The Shetland Sheepdog

Grooming Advice

I’ve long been partial to this wee version of the Rough Collie and his wonderful, alert intelligence. He has all the glamour of the showiest of the breeds and yet can toil and mix it with the best of the workers.

His coat is a good one for those that love to put in the work and discipline yet relatively basic enough to not daunt the novice. Calling for a double coat with long straight harsh outer coat this dog has to be pictured amongst the rugged coastline and rocks of the windswept islands of the Shetlands. Requiring a dense undercoat for environmental protection, the coat will have a standoff appearance. The coat should never appear wavy or smooth coated. His mane and frill is abundant.

The overall appearance for your breed is for the coat to appear full around the front with the rump and pants laying somewhat flat. Thus you have two issues needing to be addressed and two techniques required.

Frankly it is best to get the hardest work out of the way at home and leave the showday for final fluffing about - mainly for your own piece of mind! You can just about sculpture your dog with shampoo and I would use 3 shampoos on this dog - all in separate areas for different outcomes. Thus the Plush Puppy Whitening Shampoo - for toning - diluted 5:1 (5 parts water to one part shampoo) and used on all white areas, Plush Puppy Body Building Shampoo diluted 3:1 for extra oomph around the front where you want fullness and Plush Puppy All Purpose Shampoo - for shine & keeping texture the same - diluted 5:1 for the rump and pants. It instantly gives you the basic shape by using this method.

As with other double coated breeds I generally dislike using a conditioner as it flattens and softens, the very things you don’t want with this breed. I prefer to lightly oil the coat using the Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil at the dilution rate of 1 tbspn to 1 gal/4lt water. Apply this liberally with a sponge through the coat after shampooing with the appropriate shampoo and leave in - do not rinse. This will keep the coat hydrated and flexible without flattening or softening.

Having said that, you do need to get that rump and pants to sit flatter and you should mix in with the remainder of the Seabreeze Oil/water mix, 1 tbspn Plush Puppy Silk Protein Conditioner and apply to the areas you want to hang and lay flatter. Leave in and don’t rinse. It should be diluted enough not to need rinsing. Thus you have one method of moisturising on the front of the dog and another on the rear.

Now you are ready for some bicep building blow drying. I never short circuit this part of the grooming. It is by far one of the most important steps and hate most people blow drying a dog for me as they never dry it well enough. It is an arduous task if you are impatient unless you can drift off and enjoy the repetition of just using your hands. The same relaxation theory as knitting!

I prefer to start at the rear - bench the dog and hitch with a neck noose and a belly band so you don’t chase the dog around the table. I teach all the dogs from baby stage to stand and be dried this way and they seem to drift off too into la la land when I am doing it. Use a turbo strong force dryer (we use an Oldfield) to hasten the process and holding the nozzle with one hand and using the other hand to work in front of the jet of air to spread the coat so as to get the airright into the base of the coat, work section by section forwards till the coat is absolutely dry from root to end. There is no shortcut to this - it is however well worth the effort. Dry everything forwards against the growth till half dry and then go back the front area and dry fully - finish the rear area by drying with the growth of the coat.

For maximum lift on an out of coat dog, use the Plush Puppy Puffy Dog strong hold mousse. Apply liberally with both hands to all those areas requiring lift especially the mane and frill. For a more coated look you can use as well the Plush Puppy Volumising Cream at 1 tbspn to 1 cup water and sprayed liberally over the coat prior to the mousse. They each do one of two specific things. The Volumising Cream coats each hair giving an appearance of more coat without lift or stickiness and the Puffy Dog whilst adding some extra volume will however primarily give more lift and hold. I prefer not to put too much of anything onto the very ends of the Sheltie coat as this coat around the mane and frill, looks better if the tips of the hairs slightly tilt over. It gives a much more “natural” effect to the overall appearance.

If your coat is such that you need to harden the texture some, then instead of using the Puffy Dog, switch to the Plush Puppy Ruffy Tuffy Coat Spray. Spray lightly and dry a bit and then keep spraying till the degree of harshness is achieved. It is widely used for Terriers but can be used judiciously to lightly harden an unwanted soft coat. It will give a harsher texture than the Puffy Dog. I use this when the coat is wet.

For show day, brush up the coat with a little more Volumising Cream and water to the main body of the coat and featherings and a good spray at the roots of the mane and frill with Plush Puppy Quick Fix Spray. This is great for a light hold that can be reworked throughout the day and doesn’t appear hard or artificial. It is packed with milk fats and is naturally sourced. When you first spray it, it will feel lightly sticky but will dry perfectly without any tackiness whatsoever as you brush and/or blow dry. For brushing the pants and general overall brushing and to reduce static, use Plush Puppy O.M.G. Concentrate diluted 30:1 i.e. 30 parts water to one part shampoo - this 500ml bottle will make 15 litres at a 30:1 dilution though you only dilute what you need each time.

Never one to leave things half done, I like to then help that mane and frill to stay in shape come what may with the weather. Having worked my “teardrop” shape around the headpiece and mane and bib area, I take a small amount of Plush Puppy Sit N Stay onto my fingertips and rub them together till the stickiness crosses over from wet sticky to dry sticky. Now, I shoot my fingers down into the roots of the mane and grab a few strands at the base, clump my fingers together and slide them in this position halfway up the hairshaft. Now remove the fingers without touching the ends of the coat. Voila! The coat will stay lifted with a nice toss of the ends into the teardrop shape.

To chalk or not to chalk? Well, I do use the Plush Puppy Coverup Cream on the short haired areas of the whites onto a barely damp sponge and layer it on. That is, apply lightly and wait a minute and then apply another layer till well covered. Add Plush Puppy Fairy Frost over the top and let dry. This a harsh white finishing powder. You can add 1/2 and 1/2 with your regular chalk if you wish. Now brush or blow the loose powder/chalk off. You can use a block chalk on the Coverup Cream on the face so as not to get loose chalk into the eyes.

For final fluffing around, add a light flick of Plush Puppy Powder Puff for Terriers/Harsh Coats if you need to, to get that nice harsh texture so desired for a herding dog, dusting it onto your Plush Puppy Blue Anti Stat Brush. Just a smidgeon, and don’t go overboard but it is wonderful for fabulous finish especially where you have had to add some conditioner to the rear area which does soften the texture. This fixes it perfectly. Thus use Ruffy Tuffy when coat is wet and Powder Puff Terrier when the coat is dry. Can also be used for quick cleaning if needed. Dust on and brush off.

Use Plush Puppy Blue Long Pin Brush for general brushing of the pants and add a light dab here and there, especially to the white areas of the bib and the rear, of Plush Puppy Pixie Dust for subtle shimmer. A light dusting onto the topline too. This will just pick up glints of light in the sun or spotlight. Not too much! If you can see it when you put it on you have used too much.

This beautifully balanced herding/working dog is something out of the box. His symmetry and proportions make him a great contender in the show line up. He is always a breed to be considered and a good hard competitor in any show. Get the grooming right and a handler who understands the pace and poise of this little sheepdog and he’ll give us all a run for our money.

- Cheryl Le Court