One thing that stands out about Australian shepherds apart from their gorgeous eyes, is their remarkable coat! And for a coat so spectacular, it’s worth it to get grooming right.
In this article, we’ll discuss frequently asked questions on bathing, how often you should bathe your Aussie, which shampoo to use, and more.
How Often Do Australian Shepherds Need Bathing?
The simple answer is once every three to four months or only when absolutely necessary. By sticking to this bathing frequency, you will keep your Australian shepherd clean, odor-free and avoid drying out her skin and coat.
Many owners I know bathe their Aussie even less than this, and their coats are soft, odor-free, and beautiful.
The most important thing not to do is over bathe your Aussie. And that’s why using this frequency as a maximum guideline is a great thing to do.
What About Australian Shepherd Puppies?
Australian shepherd puppies should not get wet at all until at least 2 weeks after their final vaccination has been given. This is to ensure their immune system can tolerate being wet.
After this, they should be bathed no more than once every four to six months. Once they are an adult, they can be bathed a little more frequently every three to four months.
In the meantime, if your puppy gets accidentally messy while they are still within their vaccination period, you can use a damp towel to wipe away any muck, before letting it dry and removing it further with a fine brush.
Why It’s Crucial To Avoid Overbathing
Unfortunately, I converse with owners every now and then that are bathing their Aussie as often as every week!
This is simply way too much for an Australian shepherd and their skin and coat will suffer as a result.
It’s understandable to think extra baths will equal an extra clean and healthy Aussie, but that’s not the case…
The main problem with overbathing is how the constant use of shampoo will strip the natural oils out from the skin and coat. These natural oils are exactly what makes your Aussies’ skin and coat healthy and gorgeous in the first place.
When these oils are stripped from the coat and skin, there’s a range of negative consequences that happen…
It first causes dry skin which is extremely itchy and uncomfortable, not to mention that dry skin alone can progress into many further serious issues. In fact, dry skin is one of the number one reasons why dogs visit the veterinarian today.
After it dries out the skin, the body rushes to produce more oil to compensate for not having any… Unfortunately, too much of a good thing becomes a really bad thing, in this case! The excess oil causes a dull, greasy coat, matting, bad odor, and general irritation. This then prompts you to think your Aussie needs another bath, and the vicious cycle repeats.
Bathe your Aussie no more than once every three months, and none of that will be an issue.
4 Ways To Keep Your Australian Shepherd’s Coat Clean (without bathing)
I have a few great tips that other owners have shared with me over the years on how to keep your Aussie cleaner for longer without bathing.
Of course, actual bathing is still essential and the following tips are not intended to replace bathing, but rather, prolong your Aussie’s cleanliness!
1. Wash their bed regularly ⭐
One easy way to keep your Aussie instantly cleaner for longer is to regularly wash their bed where they sleep. The bed quickly becomes the grubbiest place your Aussie will lay, and so by keeping this clean, you’ll dramatically improve her overall cleanliness. Just be sure to use a non-biological washing power to avoid allergic reactions.
2. Use dog grooming wipes ⭐
Dog grooming wipes or baby wipes (if you already have those to hand) can be used to give your Aussie a “wipe down” once a week. It’s nothing major, and it only takes a few minutes. But by doing this, you will keep on top of any surface grime as well as reduce a little bacteria. A weekly wipe does not replace bathing, but it certainly helps to keep your Aussie cleaner for longer.
3. Have a brushing routine! ⭐
Hopefully, you have a solid brushing routine in place anyway to deal with shedding! But if you don’t, this is another important reason to do so. Brushing your Aussie 10-15 minutes every day or every other day will reduce shedding and keep her skin and coat clean and dirt-free. It will also do a great job of distributing her natural oils throughout the coat.
4. Consider a fish oil supplement ⭐
Providing your Australian shepherd with a regular Omega 3 fish oil supplement is an indirect way of keeping her skin and coat super healthy. Omega 3s play a crucial role in skin and coat health, and a lot of diets/kibbles do not contain enough without supplementation. Although fish oil supplements are generally safe, it’s advised to consult your veterinarian first.
And that’s it!
These 4 little tips will help you keep your Australian shepherds coat health, clean, fluffy and beautiful without overusing shampoo.
What Shampoo To Use For an Australian Shepherd?
After getting the frequency right, it’s essential to be using the correct kind of shampoo.
The world of dog shampoo is a lot like the world of dog food, overwhelming and full of bad options!
In order to help preserve those healthy oils, it’s crucial to avoid pet shampoos that use harsh chemicals, parabens, alcohols, detergents, and pretty much any ingredient you can’t pronounce!
Unfortunately, many regular dog shampoos have exactly all of those problematic ingredients.
The best shampoo for your Australian shepherd will only ever be a natural ingredient dog shampoo. Shampoos that are made with only natural ingredients do not strip away those essential oils and are much friendlier on the skin and coat.
There’s no reason to be using anything stronger than this.
Always check up to date reviews!
Can you use human shampoo on your Australian shepherd?
Always avoid. Human shampoos are too acidic for a dog’s skin and could potentially ruin something called the “acid-mantle” This is a protective layer on your Aussies skin, and it’s crucial to keep this intact.
What about baby shampoo?
If you don’t have access to all-natural dog shampoo, then baby shampoo is the next best thing to use. Baby shampoo is very gentle on the skin and is safe for dogs to use. This is even a preferred option over regular pet shampoo due to the avoidance of harsh chemicals.
8 Helpful Bathing Tips To Know!
Let’s run through some helpful tips to make each bath time effective, stress-free, and I daren’t say, enjoyable!
1. Use high-value treats ⭐
Nothing builds positive association like high-value treats. Either cooked turkey breast or peanut butter (dog friendly) works the best. An owner once showed me how a small amount of PB smeared onto a plate kept their furry friend still for a solid 10 minutes. If you have tile walls like in the main photo, you can even smear the PB straight onto the wall at head height!
Not only did this make bathing easier, but it taught their dog to LOVE bath times, go figure!
2. Only use lukewarm water ⭐
Unless you’re in the middle of summer, always use lukewarm water. Neither hot nor cold. It can be tempting to use “warm” water when bathing your Aussie but all this will do is increase the chance of dry skin after the bath. And it’s equally important to avoid straight cold water as this could shock your Aussie, and cause her to be hesitant of bathing the next time around.
3. Cotton balls in ears ⭐
Getting water in the ears is a recipe for dreaded ear infections. It’s given we need to be very careful when getting her head wet, but one trick I always do is to place some large cotton balls inside the ears just before bathing starts. Please make sure they are large so you can easily remove them. This should prevent water from going inside the ears nicely.
4. Brush before, during, and after bathing ⭐
Try giving your Aussie a thorough brushing with an undercoat rake and a slicker brush before you bathe her. This will remove any excess dead hair before the bath. You can also use a bath brush to do this throughout the bathing, as this will help lather up the shampoo and get a deep cleanse. Once she is properly dry, you can run a slicker brush through her coat just to separate all hairs and ensure no matting has happened.
5. Reassure her with your voice ⭐
If your Aussie isn’t fond of bath times, it’s important to reassure her throughout. Not only will this calm her nerves, but it may also build up her tolerance for future bathing. A very effective way to do this is to constantly talk to her in a calm and reassuring tone. Remind her “she’s a good girl” and she may just come around to bathing easier than you think.
6. Be sure to create a thick lather ⭐
It’s crucial to spend a good amount of time working the shampoo deep into her coat so it reaches her skin. Ensure she spends a good few minutes soaking in a thick lather of shampoo before you begin the rinsing process. It’s all in the lather!
7. Rinse, rinse, and rinse again ⭐
As we get near the finish line, some of us have a tendency to rush things! But when it comes to rinsing, this MUST be done thoroughly. If we leave any traces of shampoo in the coat it can seriously irritate the skin and cause excessive scratching. Once you have rinsed her properly, rinse again!
8. Dry her properly ⭐
Unless you are experiencing very hot temperatures outside, it’s necessary to dry her and keep her inside the home for an hour or two. Yes, Aussies can tolerate cold conditions well, but not when they are wet. Even a slight breeze can cause her to become very cold if she is wet. Because of this, it’s important to dry her as much as possible before letting her outside.