Mention the collie dog breed and most people would think of Lassie, the regal looking dog of the small and large screen. Her long, full coat was beautiful, but keeping that coat looking nice takes time, dedication and regular maintenance to bring it to its full potential.
Rough and Smooth Coats
Lassie, that poster child for her breed, was a rough-coated collie, which grows a double coat of long, straight hair on top of a softer, furrier undercoat. The smooth-coated collie's double coat is short and dense on top with a thicker undercoat. The rough collie gives a more mane-like appearance, with hair that poofs out and makes the dog appear larger. The smooth collie looks sleeker, as his hair lies flatter against his body.
Generally speaking, the larger the dog and more hair he has, the more time-intensive the grooming routine will be. Since collies are a fairly large breed with quite a bit of hair, they need a fair amount of attention to keep their coats from turning into one huge mat. Both versions of the breed need a bath at least once every six or eight weeks, or whenever he gets dirty playing outside. Teeth brushing is another important grooming chore, and should be done daily to keep his teeth and gums healthy. His nails will need to be trimmed at least once a month, and his ears cleaned with a cotton ball at least once a week to prevent infections.
The amount of time you'll spend with brush in hand with your collie depends on his coat. Rough collies need a good brushing at least twice a week to keep their coat in good condition, or more often if you're going for the gorgeous Lassie look. A smooth collie should need brushing only once a week to keep him looking spiffy. Use a pin brush to get through either coat and remove the dead, loose hair before it tangles. Spray the coat with a conditioning spray or plain water to wet it slightly before you brush, as brushing a completely dry coat can cause hair breakage.
Collies are moderate shedders who lose hair year-round, sometimes losing more in the spring and fall as they shed their seasonal coats. You may need to increase the number of brushing sessions with your dog depending on how much hair he seems to be losing. Be gentle in your brushing, as you don't want to pull on the hair or hurt your pooch, and take breaks if you find the chore taking longer than you expected. If your dog finds the sessions uncomfortable or unpleasant, he'll make it harder for you the next time you need to brush.
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