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 an Aussie 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
Brush your Aussie as often as possible, but at least weekly. Aussies shed a lot, and some shed more than others. Grooming them often with brushes and undercoat rakes like these on Amazon can keep their coat healthy and prevent them from 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. 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, remember 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 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 it’s best 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 Aussie’s coat with a hairdryer. Why not let it dry naturally? While you can allow your dog’s coat to dry on its own, it helps to use a dryer. A high-velocity pet hair dryer helps prevent mats from forming while the hair is drying.
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 groomers will have experience with Aussies.
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.
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 damage the coat and 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 Aussie, make sure to take care of it immediately. Don’t leave mats in their fur once you find them. Mats can be difficult to brush out and some may require being cut out of your dog’s coat. A professional groomer can help remove stubborn mats.
How to Care for an Aussie’s Coat
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 grooming session may lead to mats, tangles, and other issues with your Aussie’s coat.
When creating a schedule for your dog’s grooming needs, follow these rough guidelines:
- Bathing: Bathe your Aussie only very occasionally, usually up to once a month.
- Brushing: Brush your Aussie twice a week to remove shed hair and keep tangles down.
- Nail Care: 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, and ears getting long, it’s time for a trim.
- Teeth Brushing: The recommendation for teeth brushing is three times a week.
Brush Through the Fur with a Slicker Brush
A slicker brush like these options on Amazon helps to move their fur back into its natural position. You can use this tool to identify mats or potential tangles in their fur.
Free Loose Hairs with an Undercoat Rake
Next, you should use an undercoat rake like one of these. 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 while brushing.
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 gently brush your Aussie.
Trim 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, it helps to use thinning shears like these from Amazon. 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 Hair on 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.
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.
It can be challenging to get the ears right, especially on an Aussie. It may be best to seek the help of a professional groomer for the detailed work.
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 pet 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.
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 listed above, moving through your dog’s coat with the slicker brush and undercoat rake interchangeably.
Time for Additional Grooming
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. 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. The guard hairs perform 2 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.
If your Aussie’s coat is trimmed too short or even shaved, they lose the protection of this double coat. Your Aussie needs both layers of its coat to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
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 the shedding season.
8 Best Aussie Grooming Tools
When you’re dealing with your Australian Shepherd’s beautiful coat, it’s important to use the right tools.
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.
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.
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. 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.
A slicker brush is one of the most essential tools in your grooming kit. 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.
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.
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.
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 leave your Aussie’s coat shiny and prevent 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 simple ones. This kit, for example, has everything you need to keep your dog’s mouth healthy.
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.
Aussie Grooming Final Thoughts
Taking care of your Aussie’s coat isn’t difficult, but it takes a lot of work. Due to the structure of Aussie’s coat, you have to stay on top of grooming, trimming, and brushing. Aussies shed a lot, and keeping them 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.