Many owners ask whether their Australian shepherd can be shaved, especially as the weather gets warmer. This is a super common question with an important answer, so let’s get into it!
Australian shepherds should never be shaved. A shaved coat makes it hard to regulate body temperature, allows bugs and insects to bite their skin, increases exposure to UV rays, and may cause the coat to regrow improperly.
Should You Shave an Australian Shepherd?
If you speak to owners at the dog park or check online forums, the topic of shaving an Aussie is highly debated.
While technically you “can” shave your Aussie, it’s better to ask whether you “should”.
- Quick answer: Australian shepherds should never be shaved unless it’s for medical reasons or to prepare for surgery.
What about trimming with scissors?
The coat may be lightly trimmed with scissors around areas with extra long hair, like the paws, ears, underbelly, and tail. But shaving is never advised.
Trimming is absolutely fine and is a good way to keep your Aussie cleaner for longer. Long hair can collect a lot of dirt and muck while out on walks.
What about in hot weather?
The truth is that the thick double coat of the Australian shepherd actually helps regulate body temperature during both hot and cold conditions.
As the weather gets warmer around spring, your Aussie will start shedding A LOT.
They will “blow” their undercoat during spring, leaving just their topcoat.
- This creates an air gap allowing plenty of breeze to run through the coat, even if it still appears to be thick and long.
Shaving the undercoat and topcoat together will result in your Aussie overheating and may even increase the chances of heatstroke.
I have a full article about keeping Aussies cool in summer here.
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Shave Your Australian Shepherd
Let’s explain the most important reasons not to shave your Australian shepherd.
1. Protection from UV rays
Shaving back the topcoat and undercoat together may allow the sun’s harsh rays to access the skin.
I’ve heard of some unfortunate cases where shaved Aussies have been sunburnt. This is extremely painful and uncomfortable for any dog to deal with and will always result in a vet visit.
2. Blocking direct heat
The thick double coat allows Aussies to block direct heat when out in the sunshine.
Their coat will repel more heat than it lets in, so both layers must stay intact.
During hot weather, the undercoat will mainly shed, but the topcoat must remain in perfect condition to successfully block some heat.
3. Stopping bugs and insects
While it’s easy for us to put on bug spray, it’s not quite the same for our furry friends!
Your Aussie’s strong guard hairs (topcoat) provide sufficient protection against bugs and insects that may bite.
Shaving back the coat increases the chances of your Aussie getting bitten or stung.
4. Water resistance
The outer layer of your Aussie’s coat has a level of water resistance to it. This becomes important when it rains or snows.
Once your Australian shepherd gets wet through to the skin, they practically lose all their ability to remain warm.
5. Remaining warm in winter
As well as trying to keep your Aussie cool in summer, it’s crucial to remember that winter isn’t too far away!
The double coat does an excellent job of keeping your Aussie warm and safe. A shaved coat takes away your Aussie’s ability to stay warm during the coldest time of the year.
And it’s unlikely that a shaved coat in spring will properly regrow by winter…
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Shaving Could Ruin Your Aussie’s Coat
Shaving back your Aussie’s coat could ruin it for years to come. This depends on the extent of the shaving as well as aftercare.
The issue with shaving the coat is that the topcoat and undercoat grow at different rates.
What often happens with shaved coats is that the undercoat tries to grow through the topcoat, causing matting and a sticky texture.
This can sometimes be avoidable if you frequently brush and separate the layers, but still, it’s just not worth the risk.
Australian Shepherds Cool Down In Other Ways…
If you’re concerned about keeping your Aussie cool, then this should ease some more concerns.
In addition to the double coat, Aussies keep themselves cool by sweating and panting.
In addition to that, us owners can help our Aussie’s by getting an elevated cooling bed, fans, UV blocking blinds and keeping them in the shade, there’s many things we can do to help our Aussies remain cool and safe. Shaving them is completely unnecessary.
Trimming Your Australian Shepherds Coat
As explained above, it’s completely fine to trim excessively long hair around the paws, ears, underbelly, and tail.
Removing extra long hair around these areas is actually a good idea and is recommended if your Aussie has particularly long hair.
- Shortening the hair in these areas can prevent dirt and muck from sticking to their coat, as well as prevent ear infections.
If you plan to trim your Aussie, you must do so when they are very calm and resting.
If your Aussie is resistant to getting their haircut with scissors, then you’ll need to introduce the concept slowly and carefully over a few weeks.
What Happens If You Shave an Australian Shepherd?
After shaving an Australian shepherd, their hair will start to regrow, but the undercoat will outpace the topcoat. This could potentially cause matting and tangling.
If the two layers “mesh” together, this is known to cause a sticky, velcro like texture… This then leads to further issues like overheating and even skin infections in severe cases.
Of course, this doesn’t always happen.
Ultimately it depends to what extent the Aussie has been shaved. If the coat has been shaved down significantly then the chances of these issues happening increases.
What if you’ve already shaved your Aussie?
If you’ve shaved your Aussie without realizing the potential issues, the best thing to do is consult with your veterinarian, and be ready to brush them frequently (daily) to ensure their coat does not matt or tangle. This may need to be done every single day for months.
Preventing matting and tangling during the regrowth is the most important thing to do.
Most vets will also recommend increasing Omega 3’s in their diet to promote healthy skin and coat development.