The Australian Shepherd is the perfect breed to have if you want a dog with low maintenance. They have a double coat that keeps them warm and needs very little trimming.
Australian Shepherds are hardy working dogs with thick double coats that keep them warm and protect them from sticks, burrs and the other hazards of corralling livestock. With proper care these dogs need very little trimming, but sometimes it is necessary to remove mats to resolve coat problems, for the dog’s comfort or for the owner’s convenience. Whether you choose to do a lot or a little depends on the reason behind the trimming.
Australian Shepherds tend to get long hair on their feet, and keeping this trimmed helps them to be more comfortable and to look neat. Carefully lift any hair from between the dog’s toes and from inside the pads on the underside of the foot. To give the foot a clean appearance, trim the hair off the top of foot so it doesn’t stick up above the toes. The hair should also not stick out beyond the end of the dog’s toes, but should stop just at the edge of the toenails, giving the foot a compact, rounded look. Clip the nails short as well. Lift the dog’s foot and scissor the hair underneath so that the length of the hair is even with the bottom of the pads to finish the foot.
Use thinning shears to remove any thick or long hair from around the dog’s ears. By thinning, instead of just clipping the hair off, you get a result that looks blended, with no abrupt edges in the coat. The bottom area on the back of each ear is especially prone to matting, along with the section at the bottom directly in front of the ear opening. Carefully comb the hair in these areas and remove any hair that is overly long or thick.
The term “feathers” refers to the long, silky hair on the backs of all four legs of an Australian Shepherd. These can become tangled or matted, and many owners choose to trim the feathers to minimize grooming requirements. While the feathers on the front legs and the lower part of the back legs are usually relatively thin, the hair that grows up the back legs and onto the dog’s rear, often called the britches, can sometimes be quite thick and may require trimming to keep it clean. Use thinning shears to remove excess hair in the britches area, under the tail and below the anus, so that nothing sticks to it when the dog defecates.
While you can clip an Australian Shepherd’s body hair, it generally isn’t necessary unless the dog’s coat or skin is damaged in some way. If you choose to trim the coat, use electric clippers and cut along the dog’s back and sides, moving the clippers in the direction the hair is growing. Leave at least an inch of hair on Aussies, to protect their skin and to help them avoid problems such as sunburn. The double coat of an Australian Shepherd also may not grow back right if you cut it too short.
NO NOT EVER SHAVE YOUR AUSSIE!!!!
Double coats, also known as down hairs, ground hairs, or undercoat, are very fine, fluffy hairs closest to the skin on some mammals. Common dog breads that have undercoats include the German Shepherd, Pomeranian, Chow, Husky, Malamute and Samoyed. The hairs are short and crimped, which makes them highly efficient at trapping air and insulating the animal. This keeps them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. This brings us to the first myth:
Myth #1: Long-haired, double-coated dogs need to be shaved in order to be cooler during the summer.
Shaving dogs with double coats. Double-coated dogs are dogs that have a heavy undercoat. The lighter, softer coat that sheds naturally does not need to be shaved.
Unless the dog has passed the point of no return in the matting department, the best type of grooming for these dogs is a vigorous undercoat raking with a special tool that helps remove the undercoat. This raking, followed by a bath, and a blow dry, will help separate the hair so the groomer can get to the rest of the undercoat.
Once the undercoat has been thinned out, the dog does feel cooler. The guard hairs on the top, which do not shed out, provide protection against the sun’s rays and actually insulate the dog from the heat. However, one might consider shaving a strip on their belly, so that they can lay on cool surfaces, and get maximum coolness. If mats are your main concern, then it’s best to simply keep up with them so they don’t get bad to the point of having to shave your dog. You may wish to try a product like Mud & Mat Remover made by PurestPets.
Myth #2: Cutting a dogs hair off will cause the dog not to shed.
This is not necessarily true. Dogs with undercoats shed. After a cut, it may shed shorter hair, but it will still shed.
Myth #3: Don’t worry; it’ll grow back.
The most harmful myth, as far as the dog is concerned is ”Don’t worry, it’ll grow back.” Well, sometimes it will. However, the older the dog is, the less likely the guard hairs will re-grow. While the undercoat will re-grow, the upper hairs sometimes do not. This gives the dog a patchy, scruffy, frizzy appearance.
Results of shaving your double coated dog
Also, a shaved dog is more susceptible to sunburn – skin damaged by UV rays. These are rays that the dog would not otherwise be exposed to. This, unfortunately, can be painful and take a long time to heal. The dog may have scaling and dandruff for quite some time, even after the hair has re-grown.
Dogs like poodles, Maltese, Shih Tzu’s, and other dogs, which do not have undercoat, require regular grooming and haircuts. But dogs with undercoats rarely need shaving. So shaving your long-haired, double-coated dog in the summer is not at all necessary.