Australian Shepherd

Grooming Advice

When is an Aussie not a true Aussie? Well when it actually is an Australian Shepherd as they did not originate in Australia at all. This glamorous and lively herding dog was likely from the Basque region between Spain and France and adopted and adapted into the American ranch way of life.

I am always drawn to this beautiful breed with their eye catching appearance and the energy and dedication to which they bring to the ring and their work. A lovely double coated breed with a great variety of colours in a coat that is weather resistant.

Becoming more and more popular in the conformation ring, the presentation level has kicked up a notch too. It is great fun to watch a dog that can work with great purpose turn into a beauty pageant winner when required to do so and so it should . That wonderful combination of a fabulously useful dog that is to be beautiful as well. It makes the heart sing.

Best shampoo to use is to decide just where the coat is at in the ever evolving process of a double coated breed - it is either coming or going so it seems. Different stages of the coat necessitate a different shampoo to get the maximum benefi t. Different colours also require different approaches too.

When the coat is just right then use the Plush Puppy All Purpose Shampoo for super shine. This works well on all colours. Dilute all the Plush Puppy shampoos at 5:1 (5 parts water to one part shampoo unless stated otherwise). For dry, old coat grooming, use the Plush Puppy Conditioning Shampoo with Evening Primrose. This will give extra moisture when the coat gets dry and brittle prior to shedding or after long hot summer days. Use the Plush Puppy Body Building Shampoo when out of coat. or for a coat that is not abundant enough. This works really well and helps to puff up the outward look of a dog that could use some bulking up. Use the Plush Puppy Whitening Shampoo to tone or rid the coat of unwanted warm tones especially good on a blue merle, black that has turned rusty red or to tone down unwanted orange tones on a red coat. Good also on the white areas. For diffi cult stubborn stained white areas switch to the Plush Puppy Deep Cleansing Shampoo. See there is something for all occasions! I love it when people ask which shampoo should they use on an Aussie? Gosh, they need all of them. My Siberians are the same too - coats constantly coming and going so it seems.

So to keep this abundant, full look and to enhance the picture of a solidly built dog, don’t use a conditioner. It will fl atten and soften the coat. The instruction and focus is to keep a weather resistant texture and the best way to do this, especially when shampooing and drying each week is to oil the coat using Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil. This is just great and not at all oily or diffi cult to remove, nor does it collect dirt and grime. Sourced from Evening Primrose oil, Calendula Oil and other goodies,the Seabreeze Oil is applied after shampooing and rinsing at a ratio of approx 1 tbspn to a gallon/4.2 litres of water. If using a hydrobath, add a dspn to the tank. However you apply it, whether with a sponge, a hydrobath or whatever, ensure you get it right down into the coat as it is wonderful for the skin too. Don’t rinse out. After 4 - 6 weeks just watch the healthyglow and vigour on the coat. Can’t live without this product - this is a real must have for outdoors coats.

For really brittle and damaged coats or coats that have done their fair share of hard knocks, use the Plush Puppy Coat Rescue at 2 tbspns to 2 cups water or 1 tbspn to a hydrobath tank and leave for at least 5 minutes and preferably up to 20 minutes. The longer the better. Then rinse. You can alternate this with the Seabreeze Oil or just use once a month if needed. The Seabreeze Oil is generally enough - I would only use the Coat Rescue if I was in damage control till the coat resumed a semblance of health again.

Now the show presentation grooming starts with a good dose of Plush Puppy Volumising Cream. I am of the school that asserts a good bit of lift to the coat is good and more is better. By the time the dog rolls around in the crate or trailer, it is a lot fl atter than when I started! Use 1 tbspn to 1 cup water and spread evenly and liberally. Now blow dry with a turbo charged cool dryer with as much lift as possible to the coat lifting up and forwards to wards the head to create a nice full ruff. The secret to a good double coat is to dry thoroughly. I hate it when people leave it half dry and it starts to felt at the skin after time. The dog can also get hot spots with this damp undercoat situation. A good weather resistant coat doesn’t get wet naturally down to the skin but we all push the envelope with jet forced bathing etc and therefore have to ensure we do dry well.

If the coat is a tad dry on the ends or the ends are starting to fl ip a bit, then apply a light dose of Plush Puppy Blow Dry Cream mixing 1 tbspn to 1 cup water and sponge or spray onto the area that is problematic. Then dry.

I could not in all conscience groom a double coated breed without Volumising Cream or Blow Dry Cream - they are my main tools. The Volumising Cream coats each hair and makes each hair look like 3,000 and the Blow Dry Cream fl attens and softens. Using them correctly and in the right place will tailor your dog to it’s best. There is no rule for the generic dog. This is all about YOUR dog.

Show day you need to attend to the little stuff but no less important. It is the 100 little things that no-one else can be bothered with that make the whole. Never forget it. Having said that, start with your Plush Puppy Cover Up Cream with a light dab onto a barely damp sponge and pat lightly onto any stained or less than white areas that ought to be white. Add a fl urry of chalk to dry and then brush. This stays on the coat well and will last the day till washed off. I do it early at the show - I just like to know I have done everything and it is out of the way. This leaves me time to fl uff and titivate and generally quieten the nerves.

Last minute stuff is to brush the coat up and forwards with another light mist of the Volumising Cream and using a Plush Puppy Pin Brush which is an oval cushioned pin brush. I hate slickers. So many like them but I feel they tend to rip the coat and don’t get the lift. I prefer the pin brush followed by a wide toothed metal comb if needed. However, having bathed and dried as prescribed every week, the comb should not be necessary. Finish off with a Plush Puppy Porcupine Brush for a smoother look from the half bristle/half nylon cushioned action. I usually just use the Pin Brush, liking the lift and fullness.

Don’t forget a light dash of Plush Puppy Pixie Dust sprinkled onto the brush and lightly brushed through the topline and pants. Ever so glam! It picks up the sunlight and adds dazzle and the barest hint of shimmer. If you can see this as you apply it, you have gone overboard! Finish with a light spray of Plush Puppy Shine & Comb held about 12 inches/30 cms away from the coat and misted down onto the area you wish to highlight, usually the topline and pants.

Your wonderful smooth gaiting dog is now ready for action and ready to take on the fl ashiest of breeds in the ring. He is dressed to perfection and will draw gasps of pleasure and excitement as he uses that ground covering stride to his best. His quick and intelligent personality will endear him to all as he performs as you ask and you will have had that extra bonding that you have created during the quiet times of grooming - the laying on of your hands on this magnifi cent dog is a treat and one to be enjoyed and never a chore.

- Cheryl Le Court