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Have I damaged by border collie's coat by clipping it?

Dr Pete Wedderburn / 23 October 2018

A reader has only recently discovered that clipping a double coated dog is not recommended. Veterinarian Dr Pete Wedderburn explains why.

Border collie
Double coated dogs such as border collies have a thick warming layer of fur underneath a layer of waterproof guard hairs


I had always had my border collie clipped, but only recently found out you shouldn’t clip double coated dogs. Could I have accidentally damaged his coat?


Don’t worry: you have just temporarily disturbed his coat. Dogs have two types of hair: the fluffy undercoat which insulates against cold, and the outer guard hairs which protect against weather and waterproof the coat. These two hair types grow at different rates: the undercoat constantly renews, as well as having two major moults every year (spring and autumn).

However the guard hairs only renew every two to four years. This means that if the coat is clipped short, it can take up to four years for the full coat to grow back in, depending on what stage the guard hairs were at when they were clipped. For future reference, it’s generally better just to thin out the insulating undercoat in hot weather, rather than clipping off all the guard hairs.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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