Quite possibly, everyone who loves dogs loves Australian shepherds. These dogs are not just super friendly with children and make excellent family pets, they are also super cuddly, adorable fluff balls of energy, very fun to be around. However, they are also very furry, which puts grooming and taking care of them in the higher maintenance category.
Moreover, one has to be a bit careful about how much to groom and how to go about it, so it can be a bit puzzling- when can one start grooming their Aussie, what kinds of tools to be used, how to use these tools, how to bathe the dog properly, and so much more. But never fear, with this super comprehensive and detailed grooming guide, we got your back here on how to groom your Australian shepherd perfectly and thoroughly. Read on to know our tips, suggestions, and grooming know-how for the Australian shepherd-
When to start grooming Australian Shepherd puppy?
It can be equally overwhelming and exciting to take care of a new puppy you just brought home. Many concerns run through a new pet owner’s mind, and one of them is almost always related to grooming and hygiene- when to start bathing and grooming them, how much is too much, etc? But the simplest answer is, you can start grooming your Aussie puppy as soon as it starts shedding.
- This can vary according to season and how much time your dog spends outdoors- more time spent outside equals more shedding, as do certain seasons of the year.
- With a new puppy, it can be challenging to start the process, because they may be nervous, and you also probably will feel so. However, take your time to get your Aussie in their comfort zone, and it’ll be fine.
Don’t panic when it comes to grooming and caring for your Australian shepherd- take it slowly, and with time and practice, it can be a super relaxing and fun activity for both of you!
How often should grooming be done?
Australian shepherds are naturally very furry, with a special double coat of hair meant to provide warmth in the winter season and to keep them cool in the heat. Due to this, these dogs are quite prone to shedding often, and besides, the amount of hair they have may get tangled up and cause them discomfort if you don’t groom regularly.
- It’s recommended to groom your Australian shepherd a minimum of once a week, and more often if it is shedding season.
- It is a good practice to brush your Australian shepherd’s coat thoroughly on a daily basis for best results. Since these dogs are fun-loving and very active, they can roll about here and there and mess up their fur. Hence brushing the coat every day is helpful, as it keeps the hair tangle-free, neat as well as at a suitable body temperature to avoid over-heating or cooling.
- Some owners of Australian shepherds prefer to shave their dogs’ fur completely to save time and hassle. However, this does not really stop the shedding, rather as it grows back, the dog sheds smaller hair which may be harder to clean up, in fact. Moreover, the hair may not grow back completely evenly. This is likely to cause temperature fluctuation for the dog as well, such as making it feel cold without its protective coat. Thus, shaving is not recommended as part of grooming.
How to groom different body parts of the Australian Shepherd
Overall, it is fairly easy to groom your Aussie once you’ve got in enough practice, and with time. However, each body part of the Australian shepherd often requires different kinds of grooming, and separate techniques which every Aussie owner should know. Word of advice, less is always more when it comes to grooming and trimming an Aussie’s hair. While it might look like there is a lot of hair in certain regions, know that the dog needs it the most in those regions and you must never over trim, and certainly do not consider shaving. Here’s how you should go about grooming different parts of your Aussie’s hair-
It is a good practice to groom your Aussie from nose to tail, completely. However, you need to be careful when brushing or combing (brushing is recommended) their face, preferably you should use a smaller brush for this so that you don’t accidentally hurt them.
Be sure to clean your dog’s ears regularly, but gently, as they are very sensitive. Use ear cleaner meant for dogs, with a gentle cotton pad, and clean them. For trimming ear hair, the best practice is to brush in one direction, trim around one-fourth hair from the edge, then brush in the opposite direction, repeat, and finally brush and trim from the top.
- The first thing you need to ensure is that the toothbrush you’re using is specifically made for use by an Aussie.
- Also use toothpaste made for dogs. Do not make the mistake of using the toothpaste you use for yourself; it can make your dog sick.
- Also start in the beginning days by just taking some dog toothpaste on your finger and convincing your dog to let you put it in their mouth, massaging their teeth and gums for a bit.
- Over time, your Aussie will get more accustomed to this and won’t mind the ritual. Then you can use either a finger brush or a pet toothbrush to get your dog used to the feeling.
- Once that’s done, you can start the actual brushing process one fine day, lifting the lips to get to the teeth and going from there. Be sure to encourage and speak kindly to your Aussie through this whole process, because it can initially be an uncomfortable feeling for them.
Always be sure to brush and comb in the direction of hair growth, and never opposite. Be sure to work out any seemingly tight gnarls or knots in the fur with your fingers first, gently, and then go over them with a brush.
Australian shepherds have fluffy, hairy legs that are often termed as trousers because they stand out so prominently on the legs. You may want to trim these from time to time for easier handling. To trim the leg hair, you can use good thinning scissors or shears carefully to cut the excess hair, but be sure to follow the natural trajectory of the hair growth.
Be careful about the pads of their paws, they are delicate. There, you may use a grooming clipper, but for the feet themselves, the good idea is to brush from toe to leg using the slicking brush, and then trim the hair that stands out separately.
Britches/buttock area- For this area too, one should be careful to trim less and follow the natural curve of the dog’s body and hair growth direction, rather than cutting any hair that looks too long.
Bath time – How to handle?
A lucky aspect of owning an Aussie is that these dogs are quite happy to take a bath, and will most often not kick up a fuss. This is a good thing, especially if your Australian shepherd is very active and likes playing outdoors, as it would then need a bath regularly.
- An Aussie that likes playing outdoors will need to be bathed every month, or at most, within six-week intervals. Make sure that all the dirt and grime is gone from the dog’s hair, and it is completely dry after its bath before you start brushing its hair out.
- An Australian Shepherd that stays indoors most of the time will not require that frequent a bath- about once in two to three months should do. However, if you feel like the dog’s coat is becoming too oily or that the typical ‘dog smell’ is too much, you can bathe him or her monthly as well.
- If you are bathing your Aussie outside in hot weather, make sure the water is not too cold. If bathing indoors in a tub or on the bathroom floor, ensure you have towels or a rubber mat in place so that your dog does not slip on the wet floor and hurt themselves.
- The best way to bathe an Aussie is to first wet the dog’s coat with just warm water, and then scrub it gently but firmly after applying a few drops of shampoo. Be sure to scrub everywhere, being careful not to get any in the eyes or ears.
- It is a good practice to rinse the dog’s coat thoroughly after this, as much as needed, until there are no remnants of soap or shampoo left. The thick coat of an Australian shepherd can trap soap particles in it unless rinsed thoroughly, and those remnants would irritate your dog’s sensitive skin greatly.
- Be sure to towel dry your dog properly after the bath. Especially for puppies, and in the colder weather, make sure they don’t catch a chill- you can proceed to blow-drying your Aussie to prevent this. In warmer weather, this should not be an issue, and the dog’s coat should airdry soon enough.
What are the best grooming styles?
Since Aussies are so cute to look at and have so much hair to spare, it is natural that you’d want to try various haircuts and looks for your adorable dog and see what works best.
- Rounded haircut- This style is best suited for Aussies that have one body color and a different one from neck to stomach. On these dogs, this cut is particularly flattering, cute, neat, and friendly looking.
- Teddy-bear cut- This is a very easy-to-do, adorable haircut for Aussies. This haircut would make your Aussie look even cuter and teddy-bear like, and is also an ideal cut for Aussies with two-toned body color.
- Puppy cut- This is another cute haircut that is also super easy to maintain. While ensuring that your Aussie retains its puppy-like appearance, this cut is simple to do at home as well. All you need to do is trim most of the dog’s hair uniformly all over, leaving it a bit longer on the tail, the legs, and the head as well.
Tools and accessories: all you will need to groom your Australian shepherd
To groom your Australian shepherd thoroughly and well, some tools are absolutely necessary, while others are optional depending on what style and preference you’re going for. Here are some tools you will definitely need-
- Good quality slicker brush– A proper slicker brush is the most important tool in your kit for regularly grooming your Aussie. This brush is gentle on the dog’s hair and will help distribute the natural oils in the hair along the entire coat evenly. You can use it to brush in the direction of hair growth and to gently brush out any tangles in the hair. There is actually a variety of brushes available out there for this, and different sized brushes to cater to separate grooming needs.
- Rake for the undercoat– Preferably a rake with long teeth is what you’ll need to use after the slicker brush. The rake is useful to really separate each hair of the coat outwards from the skin so that it doesn’t hurt the dog and can be used to complete the thorough brushing process.
- Combs– You should preferably have steel combs for your Aussie, that will last a fair while of use. On the days you are not using the brush, you can use a wide-toothed comb first to comb your dog’s hair out, and untangle any gnarls, and a finer comb for proper combing.
- Thinning shears– A good pair of thinning shears is important to trim your Aussie’s coat every now and then. Opt for a pair of shears with more teeth, preferably 42 above, so that they leave a more natural, beautiful look behind, and the hair will also grow back evenly afterward.
- Nail clipper– A nail clipper is absolutely necessary for every dog, the Australian shepherd included. If you don’t clip your dog’s nails regularly, it can lead to the nails splitting or cracking and hence, infections. If your dog is the active, loving kind, which the Aussie definitely is, overgrown nails can also cause scratches and injuries to both you and the dog.
- Dryer– A good dryer is recommended if you want your dog’s coat to dry faster after a bath, especially in the colder season when it might take time to dry by itself. Just be sure not to use too much heat, too close to the dog’s skin, use the dryer only at cool or low heat setting to avoid damaging your dog’s skin. Also remember to use the dryer in the direction the hair is growing in, for best results.
- De-shedding tools– This is quite optional and depends on your preference, but a good de-shedding tool will help you keep control of the Aussie’s regular shedding, and manage it better especially in the shedding season. It would certainly be handy for any Aussie owner to have one of these around, to use every now and then, as Aussies are such heavy shedders.
- Shampoo– Since Aussies are so playful and active, they get dirty quickly and hence need a good scrubbing down with quality shampoo regularly. When choosing a shampoo for your dog, be careful as to which one you pick, because Aussies have fairly sensitive skin (most dogs do, in general). Pick a shampoo with vitamins A, B, C, D, and/or aloe vera, which is a very soothing ingredient. Also, try to look for shampoos with pH balanced levels and preferably certified by recognized authorities like USDA.
- Toothbrush– Invest in a quality toothbrush made specifically for the Australian shepherd. Do not opt for human use toothbrushes or for brushes made for other breeds of dogs, because they won’t be equipped to properly tackle the shape and curve of Aussie teeth. Also, get dog-safe toothpaste to be used alongside.
Some helpful grooming tips
Apart from all that we mentioned above in this guide for grooming Australian shepherds, there are actually a lot of things an Aussie owner could benefit from knowing in this respect. Here are some helpful tips for grooming your Aussie successfully and smoothly each time-
- Don’t be shy to ask for help. A lot of us are meant to be dog owners and love our fur babies very much, but it can be difficult, time-consuming, and even frightening for some to groom their dog themselves. If you fear that you just can’t get it right, or actually don’t have the time or equipment, you can always take your Aussie to a dog wash or to a professional groomer. While at the dog wash, they provide you the tools and space, and you give your dog a bath and leave, a professional groomer may charge more but will do the job A to Z.
- A helpful idea to make sure your Aussie gets a thorough cleaning during their bath is to leave the shampoo in their hair for a while so that it can soak in and all the dirt and grime come right off after. However, if your dog is the restless kind, they probably won’t approve of staying still for so long. So, only keep the shampoo on for as long as your dog is okay with it.
- On the other hand, it is not a good idea to shampoo your Aussie too often. As mentioned before, an outdoorsy active Aussie might need a monthly bath, but generally, Aussies should not be bathed too often with shampoo- it can strip their hair of the natural oils and nutrients. It’s also a good practice to follow shampoo up with a dog-safe conditioner, following the instructions on the product carefully.
- Never run a brush or comb through your Aussie’s hair when it is still wet or damp after the bath. Ensure that their hair has dried fully before using a brush or comb on it, to avoid damage or breakage of hair.
- Since the Australian Shepherd is such an active dog, there are chances in the summertime of them contracting fleas. Be sure to keep a close eye on your Aussie’s hair during the summer months and check for ticks and fleas. You can use a tick hook, and if necessary, mild medication to get rid of them if you do find them.
Question: How can shedding in an Australian shepherd be reduced?
Answer: Shedding season is inevitable for dogs with thick hair growth like the Australian shepherd. However, by keeping the brushing sessions regular, bathing the dog as required, and using products like de-shedding shampoo (in moderation) and quality brushes, shedding can be reduced and controlled.
Question: What can be done if your Australian shepherd is shedding more than normal?
Answer: While Aussies are known to be heavy shedders seasonally, coupled with other symptoms like changed behavior, loss of appetite, etc., there could be other reasons for the excess shedding-
- Change of routine- Dogs, like most pets, function well in a regular routine. If that routine gets disrupted suddenly, the Aussie might get anxious due to the change, and may shed excessively.
- Change in diet- If you have changed the food brand or variant for your Aussie recently, that could be a contributor to the excess shedding. Check for a change in ingredients so you can isolate what may have caused the food allergy.
- Skin allergy- Your Aussie might shed more often and a lot more in quantity if it is suffering from a skin allergy. Symptoms of this might also include itchiness reflecting in the dog scratching itself often, a lackluster coat, and even patches on the skin in a severe allergic state. Consult your veterinarian for this.
Question: What kind of diet should one give the Australian shepherd?
Answer: It is a good idea to feed your Aussie food that is rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. These ingredients are also found in chewable or liquid supplement form, so you can add such supplements to your Aussie’s regular food, depending on what he or she needs.