Nylon Slip Collars work best for collies
Nylon slip collars are washable, inexpensive and stronger than leather. Most importantly, they don’t mat, break or tangle the fur around the dog’s neck like a wide or flat collar will. Most female collies will need about an 18” collar and most males will need a 20” or 22” collar. Nylon slip collars are sold at www.3cdog.com in a variety of colors at the prices below:
- Light weight collars (3/16" wide) are $2.50 - Medium weight collars (1/4” wide) are $2.75These nylon slip collars are often difficult to find at local pet stores, especially in larger sizes. IMPORTANT: Put the collar on as shown in the picture at left – while facing your dog. The moving end goes over the top of their neck when your dog is walking at your left side.
Undercoat 'V' Rake with Rotating Teeth:
This great little tool is perfect to use on your collie when he is shedding. The V rake to gets deep into the coat and removes the dead undercoat, similar to de-thatching a lawn. There are two rows of stainless steel teeth that form a 'V'. The Evolution Undercoat V-Rake is the best I've found anywhere - it has rotating teeth and the one the dogs prefer, but it's hard to find! (Mfg. Safari, DSFW6111)
Similar rakes can sometimes be found at local pet stores.
Slicker brushes are perfect for weekly brushing - you'll find you use this brush more than any other tool. They have several rows of "bent pin" bristles that are mounted to a flexible, rubber backing. Slickers gently remove small mats, tangles and dead hair. I like the "Coastal Safari Soft Slicker" (large or extra large-sized) brush because it has a handle that is designed for comfort and control and the softer bristles are easier on a dog's skin.
Available from www.petstore.com or www.wgroom.com - about $8.00
Similar slicker brushes can usually be found at local pet stores.
Pin brushes are used for daily or weekly overall brushing. They are nice to fluff up and “style” your collie’s coat once all of the mats and tangles have been removed. The one shown is a good choice.
Available from www.wgroom.com - under $5.00
Wide-toothed combs are great to use weekly to prevent and remove mats from behind the ears and then to help remove the undercoat during shedding time. They also come in handy for clearing the hair out of your slicker brush .
Gripsoft, coarse toothed comb (at left) is available from www.petstore.com - about $6.00
This comb is great to use after you have used the slicker brush and when you want to get deep into the coat and remove shedding undercoat. It's long, wide-spaced teeth are durable and aid in getting down to the skin, especially during shedding season.
You'll probably need to search for this on the internet or find a good specialty
pet supplies store that carry these combs. Well worth the effort.
Dremel Cordless Minimite Rotary Tool for Trimming Nails:
After clipping your dog's nails with a good sharp nail clipper (which should be done every 3-4 weeks), the cordless model 750 (or the electric model) works great for smoothing the nails. I use the highest setting and the coarse sanding drum. You can find this tool at most local hardware and building supply stores for about $30.00.
When trimming your dog’s nails with a Dremel tool, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you only grind in short, 3 second spurts per nail as heat builds up very quickly. See feet & nails details below under the step by step grooming.
Grooming Your Collie, Step by Step
By Lynn Nelson, Sunfield Collies
Collies have a double coat; a top coat and an undercoat, and they are "seasonal shedders," meaning they don't shed large amounts of hair continuously. Females will "blow" their undercoat after each heat cycle (typically every 7-10 months), and spayed females and males will "blow" their undercoat once a year, typically mid to late summer. A lot more grooming is needed during these shedding/coat blowing seasons. Collies are noted for not having a "doggie" odor frequently found with some other breeds, but a bath is recommended about 4 times per year.
WEEKLY: Once-a-week brushing is usually sufficient for a collie that is not shedding. During this time, the following steps are recommended:- Use the slicker brush and go over the dog's entire coat, brushing with the way the hair grows. Continue brushing deep into the fur until it sounds smooth and you no longer hear the "ripping" sound of tangled hair.
- Make sure you brush the “pants” at the collie’s rear, and the fringes along the back side of his front legs as well as under the “armpits” using the slicker brush.
- Pay special attention to the finer hair behind the ears (directly behind the ear and about 4-5” down toward the neck). Gently pull each ear forward (toward the nose) and brush the opposite way - away from the ear - using the slicker brush first. If there are tangles, work a small area at a time with the comb, holding the hair at the skin with your fingers to make sure you don’t pull - this area is sensitive. After you have removed any tangles and mats, you should be able to run the comb through this hair, all the way down to the skin, without it getting caught. Feel with your fingers to make sure there are no tangles left - that’s how mats begin. A small amount of leave-in hair conditioner or talcum powder can be used to help prevent tangles from forming in this fine hair.
- Trim his feet between the pads when necessary (see details below)
This will probably take you between 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the amount of coat your dog has, the time of year and whether or not you have trained him to cooperate. Start grooming your puppy while he is young. If you get him used to staying still while being groomed at an early age, your job can actually become enjoyable for both of you when he grows up.
Example of training a puppy to be groomed:
Make your puppy lie down when being brushed. You will need to MAKE him do this at first, being firm, but also petting/praising him and telling him to stay. Brush him a little, then praise and encourage him (reassuringly tell him what a good dog he is), and brush again. You may have to firmly say “stay” several times while making him lie down, but also keep petting and praising him - brush some more. Don’t stop brushing if he is still resisting you. Make sure he knows that you are the one who decides when you are done – and it’s not while he is still squirming and complaining; instead, it’s when he has stopped resisting. A little treat at the end of a short grooming session may be used as a reward in addition to the petting and attention he receives from you. Be sensitive to the age of your puppy, requiring less time from a younger pup and increase it as he gets older.
NOW FOR THE SERIOUS GROOMING - When your collie is shedding.
You’ll know when your collie is shedding - small tufts of undercoat start to peek out of the top coat and can just be plucked out. Also, you will begin to see hair on your clothes and everywhere! The best way to learn to groom is to watch an experienced collie owner as they work on their own dog. But, if you can’t do that, this description should give you an idea of the basic steps. People differ on how they groom, so there is no one “proper way” it should be done. Below is a brief description of how I groom my collies, especially when they are shedding.
You should give your collie a complete grooming before you give him a bath. Baths given before grooming tend to tighten mats and make loose undercoat more difficult to remove. Also, it is a lot more work to bathe a dog that has a large amount of loose undercoat, not to mention the increased amount of drying time that will be needed. Remember though, a warm bath will also serve to loosen the hair when your dog is shedding – shedding is a process that takes several weeks to complete. So, be prepared to have a few more brushing sessions during this time to truly remove all of the loose hair. An additional warm-water bath in a couple of weeks will loosen even more hair, hastening the shedding period. Get as much hair out as you can, and you will have a lot less hair in the house and on your clothes.
To begin grooming, think of your dog’s body in terms of “SECTIONS,” this way you will be sure to get all of the areas that need to be brushed.
I start by going over the entire dog with a slicker brush first after lightly misting with water. Then I like to back-brush, especially on the top of their back. Back brushing is when you brush against the way the hair normally grows.
BACK LEGS: Have your dog lie down on his side. I begin to work from the feet – up, starting with one back leg. Start at the bottom of the leg and work in sections, like de-thatching a lawn, until you have removed all of the loose undercoat. As you brush, use your other hand to hold the longer hair, above where you are brushing, out of the way. The first brush you should use is the slicker brush , then the V-rake, followed by a comb. The comb should pass through the hair freely without snagging before you move up to the next "section." Make sure you are getting all the way down to the skin. If you come across a mat, work slowly to separate it with the comb. Keep brushing in this same manner, section by section, working up the leg and up across the rump of the dog. Make sure you include the back “skirt” area and under the tail as well. The undercoat on the tail sheds too. First brush the tail hair with a slicker brush followed by a V-rake to remove loose undercoat.
SIDE OF BODY & BELLY: Now I move to the side of the body and the belly area. I begin at the belly. The steps are the same as for the back leg. “Part” the hair (lifting up the top portion of the coat) and:
- First brush with the slicker brush with the way the hair grows, then back brush
- Move along in a “line” (from behind the front leg along to the back leg) using the V-rake to remove as much loose undercoat as possible, again, like de-thatching a lawn
- Finish with the comb, getting all the way down to the skin, until it moves freely through the hair
- Go to the next section above, moving along “line by line” until you get to the top of the dog’s back
- I find it easier to brush the inside of the opposite back leg while the dog is lying down at this point
Before you move on, make sure you have brushed the hard-to-reach areas, like under the tail and the inside of the back legs. If there are mats in the private areas, you can just carefully cut them off. If you aren’t showing your male dog, they will stay cleaner if you trim the hair on their tummies and near/around their penis, leaving a little right at the tip to help direct the pee.
FRONT LEGS: The next step is to go to the front leg area and move up to the shoulders, using the same steps as above. Back brush with the slicker and use the comb against the way the hair grows for the short hair on the front of the legs. Pay special attention to the fine hair under the dog’s “armpit” where mats easily form. This area is very sensitive, so work carefully and take your time.
If by this time, you have spent a while removing a lot of undercoat and/or mats, allow your dog to get up and move around. A well deserved break is always appreciated - by both you and your dog. You may want to accompany this break with a treat.
When you are ready to resume grooming, you will repeat the exact same process, but on the other side of the dog.
NECK & CHEST: You will need to work under the neck and down the chest in a similar fashion, making sure you get deep into the chest with the V-Rake, working section by section from the bottom-up. For some reason, the undercoat in the chest area seems to be the last place where the hair loosens and sheds.
BEHIND THE EARS: The finer hair behind the ears (directly behind the ear and about 4-5 inches down toward the neck) has a greater propensity to mat. Hold the ear itself forward, toward the head, as you brush the hair away from the ear. Begin by using the slicker brush then follow up with the comb, working on small sections that may have tangles. This is a very sensitive area and you need to work slowly and carefully. If you have brushed this hair weekly, you should not have a very big job. However, the fine hair behind the ears on a neglected collie will be a disaster, and you may need to actually cut the mats out. This won’t hurt the dog, but it does leave ugly “bald” spots. This skin behind the ears is extremely tender and thin. Cut with caution!! Slide a small pair of scissors under the mat, near the skin and slit the mat into several pieces while cutting up and away from the dog. You might want to enlist the help of someone else to hold the dog very still. If you have several large mats, you may need to do a little at a time, giving the dog a break by brushing somewhere else, then coming back to the mat. When the hair behind the ears (and down several inches) is free of mats and tangles, and a comb glides through easily, you are done here. You can clean the inside of your dog’s ears with a small amount of alcohol on a cotton ball. Continue cleaning out the ear, perhaps using several cotton balls, until no more dirt or wax can be removed. Dry well with a tissue. If you wish, you can trim the excess fly-away hairs from around and behind the ears with thinning sheers. This gives your dog a more “finished” look, but isn’t necessary for a dog that isn’t being shown.
FEET & NAILS: I like to trim the hair between my dogs’ feet pads with a small, sharp pair of scissors about once a month. Cut the hair as short as you can between each pad on the bottom of the foot. Remember, there is thin, sensitive skin between each pad, so be careful! Trimming the hair on your dog’s feet on a house dog will greatly eliminate the amount of dirt and/or mud he brings into the house with him. The hair on the feet seems to grow twice as fast as the hair anywhere else! Now brush up the hair on the tops of the feet (toward the leg) and trim the long hair to give the foot a nice, neat shape. Also, trim the hair on the lower area of the back legs, just above the foot up to the first joint. This area is called the “hock.” Comb the hair straight out, and away from hock, and (from the side view) trim at an angle, cutting the hair short at the foot and angle it to about ¾” long as you go up. This makes the back legs look much neater and they will stay cleaner.
If you can hear your dog’s nails click when they walk on cement or a hard surface in the house, it is time to trim them. When trimming the nails, I like to first cut the nails with a good, sharp nail clipper, followed by a Dremel, rotary tool. Set the dremel speed to the fastest setting. and use the coarse sanding drum. A Dremel will leave your dog's nails smooth, unlike a nail clipper alone. However, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you only grind in short spurts - no more than 3 seconds at a time per nail - because heat builds up extremely quick. Grind one nail for 3 seconds, then go on to the next nail, grind, then the next, etc., allowing the previous nail to cool off. Go back and make several passes on each nail until you've reached the desired length, checking to see if you are getting close to the quick. When you just begin to see the quick - stop. You can round the top and side areas of the nail to make it smooth.
TEETH: Brush your dog’s teeth regularly (it’s recommended about once every 2 weeks) using a dog toothpaste and brush. You can purchase a tooth scraper/scaler and remove any tartar build-up. If you start near the gum and get under the tartar, it is fairly easy to just flick it off in small pieces. Continue lightly scraping until all of the brown tartar is removed. When I’m done doing this, I like to go over the gums with a cotton ball dipped in peroxide to prevent infection.
Finally, quickly go over the entire dog once again with the slicker brush after a light misting of water. The final styling and fluffing is done with a pin brush. Back-brush the hair around the collar/neck area, out and up toward the face. Awe, Beautiful!
Some additional tips:
- Sometimes, and especially with a dog that is shedding, I will spread out my grooming over a period of a couple of days to give the dog, and my back, a break. (i.e. brush out one side, under the tummy and tail on one day, brush the other side and around the neck the next day, and bathe on the third day.)
- When working on a mat or large tangle, hold the hair by the base (against the skin) so that you don’t pull the hair out or hurt your dog.
- If your dog has an odor, you can sprinkle talcum/baby powder or corn starch into the “smelly” areas, work it in, then brush it out with a slicker brush.
- Some “goo” may accumulate near the inside corners of your dog’s eyes. Just wipe with a tissue. This is a normal protein build up.