Border Collies are one of the most intelligent, energetic breeds on the planet. They make excellent working and herding dogs as well as great family companions, especially for those who can provide them with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.
And yes, like most dogs, they shed.
There are two types of Border Collie, a rough coat and smooth coat. Both varieties have a double coat and both shed moderately year-round. During shedding season however, which typically occurs during spring and fall, the shedding can be more noticeable for a few weeks.
Read on to learn more about Border Collies, how much they shed and what they’re like to groom, along with some tips on how to minimize the shedding effectively.
About Border Collies
Border Collies are medium-sized herding dogs that, according to the American Kennel Club, were originally developed from ancient Roman dogs and Viking spitzes to herd livestock in Scotland and Wales. This seems to be where they get their name, too.
They are said to have spent much of their early days herding sheep around the “borders” of Scotland, and the name “collie” was once used to describe sheepdogs.
In any case, Border Collies are exceptional herders of livestock.
Not only are they highly intelligent, but they’re super energetic and hard working. They’re also known for having a “strong eye” which basically means they use continual eye contact with the livestock during herding, along with a crouching stance, to mimic a predator stalking prey.
This unique combination of intelligence, athleticism and skill makes Border Collies the ultimate herding dog. Which I think is well-demonstrated in the following video:
As you may have already guessed, Border Collies need lots of stimulation and activity. Which is why they tend to thrive in environments with lots of land to run around on and when they’re given tasks that involve both physical and mental challenges.
This also means that they’re not very well suited to small backyards or indoor living, and they need more exercise than a daily walk in order to thrive.
Border Collie Shedding
Border Collies are a moderate shedding breed.
It does depend on which variety you get (smooth or rough coat) as to how noticeable the shedding will be, but both varieties shed. Which is something almost all dogs do to some extent.
They are simply shedding their old fur to make way for the new batch.
Borders with a “rough coat” have medium length hair with feathering around the chest, legs and underside, while “smooth coat” Borders have short fur all over. Both coat types come in a variety of colors and both have a thick, dense, weather-resistant undercoats.
The undercoat is what helps keep them warm in winter and cooler in summer, which is yet another reason they’re so effective as a working and herding dog.
However, from a shedding perspective, this also means they tend to “blow coat” once or twice per year, typically during spring and fall.
So, during this time, which is commonly referred to as “shedding season,” you may notice a significant increase in the shedding as they shed their old fur in preparation for upcoming seasonal changes. This normally only lasts for a few weeks or so though, and is easily managed with a proper grooming routine.
Either way, Border Collies are not the best choice if you’re looking for a low shedding or hypoallergenic breed. They typically don’t shed as heavily as breeds like the Bernese Mountain Dog for example, but they do tend to drop more fur than a Standard Schnazuzer, which is another type of working and herding dog.
Grooming Your Border Collie
Border Collies are not high maintenance dogs when it comes to grooming.
However, because they have a dense double coat, and many have longer hair, it’s important to use the right tools for the job in order to remove the loose fur and keep their coat mat and tangle free.
There’s no set rule as to which brush you should use, but the ideal brush for dogs with this type of coat is a slicker brush. Optionally, you could also use a deshedding tool.
A slicker brush is a simple, inexpensive brush that’s made up of fine, densely packed, slightly angled wire bristles with plastic or rubber ends. This brush works well at gently removing the old fur, dirt and debris, while also working out knots and tangles.
A deshedding is more like a metal comb that’s purpose built to remove both the old undercoat and old top coat in a highly efficient manner. These aren’t necessary and are typically more expensive, but may save you some time, especially during shedding season.
How often should you brush?
You don’t need to brush your Border Collie too often, once or twice per week should suffice, but either way brushing is an excellent way to manage the shedding.
Firstly because it removes the old fur before it falls off the coat, and second because it massages the skin which in turn helps distribute the natural coat oils evenly over the skin.
Another effective method for dealing with shedding is bathing your Border Collie once a month or so with a good quality dog shampoo. This, followed by a blow dry and thorough brushing session, can make a big difference right away, and over the coming weeks.
Can You Shave Your Border Collie?
It’s generally not recommended to shave any dog with a double coat, which includes Border Collies, down to the skin. Because their undercoat helps insulate them from weather extremes, as well as help protect them from things like sunburn and mosquito bites.
A common misconception is that shaving a double-coated dog will help them stay cooler during summer, but this is not always the case. A dog’s undercoat acts as an insulator and can actually help keep them cooler during hot weather, not just warmer during cold weather.
So removing this is simply not a good idea, especially if he’s outside often. This exposes him to the elements and can lead to the coat growing back in a patchy manner, and in some cases cause skin irritation, which in and of itself can lead to excessive shedding.
That said, your veterinarian may recommend shaving your dog’s coat for a medical reason, for example as preparation for a procedure, so there may be instances where shaving is simply unavoidable. And some choose to lightly trim their Border’s coat, without removing the undercoat, which may be acceptable depending on how much fur is taken off.
Both short and longer haired Border Collies shed hair, there’s simply no getting around it. However, with the exception of shedding season, the amount of hair they drop normally isn’t very extreme and can often be managed with things like proper grooming and diet.
In the previous section we discussed grooming your Border, which mostly comes down to brushing once or twice per week and the occasional bath. However, another great way to minimize shedding is to ensure your dog’s diet is optimal.
Many dog food manufacturers claim to provide optimal nutrition, but it pays to do your homework, because some are better than others. And some dog foods contain essential fatty acids like omega-3, and other nutrients, which may help with shedding.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on special dog food or supplements, but what your dog eats can make a big difference to his overall wellbeing and how much he sheds.
Also worth mentioning is that in some cases, shedding can be caused by things like fleas, allergies, or a health issue of some kind. So it may be worth speaking to your local veterinarian if you have any concerns.
Either way, Border Collies aren’t heavy shedders overall, and they’re generally quite happy to spend most of their time outside. So by getting the basics right (like diet and grooming), you should be able to keep the amount of hair they drop in your home to a minimum.