One of the most distinguishing and beautiful characteristics of a rough collie is its thick, lush coat; when hair loss occurs, it is usually quite obvious. Rough collies suffer hair loss for a variety of reasons, including allergies, disease and pests. In most cases, a veterinarian will need to be consulted to relieve the symptoms and get to the root of the problem.
The rough collie is typically a healthy breed that is very tolerant of cold and wet weather, while heat and inactivity are bothersome. If rough collies do not get daily exercise, hair loss can result.
If you identify bald patches throughout your collie's coat, the cause may be an allergy. A change of diet, new rugs or carpeting, or even a change of dog shampoo may be the culprit. A visit to your veterinarian for a skin scraping can reveal the reason for the hair loss.
Other causes of hair loss in collies may be autoimmune diseases, mange, and mites.
Hair loss in collies usually first occurs on the face, especially in the nose and eye area, on the ears, and sometimes on the legs. Symptoms include dry, scaly patches that look like a bad sunburn and extreme itching. The patches often spread quickly to other areas of the body.
Sarcoptic mange, or scabies, is caused by a tiny mite that boroughs under the collie's skin. It can be identified by crusty ear tips, extreme itching and hair loss, especially on the ears, elbows, legs and face.
Dermatomyositis (DM) is an autoimmune disease that targets the skin and muscles of the collie. The first sign of the disease is hair loss on the bridge of the nose or around the eyes, and may at first be mistaken for "collie nose." DM is impossible to identify simply by looking at the dog, and a visit to the vet is required.
If your collie becomes infested with the Demodex mite, two types of reactions may be identified. Localised demodicosis typically occurs in puppies between 3 and 10 months old, and manifests itself in scaly areas of hair loss around the collie's lips, eyes, and/or forelegs. Generalised demodicosis is more severe, and is identified by patches of scaly hair loss which spread rapidly throughout the body.
Several treatment options for DM include steroids, antioxidants, and drug treatment with Trentol, Azathioprine, Immunoregulin. Collies with Demodex mites may be treated with Kwellada shampoo, Kwellada lotion (5 per cent Permethrin), Sulfacet cream, or an equivalent antibiotic cream. Common veterinarian-recommended treatments for mange include dips or medicated baths, topical ointments and/or oral drugs.
Although hair loss in a collie may not be possible to totally prevent, when adopting a collie puppy, one way to try and ensure that you will not get one that is predisposed to hair loss is to ask the breeder about any history of hair loss in the puppy's parents. Autoimmune diseases such as DM are transferred genetically, although stress can sometimes cause DM to manifest itself. If you have a collie with DM, it should be spayed or neutered so as not to pass on the disease.
The effects of hair loss on collies are sometimes long term, taking weeks or even months to rectify. Collies that suffer from hair loss may take weeks to recover from the itching and discomfort, and frequent medicated baths may be helpful in soothing the irritated skin.