Guild of Shepherds & Collies

Coat Care for Collies

coat care collies


Rough Collies are easily identified by their long, sleek coats, but anyone who has ever had a collie of their own knows that the beautiful fur that represents Lassie-like nostalgia doesn’t come easily. Collie owners need to adopt proactive grooming techniques to keep their furry friends comfortable and looking their best. Unlike other dog breeds, there is more to collie grooming than one may think.

Understanding the Double Coat

The collie is one of many dog breeds that have a double coat. This means that in addition to the outer layer of fur, there is an undercoat that is comprised of shorter, softer hair. This second layer of fur keeps the dog cool in high temperatures, and is the reason why clipping a double-coated dog during summer months is always a bad idea. They may look hot in all of that long fur, but their coat is specifically designed to hold moisture, heat, and cold away from their body, helping to keep them comfortable regardless of the temperature. It even acts as a natural sunblock to help protect their skin from harmful UV rays.

Make Grooming a Routine

A collie’s fur mats easily and requires routine attention to keep it soft and manageable. They are seasonal shedders, which means they don’t lose their fur all year-round. Female collies shed their undercoats after each heat cycle, which is about every 7-10 months. Spayed females and males typically shed their undercoat once a year around mid-to-late summer. Extra grooming is required during these periods, but to keep collies looking their best, it’s recommended to do a weekly brushing session, trim their nails monthly and give them a bath every three months. Sitting still for long periods of time isn’t one of a collie’s best skills, so making grooming sessions a reliable part of their weekly schedule can help you get the job done with minimal frustration. It’s best to start training your collie how to behave during grooming sessions at a young age. Brushing your dog is always easier when they cooperate.

The Right Tools For the Job

Before you take on the task of brushing your collie, it’s important to understand the different kinds of brushes. There are four brushes that every collie owner should have in their arsenal: the V rake, slicker brush, pin brush and a wide-toothed comb. The V rake is a great tool to use when a collie is shedding. It has two rows of pins that form a “V” and is able to reach deep into the undercoat to remove dead hair. Be gentle when using this brush; collies have a tendency to have sensitive skin, and if you push too hard, you could hurt them. The slicker brush is the tool that you’ll use most often. It uses bent pin bristles to remove mats and tangles. A pin brush has long “pins”, but a soft pouch in the handle to reduce pull.   Lastly, there is the wide-toothed comb. Use this one when dealing with particularly bad mats and tangles.

Getting to Work

There are no official steps on how to brush a collie, but it’s usually easiest to groom in sections. Focusing on one part of the body at a time can help keep you from missing any areas. Because of a collie’s long coat and active lifestyle, their hair often gets tangled and matted. Mats look bad, but they’re also uncomfortable for the dog, so it’s important to do everything you can to prevent them from getting too knotted.

On the main body, do “line brushing”. This is easiest with the pin brush. Start low, lift the top hair up and brush the under hair. Then brush the top hair down. Repeat this in “line” sections” up your collie’s body.

Another area that is easily matted is the fine hair right behind the ears. To get these mats out, hold the ear forward and use the slicker brush to brush the hair away from the base of the ear. Then, carefully work them out with the comb. If left neglected, these mats can get so bad that cutting them out may be your only option. As long as you’re careful, this won’t hurt the dog, but it will leave unsightly bald spots.

Make sure to pay special attention to the longer fur on the back of your dog’s legs and under where their armpits would be. These areas can be sensitive, so be gentle and take your time working out those tangles.

Collies are one of the most recognizable dog breeds, and that’s because of their coats. That long, beautiful fur is every collie owner’s pride and joy, and it’s important to keep it properly groomed. Weekly brushes can take up to an hour, and more serious collie grooming (which should be done about four times a year), can take even longer, but the work is always worth it.


Article By:
Amber King

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