Go faster haircuts?
If you work your Border Collie or thick-coated dog in the heat of the day like at a show, what is the best way to avoid overheating. Is wetting him down and having him lay in the shade any better than just resting and cooling off naturally. In the UK it might seem a radical idea but what about shearing his coat. Dr. Nicholas Carter of Border Collie Rescue goes through the pros and cons on this subject.
Okay. Okay. Here's the story...
It seems to make sense to get rid of your dog's fur to help it cool. Lose the coat to prevent overheating. After all, we take our jackets off on a hot spring day. The theory sounds great but doesn't survive closer scrutiny.
coat v. rough coat collies
If you're already stuck with a rough coat, do you shave him to resemble a smooth coat? No. The answer lies in how the coats develop in the two kinds. Smooth coats have much denser fur, like a giraffe or wildebeest. Rough coats may have more hair but it's a lot less compact than their smooth counterparts. If you shave them, you end up with a short-haired, low hair density dog. (Which is why shaved rough coat Border Collies get sunburned and smooth Border Collies don't). This isn't what you want as the heat gained will outdo any heat loss. What you want to do with a rough coat is to get rid of the undercoat, with an undercoat rake or brush. You want to make your dog out like an Arabic Border Collie. Loose fitting fur that completely covers the skin. That'll keep them protected from the heat gain of the sun and yet allow air to circulate in their undercoat to cool them off. Just because they don't sweat doesn't mean they don't lose heat through their skin. It's just not as efficient as us.
About the author...
Dr. Carter, a professional animal behaviorist and professor of wildlife ecology, also earned a J.D. in law and doctoral degrees in communications and television production. Carter earned his doctorates from Ohio State University and was the guest host for a national television show Ask the Veterinarian airing on America's Health Network.
Reprinted with kind permission of the author. All material copyright © 2001 Border Collie Rescue, Inc. & Dr. Nicholas B. Carter.
From Tracy Root
I was glad to see your article on this subject and that the vet does not recommend shaving these dogs. I have a rough coat BC and in the summer, I make sure she has a barrel of water to jump in to cool down. When I start to compete with her, I'll set up a kiddy pool and bring a barrel of water to fill it. I've seen many an owner at trials do this.
Thanks for the article. Hope people take it to heart. (07/03/02)