How to bath and dry a Border Collie? How Often

How to bath and dry a Border Collie? How Often?

If your border collie is anything like our border collies, then you’ll find yourself facing a not-so-nice doggy smell once in a while. It could be because they have rolled in something questionable, or because they have picked up dirt and mud from walks abound the woods! This may leave some new owners wondering how do you bath a Border Collie? Well, we’ve put together this guide to help you. So, whether you’re wondering about how you get a Border Collie puppy used to having a bath, or need to know how often you should wash your Border Collie, we’ve got you covered. 

What you’ll need to bath your Border Collie

First things first – before even attempting to bath your Border Collie, you’ll need a few things in easy reach. Luckily, the list isn’t that long or complicated. 

First, you’ll need to make sure that you have at least two towels on hand. One to cover the floor (trust us!), and one to do the drying. We personally use these microfiber towels as they are super easy to dry afterward and they also pack away nice and small – this is great if you want to keep a set in the car.

Second, you’ll need some decent dog shampoo. Be careful here as cheap and nasty ones can cause havoc with the natural oils in your Border Collie’s coat. Our preferred choice is this one that you can get from Amazon. You can also get wipes and other things to help you out – more on that below. 

Finally, you’ll need some treats to hand to help keep your Collie motivated to behave during bath time! Always remember though, that too many treats can lead to Border Collie weight issues.

Once you have these things sorted, you’re ready for bathtime. You may also want to have a hairdryer and brush set up in easy reach after the bath to help you with the drying process.

Introducing your Border Collie puppy to the bathtub

To get your Border Collie used to having a bath and, dare we say it, even liking bathtime, you’ll need to make sure that the experience is always fun and pleasant. 

Border Collies do tend to like water and swimming, but if they are introduced to water in a negative way, then that association can stick with them for life. Bathtubs can be a scary place for any dog, so it’s important to do things that keep them – and you – relaxed. 

When we introduce our Collies to the bathtub, we like to do it in small bursts, without any water running. First, we start by just putting them in for five minutes at a time, giving them plenty of fuss when they stay still, and occupying them with treats. 

Then, once they’re happy actually being in the tub, we start the water running. But, we don’t try to actually get them wet. This gets them used to the sounds of the taps, without heaping too much on them all at once. 

Once they’re happy and calm being in the tub with the water running, we then build-up to the first full wash by giving them one or two mini-washes. Pretty much this means soaking their paws once or twice. 

This may all sound a lot, but in reality it only takes around 4 or 5 trips to the tub to get them happy and used to getting wet. 

A really good thing we use is a stickable lick-mat with some peanut butter – this keeps our Collies nice and occupied and is great if you find it hard to keep them in one place! 

We find these lick mats also help when cutting your Border Collies’ nails!

Another top-tip is to make sure that you always lift your Border Collie puppy out of the bath. This lets them learn that it’s you who decides when they leave, not them, which helps to prevent a run-away wet dog later in life! 

What should the water temperature be for a dog bath?

While humans like a hot shower, the same cannot be said for dogs. Dogs have a harder time regulating their temperatures as they can only “sweat” through their paws and mouth. This means it can take them longer to cool down, and they can overheat much more quickly. 

As a result, the water temperature for a dog bath should be lukewarm at most. You can easily check that the temperature is right by running your hand under the water. If it’s a very gentle warm and would be a bit too cold for a human to bathe in, then it’s pretty much right. 

Bathing and washing your Border Collie 

The actual process of bathing your Border Collie is, thankfully, quite straight forward. All you have to do is think about their body in the following sections: 

  • Back 
  • Belly 
  • Paws and tail 
  • Chest and head 

First, you start off by soaking all of these sections apart from the head with lukewarm water. The reason you leave the head dry is that we find that our Collies hate having their heads wet and won’t stand patiently if they are wet! 

Then, when all of the areas are wet through (and we mean dripping wet), you get your dog shampoo and lather up. Start by massaging the shampoo into the back, then the belly, then the paws and tail. We find our Collies absolutely love this bit – I mean, who doesn’t love a massage! 

Bathing a border collie showing a border collie in a bathtub

Once your Collie is looking all foamy, you then rinse away all of the shampoo until the water runs clear. Be careful here as leftover shampoo can cause them to itch. A good test to do is squish their fur while you’re rinsing – if there are any bubbles that still come out, it means you need to carry on. 

After washing all of these sections, it’s time to then move to their head and chest. Again, it’s a case of soaking, lathering and rinsing, but there are a few things you can do with their head to make it a little nicer for your Collie. 

First, make sure to cover their eyes with a hand while you’re soaking. You can also use a hand to close off their ear and stop water running into it. This helps to not only keep them happy, but it also helps prevent soggy ears which can, sometimes, lead to ear infections. 

Ending the dog bath routine positively 

When your Border Collie is nice and clean, don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is the end of bathtime! The reason we say this is that you’ll want to make sure that your Border Collie remains as calm as possible when you come to dry them. 

This is because straight after a bath is when you’ll find that your Border Collie most wants to go a little zoomie after being so patient in the tub. 

We end our bathtimes by inviting them out of the tub onto a towel and then getting them to sit for a treat. Then, ideally with a helper, you can pat them dry while still giving them a few treats for keeping calm. 

Once they’re no longer dripping, it’s probably a good idea to let them go outside for a wee before starting to dry your Border Collie. 

How to dry a border collie 

Drying your Border Collie is really simple and just consists of rubbing them with a towel and then blow-drying them until they are only a little damp. 

The reason you should use a hairdryer and not just a towel is that almost always with towel drying there will be bits of your Collie that are still quite wet. While not a huge issue, sometimes, these “wet bits” can dry in a way that clumps your Collie’s fur together to cause mats and knots. Using a hairdryer means that you’re much less likely to face this problem. 

Now, you can get special doggy-hair dryer stands, but to be honest we find it just as easy to use our own hair dryer. 

The sound of a hairdryer, and the feeling of air being blown, can cause your Border Collie to be very wary of them at the start. Again, just like introducing your Collie to a bathtub, you should let them get used to the hairdryer in short bursts with lots of treats. 

We do this by sitting on the floor with the hairdryer on and the treats right in front of us. Our Collies will naturally want the treats, so we cover them with a hand and let them stiff around. Then, while they’re occupied, we wiggle the dryer around them and let them get at one or two of the treats. 

Over time, this basically achieves two things. First, it lets them know that they get treats when they get blown on. Second, it means that they get used to being in a position that’s easy for us to dry them. The good news is that Border Collies are clever enough to “get it” after just a few tries! 

As soon as your Border Collie is nice and dry, it’s important to give them a quick brushing just to detangle any bits of their fur that may have dried a little funny (literally, this takes just 2-3 minutes of brushing). 

And there you have it – how to bath and dry your Border Collie! 

How often should you wash a Border Collie? 

As a general rule, a Border Collie should be bathed and washed no more than about once every two months. Bathing too often can cause some skin issues, as well as strip away the natural oils in their fur. 

That said, we find that we tend to end up bathing our Border Collies a little more often in the winter than in the summer, especially when it’s been raining and they come back from a walk looking like mud monsters. Generally, though, we do try to stick to the principle of only bathing when necessary, and we try to use some “cheat” products to help us achieve that. 

Two things that we’ve found are absolute life-savers when it comes to minimising the amount of baths are: 

  • Doggy wipes, which are just great to have in your car, by the front door, and, well, pretty much everywhere. 
  • Doggy dry shampoo, which we combine with doggy wipes to give them a dry bath (this works wonders if they’ve rolled in something icky, but it’s not too bad).

Best Shampoo and Conditioner for Border Collies

We absolutely hate those sites that say “Best Shampoo for Border Collies” and then give you like 10 options to choose from. So, to save you the hassle, we’ll give you just one brand that we absolutely love, use and have never had a problem with. 

Our preferred dog shampoo AND conditioner for our Border Collies is this 2 in 1 bottle by Burts Bees. 

Not only does it lather up nicely, but it’s also unscented, which is great for dogs because what smells nice to us sometimes smells horrible for them! And, even though it say’s “puppy” on the label, we’ve never stopped using it even though our Collies are definitely now “adults”. Also, it lasts absolutely ages!

There you go – hopefully that’s saved you a little bit of time finding the best shampoo and conditioner for your Border Collie! 

We really hoped you enjoyed reading this article about how to bath your Border Collie, and found it useful! Please do click around on the site to find more articles to help you on your Border Collie journey 🙂 For example, why not learn a little more about how to clean your Border Collie’s teeth and look after their oral health?

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Top picks for our Border Collies


Ok, it’s a bold statement, but I think that this interactive dog puzzle toy is absolutely brilliant! 


We all know Collie’s love to be … challenging! Give them this snuffle mat and you’ll get at least 10 minutes peace!


We’ve tried absolutely loads of different types of shampoos and dog conditioners. Save yourself some time and try our favourite brand – works a treat!