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Why Isn’t My Border Collie Fluffy? Reasons & What To Do

If you’ve noticed other border collies to have fluffier coats than your own, you’re likely wondering why, what this means, and if you’re doing something wrong…

This article will explain why your collie isn’t overly fluffy, potential solutions, and more.

If your border collie isn’t fluffy, it’s likely down to their genetics and bloodlineage. Show-dog collies usually have fluffier coats compared to working collies.

Additionally, border collies can have different coat types, and some are naturally fluffier than others.


Are Border Collies Supposed To Be Fluffy?

First of all, it’s important to address that not all border collies have the same coat type. And this can affect the fluffy appearance you’re likely thinking of.

Officially, border collies can have two different coat types.


Your collie will either be a “rough-coated” collie or a “smooth-coated” collie. In very rare occurrences, some collies have a mix of both.

Rough coated collies have medium to long hair and are always double-coated, meaning they boast a dense and soft undercoat with a coarse topcoat.

Smooth-coated collies have considerably shorter hair and sometimes might not actually have a double coat. For those without a double coat, they will just have a topcoat.

Border collies are not necessarily supposed to be fluffy. Some will appear fluffier than others, and that doesn’t mean they are “better or healthier.” Most of the time, true fluffiness comes down to genetics, while some weight can be given to diet, grooming, and health issues.

Reasons Why Your Border Collie Isn’t Fluffy

Let’s cover the specific reasons as to why your collie isn’t as fluffy as others.

1. Your Collie Is Smooth-Coated

If your collie is smooth coated or partially smooth coated (very rare), then it’s likely they won’t have a very fluffy appearance simply due to their hair not being long enough.

Collies with short coats struggle to give off that classic “fluffy” appearance simply because their hair is short, smooth, and somewhat flattened down to their skin to give an almost slick appearance.

And there’s nothing wrong with this! This is the normal look for smooth-coated collies.

2. Genetics & Blood Lineage

So, what about if you do have a rough-coated collie? Well, some rough coats indeed have a very fluffy appearance, and their thick double coat gives off an overall “soft” look, but still, not all rough coats are destined to be fluffy.

As it happens, collies that come from a blood lineage of “show dog” collies have usually been groomed to perfection consistently for generations. Eventually, this results in the offspring having coats that are almost “genetically destined” to be fluffy. (not all the time, but a lot of the time).

This is in contrast to border collies that have primarily been used for working purposes. Working collies typically have coarser tougher outercoats which have developed this way due to spending most of their time outside in the elements. This serves as great protection yet comes at the cost of a delicately soft and fluffy coat.

3. Diet & Nutrition

Now on to some things that we actually have some control over!

Your collie’s diet and overall nutrition can have a big effect on the health of her skin and coat. The actual quality of the diet makes a difference, as well as how well you collie digests and gets on with the diet.

If any issues are present in her diet it could certainly show through via a dull and unhealthy coat.

It could be straight-up bad quality kibble or even some common allergens causing some digestion issues, which subsequently preventing your collie from properly absorbing other nutrients.

4. Grooming Issues

Bathing and brushing are two important parts of the overall grooming process, and although it’s not hard to get it right, it’s fairly easy to get it wrong!

Let’s start with bathing. Unfortunately, many owners are unaware of how often they should be bathing their collie. Bathing frequency has a big impact on their coat, either for good or for worse. A few too many baths can lead to dull, greasy, and dirty coats. Certainly the opposite of clean and fluffy! The best frequency to bathe your collie is once every 3-4 months.

Brushing has just as impact as bathing, if not more. Collies shed, and so their coat benefits greatly from a consistent and frequent brushing routine. Brushing removes excess dead hair and at the same time helps to distribute her coat’s natural oils (which are extremely important for a healthy-looking coat).

Aim to brush your collie at least every other day for around 10-15 minutes each session. Little and often is the key to a successful brushing routine.

Recommended Read: When Do Border Collies Go Into Heat?

Can You Make Your Border Collie’s Coat Fluffier?

While you can’t change your collie’s genetics, which is likely to be the most important factor in how fluffy her coat is, you can at least ensure your collie has a healthy coat by providing a quality diet, a stress-free lifestyle, sufficient exercise, and grooming her correctly.

Let’s run through some of the ways to keep your collie’s coat as health as possible.

1. Ensure her diet is high quality and digesting well

When it comes to skin and coat health, the most influential factor that we have control of is, without a doubt, her diet and nutrition.

Ensure your collie receives high-quality ingredients and only uses brands that prioritize using “fresh and whole” ingredients. Avoid preservatives, additives, flavorings, and anything artificial, as well as staying clear from high-carb diets.

Aside from using only high-quality ingredients, your collie must actually get on well with it. If she experiences diarrhea, vomiting, or discomfort after eating (even after a gradual introduction), then it’s likely that this food isn’t working well for her, and consequently, her body won’t be absorbing all of the nutrients it should be.

I personally recommend either turkey, duck, or salmon as the best options over chicken, beef, lamb, or pork. This is because these protein sources are NOT common allergens and usually digest better. Not to mention, duck and salmon have higher natural levels of Omega 3 fatty acids. This brings me to the next tip.

2. Consider a fish oil supplement

One of the most important aspects of diet and nutrition is the levels of healthy fats your collie consumes, particularly Omega 3’s.

Healthy fats play a crucial role in overall skin and coat health, and sometimes, her diet alone (even if it’s high quality) might not provide enough of them.

A simple fish oil supplement can boost her Omega 3’s and really improve her skin and coat. Although fish oil is regarded as a generally safe addition to any dog’s diet, it’s still recommended to consult your veterinarian about this beforehand.

Our favorite fish oil supplement is: Zesty Paws Natural Wild Alaskan Fish Oil

3. Proper Grooming

As mentioned previously, it’s important not to over bathe your collie, because if you are, her coat will never even look clean, let alone fluffy.

Only bathe your collie with an all-natural dog shampoo that avoids the harsh chemicals contained in regular pet shampoo, and only bathe her once every three to four months. (or even less if possible)

At the same time, it’s likely you need to up the brushing frequency (which also helps to keep her cleaner for longer without bathing).

Brush your collie at least every other day for 10-15 minutes. For both rough-coated collies and smooth-coated collies, an undercoat rake and slicker brush are by far the two best brushes to be using. I use the undercoat rake first for several minutes, followed by the slicker brush for the next several minutes.

Your collie’s coat will benefit greatly from this routine in just a few weeks.

4. Reduce Stress & Anxiety

Unfortunately, border collies are prone to a little anxiety here and there. They are sensitive dogs, and many things, from being left alone too often to unfamiliar noises outside, can trigger some form of anxiety.

Although some factors are uncontrollable, try your best to create the most stress-free life for your collie as possible. Avoid leaving her alone for long periods of time, keep the home generally quiet and calm, and you could even invest in some vet-approved aroma diffusers that use calming essential oils.

If you prioritize your collie’s basic needs and just a little extra, it’s likely you’re doing a great job with your collie.

5. Provide Sufficient Exercise (physical + mental)

It’s no secret that exercise, both phyiscal and mental is extremely important for your collie’s overall health.

Physical exercise will keep her metabolism firing and her cardiovascular health in good condition, this, in turn, ensures her body is working efficiently and keeps her circulation flowing. All of this contributes to healthy skin (which is the largest organ in her body) and therefore leads to a healthy coat.

Aside from physical exercise, we have mental exercise, which is just as important! Mental exercise will keep your collie’s brain stimulated and satisfied, while at the same time reducing her stress levels and keeping her happy.

Ensure your collies receives 1-2 hours of moderate to high-intensity physical exercise per day, as well as sufficient mental stimulation in the form of training, socialization, playing with puzzle toys, and general interaction with yourself.

Recommended Read: Why Your Border Collie Has Diarrhea & How To Help

Something Important To Avoid

I have come across a few posts in forums and collie groups that have actually suggested trimming the topcoat back so that you can more visibly see the undercoat (which is naturally softer and fluffier).

With respect, I must say this is some of the worst advice I have ever come across!

Firstly, you should never shave or cut your collie’s coat. Unless it’s for medical reasons or when hair around her eyes or paws gets too long. Apart from that, please don’t cut your collie’s coat.

Shaving or cutting can really mess up the way her coat grows back (potentially ruining it for a long time) and it also affects her ability to regulate temperature, makes her vulnerable to sunburn, and can actually lead to increased shedding.

Oh, and cutting her coat will not make her cooler in summer. The moral of the story, please don’t cut her coat! It won’t make her look fluffier.

Thank you for reading!

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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.