Shelties have a double coat, a thick, fluffy undercoat and a silky smooth top coat. Caring for all that hair does take dedication, but with regular attention, you can keep your fluffy pal's coat looking great without investing a huge amount of time.
The key to keeping your Sheltie looking his best is regular grooming sessions. Go over your dog daily, paying attention to the areas that attract tangles, such as where the legs join the body and the base of the ears. A quick daily brushing prevents tangles from developing between longer grooming sessions. Once a week, sit down with your dog for a thorough grooming session. Take your time, brushing him from one end to the other. If you do this on a regular basis, your dog will get used to the attention quickly and it will be enjoyable for both of you.
An undercoat rake probably is the most important grooming tool for your Sheltie. The undercoat rake pulls out the loose, woolly undercoat that otherwise would create mats and tangles, and end up all over your furniture. Metal combs and slicker brushes remove some of the undercoat, but the undercoat rake is designed to get down to the skin and remove the excess hair. Male Shelties and spayed females typically shed once a year. Unaltered females typically shed in the summer as well as after each heat cycle. Frequent grooming sessions with the undercoat rake are particularly important when your dog is shedding. Once you have removed the excess undercoat with the rake, smooth the topcoat down with a slicker brush. This brush removes any tangles from the long, straight outer coat and redistributes the coat oils to give your Sheltie a healthy shine.
Line brushing is a method of brushing dogs with long coats. It makes it easier to get to all the hair and helps make sure you don't miss any sections. Part your dog's hair down the middle of his back, then take a 1-inch section at the base of the neck. Comb it up, toward the back. Leave that section up, exposing the section below. Comb this section the same way, then move to the next section. Use the undercoat rake if your dog is shedding, a regular stainless steel comb or pin brush will work otherwise. After you have worked your way around your dog line brushing, smooth everything down with the slicker brush.
If your Sheltie rolls in something smelly or muddy, he will need a bath, otherwise, a bath several times a year is sufficient. Frequent baths can irritate and dry the skin, making your pup itch. Use a shampoo formulated specifically for dogs, to minimize the risk of irritation. When you bathe your Sheltie, make sure the water goes down to his skin. If you pour water over the top of his back, you'll find that it runs off, leaving his dense undercoat dry. Fluff up his coat with your hand so the water will penetrate to his skin. Do the same when rinsing him to ensure you get all of the soap rinsed out of his coat.
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