How to groom an Australian Shepherd (step by step)

The Australian Shepherd is a high maintenance double-coated dog that requires regular grooming. Brushing this dog’s coat is the most regular grooming process that every Australian Shepherd should be ready to undertake at least 3 times a week. 

The teeth will also need to be brushed regularly and the nails trimmed once every 2 weeks.

Doing this not only helps keep the dog clean and healthy but grooming is also a great way for you and your Aussie to interact and form stronger bonds.

-But to help you groom your Australian Shepherd better, we going to look at each of the grooming steps in more detail and tell you how often each process should be done.

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Australian Shepherd coat type overview

The Australian Shepherd is a purebred dog with a thick double coat that helps to protect him from the elements.

This dog has a wooly, soft, and dense undercoat with a coarser outercoat.

The coat sheds moderately throughout the year with two heavy shedding seasons in spring and fall where the dog blowouts its undercoat.

In fall, the coat blows out to develop a new thicker undercoat in preparation for the cold winter months. The opposite happens in spring when the winter undercoat is lost in preparation for summer.

During these blowout seasons, you will need to brush your Aussie more frequently preferably daily to reduce the amount of shedding.

The coat is also prone to the formation of tangles which can develop into hard mats which is another reason why frequent grooming is necessary.

How often should an Australian Shepherd be groomed?

Australian Shepherd grooming process How often to do it
Coat brushing At least 3 times a week. The frequency of brushing should increase in Fall and Spring to reduce shedding.
Bathing Once every 6 weeks.

Some Aussies may need to be bathed more often if they suffer from a skin complication but this should only be done under your vet’s recommendation.

It is common for an Aussie to be bathed every 4 days if they under medication for a skin infection.

Nail clipping Once every 2 weeks.
Dental care At least 4 days a week. Should be done preferably daily.
Spritzing After brushing
Ear cleaning Every 2 weeks

This table can help prepare a grooming schedule for your Australian Shepherd.

Recommended guide: How to prepare a training schedule for your dog. 

Australian Shepherd grooming tools

Brushing tools:

  • Slicker brush– A slicker brush is a must-have tool for grooming an Aussie. This brush has metal pins with rectangular heads that can penetrate the undercoat to evenly distribute essential coat oils, stimulate the skin, remove dead fur, and to get rid of tangles.
  • A 2 in 1 Pin and bristle brush– A pin brush is more gentle on the skin than a slicker brush and is not as effective but will also get rid of dirt from the coat and also stimulate the skin. On the other hand, a bristle brush is rougher and is mainly used on the topcoat to remove debris and get rid of tangles and knots.
  • Steel comb (greyhound comb)– A steel comb is mainly used for dealing with knots, tangles, and mats on the feathery coat. You should get a comb that has both fine and wide teeth or get both as separate entities.
  • Deshedding rake– Deshedding rakes are great at penetrating and removing dead hair from the undercoat and thus reduce the amount of shedding. However, a de-shedding rake should only be used occasionally as it removes evenly healthy fur in the process and causes skin irritations. You should not use this tool more than once a month.
  • Hand mint glove– A hand mint brush is mainly used to massage the dog but also straightens the coat and removes dead hair from the topcoat.
  • Mat splitter– This is a tool that is great at breaking up mats on the Australian Shepherd’s coat.
  • Detangling spray– A detangling spray should be used on the coat before brushing to make brushing and detangling easier.

Bathing supplies:

Dog shampoo;

You should never use a shampoo formulated for humans on your dog as this can cause irritations on the dog’s skin.

Only use a neutral dog formulated shampoo to bathe the Australian shepherd and you can use either of these shampoos;

  • Smelly coat shampoo to help deal with dog coat odor. A shampoo made from vegetable protein extracts is recommended.
  • Dog shampoo to help with dull and dry skin.
  • Medical shampoo for allergies, itchy skin, for a skin complication or sensitivity. I would recommend only using a medical shampoo with the advice of a veterinarian.
  • Tick and flea shampoo to get rid of ticks and fleas.
  • Whitening shampoo is formulated to work great on an Aussie with a bright coat or with a coat with white patches.

You can also use a dog coat conditioner to reverse some of the damage done by the shampoo and to restore the dog’s sheen.

Portable bathtub;

A portable bathtub can be used both indoors and outdoors but you should get one that is great for the Australian Shepherd’s size as they come in different shapes and sizes.

Some types of portable bathtubs include;

  • Multifunctional cleaning systems
  • Portable and elevated bathtubs
  • Shower bags

You can also use your bathtub but you should ensure that you place a towel on the bottom of the tub to prevent the pooch from sliding.

A dog bath mat can also be purchased and used to prevent the dog from slipping in the tub. The mat can also be used outdoors where you can bathe the dog.

You will also need a high-velocity blow dryer to get rid of moisture from the coat and dry the dog.

Coat trimming tools;

Thinning shears and blunt-edged scissors– These tools should only be used occasionally as they can easily change the texture of the coat and make it prone to breakages.

Hair Clippers– Clippers should not be used if you do not have experience using them as they can easily cause injuries to the skin if not used properly. You can use different blade sizes namely: 3.75, 7, 10, and 15 blade size.

Nail clipping tools;

  • Guillotine-style dog nail clippers.
  • Nail grinder– Will soften the edges of the nails after clipping but should be used gently as they cause heat build-up.
  • Styptic product/quick stop– Will help prevent bleeding in case you cut the stop in the process of nail clipping.

Hygiene grooming tools;

  • Ear cleaning solution.
  • Cotton balls.
  • Doggie toothpaste
  • Doggie toothbrush/finger brush.


How to groom an Australian Shepherd (grooming steps)

Step 1: Bathing

Australian Shepherds are not known to have problems with bathing but you should ensure you are in the right attire as your dog will likely shake his body as he tries to get rid of the water from the coat.

You should make bathing a great experience by praising him, using high-value treats, and being gentle throughout the whole process.

Water and shampoo should also be prevented from getting into the ears and eyes.

It is also recommended to clean the Aussie’s face using a damp cloth dipped into shampoo water and squeezed to remove most of the water.

The damp cloth can then be used to gently wipe the face after which you can use a clean damp cloth without shampoo to rinse the face.

How to bath an Australian Shepherd

  1. Thoroughly brush the coat to get rid of all knots and tangle which can become worse if bath the dog without getting of them.
  2. Fill the bathtub with lukewarm water and use it to soak the dog’s coat from the neck down. You can also wet the coat using cold water outdoors from a hose on a sunny day.
  3. Apply shampoo on the coat and use gentle round finger motions to massage the shampoo in and to lather the coat.
  4. Let the shampoo soak in for few minutes to soften the coat.
  5. Use clean water to thoroughly rinse the shampoo off the coat. Do not leave any shampoo on the coat after rinsing.
  6. Pour some conditioner on the coat and use gentle motions to lather.
  7. Rinse the coat thoroughly again but make sure that no water gets into the ears or the close to the eyes.
  8. Use clean towels to remove excess water from the Aussie’s coat. You may need to use about 2 clean towels to get the job done.
  9. Set your high-velocity dryer to medium heat and use it to thoroughly dry the coat. Blow the coat in the direction of the hair growth.

Step 2: Brushing the Aussie’s coat

Brushing the Australian Shepherd’s coat should be done from the head down ensuring that the dog is kept calm throughout the process. I would recommend using line brushing on your Aussie’s coat.

Linebrushing is time-intensive and can, therefore, not be done regularly.

The main aim of line brushing is to brush the coat in small sections at a time and exhausting each section before proceeding. This should be done to reach the dog’s skin.

Here is how line brushing is done;

  1. Spray and condition the coat using a detangling spray.
  2. Grab small chunks of hair separately as you brush from the back to the tail and set a clear path to use during brushing.
  3. Use a slicker brush and gently brush each section of the coat against the direction of the hair growth ensuring that you reach the undercoat.
  4. In each section, use a steel comb to remove any knots and tangles that the slicker brush may have missed. Exhaust each section before proceeding to the next section on the coat.
  5. Start from the dog’s back then work your way to the dog’s side then to the underbelly and chest then the legs and tail. You should also work on the head and neck area as well. Work on the whole coat.
  6. Only use a comb on the face and the ears.
  7. Your comb should be able to run through the coat smooth when you are done.
  8. You can then use a bristle brush to lay the coat flat on the body and to remove any loose fur on the topcoat.
  9. Spritz/Spray the coat using a leave-in conditioner after you are done.

Spritzing is important as it leaves the coat smelling fresh, reduces hair damage, remoisturize the coat, protects the coat from dirt, sunburns, debris, and irritant, and reduce tangling.

How to use a mat splitter to de-mat the coat

Condition the matted section of the coat using a detangling spray.

Open the splitter and gently work it through the mat from the skin surface. The splitter should be pulled gently through the mat but away from the skin.

Only work on small mat sections and ensure that you do not pull the dog’s skin together with the mat.

The mat should get smaller each time you work on it and you should work on the mat several times.

Once you have gone through the mat as much as you can, brush the smaller section left using a slicker or pin brush before finishing off with a steel comb.

This is a time-consuming process that you should be patient when doing. You should also change the splitter’s blades each time they get blunt.

The alternative to a mat splitter

You can also get rid of mats without using mat splitters but you will still need to use a detangling spray to condition the mats.

After conditioning the mat, gently run your finger through it to break it up before using a steel comb to get rid of it.

Some mats may be too hard to remove and in those cases, you should simply cut the mat.

Trying to remove mats that are too hard will hurt the Australian Shepherd.

Step 3: How to clip the nails

Before clipping the nails, the hair between the paw pads and around the nails should be trimmed.

You should clip the nails using guillotine-style clippers ensuring that you do not cut the nail quick.

The quick is the flesh and vascularized section of the nail that nourishes the nail. This section is easy to spot on an Australian Shepherd with a light nail but harder to spot on an Aussie with a darker nail.

On a darker nail, you should check the underside of the nail for a fleshy portion where the quick is located.

If you accidentally cut the quick, use a quick stop to stop the bleeding.

nail quick

Step 4: Cleaning the Aussie’s ears

Cleaning your Australian Shepherd’s ears should be a pleasant process and should begin from an early age to get the puppy used to the process.

But before you begin this process, ensure that you gently remove sea hair in the ear canals using your fingers without causing any harm to them.

You will need either of the following ear cleaning solutions for this delicate process;

  • Saline
  • Commercial preparations
  • Hydrogen peroxide

Also, use a clean gauze or cotton ball and dampen it with the eat cleaning solution and carefully clean the outer part of the ear duct.

The ear wax and dirt should be removed by gently dragging them outside the ears. No gauze or cotton should be let in the year.

You will also need to change the gauze/cotton ball every time it soils.

Lifting the ears will make them easy to clean.

Do not use any sudden or wrong movement as the ears can easily get injured.

Step 5: Dental care

Dental care is fairly straightforward as it will mainly involve cleaning the teeth using a dog toothbrush or finger brush and doggie toothpaste.

You can also use high-quality dental chews or dental sticks to get the job done.

The plaque and tartar will be scraped off the Aussie’s teeth which will leave them fresh and prevent periodontal infections.

Oral check-ups should also be done regularly.

My final take

Grooming an Australian Shepherd is not an easy process but it should not be overlooked as it is one of the ways to keep the dog healthy.

This can be a challenge for inexperienced dog owners but the more you groom your Aussie, the easier it becomes.

Grooming is also a great time for you and your dog to build stronger bonds.

However, some processes such as trimming the coat should be done by a professional.

So, was this Aussie grooming guide helpful? Share your feedback with us in the comment section below.

There you go, WOOF!