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Do Border Collies Smell? 7 Reasons Why & What To Do

Border collies are a naturally hygienic breed and rarely have that typical doggy odor we are all aware of. But sometimes, your Border Collie may become a little smelly. This article will explain why, and what to do.

Border collies do not typically smell bad. Despite having a long coat, border collies are a naturally hygienic breed. However, due to several reasons, a collie may begin to smell. Here’s what owners can do to resolve this.


Are Border Collies a Smelly Breed?

Border collies are one of the more naturally hygienic breeds we know of, and despite having a thick double coat, rarely smell or need bathing.

That typical “doggy odor” you may have experienced before is not something you usually smell from a Border Collie.

If you are considering getting a new canine companion but want to keep your house smelling as it does now, then a Border Collie will be a good choice.

But it must be said, that if you engage in over-bathing, and you don’t brush her coat regularly enough, she may end up with the standard doggy odor which you are trying to avoid.

Why Your Border Collie May End Up Smelling

If you already have a Border Collie and she’s starting to smell there can be a number of reasons behind it.

1. She’s receiving too many baths

It seems bizarre to think that giving her more baths will make her dirtier and smellier, but it’s true! Border collies only need to be bathed 3-4 times per year, if that.

Their natural oils do most of the cleaning and keep her coat strong, shiny, healthy, and odor-free.

However, if you bathe her too often with shampoo, you will strip away these oils. Her body then panics and suddenly produces an excessive amount of natural oil. And as we all know, “too much of a good thing, becomes a bad thing” and this is certainly the case here.

Having too many of these oils makes her coat greasy, can irritate her skin, and eventually will start to smell really bad.

2. Unwashed paws & yeast infections

The next big culprit is her paws.

If your Border Collie smells, it could certainly be due to either having dirty paws or even a yeast infection.

This isn’t to be confused with the common “corny” type of smell coming from their paws, this is normal. If your collie has something legitimately wrong, you will know about it! trust me.

Paws are also where her sweat glands are. Whenever she gets too hot or exercises she’ll start sweating from her paws. This can even happen when she’s anxious or stressed. Again, this contributes to further smell.

And of course, the obvious one, whenever you go out for walks, your Border Collie may walk in some muck, rotten garbage, or even other animal poop.

3. Bad breath and dental issues

Keeping on top of your Border Collie’s dental hygiene will save your nose, and possibly her life.

If your collie has bad breath, it could be a sign that something is wrong with her diet, she’s eaten something foul, or much worse, gum disease.

Brushing your collie’s teeth regularly is advised, you can purchase inexpensive dog toothbrushing kits, that will instantly improve her breath, reduce tartar on her teeth, and improve her oral hygiene in general.

Because dental hygiene is so crucial to her overall well-being and health, it’s advised to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if she has stinky breath. While it could be some innocent tartar build-up, it could also be a sign of gum disease, which can be fatal.

4. Dry skin & skin infections

There can be a range of skin infections from yeast infections, ringworm, and folliculitis, that may irritate your Collies skin.

Although some of these infections do not directly result in a bad odor, they do result in dry skin, which in turn may end up smelling bad.

The issue with dry skin is the same as with over-bathing. Her body will start producing more oil to maintain a balance and this can end up smelling bad.

Yeast infections themselves can end up smelling bad due to the bacteria build-up. Yeast infections can affect areas where fur is thin like the paws, legs, ears, and underbelly.

5. Dirty coat

Brushing will be an essential part of keeping her coat clean and dirt-free.

While out on walks, your collie may run through some bushes, roll in nasty stuff when you’re not looking, rub up against dirty walls, or swim in a dirty river or lake. The list is pretty extensive.

Any dirty foreign objects or substances can end up smelling bad.

Sometimes, you will need to wash her down when you arrive home. And as long as you do it with only water, you can bathe her as many times as you like. It’s the shampoo that needs limited use.

After this, brush her thoroughly once she is dry to clean out her coat. It’s advised to have a brushing routine of around 3-4 times per week anyway.

6. Ear infections

Border collies are prone to developing ear infections due to the long fur around their ears. This is a common issue for a lot of breeds.

It turns out that ear infections can give off a very strong odor that can be hard to locate.

If your collie smells but you just can’t pinpoint from where it could very well be an ear infection. And if you notice your collie paying extra attention to her ears, it’s necessary to schedule an appointment with your local veterinarian.

7. Impacted anal glands

If your collie has a strong fishy smell, it could be due to impacted or infected anal sacs.

Inside your collie’s anus are two glands on each side that produce a strong-smelling substance used for scent marking.

This substance is secreted every time your collie defecates. If the glands become impacted or infected, the substance can be secreted randomly and cling to your collie’s coat and anus, causing an unpleasant odor.

If this is the case, you may notice your collie scooting their bum on the ground.

It’s important to have your veterinarian check for anal gland issues if you notice this behavior or a strong odor.

Best Practices To Keep Your Border Collie Smelling Good

Prevention is better than cure as they say, so here are some of the best practices and top tips that should help your keep your collie smelling good.

1. Regular Inspections and Brushing

Regularly inspecting your Border Collie’s coat will help you know when there’s a problem before it really becomes a problem…

If you implement a brushing routine, this will naturally involve a coat inspection, not to mention brushing is an essential part of keeping her coat clean. So start today! brush her 3 to 4 times per week for just 15-20 minutes each time.

This will help significantly with shedding and will allow you to keep on top of her skin and coat hygiene.

2. Wash Her Paws After Walks

Every time you come back from a walk, take just 2 minutes to wash her paws outside. After you do this, be sure to pat them dry with a clean dry towel.

You don’t need shampoo or soap every time, just use tap water, and if it’s particularly cold, use lukewarm water.

This will reduce bacteria build up and you’ll clear off most of the nasty stuff she walks in while outside.

Just be sure to dry her feet thoroughly.

3. Brush Your Collies Teeth Regularly

Most owners admittedly don’t do this, but it’s a good time to start.

Start by getting yourself a dog teeth-brushing kit and begin brushing her gnashers once a week. Take it slow because it may be a very weird experience for her to deal with on the first few tries.

While you are brushing, use this time to inspect her mouth and gums. If you see anything suspicious around her gums and teeth, you can schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

4. Ensure Her Diet Is Working Well For Her

Her diet will play a huge role in her overall health and well-being and this can certainly affect how she smells whether it’s from her breath or her skin and coat.

It’s important to use a premium brand that uses whole ingredients that are as fresh as possible. Try to avoid the cheaper brands that have a higher carbohydrate content and unhealthy by-products, fillers, and artificial preservatives.

It’s also essential to make sure she gets along well with the diet. You may be using a premium kibble, but this is no good if her body doesn’t tolerate it. Look for vomiting, diarrhea, food refusal, or lethargy after eating.

Popular Border Collie Articles:
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When To See a Veterinarian

If your Border Collie is starting to smell and you have no immediate clues into what it may be caused by, it’s best to visit your veterinarian asap.

The only wrong time to visit your veterinarian is too late. So if you are unsure, give them a call and schedule an appointment.

By doing this you will either catch an underlying health issue quickly before it develops into something worse AND you may prevent something from happening in the first place.

Last Thoughts

Border collies are not smelly dogs and rarely give off a bad odor, despite most having long double coats.

Occasionally, a bad odor might occur if the collie hasn’t been washed in a long time or has gotten extra dirty.

If she does start to smell, there can be a range of explanations. Make yourself aware of the possible causes and their solutions. And remember, if you are ever unsure, please visit your veterinarian.

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. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.