Grooming Your Sheltie Gorgeous

Grooming Your Sheltie Gorgeous

Shetland Sheepdogs have a thick double coat that can be a challenge to maintain. Without proper grooming, your Sheltie's coat will mat, becoming painful. Learn how to groom your dog here.

Shetland Sheepdogs are sturdy herding dogs that resemble miniature Collies but are actually a separate breed. They have a thick double coat consisting of a soft, fluffy undercoat and a longer, harsh topcoat. These dogs need very little trimming, even for shows, but there are some things you can do to both make them look neater and to help them to be more comfortable. You may want to bathe your Shetland Sheepdog prior to trimming, but you can get excellent results without a bath, as long as your dog isn’t very dirty.

Step 1

First, spray the Shetland Sheepdog’s coat in the area where you will be brushing. You can use either plain water or a good canine coat conditioner to make it easier to brush out tangles and mats. Spray as needed throughout the grooming process to keep your dog’s coat damp as you brush it.

Step 2

Brush out your dog completely before attempting to do any trimming. This will remove excess hair and help to prevent matting of the undercoat. Brushing also makes it easier for you to see how long the hair actually is. Work your way through all parts of the coat, and don’t neglect the backs of the legs and the area around the tail.

Step 3

Trim the fur on the underside of each of the dog’s feet. Shelties tend to get a lot of fur growing there, and it can make it uncomfortable for them to walk. Cut the fur back so that it doesn’t stick out past the dog’s pads.

Step 4

Cut the long hair on the top side of the foot to give the foot a rounded, compact appearance. Trim any long hair growing on top of the foot or between the toes until nothing sticks out beyond the ends of the toes. Feet that are not properly trimmed tend to look long and gangly.

Step 5

Comb the hair on the back legs, from the foot up to the first joint of the legs, so that the hair stands out. Cut the ends off with sharp scissors to make the back legs look neat and minimize how much debris can get caught there.

Step 6

Use thinning shears to reduce the amount of fur your Sheltie has on the back legs from the hock up to the tail. If your dog has a thin coat, you can skip this step, but for many Shelties, this is an essential part of staying neat and clean. Cut parallel to the legs, clipping in several places where the hair is thickest, and then brush or comb out all the cuttings. Repeat the process until your Sheltie is left with a nice appearance and a manageable coat.

Step 7

Snip away any straggling hairs in and around the ears to give your Shetland sheepdog a neat and alert look. You may also want to use the thinning shears around the base of the ears if your dog has a lot of hair there since this area tends to mat easily.

Tips & Warnings
  • Setting your Sheltie on a grooming table or other raised surface with secure footing can make it much easier to groom your dog. Keep the table in a location that’s convenient for you, and you’ll find it is a pleasure, not a chore, to groom your Shetland Sheepdog.
  • Use extreme caution when working with sharp scissors around your dog. A sudden jump or twitch on your Sheltie’s part could result in a serious injury, especially if you are working on the ears. Keep the sharp tips of the scissors angled away from your dog at all times.
  • Shaving a Shetland Sheepdog’s coat removes the dog’s natural protection from heat and cold. This is a step that should be taken only in extreme circumstances and under professional supervision.

Dog Grooming Tips to Keep Your Pup Healthy and Clean

Grooming a dog means keeping them clean, which we can all appreciate, but it also means keeping them healthier. A groomed dog has less of a chance of skin irritations or infections, and as you groom, you can check your pet for any possible issues. Take a look at these helpful grooming tips.

Healthy Food, Healthy Fur

The starting point for your dog's beautiful, shiny coat is its diet. You want to be sure to feed your dog good, quality food. It should have a good amount of protein and a balance of vitamins and minerals. Find out what to look for in a dog food. You can also give your dog Omega-3 fatty acids, or fish oil supplements, to promote a shiny coat.

Be careful if you're feeding your dog raw food because it can contain salmonella. Make sure your dog has fresh water whenever they want it, too.

Brushing Your Dog

Once you’ve got your dog covered on the inside, you can groom the outside. It’s a good idea to brush your dog frequently. Some experts recommend brushing your dog three times a week, but it won’t hurt to do it every day. This is a good way to interact with your dog -- it makes your dog feel good and helps to remove dead hair and skin at the same time. It is important always to brush along the lay of the fur.

There are a few different brushes you can use:

A wire pin brush is best for medium to long hair dogs. You want to be sure not to push too hard, so you won't scratch your dog’s skin.

A slicker brush is recommended for removing mats and tangles. To tackle the mats and tangles, hold the brush close to the skin, insert the end tooth of the brush into the mat, and work it loose. If you are unable to work the mat loose, you may want to consider cutting it out. Once the mat is free, you can comb down to the skin.

The bristle brush can be used last, after the other brushes. It is the only brush you want to use for your short hair dog. This brush is also great for dogs with sensitive skin and helps make the coat nice and shiny. 

Tips for Bath Time 

Once your dog is brushed, it’s time for the bath. You'll want to bathe your dog around every two weeks to once a month. The best place to give your dog a bath is outdoors in warm weather. You never want to use human shampoo as it may make your dog’s skin dry and irritated. Use a mild dog shampoo. Start by washing the dog’s body and legs thoroughly. When you wash the dog's head, be careful not to get soap in the eyes, ears, or nose. Leave the soap on for three or four minutes. Rinse thoroughly.

If you choose to blow dry your dog, use a low heat setting, though dogs tend to be afraid of loud noises and may not like the blow dryer. If your dog is one of these, towel-dry your dog by blotting and pressing a towel against their coat. You'll also want to dry their paws. When you are done drying, brush your dog one last time.

Be aware that you don’t want to bathe your dog too much, as this will dry out your dog’s skin, and it can make it itchy and irritated.

Don't Forget: Teeth, Ears, and Nails

Finally, you'll want to be sure to clean your dog’s teeth and ears and clip their nails. For their ears, wipe out any excess ear wax or dust gently with a clean cloth or cotton balls. The ears should be cleaned once a week to avoid infections. A dog’s teeth can be brushed with a small toothbrush with soft bristles. Use toothpaste made specifically for dogs and brush back to front, then rinse.

Trimming a dog’s nails can be a bit tricky. You have to be sure not to cut the dog’s nails quickly or injure them. The quick is easy to see in light-colored nails but can be harder to see in dogs with black nails. Use a Trimmer/Dremel tool or clippers, and take off only a small bit. You can ask your vet or a groomer to show you how if you're unsure.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should a Sheltie be groomed?

Shelties have a double coat, with a longer guard coat and a softer undercoat, and they require regular grooming to keep their coats healthy and looking their best. A Sheltie's coat should be brushed at least once a week to prevent matting and tangles. During shedding season, which occurs twice a year in the spring and fall, more frequent grooming may be necessary to remove loose fur and prevent excessive shedding. Professional grooming every 4-8 weeks can also be helpful to trim the fur and keep it at a manageable length. Additionally, nail trimming every 2-4 weeks and regular teeth brushing are also important for Sheltie's overall health and well-being.

How should a Sheltie be groomed?

Grooming a Sheltie involves several steps to maintain the health and appearance of their double coat. Shelties should be brushed at least once a week to prevent matting and tangles. Use a slicker brush or a pin brush to remove any loose hair and debris from the coat gently. Brush in the direction of hair growth and be gentle around sensitive areas such as the ears, belly, and legs. Shelties do not require frequent bathing, but when it is necessary, use a mild dog shampoo and conditioner. Make sure to rinse thoroughly to avoid leaving any soap residue on the coat. After bathing, gently towel-dry your Sheltie and then use a hair dryer on a low or cool setting to finish drying their coat. Avoid using high heat or getting too close to the skin, as this can damage the coat and irritate the skin. A Sheltie's fur may need to be trimmed every 4-8 weeks to keep it at a manageable length. Use scissors or clippers to carefully trim the fur around the ears, paws, and tail, being careful not to cut too close to the skin. Trim your Sheltie's nails every 2-4 weeks to prevent them from getting too long and causing discomfort. Use a sharp, dog-specific nail clipper, and be careful not to cut the quick, which is the pink part of the nail that contains blood vessels. Regular teeth brushing is important for Sheltie's overall health. Use a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste to brush your Sheltie's teeth several times a week gently.

How do you groom Sheltie's paws?

Grooming a Sheltie's paws is an important part of their overall grooming routine. Before starting the grooming process, check your Sheltie's nails and trim them if necessary. Use a dog-specific nail clipper and be careful not to cut the quick, which is the pink part of the nail that contains blood vessels. If your Sheltie has dewclaws, check and trim them as well. Use scissors or clippers to carefully trim the fur around the paw pads carefully and between the toes. This helps to prevent matting and tangling of the fur in these areas, which can cause discomfort and lead to infections. After trimming the fur, clean your Sheltie's paws with a damp cloth or pet wipes. This helps to remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated between the toes or on the paw pads. To help protect your Sheltie's paws from dryness and cracking, you can apply a paw balm or moisturizer. Be sure to use a product specifically designed for dogs and avoid using any human products that may be harmful to your pet. Finally, it's a good idea to check your Sheltie's paws for any signs of injury, such as cuts or abrasions. If you notice anything unusual or your Sheltie seems to be in discomfort, contact your veterinarian for advice.

How do you brush Sheltie?

Brushing a Sheltie is an important part of their grooming routine to keep their double coat healthy and looking their best. Start with a slicker brush to gently remove any loose hair and debris from the coat. Start at the head and work your way down the body, brushing in the direction of hair growth. Be gentle around sensitive areas such as the ears, belly, and legs. After using the slicker brush, switch to a pin brush to remove any remaining tangles or mats. Again, start at the head and work your way down the body, brushing in the direction of hair growth. Be sure to brush all the way down to the undercoat to remove any loose fur. For any remaining tangles or mats, use a comb to work them out gently. Be careful not to pull too hard, as this can cause discomfort to your Sheltie. After using the pin brush and comb, finish with the slicker brush to smooth out the coat and remove any remaining loose hair or debris. While brushing your Sheltie, check for fleas and ticks, which can be especially prevalent during the warmer months. If you find any, remove them with a flea comb or seek advice from your veterinarian. After brushing, reward your Sheltie with praise, treats, or playtime. This helps to reinforce positive behavior and makes grooming a positive experience for your pet.

Is it OK to cut Sheltie's hair?

While it is possible to cut a Sheltie's hair, it is generally not recommended as it can damage the coat and affect the breed's natural appearance. Shelties have a double coat consisting of a soft, dense undercoat and a longer, coarser outer coat, which provides insulation and protection from the elements. The coat also sheds seasonally to regulate body temperature. Cutting a Sheltie's hair can disrupt this natural shedding process and cause the coat to grow back unevenly or become prone to matting and tangling. It can also affect the breed's natural appearance and make it more difficult to show the dog in competitions. However, in some cases, shaving or trimming a Sheltie's hair may be necessary for medical reasons or to manage severe matting or skin issues. In these cases, consult with a professional groomer or veterinarian to determine the best course of action.

References & Resources

Terrific Pets: Shetland Sheepdogs: Grooming Your Sheltie
Sheltie Planet: Grooming Shelties: How to Groom a Shetland Sheepdog
Dogtime: Grooming Your Sheltie

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