Australian Shepherds have a longer coat, so they do require some extensive grooming. However, they are not extremely high maintenance like some other breeds. In fact, they are quite easy to take care of if you groom them correctly.
In this article, we’ll give you some basic tips on how to groom your Australian Shepherd properly. The main grooming problem associated with this breed is shedding, so much of our focus will be in that area.
1. Daily Brushing
When you adopt an Australian Shepherd, there is nothing you can do to get out of daily brushing. Brushing is the easiest and best thing you can do to maintain your dog’s coat. If you aren’t brushing your dog regularly, dirt, debris, oils, and loose fur can all build up and cause problems.
These dogs are often described as heavy shedders. However, that doesn’t mean that they shed all the time heavily. Instead, they have “shedding seasons.” They may shed moderately during much of the year but then shed heavily for a few months when the seasons change.
During these heavier shedding periods, brushing them becomes extremely important. These daily brushing sessions will remove much of the dead coat before it ends up all over your house. Plus, brushing also stimulates the new coat growth, helping their coat stay healthy and protect the dog from the elements.
We recommend brushing your canine with a quality slicker brush. You’ll also need a long-tooth undercoat rake, which will help you remove mats and debris that get lodged. Plus, the comb is useful when parting hair to check for debris, wounds, and other issues.
Using the slicker brush, you should brush in the direction of the coat. Brushing in the opposite direction will be painful for the dog and should be avoided. Next, you can use the comb to ensure that the dog’s coat is brushed all the way to the skin. If necessary, use the comb to get hard-to-reach spots as well.
If you need to get into the coat more, use the undercoat rake to get into the coat and then pull slightly outward towards you. Don’t scrap the skin with the undercoat rake, as this can cause pain for the dog.
Of course, you should also use this time to check for parasites and skin irritation.
2. No Shaving
When properly cared for, an Australian Shepherd’s coat protects them from both the cold and hot. It holds a layer of properly heated air near their skin. As necessary, their undercoat will hold their body heat closer or let it escape, depending on the weather outside.
Therefore, an Australian Shepherd’s coat isn’t similar to a jacket in the traditional sense. It doesn’t just keep them warm – it keeps them cool as well.
At the same time, shaving a double-coated breed does not reduce shedding. Instead, they will only shed smaller hairs.
Furthermore, shaving may permanently disrupt the coat. It may not grow back normally, leaving the dog more vulnerable to the elements. Continued shaving has a high likelihood of messing up the coat eventually.
For the most part, we don’t recommend any sort of trimming. There is little need to trim your Australian Shepherd, except along their feet and occasionally their face.
If you wish, you can do this with a simple pair of shears. However, many owners prefer to have their dogs professionally groomed. Often, professionals know how to give the dog a more natural look.
The most important part to have trimmed is your dog’s feet. Feet trimming should be a regular part of your dog’s routine. You should trim the hair around your dog’s feet and paw pads. Clippers are often utilized for this step, as they are smaller and much easier to use in the grooves of the feet.
The fur on your dog’s paws is not actually necessary. Instead, it gets dirty very easily. In some cases, it can trap debris and dirt. In the wintertime, tiny bits of snow can get trapped in the dog’s paw pads, leading to sores and pain.
Your dog’s ears will often need to be trimmed as well. Leaving the fur in the ears long makes it more likely that dirt, debris, and moisture will become trapped. Therefore, it is often recommended that the fur inside the ears be trimmed or even clipped down completely. This fur doesn’t do much to protect the ears. Instead, it tends to cause more problems than anything.
Some people also prefer to trim their dog’s tails and legs. However, this is unnecessary. Any trimming in these areas would be aesthetic only.
When to Use a Professional
For the most part, you can get away with daily brushing – which is easy for most dog owners to perform. However, it is also essential that you devote some extra monthly grooming time to your dog. Their fur will need to be trimmed around their paws and ears, and their nails will need to be clipped.
Many owners perform these tasks themselves – and you absolutely can as well. Trimming an Australian Shepherd is pretty easy to learn, after all.
With that said, many owners also choose to use a professional once monthly for this purpose. If you don’t feel comfortable trimming your dog or don’t have the time, utilizing professional grooming can be quite helpful.
Plus, professional groomers often have access to tools that the average dog owner doesn’t. In many cases, the mane of Australian Shepherds can be maintained with a monthly, professional grooming session – even if they aren’t brushed regularly between sessions. This fact is especially true if the dog is only shedding moderately.
And that’s it! Grooming an Australian Shepherd is not difficult, but it can be rather time-consuming. Most of your grooming routine will involve brushing out their coat. This process is rather simple, but it can take a while to complete. Therefore, we recommend bracketing out small bits of time every day for grooming.
Brushing an Australian Shepherd daily ensures that they don’t require huge amounts of brushing at one time. Just ten minutes a day is often all a dog needs. But, if you miss a day, you often need to brush your dog longer than ten minutes to “catch up.”
Of course, don’t forget all the “normal” dog grooming as well. Teeth brushing and nail clipping are required for the Australian Shepherd, just like they are for any breed.
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Featured Image Credit: Eve Photography, Shutterstock