How to Groom Your Collie
Collies are herding dogs with thick manes that require regular grooming. Rough Collies have very long, full coats while Smooth Collies have shorter, sleeker fur. Both types have dense double-coats that protect their skin and regulate their body temperature but are prone to matting. Find out how to keep your Collie well-trimmed and tangle-free. Helping them to maintain good hygiene will ensure that your pet stays healthy and happy.
Brushing and Bathing Your Collie
1. Brush weekly. While it may seem like you need to attend to their long fur more often, once a week should be sufficient for most Collies. You may want to brush them twice or more week during their shedding season, which typically takes place once a year during mid to late summer.
- Check your dog at the end of each day to comb out any ticks or debris caught in the coat. Be especially careful to check paws, ears, armpits, and groin.
- Start by finely misting your Collie’s coat with water using a spray bottle to keep their hair supple. Use a slicker brush or long-tooth comb to comb their fur with the grain (that is, from their neck towards their tail).
- Be sure to gently remove any tangles as you go. Keep brushing until you can work the brush easily through their hair without feeling any resistance.
- For stubborn mats, use a comb to pick them out. If they still don’t budge, trim them using a blunt-nosed grooming scissors. Place your middle and forefinger on either side of the hair just under the mat and against your Collie’s skin to put a barrier between them and the scissors. Then, clip away the mat, leaving as much of their fur as you can.
2. Pay special attention to their legs and ears. Rough collies tend to grow long tufts of hair around their ears and on the back sides of their legs. These sensitive areas are especially prone to matting, so it’s wise to give them extra attention during your dog’s weekly brushing.
- Hold down each ear in turn while gently combing the hair behind it back, away from the ear. If you encounter any tangles, hold the hair below them while you use a comb to pick them out.
- Be sure to brush out the fringes of fur behind their front legs and in their armpits along the grain of the hair. Do the same for their “pants,” the ruff of hair at the back of their hind legs.
3. Wipe down their fur. Use a damp cloth or flannel to wipe down your Collie’s coat after brushing. Follow the grain of their fur, moving from their neck to tail. Apply enough pressure to pick up any lingering hair or dirt, but avoid rubbing since that can press debris into their coat or skin instead of removing it.
Bathe them infrequently using a mild dog shampoo. Collies don’t usually have a “doggy” smell, and frequent bathing or exposure to human bath products can dry out or irritate their skin while depleting the natural oils in their coats. Give them a bath only when necessary or a few times a year unless otherwise directed by a vet.
- Bathe them in a tub, shower, or outside using a hose with a gentle spray nozzle. It will be easiest to do if they’re in an enclosed space with a mobile water source (like a detachable shower head).
- Wet your dog’s coat from the neck down using luke-warm water. Lather their fur from their neck down with a mild, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free dog shampoo. Rinse away the suds with luke-warm water until the water runs clear.
- Once you’ve given your Collie a thorough rinse, let them shake the water out of their coat. Then, use a large, absorbent towel to gently pat them dry.
- If your Collie is often dirty from outings, rinse away the mud with plain water rather than bathing them more often.
Trimming Your Collie’s Fur
1. Get the right equipment. You can use a blunt-nosed grooming scissors and/or an electric hair trimmer. The scissors will help you trim hair more precisely, but the electric trimmer can be quicker and safer. If your Collie is skittish when it comes to grooming, use the latter.
2. Trim around your Collie’s ears. Long-coated Rough Collies will often get tufts of hair around their perky ears. Keep them in check by clipping away any excess fur with your grooming shears or trimmer.
- Start by pressing your Collie’s ear forward against their skull to expose any surrounding tufts behind or on either side of their ear. Cut the hair immediately surrounding their earn down to about an inch in length.
- You can also trim any long hairs growing out of the ear themselves. Clip them close to your Collie’s ear, being careful to avoid snipping their actual ear.
3. Trim the fur around their paws. Any long hair around your Collie’s foot pads is liable to become easily matted or caked with mud and dirt. To ensure your pet’s comfort, keep the fur around their feet, on top of their toes, and between their pads very short. Use a small, blunt-nosed scissors or an electric hair trimmer to remove excess paw hair.
4. Tidy up their back legs. Rough Collies may have a profusion of hair growing on the back sides of their hind legs. If that’s the case, comb it straight out away from their legs with your slick brush, and trim it using your scissors.
- Clip it evenly, following the line of your dog’s leg. You can trim it down to be short enough to match the hair on the front of their hind legs.
5. Clip long hairs on their tail. The fur on a Collie’s tail often grows wild and can accumulate a lot of dirt. Stick to trimming away just the fly-away hairs or uneven fur that’s sticking out. Trimming down all the fur on their tail would look odd and patchy.
6. Avoid shearing your Collie. While you want to trim away mats and excess fur in sensitive areas that are prone to matting, it’s not a good idea to shave or significantly trim your dog’s fur in general. Collie’s double-coats may seem like a burden in warmer weather, but they actually help regulate their body temperature year-round. Their fur insulates in the winter and cools them down in the summer.
7. Consider taking your Collie to a groomer. For major trims, it’s wise to call in a professional. Taking your pet to a groomer every three months or so will help make the regular maintenance of their thick double-coats a whole lot easier.
Maintaining Your Collie’s Health and Hygiene
1. Trim their nails monthly. Regular clipping will keep your Collie’s claws from cracking, breaking, or scratching. To do so, you will need a scissor-like Miller’s Forge trimmer designed for medium-sized dogs as well as some styptic powder to address any bleeding. Frequently, the powder will come packaged with the clippers.
- Going one paw at a time, firmly hold each foot around the ankle with your less dominant hand while using your dominant hand to operate the clippers.
- Before trimming, look for the tiny red nerve ending called the “quick” on the underside of each claw. Only clip the bit of the nail that extends beyond the quick, always erring on the side of leaving too much.
- If you accidentally clip through the quick or see blood, press styptic powder firmly into the end of their nail to staunch the bleeding. Give your dog lots of praise and treats to reassure them that everything’s alright.
- If your Collie is not a fan of this process, recruit another person to hold them in place and comfort them while you clip their nails. If they still don’t stop squirming, it’s probably best to leave this task to a professional.
2. Wash their ears weekly or as required. Keep your Collie’s perky ears free from wax and dirt by cleaning them with a mild canine ear cleaner. Start by checking for any signs of infection like swelling, bad smells, rashes, or discharge. If you notice any of these symptoms, take your dog to the vet. If you don't notice any discharge, waxy buildup or smell then should should leave them alone.
- To clean your Collie’s ears, drip a small amount of the cleaning solution into each ear. It should be just enough to fill each ear canal. Massage the base of your dog’s ear for 10-20 seconds; then, let them shake their head to get the cleaner out.
- Use a clean cotton ball to gently wipe away any liquid, dirt, and wax that was released by the cleaning solution. To avoid damaging to your Collie’s inner ear, don’t use cotton swabs or poke into their ear canal.
3. Brush their teeth daily if possible. Good oral hygiene is essential to warding off bad breath, tartar buildup, and bacterial infections. Brushing your Collie’s teeth is the easiest way to promote their oral hygiene. To maximize convenience and effectiveness, get an angled toothbrush and toothpaste made especially for medium-sized dogs.
- Dog toothpaste comes in a variety of meaty flavors that your Collie will enjoy and doesn’t need to be rinsed out of their mouths. Human toothpaste can be poisonous or harmful to dogs, especially those with fluoride and/or baking soda.
- Pull up your Collie’s lips, and brush their teeth along the gumline with quick, gentle circular motions. You only need to brush the front-side of their teeth.
- You can also minimize plaque buildup by feeding your dog dry kibble and providing them with dental chews.
4. Watch out for signs of infection. As you groom, be on the lookout for any potential symptoms of infections like sores, rashes, redness, discoloration, swelling, scabs, and/or discharge. These could be indications of allergies, skin conditions, or systemic issues that can negatively impact your Collie’s health. If you see any worrying symptoms, make an appointment with a vet seek a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
5. Take your Collie to the vet for regular check-ups. Be sure that your pet is well cared for, inside and out. Register your Collie with a local veterinary practice, and make regular visits so that you can catch any health issues early. Besides reminding you to schedule annual health exams for your Collie, your vet will help you ensure that your pooch is up-to-date with vaccinations and parasite control treatments.
- Up until age 7, Collies should go in for at least one check-up a year. After that, it’s best to schedule one every six months.
- Remember to always reward your Collie throughout each grooming process. Give them treats and lots of praise while your perform each task, so that they will have positive associations with being brushed and primped and cleaned.
- Your Collie is most likely to sit still and accept their grooming if you do it during times when they are relaxed or tired, such as after a walk or mealtime.
- For the best results, introduce new grooming methods gradually. Don’t try to put them through a full routine for the first time all at once. Break up the tasks over the course of the week. With tasks like teeth brushing, build up your Collie’s tolerance by starting with a few seconds of brushing and working your way up to a minute or more.