How to Groom Your Collie for a Conformation Match

Grooming a collie for a conformation show takes up to five hours.
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The rough collie's classic beauty can turn heads on the street and in the show ring. While a collie's natural charm appeals to regular folks, meticulous grooming before a show will serve to accentuate his features for the judges. Regular grooming will make quick work of a collie owner's pre-show preparations and ensure that the dog looks his best for his adoring public.

Brushing Basics

Collies require regular grooming from puppyhood. Brushing a collie once or twice a week keeps the dog's coat and skin healthy by removing mats and tangles. Professional dog groomer Lynn Nelson at Sunfield Collies prefers to spray the dog lightly with water before brushing its coat thoroughly with a slicker brush. She then brushes the dog's hair against the natural grain. Pay special attention to thick areas of the coat at the underbelly, trousers and armpits. Nelson recommends having the dog lie down on his side while grooming the rear legs, which she attends to first. Following the rear legs, Nelson moves to the back skirt and tail, using both the slicker and a V rake. She then works on the side of the body and the dog's belly, parting the hair and brushing with the slicker and rake and working upwards to the back. Once these areas are complete, the front legs, neck and chest can be groomed. If a collie becomes restless while he is being brushed, giving him a short break or a treat can help retain his positive outlook. If Josh or Maggie is particularly unkempt, the groomer may choose to spread her brushing tasks out over several days.

Bathing Your Collie

Bath time can be efficient if you prepare your towels, shampoo and conditioner. Apply a mild shampoo followed by conditioner only a few times a year. Many fanciers freshen the collie’s appearance weekly by using a damp cloth with a few drops of shampoo rubbed against the grain of the coat. Following a full bath, collie coats should be blown dry completely to prevent hot spots, according to Matt Stelter for Drs. Foster and Smith.

Ears, Eyes, Nose and Nails

A collie's eyes need to be gently wiped clean with a cloth to remove any protein buildup. Place a small amount of petroleum jelly on the dog's nose to keep the sensitive skin supple. The collie's nails should be clipped. The inside of the dog's ears can be cleansed with a cotton ball and small amount of rubbing alcohol. Nelson recommends trimming untidy hair from behind and around the ears for a polished appearance, though it isn't necessary before entering the show ring.

Finishing Touches

Details make or break Riley’s performance in the ring. Trim the hair between his footpads with a quality pair of scissors to ensure that he's not picking up dirt or debris. Trim the whiskers and jawline as well as remove excess hair from the underjaw and the back of the skull. According to Stelter, this attention keeps the hair looking tidy and unmatted in the show ring. Thinning shears can be used to remove extra undercoat if necessary. Just before entering the show ring, the dog's coat should be brushed out and misted with a solution made of water and conditioner for a full, lush appearance.