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The Only 2 Brushes You Need For a Border Collie: Top Tips

Choosing the right brush for your border collie is both important, and not as easy as you might have first thought. There are so many different kinds of brushes on the market it makes knowing which one to go for difficult.

This article will cut to the chase and explain where there are only TWO brushes you need for your border collie. I’ll also be covering extra FAQs on this forever popular topic.

The Two Best Brushes For a Border Collie

After at least a decade of trying practically ALL the dog brushes on the market, I have developed my own routine which works wonders for every double-coated breed I have tried it on.

The two best brushes you should be using for your border collie is a simple undercoat rake, and a slicker brush as part of the same brushing routine. And I’ll explain exactly why, just below.

1. The Undercoat Rake (Best For Undercoat)

The undercoat rake is a very simple brush, and well… It just works!

It’s comprised of a single row of longish pins, usually metal, and the pins are rounded at the ends to avoid any scraping of the skin. They reach far enough down into the topcoat to pull through the dead hair that’s sitting in the undercoat.

The simplicity of this kind of brush pretty much eliminates any chance of human error (which I will get into with de-shedders below). You start brushing, and that’s it, you’re doing it right.

Additionally, the fact that these brushes are so simple also means for one, they don’t break, and two, they’re very affordable.

2. The Slicker Brush (Best For Topcoat)

The slicker brush is a little more well-known as it suits a wider range of pets, including cats.

The slicker brush is perfect for brushing through the topcoat of your border collie. The thin wire pins will scoop up any remaining hair that was brought to the surface by the undercoat rake, and clear out any dirt or debris still left over.

There isn’t much a slicker brush will miss. And again, I love them due to their simplicity. Not to mention it’s the perfect brush to end with due to how smooth it leaves the topcoat.

You can either get slicker brushes with fancy buttons to push free the hair (which work great) or a basic one that requires you to pull the hair out from it. Either one works.

How I Use These Two Brushes In The Same Routine

So after countless years trying to figure out the ultimate brushing routine, I think i’ve found it…

When my fluffball is calm and had her exercise for the day, I start with the undercoat rake, brushing her from the head down in long strokes. I do this for about 10 minutes straight, making sure I cover everywhere twice over, then I go back to focus on the neck, underbelly, backside, and tail.

After the rake, I take a moment to finger-pick any tuffs of remaining dead hair I can see poking through from the undercoat. I don’t spend long doing this, just a couple of minutes.

I then pick up my slicker brush and continue brushing her entire body in the same way for about 5 more minutes. The slicker brush does an excellent job of picking up any remaining hair AFTER the rake has done the hard work.

All in all the routine is about 15 minutes (17 with the finger picking in between).

And that’s it!

That simple routine took me decades to figure out…*eyebrow raises* And so far, no other brush or combination of brushes works better to keep on top of shedding.

And yes, I have done this on collies many times over, although most of this experimenting was done on huskies (and huskies shed far more than collies).

Ok, so let’s address the elephant in the room…

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Why I Don’t Use De-shedding Tools

The main purpose of brushing for most owners is to keep on top of shedding. And so naturally, “de-shedding tools” gain the most attention.

But after a lot of trial and error, I stay away from them and advise owners to do the same. This is where it gets a little controversial (and if you disagree, that’s okay! many other owners do too).

The reason I personally don’t use de-shedding tools is that I’ve across some that are unnecessary sharp and have sliced or cut part of the topcoat layer, instead of simply removing the dead loose hair from the undercoat.

When we brush our collie, we never want to be cutting their hair out… And this has happened to me and other owners before. This could have been down to a sharp de-shedding tool OR entirely human error and misuse of the brush, and I admit that.

But IMO, human error shouldn’t even be possible when it comes to brushing your dog. You should just be able to do it without the risk of getting it wrong or cutting hair…

Disclaimer: Many de-shedding tools are not sharp, and they work perfectly well *with careful use*. It really depends on which one you go for, and many owners DO have great success with them.

But for me, it’s still just not worth the risk of cutting healthy hair, especially when I’ve found a routine that actually outperforms any de-shedder I’ve come across (and I’ve used A LOT).

Once again. This only happened to me twice, out of all of my use. But it has happened for other owners too. So that’s what lead me to slowly leave them in favor of these other kinds of brushes. And I’m very happy I did.

If you want to try a de-shedding tool anyway, that’s fine, just be sure to thoroughly check the reviews, and perhaps a few tutorial videos before using.

Recommended read: Best supplements for Border Collie health: Vet Advice

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Best Brush For a Single-Coated Border Collie

Although most border collies boast a double-coat, there are still many purebred border collies out there that only have single-layered coats.

So due to having only a topcoat, does the answer change?

Well… not really. Just take away the undercoat rake.

Border collies that only have a single coat will best off using a slicker brush. Deep penetrating brushes like the undercoat rake are not really necessary for single coats. The slicker brush will do an excellent job of maintaining just the topcoat and will be all that’s needed.

And as for the routine, it remains the same as before but using only the slicker brush. Start from the head and work your way down, spend around 10-15 minutes covering the body entirely while focusing on the backside, underbelly, and tail for the last few minutes.

Single-coated collies do still shed, but not as severely as double-coats. And that’s down to the fact that single-coats are comprised of just the topcoat, without the undercoat (which is the coat that sheds).

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Getting The Most Out Your Brushing Routine

I have a full article that goes into complete detail on how to best handle border collie shedding. But I’ll run through something crucial here too.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give is that little and often is key to brushing success.

Unfortunately, many owners struggle to keep on top of shedding, and when I ask them about their routine, they go on to say how they brush their collie “for hours on end!”. But fail to mention how they do this once a week.

Brushing for extended periods of time doesn’t work well…

It’s FAR better to brush every single day for 10 minutes than once a week for an hour or two in a single session.

It’s understandable, we have busy routines and sometimes our schedules make us forget, but that doesn’t mean one long session at the end of the week will make up for it.

Every day, little and often, is the key. Do this, with the brushes and routine I shared above, and your floors will remain hair-free for much longer!

Popular Read: When do border collie ears stand up?


Thank you for reading!

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