border Collie Collapse that I had never heard of. I think further Frisbee and ball playing must be very limited and I will concentrate on ‘brain’ games.
    Thank you

    1. As a follow on – I have just given Grace a teaspoon of honey, smeared over her tongue and around gums, she’s now up and eating! Could be blood sugar drop, will in future carry a syringe and some glucose solution with me.

    2. Hi Penelope,

      The scenario you describe doesn’t sound like most cases of Border Collie collapse. Firstly it seems to be very rare for it to happen in cold weather. Also the episodes happen during the intense activity, not after they return home. I see you have posted an update too indicating you think it might be low blood sugar and that certainly sounds a more likely explanation. Would be worth speaking with your vet just to see what they think.

      Hope you and Grace are well.

      1. Thanks Gary, I now give Grace some cereal before her morning run, and always carry Glucogel with me – just in case!

  18. Hi, we have a 4-year-old border collie, Kodi. She has always been very active and loves to play ball. This spring, she has had three episodes of what you have described. It has been on a cool but nice day, but it is when she is playing by running and catching the ball and doing flips.

    1. Hi Diane,

      It’s interesting that you say it was cool at the time. It does seem that dogs can develop this condition as many never have an episode until they are a few years old. If the signs are as described and the recovery is quite quick then it certainly sounds like a possible case. Generally I am able to predict an episode now by paying close attention to certain body signals like tongue length, the look in our dogs eyes and the ambient temperature. Are you able to do the same? You mention a few episodes, are these all this spring? I would say we are now down to one or two maximum per year now.

      Good luck


  19. Hi guys
    We’ve had a similar experience this week but with our ball obsessed 14 month old bearded collie.
    It’s happened three times – during hot weather this week in Amsterdam after about 15 mins of ball time. At the end of each session our collie has staggered as if drunk and his front legs have collapsed a few times. We panicked of course and have been to vet who think his heart rate is weak/irregular and we will be getting a CT scan this week. But after seeing the video in this post and doing some research, I can see that it’s exactly the same reaction!
    Has made me feel a bit better seeing others have had similar situations & ive shared this with our vet as we’ve been really concerned. Hoping it’s this rather than anything more sinister!

    1. Hi Poppy,

      Did you get the CT scan results? When I researched Exercise Induced Collapse it seemed there were cases in a number of working type breeds but I had not heard of any bearded collies until now. It’s worth testing the other things the vet mentioned but it certainly sounds like a possible case of EIC. For example with our dog we don’t see any examples when he’s active with us all day on a long hike. It’s only when he’s fixated in herding to the point of obsession which is why we think it’s chemical and not a heart issue.

      I would be interested to hear what updates you have.


  20. Hello Gary
    My 20 month old BC seems to have BCC but I watch him closely & so far he has not progressed past the extreme panting & taking up to an hour to cool down. I live in Perth, Western Australia & it gets very hot in summer so I have found the best way to exercise him is swimming & I live close to the river so that is easy.
    I was a farmer for many years & one of my red Kelpies also had BCC. I carried 2×20 litre water drums & a tub on the back of the ute so I could dunk her in that if there was no dam, water trough etc close by.
    The first sign she was getting too hot – which may be helpful to readers – was that she started to pace as opposed to trotting on the diagonals. Immediate stop of work & swim or water bath always fixed her.

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      Yes Perth is much hotter than here in UK. In your case do you think it was just the heat rather than this condition? Was your dog or dogs engaged in some activity at the time that they are fixated with? Many cases I hear about don’t happen with heat alone, the dog needs to be obsessing on a particular activity.

      Thanks for your input.


      1. Hello Gary
        The Kelpie was a hard worker, often obsessive, especially when doing yard work. She did get over-hot, even in cool weather.

        The young Border Collie I have now definitely seems to be a candidate for BCC. He can walk with me for miles, just nosing around etc and is fine, but becomes extremely obsessive if a ball or stick is involved. Five to ten minutes of chasing the ball or stick is enough for him to get overly hot – this is regardless of the temperature.
        He is so focused on the ball/stick that it seems he stops panting and thus gets too hot. So……swimming is definitely the best exercise for him . He can retrieve the stick from the water to his hearts content 🙂
        Have you heard of any other dogs changing from trotting to pacing as a signal for over-heating? It was always a signal with my Kelpie, and thus very helpful.

        1. Hi Elizabeth,

          Thanks for your comment. Like you say it’s not merely the duration of an activity that seems to trigger this but the intensity and obsessive behaviour. In your case a stick or ball, in our case herding another ball obsessed dog. I think there are a number of different signals that you can pick up on and it’s just a case of watching your dog closely for what their individual signals are. In our case for example every episode has been preceded by an increased tongue length and increased saliva production. Watching him closely and noting the outside temperature is enough for us to stop an activity before collapse happens.

          All the best

  21. I have a rescue BC at around 8 years old, the story we were told is she was rejected as a herding dog and was taken in by an elderly woman out of fear she would be shot. She has recently collapsed a few times with my partner, and I have never witnessed it. Every time it’s while inside the house, not after exercise, so I’m unsure if this really is what she’s experiencing. Today was maybe her 3rd, and worst according to my partner and the only one I’ve ever seen. It really does sound as you’ve described, heavy panting, drooling, legs became limp and she was veering to one side, and eventually collapsed and had to be carried down the stairs to get outside into the shade and appeared back to normal in minutes. It has recently become a little warmer here only by a few degrees but as I’ve read other comments this has affected other BCs. I am intrigued though about the other 2 minor episodes she has experienced were during winter, although again I have read a comment of someone else saying their BC experienced one in winter.
    We are taking her to the vet tomorrow and hopefully can rule out other problems, I just hope it’s nothing serious bless her.

    1. Hi Jenna,

      Did you get an update from the vet? The fact it did not happen after activity leaves me to suspect it might not be Border Collie Collapse. Have you witnessed dogs have epilepsy before? I think they look quite different. I would be interested whether the vets found anything with the tests. Certainly your examples do not sound like classic examples but if all the tests come back good then it might be worth mentioning it to the vet as an outside chance.


  22. Hi, was doing some research as our 2 year bitch, Kizzie, has had an episode during her afternoon walk for the past three days, and i came across your site. She is our sixth bc, we also have a year old dog, and not experienced it before.
    She had her first episode at about 5 months, we were away from home and after laying in some damp grass she recovered completely, wanting to run again, so didn’t go to vet.
    She is a crazy girl once out on a walk she lives to run, not interested in balls – will only play at home – she has a good recall but has always run further away than I’d like.
    I often put her on lead for a rest to protect her. If we go somewhere there’s water she manages her own body temperature, even laying in puddles to cool herself. Where we are walking in the afternoon currently there’s no water and as the weather has suddenly become hot she’s not coping so well but still recovers quickly enough to walk home. Once she recovers she’d be off running again if I let her! At home she’s the calmest dog you could wish for.
    So pleased I found this site as I was beginning to wonder if she had a degenerative disease

    1. Hi Shirley,

      I can understand how finding a possible reason helps put the mind at rest but it’s still a condition that can be fatal in rare cases. We have just got used to carefully watching for signs as we feel we can predict the circumstances now. The quick recovery you mention sounds a classic sign and from how you describe Kizzie, she does sound manic which again is not unusual for Border Collies.

      Good luck with your dogs.


  23. Hi, when we pick up our daughter’s 7 year old border collie he gets really excited, rushes out to the car and jumps in . As I said he is really excited to be going for a walk. But twice recently he has suddenly had an episode where he shakes and becomes very subdued. He will lie in the back of the car for 5 minutes or so then he is right as rain. This is before exercise on a cool day. Could this be bc collapse?

    1. Hi Gil,

      I’m not aware that shaking is a symptom. From what you describe I would say it’s unlikely to be Border Collie Collapse but I would mention it to your vet to see what they say. I’ve noticed that Border Collies can be very sensitive generally. We have experienced sudden shaking and fear for example regarding our conservatory. It only lasted a few days and we are wondering if it might have been static electricity or something about the floor surface that bothered him. Other than the quick recovery you mention I don’t think your case is Border Collie Collapse but I would seek a vet’s opinion and monitor and document all the instances to try and find what common factors there are when it happens.

      Good luck.


  24. I have a nearly 5 yr old Border Collie named Marley. We have just been down Kingsthorpe Mill for a walk and he loves to run with trains. I believe I have just witnessed a BCC with him. He started to walk and stagger like he was drunk and then just collapsed to the ground and couldn’t get up though he tried. When he did try to get up he just collapsed again and went on his back like he was fitting then rolled onto hIs front. I calmed him down and shortly he was able to stand and walk. We often go there for our walks but this is the first time this has happened. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Hi Fran,

      It certainly sounds like it could be Border Collie Collapse. Generally if after a brief (15-20 minutes) rest they seem to make a perfect recovery as if nothing happened it’s usually a good indication that BCC is the reason. It doesn’t hurt to get a vet to rule out other things like epilepsy but when an episode only seems to happen when the dog is very excitable and usually combined with warmer weather I would tend to suspect it’s BCC. By monitoring our dog we are able to predict when it’s likely to happen and stop the activity before it gets to that stage.

      Hope this helps.


  25. Hi Gary

    We have a 6yrs Border Collie who started having these symptoms last year in the summer. It only happens when he is chasing the ball and in warm weather and we put it down to the temperature. Last night he collapsed in the street on the way home and my husband had to carry him back. It is a very scary situation when it happens, however after looking it up and finding your site, although not good news, it is reassuring that others suffer similar symptoms. Milo is an intense dog, especially when he is “one the ball” so to speak. He is very territorial and can be dog aggressive. Last night he was very focused and excitable, and the temperature was higher than it has been. He started to stagger and his front legs went first. He managed to get back up and stagger a few more steps then went down again. When we got him in the house he went straight to the cool floor in the kitchen and lay there for 5 mins. He then had some water and started to walk fine, although he was tired. He was pretty much washed out for the rest of the night. He is fine today and has had his morning walk for 50 mins with no problem. His symptoms sound very much in line with what you describe. Thank you for highlighting the disorder. We can now try to manage it with him.

    1. Hi Lucy,

      It certainly sounds like a case of Exercise Induced Collapse, sometimes referred to Border Collie Collapse (though it happens to some other breeds too). You report all the typical triggers including a mental intensity for an activity combined with hot weather. It would not hurt to mention it to your vet just to rule out anything else. With experience you start to notice the triggers and stop the activity before a full collapse happens. If like us you are able to manage it then it will only confirm your suspicion that it is indeed this condition.

      Good luck with Milo!


  26. Hi I have a Collie cross kelpie called Kelsie and she started to have episodes last summer. First time she just seem to fall and I thought she had lost the use of her legs but 2 min later she was fine, about a week later we had been to the park playing ball and as we were leaving she started to wobble like she was drunk, she was staring into space and totally unresponsive to my voice. I panicked and started to carry her home again 3 min later she came too as excited and happy as ever. Lucky for me my brother-in-law is a vet and explained to me about bcc and showed me some videos I couldn’t believe how similar it was to kelsie. Before this I use to think she was a bit rude and just ignored me from time to time but now I have realised that it’s an early symptom so at the point I can calm her and talk to her until she snaps out of it before the point that she wobbles over. Obviously every now and then in this hot weather she has her moments but she doesn’t scare me in the same way. Oh also never happens at the beach or long walks only at the local park playing ball or chasing my boy around. Sorry for the long post but nice to know others out there with it,
    Thanks Melissa

    1. Hi Melissa,

      Yes I agree it’s less scary once you know what it is and can spot the triggers. Like you say it does not seem to happen on long walks or certain activities. The trigger seems to be warm weather combined with intense excitement for the activity that is their ‘thing’. For some Border Collies that excitement will be the ball, for others herding. The combination of mental and physical exertion brings it on in dogs that have the gene.

      Good that your brother-in-law suggested Border Collie collapse. There are still some vets that don’t know too much about it but I think that’s changing.

      All the best

  27. My almost 2 year old collie did something similar tonight. He is very ball focused, we played fetch for a while until he seemed tired. We started walking to the car and he was dragging his feet while walking and was wobbling like he was drunk. We carried him (all 20kg of him) back to the car, he had 2 full bowls of water and threw up twice. He has his own fan (spoilt pup), so he sat in front of it. He still doesnt seem himself but he is very dramatic. Does this sound like BCC?

    1. Hi Kirsty,

      The part about being ‘drunk’ and wobbling certainly sounds like BCC if it happened whilst he was fixated on his favourite thing. What sounds less like BCC is that you say he still doesn’t seem himself. How long after are we talking? Normally after 30 minutes they normally recover completely as if nothing happened. It might be that him being sick is what leads you to say that he’s not himself. Certainly if he’s still showing any balance problems an hour after an episode I would take him to the vet.

      Good luck

  28. I am from the US and have a 7 year old Male border collie, Rono, that I am very confident has BCC. His sire was imported from Scotland but dame is US stock. I have to admit I only recently discovered BCC recently and previously thought he was suffering from heat shock/stroke but it never really felt right because once he was brought inside and rinsed in the bath he was recovered within 30minutes instead of the hours/days it takes with heat stroke. He hasn’t had an episode in years but from age 1-4 he would have 2-4 episodes a year when the temperature was over 70 Fahrenheit. He is a hyperactive dog and he would start panting heavily and walk like he was drunk and was sometimes disoriented and it would happen after running in the backyard within 5-15 minutes. He does not like toys but has a strong herd drive and desire to kill lawn mowers and other noise machines. It appeared to occur if he started to run laps from engine noises causing the free time in the backyard to became limited after the second episode during hot weather. He spent many summers supervised on leash to prevent an episode because they were unpredictable for a while. Now that he is older he has calmed down and with extensive training to slightly lower his obsession with engine noises he hasn’t had an episode. He can now be loose and unsupervised in the backyard for short amounts of time with check ins about every 10-15 minutes in temperatures above 70. I can catch episodes now and bring him inside to cool off before it really starts. He could go on walks or hike all day or on the rare occasions he finds a toy interesting he can play without any issues.

    1. Hi Amanda,

      It certainly sounds like BCC that Rono has. As you say the recovery is quick with BCC and not so with heat stroke. Also it seems to occur with intense dogs who fixate on a particular activity. It’s less scary once you can spot the warning signs and like you our Archie hasn’t had a full episode for some time now.

      Thanks for commenting with your experience.


  29. My border collie kita has bcc she loves balls and will keep chasing unless u stop her but once we stop she ends up looking drunk so I put her by her water and she lies there with her tongue in the water. It’s been happening for a while now dont know what to do with her but about 10 to 15 mins and she ready to go again she is such a wonderful dog I just worry she in pain when it happens

    1. Hi Anthony,

      I would certainly try and prevent the episodes from happening. Short breaks in the activity or trying to break their fixation for a couple of minutes is often enough. In our case we base it on a combination of factors, the outside temperature, tongue length and saliva. We will normally stop the activity for just one of these 3 signs. Once you know the signs that your dog gives off prior to an attack it becomes easier to intervene.


  30. My border collie today walked five mins down the road and chased a ball for not even 10 mins and on the way home she started walking like she was drunk and dragging her back legs. I got her to lay down and she was panting heavily and drank heaps of water. Its not even a warm day as i dont take my dogs out when its warm they just have the run of the garden instead. Half hour later (after calling my mum to drive her home) she was back to her normal self. Im still awaiting a call back from my vets to discuss it.
    I remember on another walk she laid down on way home but thought she was wanting to roll about she walked home and was fine but this time she had all symptoms as above 🙁

    1. Hi Staci,

      The quick recovery certainly sounds like it might be Border Collie Collapse. When you say she chased the ball for 10 minutes is that just general play or would you say she is very ball fixated and intensely focused? With my dog and herding 10 minutes is enough to trigger an episode in the right conditions. In our case we normally see saliva and his tongue gets much longer. Once you witness a few attacks you often get to notice some warning signs that help in stopping it in future. It’s one of the reasons I can’t let someone else walk our dog as they don’t know what to look for.

      Feel free to report back once you have spoken to your vet.

      All the best

  31. Hi, I live in the UK where we rarely get hot weather but when we do we get it in extreme heatwaves. The past Wednesday it was 27 degrees which is very different compared to the typical 10-12 degrees and our 4 months old Border Collie is very energetic and requires lots of exercise and walks. However as the heat was reaching 27 degrees we decided to keep him in that day besides when taking him out for the toilet to keep him shaded and not overheated. On the way in from the toilet he stumbled and became disoriented and his back legs sort of gave in on him until we caught him. However we’re unsure whether this was heatstroke or BCC. We treated him as if it was heatstroke by cooling down his paw pads etc. But he was completely fine shortly after.

    1. Hi Savannah,

      I’d check with a vet. They might be able to do tests based on their blood. Usually instances of BCC are associated with intense activity or focus from the dog. If your dog was not worked up and merely hot then I would not be thinking Border Collie Collapse at this stage. Feel free to report back once you have more information.


  32. Hi! Just now discovering this disorder after my 2 year old aussie had a second episode last night. Very scary stuff. Wish there was something to be done. Has anyone had success in avoiding the episodes with a cooling vest??

    1. Hi Emily,

      I’m not aware that a cooling vest would help. Certainly the outside temperature seems to play a part but so does a strong mental fixation on a certain activity.

      Feel free to report back any findings.


  33. My two year old Collie cross (a Borderdoodle) gets this quite often when its hot, collapsing to the point that she sometimes needs to be carried for a few minutes, or she sits in the shade to recover.
    I now never leave for a walk without a bottle of water for her, both to drink and to rub into her tummy to cool her down after extreme activity. She loves her ball chasing and running with me, and I wouldn’t want to confine her to a boring walk on the leash. She always recovers after a few minutes, and I have learnt to keep an eye on the signs that she is over-exerting (tongue fully extended, panting etc), and then we calm it down for a while, whether throwing the ball or running, until she is ready to go again.

    1. Hi Jane,

      Yes I don’t think you can really stop a dog from doing what it loves. The trick is to spot the signs and use common sense to take breaks before an attack happens. Thanks for commenting.


  34. Hi Gary,
    My 9yr old BC Nelson has recently stated to have a number of collapsing episodes, after extensive tests (bloods and ECG) which all came out as normal they had him wear a heart monitor for two days during which time he had an episode. The monitor indicated that when he showed excitement his heart rate increased but instead of slowing down normally it almost stopped which caused the collapse. When the episode occurs he shows signs of disorientation and then his legs give way to one side and he falls down. He is quick to recover after around 2-5 minutes and is up and about without any visible side effects but this is very scary.
    I’ve viewed your posts and seen other studies about BCC and wondered if any of your readers have experienced this condition appearing in their pet later in life as up until this year Nelson has been a normal collie with no issues.
    Would really appreciate any advice as the vets do not seem to know what this is and if there is any treatment.
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Sally,

      I’ve approved your comment so others can read it and share their experiences and thoughts. From what I’ve heard Border Collies can develop Exercise Induced Collapse at any age. Certainly the way you describe it happening in your case when Nelson is excited combined with the quick recovery does seem to point towards BCC. You are the first person though that I’ve known get data back by wearing a heart monitor and I find that fascinating so thanks!

      Can I ask was the monitor a specialist device from the vets or are we basically talking about a smart watch for dogs?

      If anyone can help Sally please do comment. Also Sally feel free to report back if you discover more. I’m going to check online regarding heart monitors for dogs.

      Thanks again.

  35. Hi everyone!

    My 1.5 years old BC had its first collapse yesterday.

    I live in the south of Spain and currently the temperatures reach more than 40º C.

    On our “night walk”, at about 35º C, my BC suffered a slight collapse, hardly having played or running, only walking, frolicking and sniffing around the neighborhood. Observing his behavior, I took him to a cooler place to rest, not even knowing that this collapse syndrome existed. When he felt better we came back home.

    Two hours later when we went out to throw out the garbage, we went back to the street just to “go to the bathroom” and found a very nervous dog, and he again had a slight symptom of collapse, specifically incoordination of the front legs, but I knew how to see quickly and we returned home to rest. He drank a lot of water, I refreshed him with cold water and we fanned him for a few minutes. In 15 minutes he was ok. Today in the morning he was as nothing happened.

    Summer is terrible in Andalusia with temperatures up to 44º C, and it can be very dangerous for dogs, but in our case I have learned that we must be much more careful due to the BCC.

    It is clear that the triggers have been the temperature in the first case and the nervousness of the other dog + temperature in the second case.

    I have learned a lot thanks to this article and the comments from all of you. I hope I can contribute my experience with my little one in the future and continue learning from all of you.

    Thanks for the article!!

    Regard from Spain!!

    1. Hi Javier,

      Thanks for your comment. Your circumstances sound quite different to most cases of EIC or Border Collie Collapse. You certainly have the high temperatures in Spain but it’s usually combined with some sort of manic activity that excites the dog to a high frenzy. What you have described could be something else entirely and I would probably ask a vet in your case as there might be something else medically going on. Feel free to report back if you have any new episodes. If anyone else has any suggestions please feel free to comment / reply to Javier.

  36. Hi
    Came across this after my Marley border collies rescue from wales England got him at 8 weeks He’s 4 now first one happened when he was 3 he’s a crazy dog but as he’s got older he’s really learnt to chill out at home when needed he’s had two of these episodes vets are saying seizures but Iv seen videos of seizures an it’s nothing like it it’s literally been nearly a year from the last one cold weather but the same type of exercise short 30 min run on local playing field we live 2 mins away he hops in car at the end of run excessive drooling then gets into the house drinks some water then it just goes wrong it’s so traumatic to watch he try’s to walk an his front legs go up then back legs go he can’t walk the fear in his eyes it so scary vets said even if it was epilepsy they wouldn’t give him meds as they have been a year apart but I just don’t think it is he’s awake right through bit spaced out but awake then he’s freaked out for 20 mins then thinking what’s gone on then back to himself so worried because it like he is literally dying but I feel there are triggers I am noticing myself

    1. Hi Jennie,

      Have to tried to limit the activity that triggers it? It’s frustrating when you can’t be sure if it’s Border Collie collapse or epilepsy. We feel it’s Border Collie collapse in our case because it only even happens when manically herding and usually on hot weather days. Our dog Archie hasn’t had an episode for ages because we know when to step and and stop the activity. I personally don’t think epilepsy would have the exact same triggers.

      Good luck.


  37. Hello Everyone!
    Our 5 year old Mini Aussie started showing BCC this past month and it is always triggered by his fixation on frisbee and ball. I am so glad I found this thread and have read what others have posted. I do believe he would play until he drops, however the episodes begin after he has stopped and the adrenaline levels start to reside and then he looses balance, gets wobbly and has collapsed. It is scary for me and you have to wonder how scary it must be for him. Trying to reduce the amount of frisbee/ball time to keep this from happening in the future.

    1. Hi Tammy,

      Your report is exactly our experience. The collapse does not occur while the activity continues. It’s only when he stops that he collapses. In our case we know when to stop the activity based on things like outside temperature but also tongue length and his facial expression. I think the condition is nothing to worry about once you know the triggers and when to step in. Our Border Collie still gets to herd all his friends and fulfills his desire to work but we just monitor him closely, especially on hot days.


  38. Hello – I have a 3 year old Australian shepherd/Australian cattle dog mix. My fiancé and I believe she might be suffering from BCC syndrome. After around 15-20 minutes playing frisbee (her literal obsession) she seems to become really disoriented (she almost looks drunk…). This most recent time was earlier today and she became unable to stand up on her own. Her front legs gave out – she was not really able to walk and was extremely wobbly. She was obviously very hot/tired from playing as well (it was around 75 degrees today) but this was not normal. She appeared to be fine after 10-15 minutes or so but we brought her into our vet to be checked out anyway. This happened once before on a hot summer day in August but we just thought it was due to dehydration/overheating. Our vet told me today that dehydration/overheating was highly unlikely because she is a healthy dog that gets regular exercise. They are doing some bloodwork to see if that brings back anything. My fiancé ended up finding information/videos on BCC and we really think that this is what she’s suffering from. Our vet is doing some research for us and is supposed to give us more information but he was not familiar with BCC. He did mention the similar syndrome found in labs which I can’t recall the name of. How do you deal with this when you have a dog who requires A TON of exercise that now can’t over exert themselves?? I’m so concerned about her and I know she will go nuts without being able to play frisbee like she used to but I’m not sure how else to handle this. I appreciate any feedback/advice you can give us!! Thank you!

    1. Hi Rachel,

      It certainly sounds like BCC based on the obsession, the ‘drunk’ look you mention and the quick recovery. It’s also known as Exercise Induced Collapse and other breeds do suffer including other herding breeds and labs. It’s not something to panic about. Obsessive dogs will not control themselves. You as the owner needs to spot the signs and limit the activity before the incident happens. That often means taking into account the outside temperature. Those living in hot countries will find this harder than us living in the UK.

      In our dog’s case there are some signs that we notice that usually lead to collapse. He will herd in circles faster and faster. His tongue will extend, his eyes look a little dazed and he might produce saliva. Our dog is still able to carry out his herding of his friends but we will sometimes stop him for a few minutes if we spot any early warning signs. He won’t stop willingly and it does mean raising my voice, grabbing him by the collar and putting him back on the lead for a short rest. He’s a very happy dog, we don’t stop him from doing what he loves but we do monitor him closely. He hasn’t had an attack for ages.


  39. Hello- We have a 2 year old Border collie. She had a very excitable 4 days traveling to family’s house where they have a dog. She seemed very hyper everyday. So we decided to take here to a dog park and play some frizbee before our drive home. We had only been playing frisbee for about 5-10 miniutes. It was about 45-50 degrees outside. When I threw the frizbee and she was running after it and her back legs just stopped working and she collapsed to the ground and couldn’t get up. She was flopping on the ground. We ran over to her but she wasn’t really aware of what was happening. We picked her up and carried her back to the truck about 1/4 mile and when we got to the truck she still couldn’t stand on her back legs. It took her about 15-20 minutes before she could stand and walk. We rushed her to the vet … but by the time we could talk with them. They said to monitor her and take her to her vet when we got home. It was very upsetting to watch. She has never had anything like this before. I didn’t know if her backend collapsing was what happens when they have bbc

    1. Hi Robyn,

      To be honest from what you describe it’s not a clear case to me. The temperature seems on the low side. Also the way you describe it seems to be confined to the back legs. With BCC it’s as if the whole balance is impacted and like the dog is ‘drunk’. The quick recovery however is classic BCC. Would you say her behaviour is manic when it comes to the frisbee?


  40. I have a 3 year old German shepherd/border collie mix. She is obsessed with fetch but seemed to be good at knowing when she needs to stop. She will lie down for a bit to take a break and then come back to continue playing when ready. Yesterday, we were playing fetch with another dog which, i think, made her insecure about losing the ball, so she didn’t rest for an hour straight. She ate dinner and then went to bed. When she woke up the. Ext morning (8 hours later) I noticed her stiff walking inside the house and wobbling outside. She seems confused by it. She is resting now but it hasn’t gone away yet and its definitley been more than 30 min after the activity. Could BCC present this way?

    1. Hi,

      It doesn’t sound like BCC if the problem was hours after the exercise. General stiffness can happen when a dog overdoes exercise but the wobbling you mention would probably lead me to seek the opinion of a vet.

      All the best

  41. My Sasha had it probably 30+ times last year during aust summer/ autumn over 6 months.
    it dissapated a bit in the middle.

    Coincidently it was during this time I had him on comfortis plus tick/flea/worm.

    I stopped the medication and he has not had it in 6 months until today.

    Extremely hot day, and threw the ball 10 times. He quit on me, ran inside. 5 minutes later I heard him banging into walls as he struggled to get into the shower and cool tiles.


    1. Hi Chris,

      Interesting to hear that you think the problem in your case might be made worse by flea and worm treatment. We have not had a serious episode in a long time but that’s mainly because we know what signs to look for in our own dog and manage his obsession better.

      Hope it all works out.


  42. Our rescue Border Coĺlie became unable to walk after getting very stressed trying to chase deer- he is always on a long lunge line anyway due to severe prey/ hunting drive- a year ago.We took him home as soon as
    he could walk and treated him for possible heat stress. He later developed odoema of the tongue but otherwise recovered quickly. All blood tests were normal. It was a warm day and he cannot tolerate heat well anyway.
    We have regretted the fact that he can only exercise off lead on a fully enclosed field but I have noticed weakness in his hind legs and mild hind ataxia not thought by vets to be HD at the end of exercise in warm weather. I wonder if this restriction of exercise has prevented the more severe signs developing.
    He has no “off switch” when tracking and would over exert if allowed.

    1. Hi Rosemary,

      Much of what you describe sounds very typical ‘severe prey drive’ and ‘no off switch’. In most cases it can be ‘managed’ but there may be times in hot weather where it’s easier to walk in a location where your dog is unlikely to come across their particular triggers.


  43. Hi Gary and readers,
    My name is Nancee and I inherited my client’s purebred border collie last September when he passed away. I was their trainer so had known her since 4 months–now 2 years/5 months old. We live in B.C. Canada. Piper’s lineage is bred for sheep herding. I had a broken foot when she came to me so I through ball (chuck-it) for her until I was healed and able to do trails. She is extremely fast when she gets running around and very ball obsessive so I try to only throw it on days when she’s not been out for a good run. If she goes to the beach off-leash she will convince people to throw her driftwood… but since it’s heavier the distance is much shorter than a long range ball.
    What brought me to your sit ! was I’ve noticed several times the past two months that after about 10 to 15 mins of fast ball retrieval Piper will lay down before returning with the ball. (Sh has always brought it straight back for another throw.) After just a few minutes I hav been calling her back and she lopes back as usual. Yesterday she laid down a second time which has caught my attention. I ended the play time figuring she’d had enough. There has been no staggering etc. and I read this page and didn’t see anyone describing their dog lying down so I’m not sure that this is BCC in the making. I was wondering whether a dog could sense a problem and lay down. The weather is only about 17 or so degrees right now but of course is warming up for summer ahead. It is only when chasing the ball with strong bursts of speed that I’v seen her lay down. Mind you I did run hr by my bike recently and noted she slowed down. I had kept the pace fairly slow and treid to let her set it more… since she’s a sprinter more than a long distance runner so far, as I waited until she was over two to take her out with a bike and kept the distance and time under that recommended for hr age. Have you heard of dog laying down and avoiding BCC? Piper is not overweight and has a healthy coat… I was thinking of getting a frisbee for some variety and maybe slower running… though most likely she would end up learning to jump. Any feedback is appreciated. I was very pleasantly surprised that you are still responding on your blog when I found a recent comment response! Thank you for your dedication!

    1. Hi Nancee,

      I’m not sure if a Border Collie can sense a problem and stop themselves before a collapse happens. Usually it’s their total obsession and fixation that means they have no off switch and are completely unaware of anything and everything else, including their own physical state. It’s only after you stop the game that they sometimes then start experiencing the condition.

      I’m not therefore convinced that Piper has experienced the Border Collie collapse but her work ethic and ball obsession are enough for me to want to keep a close eye on her. The fact that you are studying her behaviour is exactly what’s needed. I feel there are usually a few signs, at least we have noticed some in Archie where his tongue gets really long and there is a frenzied look that develops in his eyes. I would be interested to hear from others in case they feel their dog can sense a possible attack and calm themselves. In my experience though the breed are usually too much ‘in the zone’ to be aware of anything but the ball or the herding. Archie for instance is noise sensitive of things like industrial noises, car backfiring etc. When herding a friend though a bomb could go off and he wouldn’t hear it!

      If you’ve noticed anything else since your comment feel free to report back to us. The more people share what we have noticed, the better humans we can be for our Collies.


  44. Hi Gary
    Through some fluke of technology, I just found this tab (open on my laptop) to your response… I didn’t know how to get back to see if you’d replied so am grateful and will copy the link so it doesn’t happen again! I’ve been adding frisbee to Piper’s routine but doing it near dusk on warmer days just in case. She went quite a few times last night (not far throws) and did lay down. She still does so with ball throw (from a chuck it) after a number of throws but is raring to chase again within a few mins. She sprints like the wind chasing or coming to a recall in the forest walks off leash. Her coat is shiny. She does pant heavily at times but I may be getting paranoid. Her tongue does hang out… children have remarked about that.
    I mentioned I was a trainer and one of my targets with her original owner was teaching her some self-control with balls. She certainly has the border collie obsession (which can be very frustrating to a trainer). However she has developed some control as I work with her. She will now walk through a frisbee golf ‘course’ and not chase one flying past… if I tell her leave. So I’m back to hoping she has learned some control and doesn’t have some other ailment sneaking up on her. Oh and I’ve done a lot of work with having her lay down when I throw the ball and not run til I give her a release. (All meant to help her gain control of herself.)
    I will watch your site and see if anyone else writes in about this… or if anything else shows up over the summer with Piper. She seems alert when she drops down and attentively watches me, waiting for a recall.

  45. Hello Gary, my girl blaze is 7 and she had a stroke over the summer of last year. Now it seems every time she gets excited , playing frisbee or herding anything that moves, she has what I assumed was a seizure. Every time it has happened it has been hot but I’ve never heard of this I think this is what we might be experiencing. My vet thought she might have a heart issue stemming from her stoke but I’m not sure now. Everything you are saying sounds like what is happening to my sweet girl.

    1. Hi Darcy, the fact Blaze had a stroke does complicate whether what you are experiencing might be Border Collie Collapse. It might be worth sharing your thoughts with your vet. If you can record the behaviour too then you have more evidence for a professional to make the right conclusion.

      All the best

  46. Hi again,
    Piper played frisbee tonight and I thought I kept it under 10 mins then she insisted on chasing a ball for quite a few throws with a fellow in the park… suddenly the staggering hit… she’s made it home and crashed. So I’m thinking she has been self monitoring in the past. She just raised her head and looked around (and went back to sleep) after 20 mins. Just wanted to update you.

  47. I was playing with my son’s border collie at noon today. We usually play until she stops bringing the frisbee back to me. (I try my best to wear her out 3X each day because I am working from home.) For the first time, when we were ready to enter the house, she began to wobble and then began to walk around – totally disoriented. It was very scary. She is only eight months old. I brought her in the house and tried to get her to drink water – that’s what she usually does. Today, when she entered the house, she walked around – disoriented again. She did drink water after a few minutes. I called the vet and they told me to monitor her. Luckily I found this site on Google. We will have to be a bit more careful with her activity (especially in summer) going forward.

    1. Hi Stephanie,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes I would monitor her closely, maybe record any future episodes. Unfortunately some vets don’t seem to know about this condition and make assumptions about heart problems or seizures. If you can at least raise the possibility of BCC or Exercise Induced Collapse with your vet, hopefully the right sort of questions can be asked to determine exactly which condition your dog has.

      All the best

  48. Hi Gary been reading your posts my miniature Australian Shepherd was just diagnosed with BCC this morning as a diagnosis of conclusion. He has experienced similar symptoms on three occasions after exercising in the heat. Something has come to mind as there are no conclusions as to what causes this, I’m wondering if flea and tick meds can play a role? When I first witnessed this behaviour I thought maybe it was something neurological and because nexguard has been associated with neurological disorders in dogs I’m wondering if this has anything to do with it. My pup is also overweight and currently on a weight loss program so I was also thinking this could be a weight related thing. I will be monitoring him during exercise and watching for triggers, Hopefully I will not experience this again as it is heartbreaking. In speaking with my breeder my pup comes from a very healthy Pedegree and from what I’ve read on BCC this is a hereditary disease what are your thoughts on the flea and tick meds?

    1. Hi Paula,

      Thanks for your comment. It’s interesting that you mention flea medication. Since we moved Archie to a raw food diet we also stopped using flea medication and worming products in favour of natural alternatives. So since stopping medications we haven’t experienced collapses but in our case I don’t think that’s the link. However the closer owners pay attention to every aspect of their dog’s life and report back their suspicions. hopefully some common threads will emerge that vets can test further.

      Thanks again,

  49. Hi – These postings are rather old, and I don’t know if anyone is checking them any more, but I’m going to write about my dog’s experience with this. DNA testing shows her to be half border collie, 20% cattle dog, plus a few others. When I got her, seven years ago, at four months old, she would collapse when playing hard, and yes, when the weather was warm, (though not necessarily hot,) and yes, Kona is very excitable, (and somewhat high strung – with a fear streak.) It was terrifying! We monitored her heart for a couple of days – inconclusive. The DNA showed her not to have Exercise Induced Collapse, but the Vet with the DNA testing mentioned that the test was specific for laboradors, and that they were noticing similar events with stumped tail cattle dogs. (They had never met my dog, and had no idea that she was born with a stump tail. I haven’t heard anymore about a link with stump-tailed cattle dogs since back then.) It looked kind of like as a puppy Kona didn’t know where the “Off” button was, and as she got a little older, she seemed to figure that out, and would lie down and rest, before collapsing. Recently, I saw a mini collapse. Scary. Went back to her same Vet, who told me about Border Collie Collapse and the current research that is being done with it. Note: this is seven years later.
    I think it is really wise to be on the watch for symptoms, and reel your dog in before they collapse. IOWs, as described by Gary – don’t let them play too hard, especially on warm days. Also – and I think this is very important – always carry water for your dog. I was told early on by Kona’s Vet to cool her down by dribbling water on her ears, (not in,) when Kona was down for the count… and of course offering them water to drink. During the recent episode, when Kona got up, I led her to a fountain, which she sat in for some time. My theory, (though I am no scientist,) is that the warm weather is an important part of the picture. Heart rate up, body overheating?
    All and all, the bad news is it looks terrifying, and could be really bad for a working herding dog. Good news is that for the most part, dogs seem to recover.

    1. Hi Sherry,

      Thanks for your feedback. As you mentioned vets are more familiar with Exercise Induced Collapse with labradors, though hopefully the condition in other breeds is now getting more attention.

      It is scary to witness a dog during a collapse but I honestly feel that by paying close attention to your dog and watching for warning signs and being mindful of the temperature it can be largely prevented.

      All the best

  50. Hello, my 7 year old border collie seems to have BCC not confirmed by the vets but from videos and the descriptions found online, I’d say I’m 99% sure.
    It doesn’t happen often, in fact it’s only happened a few times that I’ve witnessed spread out over a couple of years.
    It starts with his back legs wobbling and he starts swaying like he’s drunk until he eventually collapses to the floor. He also starts to stiffen up and is unable to move. He had an episode tonight that started in his back and went to his front leg and caused it to raise up. He’s not in pain but can tell he is scared. After 5 minutes he’s back up running round like nothings happened.

    1. Hi Amy,

      Certainly sounds like BCC. Does it happen during a period of high activity or intense focus? The fact that the recovery is so quick certainly does sound like a classic BCC episode.


  51. Hi- my 5.5year old Border Collie X Labrador had his 4th collapse in a year today. After chasing his ball for 5 mins he went wobbly on all legs and collapsed down. After about 10 mins he was able to get up and walk to car and got him home. This is what has happened also on 3 previous occasions. However today, an hour after getting home, I noticed him constantly juddering/shivering and so took him to vets and awaiting blood results

  52. Hi Gary
    I have found your report very useful. I have a 3 year old collie cross. Mum a collie and dad a collie x lab. When he was 18 months old after a lot of running on the Towans he started wobbling on his legs. We steadied him and calmed him down he made a quick recovery and we walked back to the car on his lead. I contacted the Vet and because of lockdown had to have telephone consultation. She though he had just got hot and exhausted. But to contact her if it happened again. In July this year (15 months later) he was having a good run following rabbit smells on holiday in the New Forest and similar happened. Last week he was really racing with a my daughter’s young sproker and I have never seen him race as much he was like a greyhound in a race. He stopped and laid down and was really wobbly when he got up. But once again recovered within minutes. My daughter found your website and we related to it. The vet gave him a really thorough examination and couldn’t find anything wrong. I told her what I had read about BCC and although she had never heard of it was very interested. As a precaution blood tests were done to check his kidneys and liver but all came back clear. She did research and concluded that my dog was indeed suffering from BCC and to manage it by not allowing him to race excessively. And if he does get in that state to calm and try and cool him. She is very interested and is going to try and find out more. Hopefully more research will get done and it will be identified easier.

    1. Hi Jan,

      Thanks for your observations. It seems more and more vets are aware of BCC or Exercise Induced Collapse. We have been able to predict when it’s likely to happen and manage activity. I’m not sure we will ever see a treatment for it, rather the gene responsible may be identified and affected dogs may be prevented from breeding to reduce the cases.

      Enjoy your dog.

  53. Hi there, I’ve just got back from the vet with my BC aged 3yrs …having collapsing and out for 20 minutes this was the longest time ones before were 5 mins to 10 mins our vet recognised it as BCC the weather was damp and cold …she starts to wobbly than goes over. I’ve not heard of this before but now I’m fully aware of what my girl is going through and she now stays on a long lead for her walks I do let her off if no other dogs are about or anyone playing ball . Sad day when you find out there’s something wrong with your fur baby….

  54. Hi. My BC is 1 year/9 mos. He had a second episode this weekend after I was launching the tennis ball for him (which I do every day). He was really running hard, and when he returned with the ball he would not drop it. He fell to the ground and was kicking his legs as if he were trying to get up or run. He was yelping very loud. I was able to gather him into my lap and just petted him. He was so still I thought he had died. After a few minutes som joggers helped me get him home. After 30 mins he was fine. Now I’m terrified to play fetch with him. It’s all he wants to do, but I’ve severely limited our sessions to mo more than 10 mins of me tossing the ball right to him a short distance so he can jump up and catch it. The first time this happened I rushed him to the vet who said he appeared fine. I’m very concerned and never want to witness another collapse. I read it’s not painful, but my dog was shrieking and yelping.

    1. Hi Eric,

      I’ve not heard about yelping before but I guess it could be distressing to a dog rather than actually painful. Border Collies are a very intense breed and often addicted to a particular activity, playing ball in your case and herding in our dog’s case. Hopefully you will get more confident in spotting the triggers and managing the activity.

      Good luck.

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