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How Often Should You Bathe a Border Collie? Bathing Tips

  • Veterinarian Approved!

How often you should bathe your collie is a common question that owners ask, and the answer may surprise you. Truthfully, I bathed my pooch incorrectly for quite some time before learning the correct way. So in this article, I’ll share just how frequently you should bathe your collie so she remains clean and healthy.

Once every 3-4 months is the ideal frequency to bathe a Border Collie. If your collie isn’t particularly dirty, you can go for longer without bathing. Overbathing can lead to dry and brittle skin as well as irritated skin.

How Often Should You Bathe a Border Collie?

It comes as a shock to many owners, but border collies and other double-coated breeds should only be bathed once every 3 or 4 months. In fact, as little as possible is the best answer when it comes to collies.

Many double-coated breeds like the border collie do a lot of the cleaning themselves. You may not realize it but they spend a fair amount of time licking and clearing out their coat. They are similar to cats in this respect.

Another fact about border collies is that they rarely ever smell bad or produce that classic doggy odor. Their skin and coat do a great job of keeping the balance of natural oils, which effectively prevents bad doggy odor.

Why You Shouldn’t Bathe Your Border Collie Too Much

Bathing your collie too much, even when using a natural and mild shampoo, will cause more harm than good in the long run.

Frequent bathing will strip too many of their natural oils from their skin and coat. And it’s these natural oils that are crucial for keeping her skin and coat clean and healthy in the first place.

If you get into a cycle of overbathing, your collie will actually get dirtier and smelly quicker.

My own experience:
Personally, I made the mistake of bathing my German Shepherd (similar coat to collie) excessively, all because I read a few owners saying “that’s the way to do it”. Unfortunately, this made her skin dry and coat dull, I slowly eased off and changed the shampoo, and her coat was back to being great within a few months. I see this mistake so much, so from now on I try to let as many owners know the real effects of overbathing.

Fact: The whole point of bathing is to clean, but too much bathing actually has the opposite effect and can lead to a dirtier dog. Sometimes skipping the bath will keep your dog cleaner than having one.

I can explain this… without sufficient time in between each bath, your collie can’t maintain a balanced amount of natural oil for long enough periods. This can lead to too much oil being produced, to compensate for having a lack of oil from all the bathing. Having excess oil will lead to a dirty and smelly collie fairly quickly. Exactly the opposite of what was intended!

Too Much Bathing And Dry Skin

Bathing too frequently will contribute to dry skin and general irritation a lot of the time.

Dry skin is quite serious and affects many dogs. It’s uncomfortable for them and causes itchiness, and in the worst cases, leads to red inflamed skin. It’s not uncommon for dogs to end up needing trips to the veterinarian to fix dry skin.

Other Border Collie Articles on The Puppy Mag
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Can You Leave a Border Collie Home Alone?

What About Going on Muddy Walks All The Time

If you live near a forest, on a farm, or you just like taking your collie out for adventures, it’s normal to come back mucky and muddy.

In these situations, it’s fine to rinse off your collie as needed with water.

If your collie gets caked in mud on a weekly basis, use only water to rinse her off. You will still need to refrain from using shampoo each time. Or, try not to get as muddy so often.

Bathing and rinsing off your collie with water will not strip her oils, but at the same time, it won’t continuously work to get rid of mud if it happens very often. So there will need to be a balance between how often you bathe her, and how often she gets very dirty.

The general recommendation is to stick to bathing (with shampoo) once every 4 months, but you could increase this to once every 3 months if necessary.

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Only Use a Natural Ingredient Shampoo

There are so many shampoos on the market, and most of them should be avoided like the plague!

The only type of shampoo you should use is mild natural ingredient shampoo. Always avoid chemicals.

Many shampoos contain harsh chemicals and detergent in order to “clean” your dog. But unfortunately, they are far too strong and completely strip her natural oils, leading to a dirty smelly dog in no time at all.

Not to mention some of these chemicals can react badly to her skin and may cause serious irritation.

Fortunately, there are many natural shampoos on the market like 4Legger, Buddy’s Best, and Honeydew that all make fantastic, natural, and sometimes even organic shampoos.

Can Border Collies Be Bathed In Winter?

Unless it’s very necessary, it’s a good idea to wait until warmer weather before bathing your collie.

If you absolutely have to bath your collie then do so indoors using lukewarm water and ensure you thoroughly dry your collie afterward, keeping her in a warm room.

It’s never recommended to bathe your dog outside during wintertime, regardless of the breed.

Although collies can withstand reasonably cold temperatures, they can only do so when dry. The moment they become wet they are prone to getting very cold quickly.

5 Bathing Tips For Your Border Collie

Let’s end with some helpful bathing tips to make each bathtime effective and pleasant.

1. Always brush before bathing

As bathing isn’t done all too often, it’s a good idea to set aside some extra time to give your collie a good brush beforehand.

Collies need regular brushing to keep on top of their double-coat (which also really helps to keep them clean!) but when it comes to bathtime it’s best to remove as much dead fur as you can before getting her wet.

For the best results, brush her for 10 minutes with a simple undercoat rake, then another 10 minutes with a slicker brush. The undercoat rake will remove as much dead fur as possible, and the slicker brush will finish off her topcoat, ensuring there’s no debris or muck. This works so well that it’s actually my standard brush routine I carry out around 3 times per week.

2. Room temperature water only

Have the water supply ready and prepared at room temperature. This avoids shocking her with water either too hot or too cold right out from the tap.

It’s tempting to make the water warm, but it’s not advised. This increases the chance of drying out her skin after the bath, and it also increases the chance of her suddenly getting too cold, once the warm water stops.

Unless you live in a very cold country, it’s always best to use room temperature water. If you live somewhere very cold, there is an argument for not bathing her at all, until warmer months.

3. Keep talking to her

You would be surprised just how much this can help your dog during bathtime. Many dogs are not really fond of bath time and have heightened anxiety until it’s over.

Talking to her will be incredibly reassuring for her, and it could even turn bathtimes into something she enjoys.

If your collie already enjoys bathtime then you may not need to do this, but if she’s doesn’t, it’s definitely worth giving a try.

4. Be sure to rinse her thoroughly

Rinsing her multiple times is often necessary to completely remove all of the suds. I know it’s obvious, but I can’t stress this simple point enough. Leaving any kind of suds in her coat is a one-way ticket to dry skin city. And that’s not a nice place!

Thankfully, most of the natural-ingredient shampoos rinse off much easier than regular pet shampoos.

5. Dry her as much as possible

Even in springtime, it’s possible that your wet collie can become too cold if left wet after bathtimes. Always use a clean dry towel to pat her down as much as possible. If it’s in the middle of summer, it’s still essential to pat her dry, before letting her do the zoomies in your yard.

If you live somewhere that’s even remotely cold and not so warm, it’s best to keep her inside until her coat has dried through.

If you want to use a hairdryer you can, but just be careful with the temperature setting and avoid using heat. Again, the heat could dry out her skin, despite being momentarily nice.


The best frequency to bathe your collie is once every 3-4 months, but if your collie isn’t dirty, then you may not even need to bathe her as much as that. The main reason for such a low frequency is to avoid drying out her skin or causing irritation.

If you have anything to add, please contact us and send us your thoughts! Thank You for reading!

View all Border Collie articles >>


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. For the FULL disclaimer Visit Here

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