Caring For an Aussie’s Coat: 11 Dos and Don’ts

Aussie Grooming

The Australian Shepherd’s coat is one of the most unique and recognizable features of the breed. These unique, beautiful coats require special care if you want them to remain that way! There are many things to consider when grooming, bathing, and caring for your Aussie’s fur.

Australian Shepherd’s double-layered coats should be brushed weekly to remove loose fur, prevent mats, stimulate the skin, and spread natural oils. Bathing and trimming should be done as needed, generally every few months.

Below, we’ll dive deeper into the dos and don’ts of caring for your Australian Shepherd’s coat, as well as special tools, grooming tips, and more. Read on to find out how to keep your Aussie looking great year-round.

DO Brush Your Aussie Regularly

You should be brushing your Aussie as often as possible, but at least weekly. Aussies shed a lot, and some shed more than others. Brushing them often can keep their coat healthy and prevent them from shedding and prevent matting.

DO Groom Often During Shedding Times

Australian Shepherds shed their thicker winter coats during the early spring. During this time, make sure that you are brushing them more often than average. If they shed excessively, it can lead to mats that may have to be cut out of their fur. 

If you are usually brushing your Aussie twice a week, add 1-2 brush-outs in the Spring to keep up with their shedding.

DO Consider Your Dog’s Double Coat

Every action that you take during the grooming process should be considerate of your dog’s double coat. From brushing to bathing and trimming, keep in mind that your dog needs all parts of its coat to hold up against the weather.

DO Use a Slicker Brush and an Undercoat Rake

During grooming, it’s good to use both a slicker brush and an undercoat rake. You may think that they perform essentially the same function, but this isn’t the case. Both tools play a vital part in taking care of your dog’s coat, so make sure to use both of them. 

DO Trim Some Areas As Needed

As discussed later on, some areas on your dog’s body need to be trimmed more often. Pay special attention to their “feathers,” the area under their tail and along the back legs, and the fur between their toes. The fur on their ears can also grow incredibly quickly, so it’s best to keep it trimmed.

DO Dry Them With a Hairdryer

You may think that there’s no reason to dry your dog’s coat with a hairdryer. Why not let it dry naturally? While you can allow your dog to dry on their own, it doesn’t help your goal of keeping your Aussie’s coat looking great.

A high-velocity pet hair dryer helps prevent mats from forming while the hair is drying. It also keeps hair from tangling as it dries. 

DO Take Them to a Groomer

If taking care of your Aussie’s coat feels a little intimidating, you can always take them to a professional groomer. Make sure that the groomer you choose is aware of how to treat your Aussie’s coat. Most will have some experience.

This can help eliminate the stress of taking care of such a unique coat by yourself. Professional grooming at least once a month is recommended, especially if you brush your Aussie only once a week at home. 

DON’T Shave Your Aussie

Shaving your Aussie is a recipe for disaster. Any double-coated dog should not be shaved unless there are dire circumstances (such as their coat matting beyond salvaging). Keep in mind that your Aussie’s double coat is engineered to keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

The double coat isn’t a burden to an Aussie. Shaving an Aussie can cause permanent damage to the coat and can result in sunburn or other skin issues.

DON’T Bathe Them Too Often

Bathing your Aussie too often can lead to some complications, particularly around undercoat matting. When your dog’s fur gets wet, it becomes prone to tangling or tightening. Any mats that are forming will become more challenging to work out. 

Aussies are prone to making messes, but try to avoid bathing them too often. It can lead to dry skin or other problems with their coat.

DON’T Trim Them Too Short

Even if you aren’t shaving your Aussie, trimming them too short can present the same problem. Don’t trim so short that you get rid of their guard hairs, as it can lead to the same repercussions as shaving them. 

DON’T Allow The Coat to Mat

If you find a mat while brushing your dog, make sure to take care of it immediately. Mats can be difficult to remove, and some may require being cut out of your dog’s coat. Don’t leave mats alone, and don’t bathe your dog while their coat is matted. They can become troublesome and highly uncomfortable to your dog.

How to Take Care of an Aussie’s Coat 

Taking care of your Aussie’s coat can be easy, but you have to get into a routine. Grooming them regularly can keep the process simple. If you’re just getting started, here is how you should care for your Aussie’s Coat: 

Establish a Routine

The first and most important step for taking care of your Aussie’s coat is establishing a routine. Make a schedule for grooming and other care. Missing a single grooming session can sometimes lead to mats, tangles, and other issues with your Aussie’s health.

When creating a schedule for your dog’s grooming needs, follow these rough guidelines:

  • Bathing: Aussies shouldn’t be over-bathed, but they can sometimes get messy. You should try to bathe your Aussie only very occasionally, but usually they can be bathed up to once a month.
  • Brushing: Brushing, on the other hand, needs to happen much more often. You should brush your Aussie twice a week to remove shed hair and keep tangles down.
  • Nail Care: Nail care will vary by dog and living situation, as certain surfaces will wear nails down. You should check your dog’s nails every other week to determine if clipping is necessary. 
  • Trimming: Aussies only need occasional trimming. When you begin to notice that the fur around your Aussie’s toes, ears, and “feathers” is getting long, it’s time for a trim. 
  • Teeth Brushing: Some dog owners brush their dog’s teeth twice a day. The minimum requirement is just three times a week, according to most Aussie owners. 
Type of GroomingFrequency
BathingAt least every four months; not more than once per month
BrushingAt least twice a week
Nail CareEvery other week
TrimmingAs needed
Teeth BrushingAt least three times per week

Brush Through the Fur with a Slicker Brush

After you get a routine established, you’ll need to brush through them with a slicker brush. A slicker brush helps to move their fur back into its natural position. You can use this step to identify mats or potential tangles in their fur. 

As stated above, you should brush your Aussie regularly. No one wants to deal with mats, so more frequent brushing is ideal.

You’ll want to use the slicker brush first because it can also loosen shedding surface hairs. When you go back through your dog’s coat with the undercoat rake, it will remove more loose hairs if you do this step first. 

Free Loose Hairs with an Undercoat Rake

Next, you should use your undercoat rake. When using your undercoat rake, never drag it across your dog’s skin. Instead, get the rake into the undercoat without scraping the skin. Use short motions to pull out any loose hairs that remain due to shedding.

When using the rake, make sure to follow the natural pattern of your dog’s fur. Never brush against the grain. You may have to clean the rake out several times during this process, as it tends to collect hair.

Finally, you must stop raking if you encounter a snag or a mat. Use the slicker brush to gently brush these areas out. If they are matted too tightly to be brushed, you’ll have to trim them off. Use the undercoat rake and slicker brush interchangeably to properly brush your Aussie.

Trim Their Feet, Legs, and Trousers

Aussies usually don’t require much trimming. Still, if you notice that the fur around their feet, legs, and trouser area is getting long, it’s time to trim them.

When trimming, use thinning shears where you can. This avoids the choppy look of trimming with regular scissors or clippers. Trim down hair between your Aussie’s toes, at the back of their legs (their “feathers”), and in the area around their back legs.

The trouser area is especially important. You don’t want the thicker fur here to get too long, as it can interfere with your dog’s bathroom habits. Make sure to keep the area from the back of the rear legs up to the under-tail area short and hygienic.

Trim The Tail

Next, it’s time to trim your dog’s tail. Ensure to trim the longer hairs on your dog’s tail carefully, and use thinning shears to achieve a more desirable look. If you are trimming longer hairs at the end of your dog’s tail, cut the excess fur in a straight line. 

Your Aussie’s tail should only require infrequent trimming and only when the fur is becoming too long. Most of the time, the tail is the last place that requires trimming. 

Trim Both Ears

Your Aussie may become skittish or nervous when you begin trimming the hair on their ears. Soothe your dog by reassuring them as you trim.

It can be difficult to get the ears right, especially on an Aussie. The Australian Shepherd Club of America recommends brushing the fur on your dog’s ears to one side, then trimming over the edge of the ear. This eliminates the risk of cutting your dog’s ears during the process. 

Do this on both sides of the ears. Use thinning shears, if possible, because this is one area where you don’t want the “chopped” look.

You should also trim up the longer hairs near the ear opening. This can reduce the risk of your dog getting an ear infection. Since your Aussie’s ears may lay against their head, this is extremely important.

Bath Time!

Australian Shepherds can get dirty. Outside of muddy adventures, baths should be infrequent. Some Aussie owners bathe their dogs once a month to keep them fresh, while some indoor dogs can go up to 4 months without a bath.

How often you choose to bathe your Aussie is entirely up to you, though once monthly seems to be as frequent as it gets. If you bathe your Aussie more often, their fur can become prone to matting or cause dry skin.

Bathing after grooming gives you a chance to work out tangles beforehand. Bathing a tangled coat will only result in the fur shrinking, which makes the tangles worse. For that reason, bathing should always be done later in the grooming process.

Dry With a Hair Dryer

A hairdryer can help your Aussie’s coat dry to beautiful perfection after a bath. However, you must use it correctly for the best effect.

Make sure that you are blowing the hair in the direction that you want it to lay when it’s dry. Slowly work your way through your Aussie’s coat, lingering until each section of the coat is dry. This process can also get messy, as any shedding due to the bath can blow off as you dry them.

Drying your dog may take time, as you should move slowly and dry each section thoroughly before moving on.

Brush After Bathing

After the bath is done and your dog is dry, it’s time to brush them one final time. Go through the same process as before, moving through your dog’s coat with the slicker brush and undercoat rake interchangeably.

There shouldn’t be much loose hair left, but brushing them one last time can remove the few remaining. This also makes your next grooming job that much easier. Plus, your dog may enjoy the pampering!

Time for Additional Grooming

Even after you’ve taken care of your dog’s coat, there’s more to be done. To keep your dog healthy and happy, you’ll need to do more than maintain their coat. When it comes to grooming, this means clipping their nails and brushing their teeth.

Make sure to use a nail clipper with a guard when clipping your dog’s nails. Take off only a tiny amount of the nail at a time to avoid cutting through the quick. Keeping your Aussie’s nails at a manageable length prevents discomfort and other issues

You’ll also have to brush your dog’s teeth semi-regularly. Like humans, brushing their teeth removes plaque and food build-up and may prevent gum disease and the pain associated with decayed teeth.

Respect the Anatomy of your Dog’s Coat

Aussies have a double coat structure. A small selection of breeds have this type of fur, and it’s essential to understand and respect the structure to avoid damaging it.

Your Aussie’s coat consists of two layers:

  • Guard Hairs. This top layer of guard hair is silky and soft. This is the part of their coat you appreciate when you pet your dog. The guard hairs perform two functions. They protect your dog’s skin from sunburn and other skin abrasions, but they also help cool air circulate near your dog’s skin. Guard hairs also provide weatherproofing.
  • Undercoat. Your dog’s undercoat provides insulation when it’s cold, keeping heat close to your dog’s body. It cannot protect against weather or sunburn. 

Your Aussie needs both layers of its coat to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. An intact double coat is waterproof and prevents sunburn. 

If your Aussie’s coat is trimmed too short or even shaved, they lose the protection of this double coat. Removing guard hairs and trimming into the undercoat can have disastrous effects, and the coat may never grow back the same.

How Often Should an Aussie Be Bathed and Brushed? 

Your Aussie’s coat does require some work, but they don’t need to be constantly brushed. It can be easy to brush them too little or bathe them too much. 

Simply put, here are a few rules to follow when it comes to bathing and brushing your Aussie:

  • Baths should be infrequent, no more than once a month (unless your Aussie has a muddy adventure). 
  • Baths can be spread out, but Aussies should still have baths every four months or so. 
  • Aussies should be brushed at least twice a week.
  • More frequent brushing is recommended with both a slicker brush and an undercoat rake.

Do Aussies’ Coats Change?

Australian Shepherds have a double coat, and it changes just a bit throughout the year. During the lead-up to the winter months, your Aussie may start to bulk up. Creating a robust and weatherproof winter coat helps keep them warm and insulated against snow and freezing rain. 

During the spring, the Australian Shepherd will shed his heavy winter coat. While the Aussie usually sheds year-round, the shedding will increase dramatically during this time. 

To deal with this shedding, Aussie owners should brush and groom their dogs more often during shedding season. 

Do Aussies Need Haircuts?

Like most dogs, Australian Shepherds can benefit from regular grooming. However, they don’t need trims very often. A few areas on the Aussie’s body will need to be trimmed regularly to prevent health problems and overgrowth.

These areas include:

  • Ears: You can clip off any longer hairs on and around the Aussie’s ears. Using thinning shears instead creates a blended edge that looks much better than regular clipping. Pay close attention to hair at the base of the ears.
  • Feet: Trim down the hair between the Aussie’s toes, keeping it even with their pads. You can also trim the hair on the top of their feet to prevent it from growing over their nails.
  • Feathers: These hairs are silky, and when they get long, they tend to tangle and mat. Trim them down carefully with thinning shears when needed.
  • Trousers: The fur in this area grows quickly and becomes thick very fast, so trimming is required often. 

It is not usually necessary to trim an Australian Shepherd’s body hair. Their double-coat doesn’t grow too long, and cutting it down can damage their important guard hairs.

8 Best Aussie Grooming Tools

When you’re dealing with your Australian Shepherd’s beautiful coat, it’s important to use the right tools. Make sure that you have the following grooming tools in your kit.

Thinning Shears

A good pair of thinning shears can help you keep your Aussie’s coat from looking “chopped” when you trim it. This tool is handy around the ears, toes, feathers, and tail areas.

When you use regular scissors, it takes a lot of skill to make the fur look blended. You often end up not trimming enough because you want the cut to look good. This can often lead to more frequent grooming.

With thinning shears, you’ll reduce the time spent grooming and create the perfect “blended” look on your dog’s coat. Thinning shears like these are inexpensive and will get the job done.

Undercoat Rake

An Undercoat Rake is essential due to your Aussie’s double coat. This rake gets down into the undercoat to help dislodge hairs that haven’t been shed off yet. This tool removes a lot of shed hair, saving your living room and making your dog more comfortable. 

Because of your Aussie’s double coat, removing these “dead” hairs is essential. It keeps your dog’s coat healthy and makes him a lot more comfortable. 

Choose an undercoat rake like this one to get down into the undercoat and remove those shed hairs. 

Slicker Brush

A slicker brush is one of the most essential tools in your grooming kit. These brushes help remove dirt and loose hair. When it comes to your Aussie, these brushes are great for the guard hair layer of their coat.

There are a lot of different slicker brushes, including thin wire ones. Slicker brushes like this one clean themselves and use thicker brush prongs. This type is perfect for breeds with double coats, like your Aussie.

Grooming Scissors

Many other breeds use clippers. Since Aussies shouldn’t be shaved, the best alternative is a good pair of grooming scissors. When you have to trim down your Aussie’s ears, toes, and feathers, these scissors will help you remove lots of hair at once.

You can use these interchangeably with the thinning shears. For example, you can remove hair first and then go over the remaining hair with the thinning shears to “blend” the hair and avoid an unpleasant look.

Grooming scissors like these can be more expensive, but they are sharp and well-made. These professional scissors are durable and meant for years of use. 

Shampoo

When choosing a shampoo for your Aussie, you should choose one that works well on thick coats. Some brands offer shampoo specifically for double coats, and some even make Aussie-specific shampoo (like this one)!

You can also look for shampoos that prevent fleas, deal with dry skin, or make the white sections of your Aussie’s coat look whiter. There are shampoos for just about every type of skin, coat, and dog. 

High-Velocity Hair Dryer

High-Velocity hair dryers for dog grooming aren’t the same type of hair dryers that you use in your home. They are entirely different machines that look more like vacuum cleaners. However, they often have a lower temperature range suitable for focusing on one part of your dog at a time without burning them. 

They also dry faster than your home hairdryer, leaving your Aussie’s coat shiny and preventing mats in their fur.  High-velocity dog dryers like this one can be expensive, but they are an excellent investment for your Aussie.

Toothbrush and Dog Toothpaste

Keeping your dog’s teeth clean and healthy requires regular work, but there are tools to help. A dog toothbrush and toothpaste kit can help make the brushing experience pleasant for both of you. Plus, it’s specifically designed and formulated to work for dogs.

There are a ton of options, but some of the best toothbrush and toothpaste kits are the simple ones. This kit, for example, has everything you need to start to keep your dog’s mouth healthy.

Nail Clippers

A pair of pet nail clippers will help keep your Aussie’s nails from getting too long. Long nails can be uncomfortable and can even lead to musculoskeletal issues after long periods. 

Nail clippers are simple to use and easy to find. You’ll want to find a pair with a guard on them, as it can be easy to clip too much of the nail off at once otherwise. Nail clippers like these are comfortable to hold, large enough for your Aussie’s thick nails, and inexpensive.

Conclusion

Taking care of your Aussie’s coat isn’t difficult, but it takes a lot of work. Due to the structure of their coat, you have to stay on top of grooming, trimming, and brushing. Aussies shed a lot, and keeping your dog properly groomed can save you a lot of hassle. It can also keep them more comfortable. With these tips, tools, and tricks, your Aussie’s coat will look gorgeous, feel soft, and keep them comfortable. 

Sources

https://www.rover.com/blog/australian-shepherd-haircuts/
https://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/australian-shepherd#/slide/1
https://www.petcarerx.com/article/how-to-trim-australian-shepherds/713

Jacqueline Hamel

I’m a lifetime dog owner of several breeds and a recent Cattle Dog enthusiast after adopting two puppy siblings Bindi and Banjo. Now, I’m on a mission to better understand Heelers and other herding dogs. Hopefully, through this blog, I can share the joy and lessons learned from these intelligent, protective, loyal, athletic, and intelligent dogs.

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