How to Groom a Rough Collie
Rough Collies are a beautiful breed with a thick double coat of hair that requires maintenance and grooming. Brush your Rough Collie once a week, being gentle in sensitive areas and removing all mats and knots from its coat. Trim nails and excess hair from paws, ears, and legs, and clean your dog’s ears and teeth to remove build up. Wash your dog every 6-8 weeks, particularly when it is molting. Be sure to remove excess hair and dry your dog thoroughly after bathing.
Brushing Your Rough Collie
1. Buy the right tools.
Caring for a Rough Collie’s thick double coat can be challenging, but it is manageable with the right tools. While there are a variety of products and specialized tools on the market, you can properly groom your pet with a few basic items. Visit a pet store to buy:
- A bristle brush
- A long pin brush
- A basic comb
- Grooming scissors
- A matt splitter
2. Choose a grooming spot.
Pick a consistent spot to groom your pet that will be relatively distraction-free and comfortable. Opt for an easy to clean surface (e.g. the floor, a tabletop, a mat specifically reserved for grooming) that hair will not stick to. A raised surface will limit your dog’s movement and require less effort for you, but be sure that you will be able to lift a fully-grown dog onto it down the line.
3. Get your puppy used to brushing.
Starting to brush your puppy early (at around eight weeks old) will allow it to relax and cooperate in the future. Gently restrain the puppy with one hand and start brushing it very lightly with the pin brush to get it used to the process. Have your puppy sit or stand for brushing, either on the floor or on a raised surface like a table, and praise it for staying still.
4. Brush specific areas carefully.
Brushing sessions for a full-grown collie should last about 30 minutes and cover different areas with specific tools and care. This regular brushing ensures that the coat and skin of your dog stay in top condition, and that its undercoat doesn’t get matted. Certain areas of your dog’s coat require special attention and sensitivity, such as:
- The front legs: the back of your dog’s front legs should be brushed with a pin brush, then with a comb to smooth hair
- The fluffy hair on the back legs should be brushed very carefully with a pin brush
- The hair on its tail should be brushed very lightly with a pin brush, as it is very sensitive
- Hair on the dog’s underside, where your dog may not enjoy being brushed. Use a pin brush, brush gently, and have someone help you keep the dog still if it gets restless
- All other areas should be brushed thoroughly with a pin brush, then with a bristle brush to ensure that the undercoat is as smooth as possible
5. Look for mats and knots.
As your dog’s hair grows longer, it is important to look for mats in its coat while brushing. Mats occur in areas on the coat where there is rubbing or movement, or where old hair gets caught up with new, growing hair. Mats can be teased out with a comb to prevent them from becoming knots, which generally must be removed by gently dragging the mat splitter across the hair to cut the knot out. The key areas on your Rough Collie to look for mats are:
- The front legs, particularly near the top where the leg joint joins the body
- The hind legs, especially at the bottom where grass and twigs might get caught
- The rear, particularly near the base of the tail
- The tail
Trimming Excess Hair
1. Trim excess hair on the front and back paws.
Excess hair on your Rough Collie’s paws should be trimmed once a week so that they attract less dirt, debris, or mud. Gently brace your pet’s paw and brush its hair back in the direction opposite to how it grows. Using grooming scissors, trim overgrown hair.
2. Remove overgrown hair on the ears.
Gently hold your Rough Collie’s ear by the base with one hand and trim the excess hair growing from the top of it with the other hand. For a closer trim, gently pull hair away from the ear and trim as close as possible to its edge (a few millimeters away). Be very careful as the skin on the back of the ears is very thin and fragile.
3. Pare down hair on the back legs.
The hair on your Rough Collie’s back legs should be trimmed when overgrown for a more polished look. Have your dog lie on its side and hold its foot gently to brace the leg. Use grooming scissors to cut hair on its back leg into an arc shape.
4. Cut away excess hair on pads.
With your dog still lying on its side, grip its wrist gently but firmly between your thumb and index finger. With your free hand, cut hair growing underneath the paw until it is level with the pad of your dog’s foot. Trim all the way to the wrist.
Maintaining Your Dog’s Ears, Teeth, and Nails
1. Clean its ears.
Once a week, check your Rough Collie’s ears for redness or signs of infection (e.g. discharge or odor). If you see waxiness or dirt inside of the ear, clean it carefully. Brace your dog’s ear gently and wipe the inside of it with a wet cotton cloth.
- Contact your veterinarian immediately if you see signs of infection.
2. Clean its teeth.
Gently pull back your dog’s lips to reveal its teeth. Remove any visible plaque or tartar with a dental scraper (available at pet stores) or with your fingernail. Gently brush your dog's teeth, or feed it a dental treat.
- If any signs of irritation or infection are evident (e.g. redness, swelling, or strong odor), bring your dog to the vet for a complete dental check up to rule out any serious issues.
3. Trim your dog’s nails.
While many dog owners prefer to have their pet’s nails trimmed at the groomer’s, or by a veterinarian during a routine check up, it is possible to trim your dog’s nails on your own. With your dog laying on its side, brace its paw and look for the quick, a pink vein attached to the nail bed. Using dog clippers (available at pet stores), clip the nail as much as you can without hitting the vein. Pet and praise your dog throughout the process.
- If you do hit the vein, stop the bleeding by dabbing the nail into a bar of soap.
Washing the Dog
1. Give your dog a pre-bath brush.
Rough Collies are naturally clean dogs and only require bathing every 6-8 weeks, less regularly than other breeds. Given the volume and length of hair that Rough Collies have, it is best to brush out mats and excess hair before bathing them to allow water to penetrate their coat more easily. Brush from your dog’s rear, upwards, against the grain of the hair.
- Be sure to bathe your dog during its molting period, which occurs about once a year for males and three times every two years for females.
2. Shampoo the dog.
Place a towel or non-slip mat on the shower floor and have your Rough Collie stand on it. Wet its coat from its rear upwards, then apply dog shampoo (available at pet stores) and lather in the same direction. To make things easier, try brushing shampoo through your dog’s coat rather than lathering it with your fingers.
- Never use human shampoo on your dog- it is harsher than dog shampoo and will wash away the essential oils from your dog's coat, which can leave your dog vulnerable to bacteria and parasites.
3. Rinse out the shampoo.
Thoroughly rinse out the shampoo from your dog’s hair. Given the Rough Collie’s thick double coat, devote extra time to rinsing to prevent soap build up that could cause skin irritations. Squeeze out as much excess water as you can.
4. Dry your dog’s coat.
Once all the shampoo is rinsed out, take a step back and let your dog shake off before drying it. Using a large towel, pat your dog down to remove excess water. Use a blow dryer on a low setting to dry your dog’s coat completely.
- To avoid tangles, hold the blow dryer at a distance from your dog and blow dry slowly.
- If possible, have another person present to keep your Rough Collie calm and entertained during the grooming process.
- If certain parts of the grooming process are too time-consuming or physically-challenging for you, contact a local groomer.