As an Aussie owner you find out that grooming is important?
And looking for information how to groom Australian shepherd at home?
In this article we’ll try to answer all your questions related to Australian shepherd grooming.
Including Step By Step guides on Bathing, Brushing, nail cutting, eyes and ear cleaning,
dental care and more..
If you still have questions after you read this article please leave a comment below.
Australian shepherd Grooming
The dogs from the breed Australian Shepherd have double coat with the topcoat reaching moderate length.
The undercoat grows once the dog reaches adulthood and is downy and soft.
The show Australian Shepherds are hard to groom but the companion ones are easy to groom if the process is done regularly and the dogs is used to it.
Usually the Aussies enjoy and even love the grooming process, which means that you will be able to find this chore a pleasuring way to bond with your pet, and form bond with it.
In addition, if you groom the dog regularly, you will be easily and quickly able to see when something is wrong.
You had better start grooming your dog right away in order for it to get used to the process and if you have purchased the pup from a reputable breeder,
the dog will probably be used to being stroked and handled.
It may also be used to being examined and brushed and will have probably been bathed at least once.
Should the puppy be exposed to pleasurable grooming experiences, when it reaches adulthood it will enjoy being groomed.
If you regularly groom your Australian Shepherd, you will be able to check the body of the dog for dry skin, ticks, fleas, stickers, bumps, lumps, cuts or rashes and keep the coat in good condition.
You will also be able to see if there are cuts or broken nails on the feet and see if the pads are torn.
Check the mouth to see if there is anything wrong – discolored gums, tartar or broken teeth and others.
Australian Shepherd Accepting Grooming
Some Aussies may not be used to being groomed but you can show them it is not something hurtful by starting slow and progressing gently, taking into consideration the maturity and the age of the dog.
For those of you who do have a grooming table, a good first step is to teach the Aussie to stand on it.
If the dog is just a puppy, then all sturdy surfaces are okay but they should not be slippery or skid.
Alternatively, you may choose to let your dog stay on the ground and kneel or sit next to it.
You also need to teach the pet to lie on the table for that way you will find it easier to brush the belly, trim the nails and check the body for hot spots, burs, stickers, cuts, etc.
If the Aussie is used to relax on the grooming table, it is highly likely that it will also relax on the examination table of its veterinarian, thus, the examinations will be not that stressful.
Prepare all the necessary tools before grooming and do not leave the pet on the grooming table unattended because it may jump or fall and hurt itself.
The attention span of the puppies is limited so the dog will not sit still for a long time, thus, you should aim for progress for you cannot reach perfection right from the beginning.
You should try to teach the puppy lie down or stand still for a while and do not forget to praise it. Do not be harsh on the dog for it will start to resent the grooming process.
When the dog is used to being stroked with hand you can progress to using a brush but be gentle, calm and work slowly.
When you start, the puppy may show fear, nervousness or uncertainty.
His confidence can be built by patience, hugs, kisses and if you are gentle, the dog will start to enjoy the grooming.
The frequency of the baths will be determined by how dirty the dog is, how long it is outside and where do you live.
Some of the Australian Shepherds get dirty more easily than others and if the dog is working, the baths may have to be done much more often – about every 4-6 weeks.
If your dog spend a lot of time outside, bathing may be necessary every 3-4 months. Here the formula cut-and-dried is not at play.
Usually the Aussies like water so they are not afraid of being bathed.
If the weather is hot at the place where you live, the pet may be bathed with a garden hose outside but the water should not be too cold.
If the weather outside is cold, place a rubber mat in the bathtub or at the shower in order to prevent the dog from slipping.
The bathroom floor better be covered in dry towels or rubber mats for the Aussie may fall and injure itself.
You may also want to purchase a raincoat or a grooming apron.
The Australian Shepherds love to shake when wet and to rub their body into surfaces (or into you) when wet.
Thus, you will need lots of towels to dry off the dog (and yourself) and clean the mess up.
In order not to clog the drains, consider purchasing a screen for the drain opening which will not allow the excess hair to enter the drains.
For dogs whose skin isn’t suffering from specific problems – itching, flaky or dry skin – use a quality dog shampoo and conditioner which aren’t toxic.
Do not go for detergent-based products because they may remove the natural oils off the hair.
The market is full with conditioners and shampoos – some of them are medical, others are color enhancing, herbal, etc.
so feel free to check out article which will help you to figure out which is the best shampoo for Australian shepherd.
How To Bathe Your Australian Shepherd
Use warm water to wet the skin and the coat of you dog – the process may take a while if the pet is thick-coated.
Put 1-2 dabs of shampoo and scrub it all over the dog using your fingers – you can also use a dog’s rubber massage tool.
Clean thoroughly the whole body but the eye area.
Do not forget to clean the inside of the hind legs, behind the ears, under the arms and the belly.
Use a damp cloth to wipe the area around the eyes.
You can also use tearless shampoo – just a small amount – to wash the eye area and the head but be careful to avoid the shampoo getting into the dog’s eyes.
Rinse the body with warm water until all the shampoo is rinsed off!
This part is really important for the coat of the Aussies can hold residual shampoo which will irritate the skin and leave the coat dull.
Should the dog be still dirty, repeat the process until the skin and the coat are clean. Be careful to follow the directions of the conditioners or the moisturizers you use.
Should that be possible, it is good to allow the pet shake off the extra water. Afterwards you must thoroughly dry the skin with towel.
Protect the pet from being chilled – this is even more important if the dog is pregnant, puppy or old.
In hot areas the dogs will quickly dry on the air so you may not need to blow-dry the coat.
But if you choose to blow-dry it, remember that the dryer must not be closer than 6 inches to the skin, should be constantly moved and used on cool setting for otherwise the skin of the dog may be burned or the coat may be damaged.
The Aussies will happily roll in the closest thing – dirt, grass, mud, etc. Therefore, it is better to keep the dog in one place until the coat is dry or it can quickly get dirty again.
Australian shepherd Brushing
The grooming needs of the Aussies are not very high, but you still have to take care for them.
You will need:Slicker brush, Pin brush, Steel comb, Stripping comb, Spray bottle.
You can also check our review article about the best brush for Australian shepherds
Most of the Australian Shepherds can be brushed with a pin brush.
However,you will also need to use a slicker brush with bendable wire teeth for they will remove the shed hair and the mats.
Stripping comb is used if you want to remove the undercoat.
Steel combs with coarse and fine teeth is good for removing all the debris. These tools are good for removing the dirt, the dead hair and the debris.
You should brush the dog regularly in order to remove the dead hairs and to distribute the natural oils. It also prevents matting and promotes the natural shine of the coat.
Since the Aussies are double-coated, they shed a lot and this is a natural process, which leads to falling of dead hairs, which will be then replaced by new hairs.
The shedding depends on the season, the climate and the dog itself. Most of these dogs will heavily shed early in the summer or in the spring.
If you regularly maintain the coat of the Aussie, the process will not be hard. Nevertheless, if you fail to do it, the coat may need up to a year to get back to being healthy.
Many of the Aussie’s owners shave the coat in the summer for cooling purposes while other do it to remove the deep mats.
However, this will leave the skin vulnerable to sunburn for the coat is a natural protection from burns.
How To Brush An Australian Shepherd
If the coat is dry when you brush it, this may lead to damage and breakage.
Therefore, you should use water, coat conditioner or coat dressing to spray the coat for this will control the static and protect the hair.
According to the experts, the brushing should be started from the head. Begin from the top of the dog’s head, brush around its ears.
Then proceed to the neck, followed by the chest and the front legs. Afterwards you should do a long stroke starting at the head and going towards the tail.
The sides should be brushed next. Last, but not least, brush the dog’s rear legs.
Brushing in direction opposite to the hair growth – backwards brushing – is discouraged for it is uncomfortable and may damage the hairs.
Reach deep to the skin in order to brush not only the top coat but also the undercoat.
If you only brush the coat, mats and tangles may occur and those will be hard to remove and painful.
Should the coat be highly matted, it traps the moisture near the skin and leads to the so-called hot spots, which are inflamed, painful and raw moist circular lesions.
The legs of the Aussies – especially if they are males – may be highly feathered and this feathering will capture everything whether it is snow, dirt or something else.
Thus, you should brush and clean this area or the coat may be damaged and mats may occur.
The coat behind the ears also should be carefully taken care of which means regular brushing and cleaning for it mats very easily.
If you trim the hair in this area, the matting can be prevented.
However, you should not forget – the skin of the dog is sensitive so do not pull, do not tug and be gentle or you may cause harm to the pet.
With one of your hands you should part the hair and start brushing from the skin out. Do not brush the skin using a slicker brush or you can cause slicker burn, scratches or nicks.
Usually it is necessary to brush the dog once every week but the best option to minimize the shedding is 5 minutes daily brushing with slicker or pin brush.
Special coat oil or coat dressing can be applied (in small amounts) can be used for shinier coat, protection from the elements and preventing burns.
Cleaning Your Australian Shepherd’s Ears
The ear canals of the Aussies are dark, moist and warm.
This means it is prone to tumors, yeast or bacterial infections and parasites. While the ear canal in humans is in horizontal line, the ear canal of the dogs has an L-shape.
The internal part descends vertically, then bends under 45 degrees and ends horizontally to the eardrum.
Usually the 45-degree bend we mentioned is the place the debris love most.
To stop ear issues from occurring, the dog’s ears should be kept clean.
If the ear is healthy, its smell will be clean and doggy-like, somewhat like the smell of beeswax. If the wax is honey-colored, this is normal.
If the earwax is dark and crusty, this means that there is something wrong.
Moreover, you cannot miss the foul odor if the ear is infected which is a serious condition which requires immediate attention.
Discharge from the ears, abnormal looking canals, red or inflamed look, bad smells, behavior indicating discomfort –
irritability, rubbing or scratching the ears, depression or tilting of the head – all show medical problems and you should consult your dog’s vet.
If you do not take steps to treat the ear infection, it may damage the hearing of the dog permanently.
Regularly examine the ears of the dog to check for ear mites, wax and irritation in order to catch problems early or prevent them.
If the dog plays in fields or such areas, frequently examine its ears for burs, stickers and such foreign matters.
How To Clean Your Australian Shepherd’s Ears
What you will need:
A specifically designed for dogs ear-cleaning product
Cotton or gauze pad
Few drops of the special cleaners should be put into the ear canal of the dog.
Then massage the ear’s base gently for 20 seconds, which will loosen the debris accumulated inside.
Then let the pet shake its head- this will eject the debris and the cleaning solution out.
Then take a gauze pad or clean cotton and put some ear-cleaning solution on it and use it to wipe – very gently – the part of the ear canal that is visible to you.
Pointed objects or cotton applicator swaps should not be put in the dog’s ear canal for this will pack the debris and, if put too deep, may injure the eardrum.
If you suspect there is something wrong, take the pet to its vet.
Dental Care For Australian Shepherds
The teeth of the Aussies should also be properly cleaned or otherwise the dog may suffer from periodontal disease –
this is a progressive medical condition, which may lead to infection, decayed gums, heart, kidney and liver damage.
An estimation shows that 80% of all dogs over 3 years of age suffer from periodontal disease.
The dogs may also, just like humans, experience toothache.
There are some stoic dogs – this includes Australian Shepherds – who may not show they are in pain or show just subtle signs.
Plaque and Tartar
The beginning of the dental problems is with plaque, which is mixture of salivate glycoproteins – this is translucent adhesive fluid without color – and this is the main cause of periodontal disease.
It starts with accumulation of bacteria and food particles along the gum line and the plaque contains germs, which attach the ligaments, gums and bone.
In order for this plaque to be removed, the teeth should be properly and routinely cleaned.
However, if the plaque is not removed, it combines with saliva and minerals and leads to a calculus or tartar.
This can irritate the gums of the dog, which causes an inflammation called gingivitis.
The signs of this condition are redness of the gums and yellowish-brown crust on the dog’s teeth.
Periodontal disease in early stage is caused by tartar and plaque buildup and may be treated with regular brushing and veterinary attention.
If not, the tissues and bones will continue to erode which is painful and may lead to tooth loss.
If the tartar is left unremoved, the bacteria will continue to grow. The tartar will build up under the dog’s gums. This leads to the gums separating from the teeth.
Then even more debris will collect into the larger pockets that have been created by this separation.
Now the teeth of the Aussie will have yellowish-brown tartar, which is crusty and highly visible.
The plaque can be removed by regular brushing but the tartar cannot.
If tartar had build-up, the pet should be taken to the vet who will check the teeth, clean and polish them.
Periodontal disease in the most advanced stages is thought to be irreversible.
By then the bacterial infection had done quite a lot of work in destroying the bones, gums and teeth of the dog.
Now the treatment may include extensive surgeries, which are very difficult. However, this does not repair the damage, it only stops the disease from further progression and discomfort.
It stops the bacteria from entering the bloodstream for if they do, this may lead to secondary infections, which are a danger to the kidneys, liver and heart of the dog.
For good dental hygiene the dog should be annually checked-up by a vet who’ll look for potential problems – which include fractured teeth, gingivitis, build-up of tartar or plaque or periodontal disease.
The veterinarian will recommend prophylaxis – professional dental cleaning – if such is needed.
The dog’s anesthetized and its mouth is flushed with solution which will kill the bacteria. Then the teeth will be cleaned which removes the tartar.
They will also be polished and inspected.
Then they are flushed again and the expert puts fluoride. If there are any fractured teeth, reconstructive surgery may be needed – crowns or root canals.
The best prevention against periodontal disease is regular cleaning of the teeth which is simple process – does not require a lot of time or any expensive supplies.
Below we will show you the exact process and tools you will need to clean your dog’s teeth.
How To Brush Your Australian Shepherd’s Teeth
The necessary tools for brushing the Aussie’s teeth are:Toothpaste for dogs Toothbrush for dogs Finger toothbrush or gauze to wrap around your finger
Or with this one you get Toothbrush and Fingerbrush as a bonus:
The finger brushes are designed for sliding over one’s finger.
If you choose to use a pet toothbrush, select one, which is made for Aussies or at least for medium breed dogs. The brushes designed for small dogs will not be helpful for Australian Shepherds.
You should not use toothpaste made for humans on your dog for it may cause stomach discomfort.
The toothpastes which are designed for canines have malt or poultry flavored enhancers and will be suitable for your Aussie..
Step By Step..
The hygiene maintenance should be started when the dog is just a puppy although older dogs can also be introduced to this process.
Start slowly and progress in a way, which won’t lead to discomfort.
Usually the dogs dislike having a toothbrush put in their mouth so you had better start by massaging the dog’s gums gently with your finger.
Use small dab of dogs’ toothpaste, put it on your index finger, allow the dog lick the toothpaste, and praise it afterwards.
Then massage the gums with another dab – lift the dog’s outer lips before this.
Massage in circular motion is the perfect option but at the beginning, simply putting your finger in the mouth of the dog is a success.
Massage the front, bottom and top gums and be careful.
Stay positive and keep praising and calming the dog.
Try not to restrain the dog too tightly or wrestle it for it will make the pet dislike this necessary process.
Accepting the teeth brushing process may take just a few days or up to several weeks, depending on the dog.
Your long-term goal should be to make the dog like this routine or at least accept it.
Put some toothpaste on the tool you’ll use, let the dog lick it and praise the pet for being brave for this will help him get used to the brush (or the gauze) and will build up his confidence.
Now the brushing can start.
Expose the dog’s teeth by lifting the outer lips.
The better part of the owners consider that it is easier to start with the large teeth in the front – called canine teeth.
The dog should not object having those teeth brushed and they are the easiest to reach and clean.
When the dog is used to having a few teeth brushed, start brushing more and more until the dog is comfortable with having all of his teeth brushed – they are 28 for puppies and 42 for adult dogs.
Chews and Food for Dental Hygiene
There are many dental or chew toys which are designed to remove plaque but you should consider the Aussie’s chewing style and the toys should be durable.
They are not made to replace brushing but to remove part of the plaque, satisfy his chewing needs and exercise his jaw.
Once they are too small and pose a choking hazard you should throw them away. Do not go for bones and toys, which are hard and can be broken or cracked by aggressive chewers.
The veterinarians advise not to give your pet too much sweat treats or table scraps for they may lead to more plaque formation.
Providing your pet with crunchy dog food of high quality may stop the accumulation of plaque but this is a controversial topic.
There is dog food, which is specifically approved by veterinary dentist and can reduce the buildup of tartar and plaque. Talk to your vet for more information.
How to Cut Your Australian Shepherd’s Nails
Another necessary process is the nail trimming.
Very few Aussies will naturally wear down their nails if they spend plenty of time inside.
If when walking on hard floor the dog makes the specific “click” noise, that means the nails are already too long – they should not be long enough to touch the ground.
That way the dog will compactly stand on its feet pads but if the nails grow too long, the dog’s gait will look awkward and walking may be painful.
In addition, should the nails be too long, they may scratch skin, hard floor or furniture can be torn off, broken or snagged and this may lead to pain and discomfort.
In addition, broken or torn nails can become infected and they may have to be completely removed.
The Aussie should be introduced to the nail care procedure when it is young and if you were lucky
the breeder would have started clipping the dog’s nails in order to teach the pet to accept the process, to build its confidence and socialize it.
The owners who decide to clip their dog’s nails themselves should use specifically designed for dogs nail clipper.
If your puppy is not used to the procedure you may want to start by just touching the clipper to its nails and praising the dog.
Then proceed to clipping just tiny bits of its nail until the dog is comfortable with having its nails clipped.
Some help may be required in the beginning in order to hold the dog still.
However, when you and your dog are used to the procedure you will find out that clipping the nails of the dog is just like clipping yours.
If you are not certain you are capable to do the procedure, ask a breeder, veterinarian or groomer for help or take the dog to a professional who will trim the nails.
How to Cut the Nails of your Aussie
What are the necessary tools:
Styptic powder or pencil
Dogs nail clipper of high quality
Usually the owners do not want to cut the nails of their dogs for they are afraid the nails will start bleeding or the pet will be hurt.
The quick is the part of the dogs nail where there is a blood vessel and is approximately three-quarters of the nail.
If you cut the nail of the dog too short you may cut the quick which will lead to bleeding.
Nevertheless, if you use the correct tools, do the clipping properly and teach your dog to accept the nail cutting will help you do the procedure without harming the dog.
Aussies may be with black or white nails or with a combination of the colors.
Should its nails be black, the quick and the dead part of the nails can be difficult to distinguish.
Before clipping the nails check their underside.
The hook (tip) of the nail has a hollow look a little bit like a shell while the part, which is closest to the dog’s paw, is hollow.
The groove of the hook’s underside can be seen of felt.
You should only clip the part between the thin and hollow part and the solid nail – the part where the nail slightly curves downward.
Step By Step
Have you dog sit for this is the easiest way to clip its front feet nails.
Left one foot of the ground and hold it at about 6 inches. That way you will be able to clearly see the nail.
If the dog is very young or is not used to having its nails trimmed, it may be necessary to put its foot down on the ground again between nails,
but this depends on how the dog responds to the procedure.
The easiest way to clip the rear nails is if your dog is standing. Then lift on foot at 4-6 inches off the ground and clip the nails.
Many people extend the rear foot of their dog backwards – the position is similar to that in which a horse’s foot is placed when worked on.
Other owners have their dog lie down.
The position depends on your preference, on what your dog tolerates and what you find easiest.
If your Australian Shepherd has dewclaws, be sure not to overlook them in the trimming process.
Dewclaws are the fifth digit on the inside of the front legs, usually an inch or so above the feet.
If left unattended, they can curl around and grow into the soft tissue, not unlike an ingrown toenail on a human.
Some breeders have the dewclaws removed, so your Australian Shepherd may or may not have them.
How to Trim Australian Shepherds
If you properly take care of your Aussie, very little trimming has to be done.
Still, if you have to remove mats or make the dog more comfortable, then trimming may be necessary.
How much will you trim – and whether you will do it at all – depends on the reasons why you do the procedure.
The feet of the Aussies are with long hair and to make the dog more comfortable and neat looking, you would better trim this hair.
Lift the hair inside the pads on the foot’s underside and between the toes of the dog.
The top of the foot should be trimmed or it may stick up above the dog’s toes.
The hair should stop at the toenails’ edge and the foot should have a rounded look.
The nails must be clipped short. Lift the foot of your dog and use scissors to trim the hair underneath.
The hair underneath the dog’s foot should be even with the hair on the bottom of its pads.
The long or thick hair around the ears of the dog should be thinned with thinning shears and not clipped.
This way the look of the coat will be better and the coat will not look like it ends abruptly.
The bottom area of the ears’ back and the bottom in the front of the ear opening are vulnerable to matting.
These areas should be thoroughly combed and any thick or too long hairs should be removed.
The back of the Aussies’ legs has long and silky hair and this is described with the term “feathers”.
Here the hairs tend to mat and tangle. That is why plenty of owners trim the feathers to make the grooming less hard.
The lower part of the back legs and the front legs have thinner feathers while the feathers up the dog’s back legs may grow to be too thick – these feathers are also called britches – so trimming should be done.
Remove the hair in this area, below the anus and under the tail with thinning shears.
It is very important that these zones are kept neatly trimmed to maintain the necessary hygiene for otherwise some particles may stick in the hair when your pet defecates.
The hair on the Aussie’s body can be clipped but usually this is not necessary.
Still, if the skin or the coat is damaged, clipping might be needed. For trimming the coat of the Aussie you should use electric clippers.
Cut the hair along the sides and the back of the dog. The clippers should be moved in the direction of the hair growth.
At least one inch of hair should be left in order for the coat to protect the skin and avoid different problems – sunburn, for example.
In addition, if you cut the double coat of the Aussie too short, it may grow back in a wrong way.
Final Words on How to Groom an Australian shepherd?
With this article we answered the question “How to groom Australian shepherd,
and if you follow these tips you will have tangles and mats free Aussie, and will keep the coat, skin, eyes, ears and teeth healthy.
Australian shepherds are heavy shedders and regular brushing is very important.