Health & Diet

Border Collie Skin Problems and How to Treat Them

Border Collies are known for their boundless energy and herding abilities; it’s essential to recognize that, like any other breed, they, too, can face health challenges. While skin disorders may not be their primary concern, owners must be vigilant about potential dermatological issues that could arise. We will explore some dermatological concerns that may affect Border Collies and the warning signs to watch out for. By understanding these conditions, you’ll be better equipped to care for your border collie’s well-being and ensure your furry companion’s happy, healthy life.

Do Border Collies have Skin Problems?

skin issues is a real problem in dog

Like other breeds prone to skin issues, Border Collies may encounter various dermatological problems that can be effectively managed by skilled professionals such as groomers and veterinarians. The good news is that these concerns are reversible with attentive care, allowing the dog’s skin to regain health. Consistent check-ups and appropriate grooming regimens are vital to maintaining your dog’s overall skin health.

Are Border Collies prone to Skin Allergies?

Like humans, Border Collies can suffer from various allergies such as Sebaceous Adenitis, Dermatomyositis, Pemphigus Foliaceus, Collie Nose, Canine Lupus. These allergies can significantly affect their well-being. Also, it can be triggered by reactions to their environment, direct contact with certain substances, and even to the food they consume. To know the appropriate actions to take, here are additional information about each known allergic reaction and what you could do to avoid them.

Sebaceous Adenitis

Sebaceous adenitis is when the body mistakenly attacks sebaceous glands. This, as a result, leads to inflammation. These glands produce oils that keep the skin and hair soft. The disease primarily affects young to middle-aged dogs. It has two variations, one affecting short-haired breeds and the other long-haired breeds.

Sebaceous adenitis is a condition observed in short-haired dogs, characterized by peculiar patterns of hair loss resembling a moth-eaten appearance. This condition is accompanied by mild scaling of the skin and the presence of lesions primarily on areas such as the head, ear flaps, and torso. It’s worth noting that dogs affected by this condition may experience potential skin scarring over time.

Sebaceous Adenitis in Long-Haired Dogs:

  • Symmetrical hair loss on both sides of the body
  • Dull and brittle haircoat
  • White scales on the skin, firmly adhering
  • Small clumps of tangled hair distributed throughout the body
  • Lesions commonly initiating on the head and along the spine

The definitive diagnosis of sebaceous adenitis requires a skin biopsy, where a tissue sample is sent to a vet lab. The pathologist examines the sample for signs of infection, inflammation, and scarring in the sebaceous gland areas. In severe cases, there may be a complete loss of sebaceous glands. Luckily, there are plenty of treatments available for this condition, similar to the following:

  • Topical therapies – this includes shampoos, sprays, and mousses. Its application can help alleviate flaking and soothe the skin while addressing bacterial infections.
  • Medications – a good example of this is cyclosporine which can be used to interfere with the immune system’s attack on sebaceous glands.
  • Vitamins – more specifically, Vitamin A and essential fatty acid supplements.


Dermatomyositis is a hereditary condition affecting certain dog breeds like Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs, leading to skin, muscle, and blood vessel problems. It typically occurs before 6 months of age and can range from mild skin issues to severe ulcers and muscle wasting. The exact cause is unknown but may involve an immune-related process. A biopsy of the affected skin or muscle is necessary to diagnose it. Proper management is crucial, as there is no cure for this disease.

Most dermatomyositis instances can be managed domestically, preventing activities potentially damaging skin or muscles. It’s advisable to limit sun exposure, as it has the potential to exacerbate skin lesions. In cases where the chewing muscles are impacted, there might be a need for hand-feeding or offering softened food. For dogs with an enlarged esophagus, adjusting the texture and timing of their meals could be necessary.

Veterinarians are advising owners of several steps to ease the skin condition, some of which are:

  • Hypoallergenic shampoos and treat secondary bacterial skin infections.
  • Essential fatty acids and vitamin E can help in milder cases.
  • Tetracycline and niacinamide may be used to modulate the immune system and reduce symptoms.
  • Pentoxifylline can improve skin circulation and resolve skin lesions.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications like cyclosporine or corticosteroids such prednisone may be prescribed for more serious cases.
  • Topical treatment with tacrolimus ointment can be used on active skin lesions.

Pemphigus Foliaceus

Pemphigus is a group of skin disorders with varying clinical presentations. Among the most prevalent types are:

  • Pemphigus foliaceus (most common autoimmune skin disease)
  • Pemphigus vulgaris (milder in appearance)
  • Pemphigus erythematosus (most severe)

These types differ in their appearance and manifestations on the skin. This is characterized as an autoimmune skin disorder, where the body’s immune system mistakenly targets the bonds between its own skin cells, leading to damage and blister formation. There are three possible causes of pemphigus:

  1. Endogenous (internal) – it is caused by factors within the dog, such as breed or genetic predisposition. Dogs with immune system defects are more prone to developing the condition. Underlying medical conditions like chronic skin allergies or cancer can also trigger Pemphigus in dogs.
  2. Exogenous (external) – external factors, such as viral infections, UV light exposure, and drug reactions, can lead to an overactive immune response in dogs, increasing the risk of developing autoimmune conditions like pemphigus. These triggers cause unusual inflammation in the skin and can have short-term or long-lasting effects on the immune system of predisposed dogs.
  3. Idiopathic (unexplained) – sometimes, veterinarians and pet owners encounter cases where extensive testing fails to reveal any specific cause for a condition in animals. These occurrences are puzzling and remain unexplained, causing frustration and uncertainty.

Diagnosing pemphigus requires a skin biopsy, a procedure in which a small, circular section of skin is extracted from the affected area using a biopsy punch. The approach for this procedure depends on your pet’s demeanor and the location of the lesions. It could involve using a local anesthetic injection or conducting the biopsy under general sedation/anesthesia.

Collie Nose

Collie Nose, or Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE), is an inflammatory skin disorder that primarily impacts dog breeds like Collies, Australian Shepherds, Shetland Sheepdogs, and similar breeds. This condition leads to the development of moist, crusty skin on the nose, initially causing pigment loss, redness, and scaling. In some cases, the disease can also affect the surrounding areas of the nose, lips, and occasionally even the eyes.

Signs of collie nose or discoid lupus erythematosus include the following indications.

  • The skin on the nose appears pale
  • The skin shows redness
  • There is flaking and scaling of the skin
  • The skin is crusted and shows scarring
  • It is painful when touched

Though this condition has no known cure, it can be effectively managed through natural remedies, which can be as beneficial as conventional medications. The treatment options include protecting the dog’s nose from sunlight using dog-safe sunscreen or limiting outdoor exposure during peak sun hours. Additionally, topical remedies like vitamin E oil, coconut oil, and aloe vera can provide relief by soothing the skin and reducing inflammation.

Some veterinarians may suggest dietary changes, such as incorporating omega-3 fatty acids, to help alleviate inflammation. It’s essential to remember that Collie Nose is a lifelong condition and close collaboration with a veterinarian is crucial for symptom management and preventing complications.

There is speculation that DLE could be a condition influenced by seasonal factors, as it appears to be aggravated by exposure to ultraviolet rays from sunlight, making it more prevalent during the summer months. It is particularly noticed in high-altitude regions with increased exposure to UV light.

Canine Lupus

Canine lupus denotes autoimmune disorders that impact dogs and resemble human lupus. Two types of it could affect our beloved pets:

  1. Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) – this autoimmune condition primarily targets the skin, leading to crust formation, scabbing, and skin pigmentation loss, usually initiating around the nose area. The treatment approach for DLE focuses on immune system suppression, but responses to treatment can vary among individual dogs.
  2. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) – this is a condition where the immune system turns against its tissues. The disease can impact various body systems and tissues, as the immune system generates antibodies against antigens present throughout the body. Managing SLE involves immunosuppressive treatment to control the immune system’s aggressive response.

Suppose you suspect your dog might have lupus. It’s crucial to understand that diagnosing and treating lupus in dogs can be challenging and usually necessitates ongoing care. In that case, seeking professional advice from a veterinarian is essential to receive a precise diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment strategy.


Border Collies are susceptible to various parasites like roundworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and hookworms, including hydatid tapeworms. These parasites could grow to as long as 7mm. These parasites can affect both the inside and outside of a dog’s body, leading to skin issues or disease transmission.

Common external dog parasites include fleas, ticks, lice, and mites. If you suspect your dog has a parasite infestation, you must seek veterinary assistance for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Over-the-counter or veterinarian-prescribed products like Sentinel or Interceptor are considered safe for Collies and can help with demodectic mange treatment.

Practicing proper hygiene in your dog, such as regularly cleaning the dog’s bedding and grooming, can prevent parasite infestations.

Fungal Infections and Hot Spots

Border Collies can get a skin problem like fungal dermatitis from a fungus called Malessezia pachydermatis. This fungus likes warm and humid places. The skin issue can happen either if the dog’s immune system is weak or if they’re taking immune-suppressing solid medicines. Too much skin oil can also make it worse but don’t worry. This skin problem can’t spread from one dog to another.

In the case of hot spots it is caused by fungi or parasites. Hot spots can also be linked to allergies, and it’s important to seek veterinary advice to pinpoint the main cause and offer treatment options. Treatment may involve topical or oral medications and addressing any underlying health issues or environmental factors that might aggravate the problem.

Preventative Grooming

Border Collies can experience various skin issues throughout the year, including itchiness, dryness, and allergies. Here are some preventative grooming tips to help keep your dog’s skin healthy:

  • Regularly groom your Border Collie by brushing and combing to prevent external parasites and matting.
  • Bathe your Border Collie every 4 – 6 weeks using a mild dog shampoo to maintain a clean and healthy coat.
  • Ensure a balanced diet rich in protein, and also, remember to add some essential fatty acids. This will help in promoting healthier skin and shinier coats.
  • It is wise to add fish oil, to enhance skin and coat health.
  • Avoid shaving your Border Collie to preserve their coat’s insulation and protection from the sun, preventing skin irritation and sunburn.
  • Conduct regular skin checks for any signs of irritation, redness, or bumps, and seek veterinary advice if any issues arise.

It is essential to establish and uphold a routine of comprehensive health examinations and proactive measures to maintain good health. Consult your veterinarian regarding this matter and adhere to their guidance and recommendations.

Is Dry Skin Common in Border Collies?

Dry skin is a prevalent issue in Border Collies and can be attributed to several factors. Among the most frequent causes are their diet, living conditions, and vaccination routines. If disregarded, dry skin can lead to secondary infections or a condition called seborrhea.

Therefore, owners need to be mindful of these factors and take appropriate measures to maintain their pet’s skin health. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian and proper skincare can help prevent and manage these skin-related problems.

Signs Of Dry Skin In Border Collies

Dry skin in dogs can present itself in different forms, indicating potential underlying problems. Look out for various common indicators to monitor the condition.

Common Signs of Skin Problems Environmental Factors causing Skin Problems
Red and irritated skin Changes in the surrounding environment
Frequent itching Alterations in the quality and quantity of their diet
Dogs biting or scratching at their skin Vaccinations and their effects
Fur loss or shedding Hormonal changes, such as those occurring during pregnancy
Presence of sores or hot spots on the skin Poor grooming habits, including excessive use of chemicals on their skin.

What are the Causes of Dry skin in Border Collies?

Dry skin is prevalent among certain dog breeds, particularly those with short coats or dogs that spend significant time outdoors. Environmental elements like weather conditions and humidity levels can trigger this condition.


learn to navigate dog skin problem on hot months

Border Collies have a double coat. Its purpose is to ensure that their body’s temperature is properly regulated, whether cold or hot. However, extreme temperatures can still pose risks to them. Heatstroke and skin diseases can occur in hot weather if exposed to excessive heat. When the air temperature goes above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, these heat-tolerant dogs become susceptible to overheating.

Some owners mistakenly believe that shaving their dog’s hair in the summer will help them handle the heat. Still, it removes the natural protection and increases the chances of heatstroke and skin issues. To prevent heatstroke, it’s important not to expose Border Collies to extreme heat, provide sufficient water, and avoid shaving their hair.


Border Collies can suffer from various allergies, making pinpointing specific triggers difficult. Common allergens include pollen, grass, certain foods like wheat, chicken, or soy, medications such as penicillin or opiates, perfumes, shampoos, cleaning products, and latex.

Dry skin can also result from allergies, fleas and ticks, weather conditions, overbathing, skin infections, or other health issues. If you suspect your Border Collie has allergies, taking them to the vet is crucial for identifying the cause and devising an appropriate treatment plan.

Fleas and ticks

Fleas and ticks can contribute to skin issues in these dogs through various means. They cause itching and scratching, leading to skin irritation and inflammation.

Additionally, some dogs may be allergic to flea saliva, resulting in flea allergy dermatitis characterized by intense itching, hair loss, and skin infections.

Moreover, fleas and ticks can carry pathogens that may cause infections in dogs, and some of these pathogens can even be transmitted to humans. Preventing infestations, you must check your dog daily for these pests, especially during warmer months when they are most active. Employing veterinarian-recommended flea and tick preventatives can also help safeguard your pet’s health.


Excessive bathing can result in skin problems. Overwashing could be a bad thing too. Doing this could remove essential oils that play a part in maintaining their skin and coat health.
Consequently, this can lead to dryness, irritation, and other skin issues. Furthermore, overwashing can deplete the protective oils that generally keep your dog’s skin moisturized, exacerbating dryness and causing additional skin irritations.

Skin Infections

Skin infections can cause considerable discomfort for our beloved Border Collies. Whether the origin of the disease is bacterial or fungal, if left unchecked, it can lead to various skin complications.
Typically, these infections arise as a secondary cause after initial irritation, followed by the introduction of bacteria or fungus due to the dog’s biting and scratching behavior. Once these harmful agents come into contact with the dog’s skin, the discomfort becomes hard to ignore.

Border Collies suffering from skin infections may exhibit symptoms such as dry skin, redness, hot spots, and sores on their skin. Additionally, there might be skin odor and fur loss, further exacerbating the distressing situation. Addressing these skin infections promptly is essential so that your furry friend will not suffer from more serious problems in the future.

Chronic Skin Conditions

Maintaining proper skin health in Border Collies involves several vital practices. Regular grooming is crucial, as it helps remove dirt, debris, and loose hair that can irritate the skin. Brushing also aids in distributing natural oils throughout the coat, keeping the skin moisturized and in good condition.

Regular veterinary check-ups are equally vital, enabling early detection and treatment of skin conditions. Your veterinarian can also recommend tailored treatments or preventative measures based on your dog’s needs.

How to Treat Dry Skin In Border Collies?

To address your Border Collie’s dry skin effectively, visit your trusted vet. They can help in determining the root cause and advise proper treatment. Underlying health issues may contribute to the problem, so addressing these conditions is essential for improving skin health.

Some dog owners find relief by using a dog skin moisturizer but ensure it’s specifically formulated for dogs and seek your vet’s advice before trying new products. Always seek professional guidance for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan for your Border Collie’s dry skin.

How to Prevent Dry Skin In Border Collies?

The secret to keeping your Border Collie’s skin is quite plentiful. You can give your Border Collie foods containing omega 3, 6, and 9, give them oatmeal baths, use dog lotion specific to treat the condition, provide a balanced and healthy diet, and use a humidifier in the house. Ensure you seek advice from a veterinarian if your Border Collie experiences ongoing dry skin or other skin issues. Learn more about how each option can help. 

  • Omega-3-6-9 Krill Oil chews: These chews can enhance your Border Collie’s skin and coat health as they contain vital fatty acids that moisturize the skin.
  • Oatmeal baths: Soothe your Border Collie’s dry, itchy skin with oatmeal baths, as oatmeal possesses anti-inflammatory properties. Pour some oatmeal into warm water before applying it to your dog’s coat.
  • Dog-specific lotion: If your Border Collie experiences excessive dryness, apply a moisturizing lotion designed for dogs. Avoid using human lotions that may contain harmful ingredients for dogs.
  • Balanced diet: Ensure your Border Collie has a well-balanced diet that includes essential fatty acids to promote healthy skin. It is necessary to talk to your veterinarian to know the best diet program for your dog.
  • Humidifier: If you live in a dry climate, having a humidifier can be an added advantage to your home in preventing dry skin in your Border Collie.

When Should I take my Border Collie to the vet?

Monitoring your Border Collie’s skin health is crucial, and recognizing signs that may warrant a visit to the vet is essential. If your dog shows persistent itching, biting, or licking of their skin, it could signal an underlying skin issue. Watch for other symptoms like a lackluster coat, frequent itching, or excessive biting at the skin. Pay attention to noticeable hair loss or thinning of the coat, as it may indicate a skin problem. Dry, flaky, or scaly skin should not be ignored and may require veterinary attention.

Other Border Collie Health Concerns

Unfortunately, skin problems are not the only thing you should watch out for your dog. These breeds can also be susceptible to other health concerns that might shorten their life, some of which include, but are not limited to:

  • Hip dysplasia: Misalignment of the hip joint causing pain and arthritis.
  • Epilepsy: Neurological disorder leading to sporadic seizures.
  • Collie Eye Anomaly: Inherited eye conditions may lead to vision problems or blindness.
  • Multidrug Resistance Mutation (MDR1): Genetic mutation causing sensitivity to certain medications.
  • Dental disease: With vulnerability to dental issues like gum disease, plaque buildup, and other dental-related problems, regular dental care is crucial.

Why is my Border Collie covered in white flakes?

how to deal with white flakes on Border Collie

Like humans, Border Collies can experience dandruff, characterized by dry and flaky skin that appears as white flakes on their coats. In most cases, the primary cause of white flakes is dry skin, but occasionally, it could signal an underlying allergy. Additionally, if the dog suffers from ectoparasites, like fleas or ticks, it may lead to intense itching, further contributing to skin peeling and flaking over time.

Why does my Border Collie have dandruff?

Dandruff in Border Collies can stem from multiple sources, such as:

  • Allergies
  • Fleas
  • Ticks
  • Weather conditions
  • Excessive bathing
  • Skin infections
  • Underlying health concerns

It manifests as dry skin and flakes of dead skin cells. Food allergies, seasonal allergies, hormonal imbalances, and inadequate nutrition are also contributing factors. Additionally, certain skin infections, bacterial or fungal, may provoke dandruff in dogs. Notably, endocrine disorders like Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism can also lead to dandruff in dogs.


Proper care and attention to your Border Collie’s skin health is paramount for their well-being and happiness. As a breed more susceptible to skin issues, investing time in understanding your dog’s specific condition is vital to creating a tailored treatment plan that suits them best. Regular grooming, including brushing their coat and bathing, with dog-specific shampoo, helps maintain cleanliness and distribute natural oils on their skin when necessary. Keeping a keen eye out for allergies, such as itching, redness, or rashes, and promptly consulting your veterinarian if any issues arise is crucial.

Implementing flea and tick prevention measures is essential to protect your furry companion from infestations that can lead to skin problems. Ensuring a well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs contributes to healthy skin and a shiny coat. Providing fresh, clean water always helps keep your dog hydrated, an essential factor for good skin health. Regular veterinary check-ups and vaccinations help monitor their skin health and address any concerns early on.

It’s vital to avoid using harsh chemicals in your home that could irritate your dog’s sensitive skin. Paying attention to any changes in their skin, such as redness, swelling, sores, or bald patches, allows for early detection and prompt treatment if necessary. Limit your dog’s sun exposure, particularly in the afternoon or whenever the sun is at its highest, and providing shade outside protects them from sunburn and skin damage. Regular exercise and mental stimulation reduce stress and promote overall well-being, positively impacting their skin health.

Considering these tips and putting them into your heart can create a healthier and happier life for your beloved Border Collie while strengthening your bond with them. Being proactive and attentive to their needs ensures they receive the care they deserve and thrive as a cherished family member. Always seek guidance from your veterinarian for any concerns, as they can provide tailored advice and support for your dog’s specific skin condition.

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