Proper Grooming Requirements for Mini Aussies
Miniature Australian Shepherds are a long-haired, double-coated dog breed whose dense undercoat varies according to the season. They need to be kept well-brushed and mat-free at all times in order to allow for good air circulation through the hair, which in itself has a cooling effect. Daily brushing is necessary during the hot, summer months. Utilizing a groomer for baths, brushing and appropriate trim of the britches, feet, ear and tummy is acceptable. They should never be shaved except in cases of severe matting as a last resort. Shaving increases the risk of sun burn and heat exhaustion/heat stroke. Their long hair and thick undercoat acts as insulation against the sun's rays and their effects. Unlike humans the dogs skin does not contain the vast network of blood vessels and sweat glands designed to dissipate body heat during hot weather conditions. Dogs only have sweat glands in their paw pads that play a minimal role in their overall thermoregulation. Despite being sweat-gland deficient, dogs have an ability to vaporize large amounts of water from their lungs and airways that carry heat from the body when they pant.
Shaving: Myths and Associated Health Risks
Myth: Shaving a Mini Aussie helps them stay cooler
- FALSE: Long haired, double coated dogs do not need to be shaved in the hot weather. A Mini Aussies coat is an essential part of their heating and cooling system. Their coat is equally efficient at keeping them warm in cold winter conditions and cool in hot summers. The hollow outer guard hairs are effective insulation against both heat and cold. Shaving the coat in the summer months increases the risk of heat exhaustion, heat stroke and serious sunburn.
- Unless the dog has passed the point of no return in the matting department, the best type of grooming for these dogs is a vigorous undercoat raking with a special tool that helps remove undercoat, a bath, professional de-shed treatment and a blow dry to help separate the hair so the groomer can get the rest of the undercoat out. Once the undercoat is removed, the dog does feel cooler. The guard hairs on the top that do not shed out provide protection against the rays of the sun, and actually insulate the dog from the heat.
- Most people think their dog is cooler if it is shaved because they feel cooler when after shedding layers of clothing and sitting in the shade. However humans sweat through their skin and Dogs do not. Interfering with a Mini Aussies natural method of cooling themselves increases their risk of overheating – the exact thing you are trying to avoid.
- Shaving also makes their skin much more susceptible to damage by UV. Damaged skin can take a long time to heal and result in scaling and dandruff for quite some time even after the hair has re-grown.
Myth: Shaving reduces shedding.
- FALSE: Shaving a dog does not make them shed any less – they just shed shorter hair. Shaving removes the guard coat, allowing the undercoat to grow uninhibited, leading to more shedding. A proper diet and a professional de-shedding treatment will make a world of difference when it comes to shedding.
- Shaving can cause a skin infection called folliculitis and impeded hair growth. These symptoms can progress fairly quickly, or it may take many years to develop. Dogs with mild cases may have rings of scales around the follicles. Once the follicles become infected, the infection can bore deeply into the dermis, forming large pustules that rupture, discharge pus, and crust over.
- Shaving can also cause Alopecia X to occur in which the top coat becomes dry and brittle, eventually breaking and falling out. The woolly undercoat that is then exposed can become dry and matted and may eventually come out as well, leaving the skin bare in spots that tend to turn black. Even with treatment the hair may never grow back in correctly.