The Border Collie Double Coat
The Border collie is a medium-sized dog breed with a striking double coat. Long, slick weather-resistant guard hairs provide protection against rain and snow, while the downy undercoat provides insulation from cold, as well as protection against sun and heat. The guard hairs form a protective shell that allows air to circulate through the undercoat, keeping in warm air from the body’s heat during winter months, while allowing cool air to circulate beneath on warmer days, protecting the skin from the sun’s rays. Matted coats hamper the coats ability to provide insulation and proper air circulation.
This is a breed that tolerates cold better than heat; in fact border collies are increasingly being used as lead dogs on sledding teams in Alaska and Canada. Conversely, these high drive dogs need to be monitored for over-heating on extremely warm days.
Border Collie Coat Pattern
The Border collie coat pattern is referred to as Irish spotting. In general they will display varying degrees of white with another color, which should predominate. The Irish spotting pattern entails white front legs, ruff (collar and chest), belly, with half-white rear feet, and complemented with a white blaze over the nose and crown of the head and a white tip on the tail, known as the "shepherd's lantern." Ticking, small black spots on the white, may occur on the legs and muzzle. Dogs with excessive white on the head i.e. white ears or a split-face and fully white hind feet are considered white-factored.
Border Collie Coat Colors
Border collies come in a wide variety of colors other than the traditional black and white. Other coat colors include tri (black with tan points), red tri (chocolate with tan points), chocolate, gold, blue, lilac, sable, seal, red merle, slate merle and blue merle. Additionally, Border collies come in both rough and smooth coated varieties. Both rough and smooth coats are double-coated, with furnishings on the back of the front legs and pants. The smooth variety will have less feathering on the backs of their legs and shorter, coarser guard hairs.
Do Border Collies Smell?
Border collies tend to be low odor dogs. Following a swim, they may smell a little doggy, but generally their coats do not carry a lot of odor. Additionally, they shed mud and dirt easily. It is not uncommon to find a pile of dirt where your dog slept, after playing in the rain or mud. Their coats do not require frequent bathing to remain clean and odor free; bathing once every two to three months will maintain a health looking and feeling coat.
Do Border Collies Shed A Lot?
While border collies will have two heavy annual coat drops, you can expect to experience a small amount of shedding on a daily basis, year round. The semi-annual shed is referred to by breeders as “blowing coat.” And, they do indeed blow off large amounts of undercoat during this shed. This big change of coat lasts for three to four weeks of heavy shedding. The new coat will come in following the end of the coat blow for approximately two months..
Intact females will shed prior to coming into season; males and altered females will tend to shed every six months in late fall/early winter and late spring/early summer. The majority of the guard hairs will remain, while substantial undercoat will be lost. Because guard hairs are not regenerated as regularly as undercoat, shaving a Border collie risks that he will never the same luxurious coat, once it regrows.
Shedding can be minimized with regular coat management techniques, such as rolling the coat (see grooming double coated dogs) and food additives such as Isle of Dogs Royal Jelly Supplement which we will discuss below.
How to Manage Border Collie Shedding
While nothing can prevent shedding, these tips and tricks will reduce the amount of hair you will be finding under furniture and removing from your clothing.
Managing Shedding Year Round
Rolling the Coat: Professional dog show handlers engage in a grooming regimen called rolling the coat. Using a pin brush, with the dog lying on his side, start at the shoulders by back brushing the hairs in the opposite direction that the coat grows. Continue back brushing small areas of fur until you have worked your way down the dog’s body. Once you reach the pants, brush the coat back in the direction that it grows. Rolling the coat removes dead hairs and stimulates growth of new hairs. It also helps to pull natural oils through the dogs coat, leaving is soft and shiny. Rolling the coat can be performed as often as once a week or monthly.
Removing Loose Hair from the Pants: The backs of Border collie thighs are the first place where coat will start to matt due to loose hairs. Using a slicker brush, begin just above the hock, by holding the hair with one hand up and away from the hock or heal, and brushing down small areas of hair at a time. Gradually move your hand up the thigh while continuing to brush small segments until you reach the base of the tail. Use a pin brush to brush out the tail in the direction that the hair grows.
|Number 1 All System Fabulous Demat Comb|
If you fall behind on removing dead hairs, you are likely to experience matted pants. The #1 All System Fabulous Demat Comb makes short work of loose mats. The extra long tines get in deep, down to the skin, and gently breakout dead hairs while loosening mats. This comb can be used in place of the less expensive shedding rake. If mats are allowed to linger, you will need to use a mat breaker or cut the knots out with a sharp pair of scissors, taking care not to cut the sensitive skin.
Salmon Oil: Salmon oil is rich in Omega 3s, and can help establish a healthy coat as well as a healthy immune system. A healthy coat with natural oils will help loose hairs to drop out rather than becoming tangled in dry, brittle fur. Salmon oil may be added to food or you can select a food with salmon as the primary protein. An interesting side effect of feeding salmon is that it lowers the body temperature in hot summer months.
Isle of Dogs Royal Jelly Food Supplement: Royal Jelly is produced by worker bees and fed to potential queen bees, in the larvae stage of development. Considered a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, royal jelly has an interesting effect on dog shedding. While the dogs will still shed the same amount of coat during the coat blow, the time it takes to complete the shed is significantly shortened. Instead of spend three weeks stripping out loose hairs, expect the coat drop to last just one week, when this additive is used year round. IOD Royal Jelly and their Royal Jelly Shampoo are used by many professional handlers, on some of the top show dogs in the country.
Removing Loose Hair During the Biannual Shed:
The Shedding Rake: The shedding rake is a 4 inch wide rake with ¾ inch long teeth set 1/8 inch apart. The rake will pull out large amounts of hair on each pass, much more than the pin brush used for weekly maintenance.
Furminator: The furminator will remove a lot of hair, but it also breaks coat. If you are fine with it cutting the guard hairs shorter, you may use it, but we prefer to keep the coat in a natural state, and use a shedding rake in its place.
Dog Blow Dryer: Many groomers will use a powerful blow dryer for dogs to quickly remove loose, dead hairs. The blow dryer concentrates air and forces out loose hair the way a leaf blower moves removes leaves across the yard. Keep in mind that hair will go everywhere, so you will want to use it in an area that you won’t mind seeing covered with hair until the next rain. Birds will enjoy those errant hairs, and use them to line their nests.
Border collies get their double coats from their spitz ancestors. Here we see a husky getting a high velocity blowout, to remove dead coat. Note this only works when the coat is not matted.
Hair removal with a high velocity blow dryer for dogs.