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Bearded Collie Frequently Asked Questions
Bearded Collie Grooming 101

Bearded Collie grooming is mandatory to keep the coat free of mats and the skin healthy. You of course can just decide to take your Beardie to a Groomer. Many owners soon decide to learn how to do basic grooming themselves to help keep the cost down.

There are several places you can learn how to groom. Many breeders are happy to demonstrate for you and give you your first lessons. If your breeder is not close by, then consider joining your regional Bearded Collie club. Clubs often put on grooming seminars, or you might make friends who can share the methods they have learned.

Below is a brief description of how grooming is accomplished. There is nothing like learning by watching the experienced Groomer or owner followed by hands on training. But this description will give you an idea of the basics. You should also know that different people often have much different ideas as to the proper methods.

First - You need to gather the equipment needed to groom you Beardie. Here is the basic list

Brush - Boar Hair bristle (sometimes with Nylon mixed in) One good brand is Mason Pearson

Bristle Brush
Pin Brush - many use the #1 All Systems, but there are many quality brushes available

Pin Brush
Poodle Comb or Original Greyhound Comb - wide spaced teeth

Poodle Comb

Greyhound Comb

Slicker Brush

Slicker Brush
Mat Comb or Rake
Optional Mat Breaker (be careful) - only use if you know what you are doing and have a mat that won't separate otherwise.
Nail Clipper or Nail Scissors
Spray Bottle (fine Spray)  
Water or Grooming Spray  
Grooming Table  

Notice we didn't mention shampoo or soap? You groom a Beardie before giving a bath. Baths tend to provide too much dampness which can tighten the mats into knots.


Personally, I start by going over the entire dog with the Mason Pearson brush. First brushing away from the body(using a fine mist of either plain water or grooming spray - just enough to wet without soaking (almost can't feel it). This untangles the ends of the hair. The I back brush lightly to get rid of some more tangles. Back brushing is brushing back against the way the hair normally flows. When doing that - I start with the feet and work up. Finally repeating the first brushing.

Many people hold off on the back brushing all over - and work by sections. They prefer to spend time in each area, basically going though all the steps at once in the area. The reason I go all over lightly is that my first procedure is aimed at separating the ends of the hair that might have stuck together. I spend more time later in each area - so maybe I am taking an extra step. It is your personal preferences. I believe that this prepares the dog for an all over grooming, and I also don't need to spend as much time later in each area (giving the dog a bit of relief).

Now I go to the specific area to be worked on (and we will get to them all), think of this as sections of the dog. If you do It this way, you will be sure to get all areas.

Most people start with one end or the other. Usually starting with a leg. And for some reason usually starting at the back. I like to vary the routine. But lets start with a back leg and go the most common route that people seem to take.

Starting with the side of the leg: If you haven't used the bristle brush all over. Then we start with that. First brushing down the leg to separate any hairs that have stuck together, Then brushing up the leg against the flow of hair. At this point we switch over to the pin brush and do a bit of line brushing. Note that some feel the bristle brush with some nylon bristles is good enough - just make sure you are getting down to the skin. You have already brushed the hair up, so we start at the top. Use a fine mist of water to lubricate. Make a part (usually horizontal on the legs - and just like you would part your hair) You basically brush up from the part and down from the part, Then keep moving the part down vertically and repeating until you have done the entire leg.

At this point you use the Poodle Comb or the wide portion on the Greyhound comb. The comb should pass through the hair without snagging, unless you have some mats or lots of dead hair. If you come upon a mat, try to separate It first with your fingers, re-brush, and comb again. In some case the mat comb or rake will be needed. I prefer to also use a V-Rake, especially the type shown above. This device can be used like a pick using short quick strokes to work out dead hair and mats. In rare cases you might have to cut through a portion (going lengthwise) with the mat breaker. If you do this, try just one cut, enough so you can work the mat out with your fingers and save at much hair as possible.

When you use the poodle comb. Rather than use the full length - I angle it maybe 45 degrees. This gets right down to the skin. I use quick short strokes to remove any mats that may have formed. If there are any real mats - use a plastic V-Rake or dematting comb - which quickly removes mats - but watch out you might remove too much. Many recommend that if there are too many mats in one area They be removed a few at a time, maybe going to another area for awhile and coming back later to get more.

Start again on the leg, this time from the front paw of the same leg, and repeat the whole process. Then the inside, right up to the belly, Then the rear side, where you will go right up to the base of the tail.

Next move to the side. This time when you get to the line brushing you can choose a horizontal or vertical part - just make sure to get everything. The suggested method is to move from the front of the Beardie. To the back using a vertical part (easier) Do the entire side right up to the top line, and right under to the belly and rib cage - reach as far as possible. You will find that mats form in places that will hurt if snagged - so be careful in sensitive areas and take your time.

Then move to the front leg (as I said, you pick which end you like to start from). The dog can be sitting while you do this, holding up his paw. Usually going up the front of the leg first, Then the outside (all the way up to the withers (like the human shoulder blade), the inside where you may find mats in the "armpits" where They tend to accumulate, Then the back of the leg..

Now you will move to the chest area. Usually start from down under and work up. No matter where you start, be sure to go right up to under the chin. You may have to spend extra time around the chin area.

At this point. I generally go to the rear again on the other side. I find that once I have worked under the chin the Beardie is ready for a break from working around the head. In fact, They often will try to give me a Beardie hug, trying to get my sympathy.

Repeat the entire process starting from the other rear leg. Move along toward the front again.

Once I have gone all over the body - I Then begin working on the face and head. The face uses a little bit different method. Most use the brush and alternate with the comb, doing a small area at a time. This is one place that you can first use the wider tooth comb, and Then the medium tooth portion (as example on the Greyhound Comb). Personally I have a box of different comb widths and prefer a shorter wooded handled comb for around the face area. Start by brushing away from the eyes, Then comb that small portion. And work around the face.

You will eventually reach the ears. And of course find the hair thicker behind the ears with a greater probability of mats there. Ears are very sensitive - take your time. It is one case where I might do a little on one ear, move somewhere else, And come back. Do the inside of the ears, Then the outside, Then the back of the ears.

At this point, I should mention that you might have seen some hair inside the ear canal. You can purchase ear power to help grab onto those hairs And quickly pluck them out with little pain. The ear powder also seals up the ear And helps prevent infection. Some use their fingers, but It may be easier to grab on with tweezers or forceps like retractor tools. Careful not to stick anything down the ear canal itself. We also routinely clean the ears with a fluid available at most pet stores. NOTE: smell the ear - if It smells like old gum shoes than your Beardie may have an infection. Clean It, And check again the next day. If the smell continues, or You see an excess of dark brown material forming in the ear, Then check with the vet.

Finish off the head by doing the top to the back of the neck And finally brushing back over the head. Brush the hair up under the chin and down from the nose. The finer Teflon coated comb is particularly good for getting the hair around the eye, etc., to go where You want It, but don't yank out any hairs by mistake- so be careful. But You may wish to pluck tiny hairs growing into the inside corner of the eye.

I Usually Then go back And work on the feet. Use the medium tooth comb And careful go between toes. If You have done a good job - You can Then gently use the finer Teflon coated comb in those areas - which really separates the hair. Again - If It seems to be pulling out the hair - I go back to the wider comb Then come back with the finer one.

I Then go back over the dog - paying special attention to those hard to reach areas (And not forgetting the butt, under the tail And on the back legs. Also the under body - where I might find some mats in the private areas.

The slicker is primarily for the feet And sometimes around the face - be very careful as the wire can scratch. You lightly brush over to get the hair in place.

Forgot the tail? Now is the time to go back there And be really careful. Those longer hairs can easily pull out. So brush as normal, but more carefully.

Check the toenails - If needed clip them or use a grinder with a medium paper (is basically like the portable dremmel And You can use those). If You use the grinder, people have found that poking the nail through clear plastic (bag or wrap) can keep the hair from getting caught up in the grinder.

Then use the bristle brush And go over the entire body gently getting the coat in place. Of course, when You stop, most Beardies will shake themselves out anyway (ours out And jump in the lake And dry off in the sandbox).

If You are showing, You are not supposed to use anything like powders (talc), or hairsprays that hold the hair in place. But we have found texturizers that are just grooming sprays that seem to help. People cheat - but If You are caught You will get disqualified. They use a chalk prep (sort of a waxy substance - And brush It on the yellow areas of the face, And feet. Then use the talc, using one of those dish cleaner brushes to work It in. Leave It on - Then later brush it out (some of course remains) I have also seen people use hair spray (non - sticky type - And brush the hair back on the top of the head - leaving It sticking up high for awhile, until just before going to the ring - where They brush into place.

By the way - lots of people keep those rinceless shampoos the morning of the show, to clean the feet. They do it early enough so It dries completely - You spray on And work in the hair, towel dry - Then use a hair drier. Also good for the face And beard. You keep the dog on the grooming table after that - or a least an area with a mat (carpet, towel, whatever).

We can't cover every thing here - put this will get You started. Some other things You should consider.

  • Whenever working on mats or objects caught in the Beardies hair, hold the hair by the base (against the skin) so that You don't pull the hair out.
  • Use scissors or even clippers If You are handy with them, And trim around the private parts. With the boys, leave a little hair on the tip of the penis to help direct their pee. Around the rectum (under the tail where You can't see It) trim enough that their poop doesn't get caught up in the hair.
  • Use warm water to clean off the privates each day (keeps the smell of urine away). You can use self rinse shampoo on the tummy And legs - just be sure to dry off with a towel.
  • Brush And comb the beard And around the face Then wash the face And beard daily with warm water, remove excess food. Some use the self rinse shampoo there as well.
  • Clean the goop from around your Beardie's eyes daily.
  • If You have an outdoor Beardie, check them often for burrs And twigs And such that caught in the coat And remove before a mat forms around them. Use your fingers, And dust with a powder like talc or cornstarch to help dry them out.
  • If your Beardie. has what we call "dire rears" (loose bowel movement) And You catch It before It hardens - Then either hose It off or use the cornstarch on it and brush out.
  • Brush teeth on a regular basis (recommended weekly at least). Use a doggie toothbrush And dog toothpaste (as They will swallow It). Consider having your Beardie's teeth cleaned by the dental technician at the vet (some get the scraper from the vet And scrape the teeth between visits).
  • Did You know that cornstarch or even flour can stop bleeding If You happen to scratch or cut your Beardie?

We'll add some more photos later.

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