Basic Care for Border Collies

Oral maintenance, nail clipping, and other grooming will depend upon you and your dog’s activities. We all know our dogs love to roll and run through all sorts of possible ugly messes, and put obscene things into their mouths, then afterward run up to lick us. Depending upon your dog’s coat curl then some of the processes below will need evaluation.

Below is a list of the basic grooming care your dog requires. Most basic care can easily be done at home by you, but if you are unsure or uncomfortable about something, seek tutelage and in no time you will be clipping, trimming, and brushing like a professional.

It is vital that handling training begin at the onset of bringing your puppy home because this will aid in all grooming, training, socialization, and potential medical procedures. Early handling of your dog is crucial for grooming because it will allow you or the groomer to perform grooming while manipulating all of your dog’s body parts with little to no resistance. Most owners should be able to learn and perform some or all of the grooming techniques themselves.

If you are grooming your dog up on a table or slippery surface, first place a non-slip cloth or mat over that area so that your dog doesn’t slip or move during the grooming process. This will avoid potential injury from scissors or shears.

Coat Brushing – The Border Collie coat is weather resistant and needs regular combing and brushing. They are an average shedder and during heavy shedding, need extra maintenance. Bathe or dry shampoo only when necessary. They shed daily, and frequent brushing benefits the splendor of their coat, helps control household hair mess, and is an opportunity to practice handling.

Daily brushing of your dog’s coat can be done or at least a minimum of four times week depending upon the condition and type of your BC’s coat. During heavy shedding daily brushing is recommended. Daily brushing is not required, but it is still healthy for the coat and skin. Additionally, it aids in regularly inspecting your dog for ticks, fleas, lumps, or rashes. Your dog’s activities have a lot to do with the amount of time you need to spend ridding it of burs, tangles and mats.

When brushing, first place your dog into a position that is comfortable for both. You can either have your dog lie down on this side, or stand if he does not mind. I prefer standing as it allows easier access and better angles. Begin brushing at the head and brush in the direction that the coat flows all the way to the tail tip. If your dog is lying down, then roll them to the others side and repeat.

For smooth coats a rubber curry comb works nicely. Finish by using a using a damp cloth to pick up any straggling dead hairs. Now you will have a dog with a shiny coat and a big bag of dog hair to dispose of.

Some Equipment – Longhaired dogs need pin brushes, short, medium, and some longhaired dogs need bristle brushes. Slicker brushes remove mats and dead hair. Rubber Curry Combs polish smooth coats. Some of the grooming tools available are clippers, stripping knives, rakes, and more.

Pin brushes are gentle, prevent hair breakage and can get through the outer to the undercoat. Slicker brushes work well BC’s thicker hair and are additionally good for the smooth-coat Border Collies harder to reach areas. Use your slicker behind the ears, elbows, and under the tail. Using a mat rake will help you liquidate the mats. Comb mats in small sections moving from the end of the hair towards the roots. Finish off by combing your dog with a fine-tooth comb.

Always be patient and move slowly when grooming your dog head and muzzle area, their eyes, ears, nose, and mouth are all sensitive areas that can incur harm. Before you decide to groom your BC yourself, learn the proper way to use shears and scissors when trimming around the head, muzzle and body. Depending upon the style you choose some of the grooming equipment can vary.

Bathing – Regular but not frequent bathing is essential. Much depends upon your dog’s coat. Natural coat oils are needed to keep your dog’s coat and skin moisturized. Never bathe your dog too frequently and brushing before bathing is recommended. Depending upon what your dog has been into, a bath every couple of months is adequate.

– Supplies – Dog specific shampoo, 3-4 towels, nonslip bathmat for inside the tub.

– Shampoo – Use a dog shampoo made specifically for sensitive skin. This helps avoid any type of potential skin allergy, eye discomfort, and furthering pre-existing skin conditions.

– Coax your dog into the tub and shut the door (just in case he is not in the mood, or decides to bolt outside while still wet). We have all experienced this.

– Use warm water, not hot. Hot water tends to irritate the skin and can cause your dog to itch and then scratch. Do not use cold water on your dog.

– Apply enough shampoo to create lather over the body, but take care not to use so much that rinsing is difficult and time consuming. Rub into lather, avoiding the eyes and ears.

– Bathe the head area last.

– Rinse repeatedly and thoroughly to avoid skin irritation.

– Thoroughly dry your dog by using a towel. If it is cold outside you will want to finish by using a low setting hair dryer. Additionally, a slicker brush can be used while drying, remembering to brush in the direction of the hair growth.

Nail trimming – For optimal foot health, your dog’s nails should be kept short. There are special clippers that are needed for nail trimming that are designed to avoid injury. You can start trimming when your dog is a puppy, and you should have no problems. However, if your dog still runs for the hills or squirms like an eel at trimming time, then your local groomer or veterinarian can do this procedure.

Dog’s nails are composed of a hard outer shell named the horn and a soft cuticle in the center known as the quick. The horn has no nerves and thus has no feeling. The quick is composed of blood vessels and nerves, and therefore needs to be avoided.

Black nails make the quick harder to identify. White nails allow the quick to be recognized by its pink coloring. Dogs that spend a lot of time walking and running on rough surfaces tend to have naturally shortened quicks. Furthermore, the quick grows with the nails, so diligent nail trimming will keep the quick receded.

– Identify where the quick is located in your dog’s nails. The object will be to trim as close (2mm) to the quick as possible without nipping the quick and causing your dog pain and possibly bleeding.

– To identify the quick in black nails, begin cutting small pieces from the end of the nail and examine underneath the nail. When you see a uniform gray oval appear at the top of the cut surface, then stop further cutting. Behind the gray is where the quick is located, if you see pink then you have passed the gray and arrived at the quick. If you have done this, your dog is probably experiencing some discomfort. The goal is to stop cutting when you see the gray.

-File the cut end to smooth the surface.

– If you accidentally cut into the quick, apply styptic powder. If not available, cornstarch or flour can be substituted.

– If your dog challenges your cutting, be diligent and proceed without verbal or physical abuse, and reward after successful trimming is completed. If you encounter the occasional challenge, your diligence should curtail the objection. If you manage never to cut into your dog’s quick, this helps prevent any negative associations with the process, but some dogs simply do not enjoy the handling of their paws or nail trimming.

Ear cleaning – You should clean your dog’s ears at least once a month, but be sure to inspect them every few days for bugs such as mites and ticks. Also, look for any odd discharge, which can be an indication of infection, requiring a visit to the vet. Remember to clean the outer ear only, by using a damp cloth or a cotton swab doused with mineral oil.

Eye cleaning –

Whenever you are grooming your dog, check their eyes for any signs of damage or irritation. Other dog signals for eye irritation are if your dog is squinting, scratching, or pawing at their eyes. You should contact your veterinarian if you notice that the eyes are cloudy, red, or have a yellow or green discharge.

Use a moist cotton ball to clean any discharge from the eye. Avoid putting anything irritating around, or into your dog’s eyes.

Brushing teeth – Pick up a specially designed canine tooth brush and cleaning paste. Clean your dog’s teeth as frequently as daily. Try to brush your dog’s teeth a few times a week at a minimum. If your dog wants no part of having his or her teeth brushed, try rubbing his teeth and gums with your finger. After he is comfortable with this, you can now put some paste on your finger, allowing him to smell and lick it, then repeat rubbing his teeth and gums with your finger. Now that he is comfortable with your finger, repeat with the brush. In addition, it is important to keep plenty of chews around to promote the oral health of your pooch. When your dog is 2-3 years old, he or she may need their first professional teeth cleaning.

Anal sacs – These sacs are located on each side of a dog’s anus. If you notice your dog scooting his rear, or frequently licking and biting at his anus, the anal sacs may be impacted. When you notice this, it is time to release some fluid from them using a controlled method. If you are not comfortable doing this, you can ask your veterinarian how to diagnose and treat this issue.

Both the male and female dogs have anal glands and they are found directly beneath the skin that surrounds the anal muscles. The other name for them is scent glands. These glands tell other dogs the mood of a dog, health, and gender, which is why so much but sniffing goes on between dogs.

To release the fluid when they are enlarged it is good practice to place your BC inside a bathtub. The fluid is pungent and brownish in color so tub protects anything that might come into contact.

Place a finger on each side of the sac, then apply pressure upwards and inwards towards the rectum and this is when you should see the fluid come out. If for some reason fluid does not come out, then seek assistance because if they are enlarged, they need to be emptied.

~ Paws On – Paws Off