Proper Australian Shepherd grooming is essential. Not only will it help to keep your dog healthy, but it can also help you to detect ticks and other pests. Additionally, it encourages the coat to grow properly so it can provide the correct insulation in both the cooler and warmer months. For this reason, most breed experts recommend brushing your dog at least weekly if not daily. It may seem like a lot of effort but it is well worth it in the end.
The Aussie is what is known as a "double coated" breed. This means that they have two layers to their fur: the longer outer layer or "guard hair" which is more likely to shed and the shorter undercoat that provides insulation. The double coat allows for temperate air to be held close to the body while hot or cold air is blocked out by the longer outer coat. This way the dog's body remains at a healthy temperature no matter what the weather.
Regularly brushing your dog helps to remove excess hair from the outer layer while also eliminating mats in both layers. This not only improves the ability of both layers to insulate properly but also stimulates the skin, keeping it healthier. Proper Australian Shepherd grooming requires the use of both a brush and a long tooth undercoat rake. The rake lets you gently reach all the way down to the skin to make sure that all the fur is free of tangles and smoothly brushed.
With longer haired breeds, shedding can become something of an issue and many owners make the mistake of assuming that the perfect solution is shaving, but this is far from the case. Shaving will not prevent shedding, it will only reduce the size of the hairs being shed and worse still, it may prevent the hair from growing back in properly and limit its ability to insulate the body. Rather than taking such a drastic step, regular brushing is generally all that is necessary to properly maintain your dog's coat.
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Grooming your Australian Shepherd regularly will help keep them healthy and looking their best.
This is a point of contention among Aussie owners, especially those who live in areas of the country that get particularly hot. Some swear by shaving when it's hot to allow breezes and laying in the shade to cool their dog down more easily. If you do shave down your Aussie during the hotter months make sure that you at least leave enough so the sun doesn't penetrate right down to the skin.
Others passionately argue that you should never shave an Australian Shepherd and doing so will damage the coat causing it to not grow back properly. Of course, if you plan on showing your Aussie you wouldn't want to shave them. Either way, always err on the side of the comfort and well-being of your Aussie recognizing the potential issues you may have to contend with.
Aside from brushing, another part of Australian Shepherd grooming is trimming. You don't need to do a lot of trimming but occasional maintenance of areas such as the tail, feet, ears, legs and "britches," or rump area, may be necessary. In all of these areas you want to follow the natural direction of the coat and trim as little as possible.
When it comes to Aussies, the legs, which take the brunt of the dog's physical activity, don't generally require much trimming, if any. You may want to trim the fringe ("feathers") on the front legs and back legs, or hocks, can usually be just neatened up with a good pair of shears.
If you don't have the dog grooming equipment or feel uncomfortable grooming your dog yourself, you can either go to a do it yourself "dog wash," where they provide all of the necessary equipment for Australian Shepherd grooming for you, or you can take your dog to a professional groomer.
If you do opt to use a groomer, just make sure that he or she is experienced with the breed and comes well recommended. I've heard horror stories of people who told the groomer explicitly to only give their Aussie a "trim" to come back to find their dog looking like a sheared sheep.
All that long, luscious fur that Australian Shepherds have may seem like something of a challenge, but all it really takes to properly maintain your dog's coat is regular brushing. So spend a little time each day or once a week making sure that your dog is well groomed and you'll both feel better for it.
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