Australian Shepherd Fur Grooming Lessons - Aussie University

Australian Shepherd Fur Grooming Lessons

Whew! This summer has been a scorcher. Are you sitting inside with the ceiling fan on and the air conditioner pumping? You can’t help but feel bad for your Australian Shepherd panting away. That being said, Australian Shepherd fur is not as simple as a lot of dogs.

They’re covered in a thick layer of fur they can’t take off. That has you thinking, is it time to give your Aussie a haircut? Should you ever cut the fur off this breed?

No, there’s generally no need to give your Australian Shepherd a haircut. The only exception is trimming the hair around the feet, legs, and ears, which can get long. You will also have to cut out matts if your dog’s hair gets tangled.

In today’s article, we’ll discuss the coat of the Australian Shepherd in-depth. We’ll also talk about when and where to trim, how, and whether you should ever shave your Aussie’s fur. You’re not going to want to miss it!

Understanding the Australian Shepherd’s Coat

Dog breeds have many unique coats color and texture. But, there exists another key difference between dog coats. Some breeds have a single coat and other’s a double coat. What does this mean?

When a dog has a single coat, then they have but one layer of fur to insulate them. The breeds that boast a double coat have twice the fur.

First, there’s the undercoat, which is closest to the dog’s body. The hairs here are thicker, almost wooly-like, and shorter.

A dog with a double coat will get insulation from the cold thanks to their undercoat. In the summer, these dogs are also safeguarded from high temps.

This is because the undercoat will begin shedding. This isn’t like traditional dog coat shedding, and it even has a specific name, coat blow.

What the heck is “Coat Blow?”

When spring arrives and the mercury on your thermostat begins going up, the dog will engage in coat blow. This allows them to shed the bulk of that undercoat so it’s thinner. Now they’re ready for summer.

Okay, so that’s the undercoat, but what about the second coat in a double-coated dog? That’s known as the topcoat. Unlike the shorter, woolier hairs that comprise the undercoat, a dog’s topcoat has guard hairs. These hairs are much lengthier than the undercoat, and their duties are different too. The topcoat prevents dirt and moisture from settling into the dog’s fur. The topcoat is not used for temperature control.

Australian Shepherds are one such dog breed that has a double coat. They share this distinction with these canines:

Should I Cut My Australian Shepherd fur in the Summer?

Now that you understand more about the double coat of your Aussie, let’s go back to a question we touched on in the intro. In the summertime, when it’s sweltering outside, you may be reluctant to take your dog out for long. You also feel inclined to trim your Australian Shepherd’s coat, but we would tell you to reconsider.

Remember, the Aussie has got this covered. Their undercoat offers year-round protection in both the cold and the warm weather. Your Australian Shepherd will sense the change in seasons. Because of this, their undercoat will begin coming off.

With some breeds of dog, you can fill trash bag upon trash bag with the dog’s loose fur. The Aussie is often included in that shortlist of breeds. The Shepherd sheds a lot even when they’re not losing their undercoat.

You can help the undercoat out by brushing your Australian Shepherd’s fur. Brushing will also prevent the hair from tangling and matting on its way out. This make shedding is a pain-free experience for your Aussie.

It’s recommended that each week, you brush your pup at least twice. You might increase that if your Aussie is shedding. This is especially important once summer gets underway.

A wire comb or wire pin brush can help the dead hair that’s still clinging to your dog’s body. Any loose undercoat hairs that are about on their way out should get brought out with these tools as well.

You can try an undercoat grooming rake. These work especially for handling dog breeds with undercoats.

As for picking up the grooming scissors? Skip that for now. The brushes and rakes are more than enough to get that loose fur out.
You’ll want a trash bag nearby rather than piling up on your living room floor.

Why You SHOULD NEVER Shave an Australian Shepherd

Why Shouldn’t You Shave an Australian Shepherd’s fur?

Okay, so cutting your Australian Shepherd’s fur isn’t necessary as the undercoat comes out. But, you can shave your Aussie, right? You want to give them some relief from the summer heat, and removing all that burdensome fur seems like the way to go.

It isn’t! To reiterate, your dog can insulate themselves through their undercoat. This keeps them cool in the summer too. That’s why they’re shedding so much, because their undercoat is getting ready for summer.

Let’s say you read this too late and you already happened to shave your Australian Shepherd down to their skin. Here’s what happens.

For now, your dog is pretty much naked. They have no undercoat to regulate their temperature. Aussie’s lack an overcoat to keep them free from dirt and moisture.

Your Aussie will now get dirtier a lot easier. Not to mention they may be more prone to skin infections until their fur begins re-growing.

How long does Australian Shepherd fur Take To Regrow?

The undercoat will begin first. This can take weeks to grow back depending on the size of your dog and how much fur they have. Keep in mind that in the meantime, your Aussie has no protection from the summer sun.

You’ll have to be especially vigilant about providing shade for your Aussie and keeping them out of the sun.

Even once your Australian Shepherd’s undercoat grows back, you’re not out of the woods yet. Nor will you be for a long, long time. Your dog can now regulate their temperature again with the undercoat. But, they have no means of warding off dirt and moisture since their guard hairs are long gone.

To complicate matters, the undercoat grows back fast, but the topcoat does not. It can take the guard hairs a year or two to get to the necessary length to keep your dog clean. Yes, that’s right, you could have to wait two years to undo the damage you wrought by shaving your dog.

That’s why shaving double-coated dogs is so ill-advised. Your Aussie does not need shaving, they only trimmed or brushed (if anything). You’re not doing them a favor by shaving them, but rather, making their lives worse for at least two years. Please put the shavers down around your Aussie!

How to Trim Your Australian Shepherd’s Fur

Australian Shepherds have a low-maintenance coats. But, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever have to pick up a pair of scissors or grooming sheers. Here are some areas that may call for extra trims as well as how to handle cutting your dog’s fur.

Trimming the Body

The only time you should trim the body of your Aussie is if the fur happens to have gotten matted or tangled.

First, we’d recommend using a dog brush to try detangling the fur. If your Aussie is yelping or if your efforts aren’t working, then reach for the electric clippers instead.

Follow the direction of fur growth as you trim with the clippers. Never cut all the way to the skin, instead retaining an inch or more of fur.

Trimming Your Aussie’s Fur Feathers and Britches

Aussies feathers are those long hairs that grow at the backs of their legs. The feathers are beautiful at first, but without maintenance, your dog can trip on them. When this happens, the hairs can become tangled and knotted, especially at the back legs.

You can use standard dog trimming scissors to cut back the feathers on all four legs. The fur here isn’t thick, so trimming shouldn’t be too arduous.

That said, it’s a different story at the britches. This fur is higher up on the legs, near the rear, and only at the two back legs. The britches have a thicker texture, so you’ll need thinning shears to contain the hair here.

While you’re cutting, make sure you continue underneath the anus and the tail. This way, when your Aussie has to defecate, you don’t have a dingleberry situation.

Trimming the Ear Fur

The fur at your Aussie’s ears can also get long and be a struggle without your intervention. You want to thin the hair here rather than cut it off outright. Don’t ignore the fur overgrowth, as it can matt and hurt your pup a lot.

First, using a comb, brush out the fur. Then, with your scissors, cut the hair in such a way that it blends into the rest of the hair at your dog’s head and face.

Trimming the Fur at your Aussie’s Feet

We talked before about reducing hair at the feathers and britches. But, further down at your Australian Shepherd’s feet, they may also have an overgrowth of hair. To trim this back, put your dog on a flat surface and then spread their toes apart. Take the hair growing between their toes and raise it so it’s more accessible.

Next, trim the fur. Don’t forget to tend to the hair underneath their feet around the pads, as this can also get pretty long. If you can’t see your Aussie’s toenails, then keep trimming until their feet look nice and neat.

The Furry Conclusion

Australian Shepherds are double-coated dog breeds. Their undercoat gets thicker in the winter for warmth and then sheds in the summer so they don’t pant all day. You may have to trim your Aussie’s feet, legs, and ears, but there’s rarely any need to cut the undercoat. It will come out on its own.

To reiterate, please don’t shave your Aussie, especially all the way to their skin. The topcoat, which prevents grime, might grow back in a year or two, so it’s an especially long wait!

Want to learn more about dealing with the fur?  Here’s another article about “Tackling All That Fur!

Ryan Wood

Over 20 years ago I got my first Australian Shepherd. Ever since then, my family and I have been constantly learning and immersing myself with these wonderful and intriguing dogs. Now with 6 Aussie's and a couple Australian Cattle Dogs (aka Blue Heelers) in the family tree, We've learned from on-the-ground experience what makes the Australian breeds different than "regular dogs" and what doesn't. This is the site where we share everything we've learned.

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