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15 Border Collie Grooming Tips: Canine Health & Wellness

Written by: Jeff Weishaupt

Last Updated on June 7, 2024 by Dogster Team

Border Collie being brushed

15 Border Collie Grooming Tips: Canine Health & Wellness

Did you know Queen Victoria loved Border Collies? In fact, she became an active enthusiast in the 1860s. If you have a Border Collie at home, you’ve got more in common with the royalty than you think.

The Border Collie is an affectionate breed that gets all lovey-dovey around its owner and family. It’s also good with children and other dogs. But like any other dog, it also requires a certain level of grooming. The dog is quite furry and sheds a lot, so keeping up with a grooming routine is essential. Here are some tips for grooming a Border Collie dog.

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The 15 Border Collie Grooming Tips

1. Brush Their Hair Regularly

Regardless of the dog breed, brushing the coat regularly is vital to keep a canine’s fur glossy and shiny. How often you brush the coat will depend on the texture and length of your dog’s coat.

For long-haired breeds, like Collies and Golden Retrievers, you must brush their hair at least once a week. Or you could brush them every other day if you think it’s necessary.

Since Collies are long-haired, they are prone to mat formation. Mats are clumps of tangled fur that can be painful and uncomfortable for the dog. If your Collie has mats in its fur, it will lick or bite itself at the location of the mats because it feels irritated. Excessive biting or licking can cause skin infections.

Foreign bodies, such as grass seeds or pollen, may also hide inside your dog’s fur mats. Sometimes, they burrow deep into the skin and form an abscess or a pocket of pus.

Besides removing mats, regular brushing also helps remove dirt, dander, and loose hair from the dog’s coat. It helps extend the time between subsequent baths.

border collie red dog outdoors grooming
Image Credit By: Alona Slostina, Shutterstock

2. Use Husbandry Training

Zookeepers use husbandry training to make large animals, including predators, comfortable with the idea of grooming. They often use positive reinforcement to make the animals see grooming as fun.

Does your Border Collie throw a fit whenever you try to groom them? Husbandry training can be your savior.

Use these tips to make your dog accustomed to grooming activities:
  • Get Them Used to Your Hands: If you are your dog’s primary groomer, they need to get used to your hands touching it. You can make a pup comfortable by handling their body parts from the ears and tail to the toes. Starting at a younger age will give you a better chance of training your dog.
  • Move to Sensitive Areas: Once your dog gets used to your touch, you can move to sensitive areas, like the face and paws. You can gently brush your dog’s fur as you move from one body part to another.
  • Let Them Do Their Nails: Yes, you read that right! You can teach your dog to “file” its nails by taking them for walks on rough surfaces. However, you still might need to clip them from time to time.

3. Make Them Comfortable Around Nail Clippers

Some dogs start to run away the second you pull those nail clippers out. When you expose them to it from a young age, use plenty of treats and positive reinforcement, and get them used to having their paws touched, this makes it a lot easier when it comes time to clip those long nails.

4. Trim Their Hair As Needed

Border Collies have a lot of hair. And it needs frequent trimming. Most dog owners take their dogs to the groomers for haircuts. But you can do little trims at home, especially around the eyes and paws. It’s important to remove the hair surrounding the eyes, as it can obstruct your dog’s vision.

If you have trained your Border Collie to be used to your touch, you shouldn’t have trouble trimming their hair at home. Wait for your dog to be calm and composed. It’s better if the dog is lying down while you cut their hair.

Remember that there’s a risk of cutting your dog with scissors if you’re feeling nervous or anxious. If you’re not confident, it’s better to take your dog to a professional groomer.

5. Trim Their Nails Regularly and Know How to Do It

A Border Collie’s nails should not exceed 2mm or 0.08 inches. If your dog’s nails touch or click against the floor, it’s time for a trim.

Here’s how to safely trim Collie’s nails:

  • Hold your dog’s paw firmly and put your thumb on the toe pad. Keep your forefinger on the skin above the nail with a gentle grip. When cutting, ensure their fur is not in the way.
  • Extend the nail by pushing your thumb upward and backward on the toe pad while moving your forefinger forward.
  • Clip the nails’ tips only in a straight across motion. Also, get the dewclaws, which are located on the inner side of your pup’s legs.

Pay attention to the quick, which is a pinkish vein in the nail. If your Collie’s nails are white, look for the little dots inside. Avoid cutting them too close to the quick because it can make your dog bleed.

closeup vet cutting border collie dog toenails
Image Credit By: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

6. Grind Their Nails If They Don’t Like Clippers

You should grind your dog’s nails at least once every 3 to 4 weeks if they don’t take well to the clippers. Grinding helps smooth out the sharp edges of the nails, keeping them at a safe length. Here’s how to do it:

  • Use a nail grinder tool designed specifically for dogs. It consists of a spinning head with an emery band or sanding drum.
  • Get your dog in a comfortable position and hold the toe firmly.
  • Grind the nail from the bottom and move to the tip slowly.
  • Smooth out rough edges, but go in small strokes, grinding only small sections at a time.

Border Collies have long hair, so you must keep their fur back while grinding. Otherwise, there’s a risk of the grinder getting caught in your dog’s hair.

7. Perform Monthly Skin Checks

A skin check is an integral part of grooming a Border Collie. You should check your pet’s skin for signs of infection, worms, or mats at least once a month. Keep a notebook to record your findings so you can share them with the vet on your next visit.

Start by getting your dog in a comfortable position. You can make your Collie perch on a counter or elevated surface to get a clear view of the whole body.

Here are some places to check:
  • Inside the ears
  • Between the skin folds, especially of the lips and the face
  • Between the toes
  • Behind the ears
  • In the armpits
  • Under the tail
  • Under the back legs
  • In the skin under the hair
  • Under the belly
  • At junctions where haired and non-haired skin meets (lips, anus, paw pads, nose bridge)

Look for signs of skin thickening, bumps, and lumps. If there’s any oozing, scaling, or scabs, that’s also a sign of concern. Measure and count the lumps if your dog has several of them. Notice if they grow in number or size over time.

You might also find parasites, such as lice, fleas, and ticks, in dog fur. Get your hands on a flea shampoo as soon as possible to prevent the problem from getting worse.

woman looking at border collie dog while having vet check up
Image Credit: Tyler Olson, Shutterstock

8. Check Their Ears Regularly

Ear infections can put Collies in a lot of pain and misery. So, you should look for signs of infection regularly.

Here are some of them:
  • Moist or inflamed ears
  • Odd smell
  • Discharge from the ears

If a dog is usually calm but yelps or whines a lot when you try to check its ears, there could be an infection. Dogs with ear infections often scratch their ears and shake their heads excessively. Take your dog to the vet immediately if you notice any signs of an infection.

brown border collie dog during visit in vet
Image Credit: Kamil Macniak, Shutterstock

9. Clean Their Ears

Clean your pet’s ears once every month. Soak a cotton swab in mineral oil and use it to clean the outside of your dog’s ears. You can also use a damp cloth instead. Do not force anything into your dog’s ears.

10. Bathe Them Every 3 Months

Border Collies do not need to be bathed as often as other breeds. A bath every 3 months should suffice. But if your pet likes to play in the mud, you might bathe them more frequently.

However, you shouldn’t overdo it. Bathing a Border Collie too often can remove skin-protecting oils, leading to irritation.

Here are some things to remember when bathing a Border Collie:
  • Brush Beforehand: Since Border Collies shed a lot, you should brush your pet’s coat before bathing. Otherwise, your bathtub might look like the floor of a hair salon.
  • Use Tepid Water: Anywhere from tepid to warm water is suitable for the bath. Do not use hot water, as it can dry out their skin, causing itching and irritation.
  • Use the Right Products: Use dog-grade conditioners, cleansing products, and shampoos. Do not share your shampoo with your pooch, no matter how good it smells.
  • Protect the Eyes: Make sure you protect your dog’s eyes during a bath. It’s no fun getting shampoo in the eyes.
closeup of border collie dog while taking a shower in the bathtub
Image By: MinekPSC, Shutterstock

11. Select the Right Shampoo

There’s a huge selection of dog shampoo to choose from. But you should know about these main types:

  • Flea Shampoo: These control fleas in dogs. You should only use this shampoo for a Border Collie if it has fleas.
  • Oatmeal Shampoo: If your dog has dry skin, try an oatmeal-based shampoo meant to soothe irritation.
  • Medicated Shampoo: These shampoos work wonders for dogs with hot spots, skin irritations, and dandruff. Consult a vet to find the right medicated shampoo for your Collie. Most of these shampoos contain hydrocortisone and coal tar for treating skin irritations.
  • Puppy Shampoo: If your Collie is still a pup, get a shampoo that does not make it tear up. These shampoos are called “tearless” because they do not irritate the eyes.
  • Hypoallergenic Shampoo: Border Collies with sensitive skin or skin conditions will need these shampoos.

Oatmeal-based shampoos are great for regular use. You can also add a conditioner to your dog’s grooming routine to make the coat shine.

Our Favorite Products

Selecting the right shampoo and conditioner makes the world of a difference when grooming your pup. Our favorite products are the duo by Hepper. The Oatmeal Pet Shampoo is formulated with aloe and oatmeal to soothe skin and hydrate the coat. The Pet Conditioner works at eliminating tangles and taming frizz and static. Both products are pH-balanced and formulated with pet-friendly ingredients, free of harsh soaps, chemicals, and dyes. Give this duo a try to heal and nourish your dog's coat, and leave them with an irresistible just-left-the-spa cucumber and aloe scent. 

Hepper Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs, Cats and Other...
Hepper Pet Conditioner and Moisturiser - Scented...
Hepper Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs, Cats and Other...
Hepper Pet Conditioner and Moisturiser - Scented...
pH balanced
Gently cleanses
Cucumber & aloe scent
Free of harmful additives
Combats tangles & static
Soothes & hydrates
Hepper Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs, Cats and Other...
Hepper Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs, Cats and Other...
pH balanced
Gently cleanses
Cucumber & aloe scent
Free of harmful additives
Combats tangles & static
Soothes & hydrates
Hepper Pet Conditioner and Moisturiser - Scented...
Hepper Pet Conditioner and Moisturiser - Scented...
pH balanced
Gently cleanses
Cucumber & aloe scent
Free of harmful additives
Combats tangles & static
Soothes & hydrates

At Dogster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool pet company!


12. Do Not Forget Dental Hygiene

Brushing your Collie’s teeth twice a week should help keep its dental hygiene in check. Buy a specifically designed toothbrush with soft bristles, an angled handle, and multiple heads so that it can reach all the nooks in your dog’s mouth.

Do not use human-grade toothpaste for your dog, as it contains fluoride and xylitol, which are toxic for dogs. You can buy dog toothpaste in delicious flavors, like chicken, peanut butter, and beef.

Try different combinations to see which your dog likes best. Establish a tooth brushing routine to get them used to the process.

13. Get Your Dog Dental Chews

Dental chews are dog treats that help keep your dog’s teeth clean. These chews also massage their gums and reduce plaque buildup.

Dental chews are available in different shapes and sizes. Opt for chews with hollow forms, as they allow a better grip and even distribution around the teeth.

14. Create a Routine

Nothing gets a dog excited for grooming sessions like a routine. The more familiar everything is for your dog, the calmer they will be during trimming or bathing.

For baths, use the same bathing spot, shampoo, and conditioner. The water temperature should also be the same every time. It will help your pet feel safe and calm.

The same applies to other grooming activities too. For instance, you can choose a nail-trimming counter or table in your house. When you get them to this table, they will know they need to lie down and hold out their paws.

red border collie dog chewing on a bone
Image Credit: Sebastian Quinn, Shutterstock

15. Get Professional Grooming

Border Collies have a double coat. Since the guard coat is longer than the undercoat, they need grooming every 8 weeks. During spring, when the dog sheds and changes coats, they will need monthly grooming.

If you are too nervous to do this at home, it is best to take the Border Collie to a professional groomer. You can find a reliable groomer in your area by checking online reviews or asking fellow pet owners for recommendations.

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Grooming is an essential part of keeping your pet healthy and in good shape. Border Collies can have two types of coats: smooth and rough. Those with smooth coats require more grooming since they shed more frequently.

Both types also need to have their nails trimmed, ears cleaned, skin checked, and teeth brushed. When choosing grooming products for your dog, it’s crucial to steer clear of human-grade items, like shampoos and toothpaste. Instead, get products made for dogs since they are free of toxic ingredients. These tools are also often designed to suit the needs of different coat types and skin sensitivities.

If your Border Collie frets a lot during grooming, husbandry training could help. Start slow and incorporate positive reinforcement to make grooming sessions more enjoyable.

Featured Image Credit: antoniodiaz, Shutterstock

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