Skip to Content
The Puppy Mag is an Amazon associate and earns a commission for qualifying purchases. Affiliate Disclosure

Border Collie Dry Skin & Dandruff: (Itchy Collies FAQs)

If your Border Collie has got flaky and dry skin, you’re probably on the hunt for a solution.

Dry skin is a common issue among collies and can lead to some serious scratching. So, what causes it and how do you fix it for your Border Collie?

Dry skin in border collies can be caused by allergies, fleas & ticks, weather, overbathing, skin infections, and other health issues. Thankfully, there are many ways to solve and prevent dry skin issues.


Is Dry Skin Common In Border Collies?

Dry skin is one of the most common skin complications in our canine friends. Dry skin can develop due to multiple factors in their environment, making it widely noted in furry friends of all kinds. 

Though it is considered fairly common in Border Collies, it does not mean it should be ignored when it occurs. Dry skin in Border Collies can be itchy, irritating, and can result in secondary infections in some cases.  

Signs Of Dry Skin In Border Collies

While we tend to know what dry skin looks like in dogs, there are a few signs you may not be aware of. Dry skin can be much more than just dandruff, making it important to be aware of the other symptoms as well. 

Some of the signs of dry skin in Border Collies include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Dandruff
  • Red, irritated skin
  • Dull or lackluster coat
  • Frequent itching
  • Biting at the skin
  • Fur loss, especially the areas in which they scratch
  • Sores or hot spots on the skin
  • Skin odor

If your Border Collie is experiencing any of the above symptoms, they may be struggling with a case of dry skin. It can be a bit more challenging to assess your Border Collies skin due to their medium-length coat, so you will really need to look out for signs of excessive itching or other signs of irritation.

Related article: Border collie shedding guide

6 Common Causes Of Dry Skin In Border Collies

Once you’ve determined that your Border Collie is struggling with dry and flaky skin, it’s time to get to the bottom of their current skin complications. To help you better understand your pup, let’s dive into the common causes of dry skin below. 

1. Allergies

Like you and I, our Border Collie friends can experience multiple forms of allergies that impact their daily lives. Collies can fall victim to environmental allergies, contact allergies, and even allergies to their daily diet. To help you better understand the forms of allergies your Border Collie can experience, let’s discuss the most common irritants in each category. 

Environmental allergies: Some of the most common environmental irritants for dogs include pollen, dust, plant material, mold, fragrances, smoke, and dander. 

Contact allergies: Contact allergies in dogs can include new shampoo, flea and tick collars, certain laundry detergents, essential oils, and any other product or substance that comes in contact with their skin. 

Food allergies: The most common food allergies in dogs include chicken, beef, lamb, eggs, and soy. While many believe grains are the standard cause of food allergies in dogs, proteins are the most common factor. 

While we tend to think of allergies as the standard sniffling and watery eyes that we experience, canine allergies most commonly impact the skin. Allergies in dogs can impact their skin in many ways, but one of the most common symptoms is dry and flaky skin.

A Border Collie with allergies may experience dry skin, skin redness, itchy skin, licking or biting their skin, fur loss, eye discharge, nasal discharge, eye discharge, sneezing, and GI symptoms. If you think allergies are the cause of your Collie’s dry skin, it’s best to discuss treatment options with your vet. 

2. Fleas & Ticks

Fleas and ticks are another common cause of dry skin in our Border Collie pups. Ectoparasites of any kind can result in serious itching, causing the skin to peel and flake over time. The more your Border Collie attempts to relive their itchy skin with scratching and biting, the dryer their skin can become. 

Not only can fleas cause initial itching, but they can result in a secondary skin condition called flea allergy dermatitis. This is an allergy response to the flea bite itself, leading to a slew of skin complications to follow. 

A dog with a current case of fleas or ticks may experience dandruff, skin redness, frequent scratching, biting or licking their skin, sores on the skin, skin odor, skin infections. If you think your dog may be struggling with ectoparasites, it’s time to speak to your vet about the best treatment methods. 

3. Weather

Do you struggle with dry skin each time winter rolls around? Well, our Border Collie pups can experience this as well! Cooler temperatures combined with home heating can strip your dog’s skin of moisture, resulting in dry and flaky skin. 

Just as we benefit from a moisturizing routine in the winter months, our canine friends can as well. Dry skin in dogs in the winter may require frequent brushing, humidifiers in the home, daily supplements with omega fatty acids, and making sure they consume plenty of fresh water. 

4. Overwashing

Overwashing or frequent bathing is another potential cause of dry skin in Border Collies. Many pet owners confuse our shampooing needs with the needs of our canine friends, accidentally stripping their dog’s skin of natural oils. 

Most dogs will not need to be bathed more than once a month, with some only needing a bath a few times a year. Unless your dog comes in contact with something gross along the way, you shouldn’t bathe your Border Collie more than once every 4-6 weeks. 

Even one bath every 4-6 weeks can be too much for some Collies, so it’s important to figure out a routine that works best for your pup. If you are ever unsure about your dog’s bathing needs, it’s best to speak with your vet. 

5. Skin Infections

Skin infections can lead to serious discomfort for our beloved Border Collies. Whether the infection is of bacterial or fungal origin, skin infections can lead to multiple skin complications if the condition is not addressed. 

Skin infections are usually a secondary cause to initial skin irritation, followed by an introduction of bacteria to the skin through biting or scratching. Once the bacteria or fungus comes in contact with a dog’s skin, the discomfort that results is hard to ignore. 

A Border Collie with a skin infection may experience dry skin, skin redness, hot spots or sores on the skin, skin odor, and fur loss. If you think your Collie has developed a skin infection, it’s time to reach out to their veterinarian. 

6. Chronic Skin Conditions

Border Collies can experience chronic skin conditions that lead to long-term irritation. Dogs can develop a number of chronic skin conditions that lead to dandruff, as well as metabolic conditions that impact the skin. 

If your dog has dry or irritated skin that will not resolve no matter what you try, it could be time to discuss the possibility of a chronic condition. Some dogs will require the help of a veterinary dermatologist, as they have more experience in diagnosing certain skin conditions.  

Related article: Border collie supplements (helping their skin)

Should You See A Vet For Your Dog’s Dry Skin?

While dry skin may not seem like a big deal, it can lead to serious skin irritation over time if it is not addressed properly. You never want your dog to develop a secondary skin infection as a result of their dry skin, making it important to seek advice from the start of their symptoms. 

Even a quick check-up with your veterinarian can point you in the best direction going forward, even if it is just advice on how to help them at home. If you start to notice dandruff throughout your dog’s fur, it’s always best to give your vet a call for further guidance. 

Treating Dry Skin In Border Collies

So how can you treat your Border Collie’s dry skin? The best treatment options will vary based on the underlying cause, so let’s discuss each in detail. 

If allergies are the source of your dog’s dry skin, it’s important to implement an allergy control routine going forward. This could mean daily antihistamines when they are struggling, monthly allergy injections, medicated shampoos, and even elimination diets if it’s food-related. Every case will vary based on their current trigger, so it’s best to develop a treatment plan with your veterinarian. 

Fleas and ticks: 
If your dog has dry skin due to ectoparasites, it’s time to eliminate and prevent fleas and ticks going forward. This can mean ridding them of their current infestation, starting them on monthly flea and tick prevention, and eliminating the critters in their environment. 

As we mentioned above, there are a few ways to promote skin health during dry periods. This can include frequent brushing, daily supplements with omega fatty acids, humidifiers throughout your home, and making sure they consume plenty of fresh water. 

If your Border Collie has dry skin due to overwashing, it’s time to cut back on their baths. Not only should you decrease the frequency in their bathing, but also switch to a hydrating shampoo. If you are unsure about what shampoo is best for your pup, you can always give your veterinarian a call. 

Skin infections: 
If your Border Collie has a skin infection, you should always contact your veterinarian. Skin infections usually require systemic or oral antibiotics and will not often resolve without medical intervention. Your vet will also attempt to get to the source of their initial skin irritation, as skin infections are often a secondary result of an initial skin condition. 

Chronic skin conditions: 
If your dog has dry skin that seems to stick around no matter what you try, it may be time to discuss the possibility of a chronic skin condition. This may involve a close relationship with your veterinarian or even the help of a veterinary dermatologist. 

Related: The Two Best Brushes For Border Collies

Final Thoughts

Border Collies can develop dry skin due to a number of causes. Be sure to review the information that we discussed above, and you can best treat your dog’s dandruff going forward!

Thank you for reading!
Back to more 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.