If you believe dog hair is an annoyance for dog owners, ask any owner of a Border Collie. This highly intelligent and energetic dog is one of the most popular dog breeds in America despite the amount of hair it sheds.
How much a border collie sheds is important information to have before deciding to bring one home.
Border collies shed moderately throughout the year, with heavy seasonal shedding in fall and spring. How much and how often border collies shed depends on nutrition, grooming practices, stress, and the individual dog. While dog hair is a pet peeve, the stress-related hormone, cortisol, found in fur is an insightful indicator for the general health and wellbeing of this exceptional canine partner.
It is important to understand why it affects these dogs in the first place as hair shedding is unavoidable. Plus, you will be surprised to find out what dog hair can tell us about your dog’s health and wellbeing.
Why Do Border Collies Shed?
Border collies have a dense weather-resistant double coat that consists of two layers of fur. Both the rough and smooth coat types lose similar amounts of hair and are prone to heavy shedding during the shedding season (source).
This herding group was developed by the farmers and shepherds of Great Britain to manage and control livestock. The waterproof and wind-resistant, double-layered fur kept it nice and snug and protected it against the elements in the Highlands.
But those thick winter coats had little use in summer’s heat and resulted in significant shedding at the onset of summer.
In short, those with more fur shed more.
How Often and How Much Do Border Collies Shed?
The natural double-coated fur lends itself to moderate shedding year-round with a significant increase in fall and spring. The amount of fur they shed varies per individual dog. Also, some coat types shed more than others.
Medium shedding involves light to moderate hair loss throughout the year, whereas heavy shedding can lead to a hair loss of up to 50% during shedding season (source).
While the double coat is a natural feature of the breed, how often and how much border collies shed can be linked to several contributing factors.
One cause of heavy shedding is the lack of a nutritious diet. A well-balanced diet takes into account your dog’s needs, exercise routine, and protein intake. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions to nutrition, so make sure to consult your veterinarian for the best dietary advice for your dog.
Regular grooming is the most hands-on approach to minimizing shedding. PETA recommends you choose appropriate dog-grooming equipment. Also, be mindful that double-coated breeds simply require consistent maintenance (source).
An average of two to three weekly brushing is recommended for both coat types. Increase brushings to every day during the shedding season (source).
Slicker brushes are excellent tools for pulling out the dead hairs and getting right down to the undercoat. During shedding season, a coat rack or shedding tool will be invaluable.
Checking for fleas and ticks should be part and parcel of grooming since an increase in shedding might be linked to the presence of these creatures in your dog’s fur.
While regular brushing is a must, shaving is not recommended. A simple look at this breeds’ origin in the Scottish Highlands should confirm the reason for the existence of the double coat — a longer outer layer and a softer undercoat.
In fact, shaving him down is the worst thing to do. It prevents cool air from getting to the skin and exposes your dog to greater risks of overheating, sunburn, and even skin cancer (source).
There is a wide variety of anti-shed shampoos to choose from to minimize heavy shedding. It is recommended to pick a shampoo that is paraben and dye-free to prevent itching and retain the coat and skin’s healthy essential oils (source).
Grooming routines can be stressful for both parties, so choose something that works for both of you.
Grooming visits are not only recommended; they offer you convenience. Dog parlors and grooming salons have access to the latest and most effective grooming tools, like high-velocity hair dryers designed to contain your dog’s shedding to an absolute minimum.
An active outdoor lifestyle can also contribute to less shedding. First and foremost, it will result in less shedding in your actual home. All that time spent outdoors, will by default, leave all that hair outside of your house.
Secondly, the routine and regimen of continuous exercise will positively impact their circulatory system and contribute to a healthy coat.
Finally, stress is another contributing factor for hair loss in dogs. Just like humans, dogs shed more hair while under stress and confronted with stressful situations.
What We Can Learn From Dog Hair
Despite the fact that dog hair is a pet peeve for dog owners, there is something to learn from it as well. The stress-related hormone, cortisol, is found in fur, and various academic studies have linked it to border collies and their owners.
Factors such as behavior, disease, medication, lifestyle, and the social environment all influence cortisol levels and confirm the existence of a scientifically proven stress-relationship between the two (source).
Dog hair is actually telling us something about its owner’s overall health and wellbeing. And it is being influenced by factors that similarly impact how often and much these traditional sheepherders shed.
Various studies found that dogs, to a great extent, mirror the stress level of their owners, both in acute stress and long-term stress cases. Even though the correlation is stronger between dogs and owners who compete together, it is also present in those that do not (source).
Should Owners Worry that Their Stress Levels Will Harm Their Dog?
Dogs and their owners form a mutually beneficial social support system that prevents stress from being harmful (source).
Besides, stress is unavoidable. We simply cannot remove it from our lives. It forms an inherent part of both our own life and that of our dog.
Since stress is part and parcel of our daily lives, how can you look for warning signs and learn to identify key stress triggers and ensure your dog calms down?
How Can You Identify Stress Triggers in Your Dog?
It’s important to reiterate that the herding instinct in border collies is a behavioral trait that has been bred “into them.” This herding instinct is simply a modified version of the killing instinct of wolves (source).
The more we understand and take note of this inherited behavior, the better we can predict how successful their interactions with humans might be, both in the home and working environments (source).
The key for dog owners is to learn to identify dog triggers and warning signals to reduce stress and stressful situations. Paying attention to your dog’s body language and warning signs will enable you to reduce their anxiety. Removing the trigger will calm down your dog (source).
Warning signs and signals come in many forms and highly vary per individual dog and situation. Growling, barking, and pacing are just a few warning signs, indicating your dog is stressed.
A common example and particularly relevant for border collies is noise, whether loud, continuous, or unpleasant. Even noise we as humans cannot pick up can be very stressful for dogs (source).
Unresolved stress can lead to both behavioral and health problems in your dog. Therefore it is important to focus on a variety of calm-down techniques and establish which one works best for your dog.
If you have any concerns, talk to a professional dog trainer or veterinarian. It is best to rule out physical causes first by a visit to your veterinarian and use medication only as a last resort (source).
It Takes Two
It is worth ending off this article with the fact that this high-drive athletic breed requires lots of activity by default. Bred as sheepherders and herders of other livestock, these intelligent workaholics are a full-time and full-on commitment (source).
Due to the border collie’s genetic herding instinct, they require intense training in the first two years. They also thrive in a high paced lifestyle where you will almost certainly lose out to your intelligent workaholic counterpart in most instances.
He’ll beat you in any race, problem-solve complex tasks in no time, and burst with energy even after a long workday.
Almost all border collie associations and organizations urge new owners to take this fact into account. It is a lifelong commitment and one that requires a critical look at one’s own lifestyle. Only an active owner will be able to train and keep up with this highly energetic dog.
Dog hair is listed as one of the top annoyances of owning a dog by dog owners themselves. But this intelligent workaholic companion merits the dedication and effort from its owner too.
Frequent brushing, a nutritious diet, and an active outdoor lifestyle will reduce and manage your border collie’s shedding.
And while hair is a pet peeve, it is proving to be an insightful indicator for stress levels and the general health of this exceptional canine partner.