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Coat Types?


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#1 cmsgyay

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 12:56 AM

We had an interesting discussion on Border Collie coat types on a different board.

Considering there are varying degrees of rough, smooth, bearded (wire haired I presume?) and curly, do some of these coat types not hold out as well in certain weather?

The question proposed was whether or not really curly dogs ended up with more burrs, mats and things stuck in their coat which required more time to take out or clip off while working in poorer weather.

The few bearded dogs, do they shed or need to be hand stripped?

Do smooth dogs get a lot colder working in areas where winters are -30C? Shouldn't that mean in colder areas rough coats are valued over smooth coats?

#2 Sue R

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 06:13 AM

I think with regards to coat length and climate, a short coat does not equate with a coat that can't take the cold (and vice-versa). I think it's more the density of both outercoat and undercoat that matters, in terms of both cold and heat tolerance.

While coats can vary in length and the texture of the hair, they also vary widely in density, and the amount of undercoat and outercoat. My two medium rough-coats have some undercoat, but not a huge amount. My Dan, whose outercoat is actually longer, has almost no undercoat. Guess who is most likely to get chilly when the weather is really bad?

Many of the short-coated dogs I have seen actually have quite a dense coat and lots of undercoat, and probably tolerate cold much better than Dan does with his silky but less-dense coat.

I find it easier to remove burdocks, cockleburs, and stick-tights (and other passengers) from a straight-haired dog than from a curly-haired dog, but they are less bothersome on a short-coated dog as they get less tangled up in the hair. And a straight-haired dog's coat may mat less readily.

I think that, in the areas where the working Border Collie developed, and the climate is rather cool even in summer, it was pretty natural for longer and denser coated dogs to do well. In the US (and other countries with warmer climates), I think you see an increase in short-coated (or, as they say in the UK, bare-skinned) dogs because of their practicality.

Just some musings on my part...
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#3 Mark Billadeau

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 06:25 AM

With cockleburs on our property I can tell you that we like smooth coats over rough coats (20min vs 2min per outing to remove burs). I cannot see how curly coats would pick up and retain more burs than rough coats; it's the undercoat that seems to retain the burs. As far as mats, it seems to be the undercoat that mats on our rough coats.

One of the worst shedding dogs we had was an imported smooth coated Irish dog; he had a very thick undercoat.

I think you'll find that local genetics (prevalence of the coat genes in the better working dogs of a region) dominated the coat types for certain regions.
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#4 bcnewe2

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 08:13 AM

I have 2 curly coats, 1 keeps lots of burrs, the other doesn't.

I love smooth coats but have none. I find that my straight long haired dogs are way better shedding burrs than my curly ones.

But I do love our curly hair!
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#5 Laurae

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 09:40 AM

While basic coat types are obviously genetic, I think dogs can adapt to their environment to some degree--at least as far as temperatures go. Taz is a medium-rough coat without much undercoat, and he has straight, fine fur. He gets burrs and iceballs caught in his fur less than carpet-furred Sophie does, but much more than slick-coated Meg does. A couple of years ago he spent the winter in Alberta, and he came back a woolly mammoth. His coat didn't really change, but boy did he grow more of it. And then shed it off once he got back down here, and it didn't grow back in as thick again. Meg is up there now. I am curious to see what she comes back looking like!

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#6 Liz P

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 11:34 AM

I am trying to shift to all smoothies because I am tired of picking out burrs and ice balls. I had a rough coat get so tangled with burrs that she had to be carried home then shaved. The curly coats I've known don't seem to get more stuff caught in their fur than any other rough coat.

I've not noticed a difference in cold tolerance, even at -40F. When kept outside they all develop a thicker coat.

#7 border_collie_crazy

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 11:45 AM

smooths are the common working dogs in my area and -30*C is normal, and -40-50*C is not uncommon. the farmers just start introducing pups to staying outside from a young age, increasing their time outside as they get older to acclimitize them to the weather. even the "rough coats" in my area are more medium length and not a lot of undercoat..I actually cannot recall having ever seeing a thick coated BC before lol. I suppose the lower maintence is prefered, because clearly the climate has not affected the choices lol
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#8 Sue R

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 11:49 AM

Ice balls - we had those the year before last. Megan, our somewhat curly, medium rough coat, got them by far the worst. But, she is also the shortest dog, and that may have had something to do with it - belly in the snow all the time, and all that. But even with snow that was up to everyone's bellies, she had bunches of ice balls and the boys had very few at all, if any (I don't remember leggy Dan having any).

Meanwhile, Megan looked and sounded like she was selling castenets (sp?) out of her coat...
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#9 Alchemist

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 01:34 PM

I did notice with my last rough-coated Border collie that she grew a thicker coat when we were living in New England or in upstate NY than when we lived in Southern California. She had a fairly thick undercoat, but if I brushed her even occasionally, she wouldn't mat.

Duncan has an easier coat - rough but with less of an undercoat. His coat requires very little maintenance. If he does start snagging sticks or burrs or whatever, I've found that spraying him (OUTDOORS - this stuff will turn your house into a skating rink!) with "Show Sheen" really helps in preventing vegetation from getting tangled in his coat. It also does wonders at keeping ice balls from forming in his coat.

While I'd never choose a dog based on coat type, I do have a preference for rough coats that's based on maintenance. I find that rough-coated dogs shed less than smooth-coated dogs. So rough-coated dogs effectively confine the needed maintenance to themselves. I'd far rather occasionally brush a rough-coated dog (while watching a movie on TV or on the phone with someone) than have to vacuum multiple times each week.

#10 ejano

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 05:02 PM

We used to say (with tongue in cheek) that our dogs grew coat in summer and shed in winter because of my husband's propensity for very cold AC in summer and mine for a warm fire in winter. As they spend a great deal of their time indoors with us, including kenneling in this very moderate indoor climate, I do find some truth in it -- all our dogs have been medium to rough coat and one shelter dog we took on in dead of winter arrived with very heavy coat, but never grew it again because he never again was housed outdoors. My current three are medium coat - Brodie has a very soft, silky coat, nothing underneath. Robin's is coarser with a downy undercoat. Ladybug is halfway between the two, with some curl around her shoulders. A girl's gotta look pretty, after all :). Ladybug is the only one who things seem to stick to.

I've made an extra effort to expose these potential working pups to "weather", hot and cold from the start but it hasn't seemed to make much of a difference to their coat. Brodie, I fear, will really need to be coated in very cold weather. He's too lean, in addition to having no substantial coat.

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Ladybug, Brodie, Robin


#11 ejano

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 08:13 PM

Ice balls - we had those the year before last. Megan, our somewhat curly, medium rough coat, got them by far the worst. But, she is also the shortest dog, and that may have had something to do with it - belly in the snow all the time, and all that. But even with snow that was up to everyone's bellies, she had bunches of ice balls and the boys had very few at all, if any (I don't remember leggy Dan having any).

Meanwhile, Megan looked and sounded like she was selling castenets (sp?) out of her coat...


It sounds like she has a similar coat -- and similar problems with snow -- to our Ladybug...

No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich."
---Louis Sabin - All about Dogs as Pets.

Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image


Ladybug, Brodie, Robin



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