Shetland sheepdogs, commonly referred to as shelties, are intelligent, cheerful dogs. Often called “little collies” due to their physical similarities, shelties require frequent grooming. Your grooming routine doesn’t have to be complex, but it does have to be consistent to keep your sheltie looking her best.
Fill the bathtub with a few inches of lukewarm water and set your sheltie in the tub. Soak the dog with plenty of water, and squirt a line of shampoo down her back. Rub the soap to a lather, taking care to work the lather well between the front legs, and along the chest and belly. Rinse until the water runs clear, then apply a light conditioner. Let the conditioner soak into the coat for three minutes, then rinse.
Wrap the dog in a clean towel and set her on the floor. Squeeze the water gently from the dog’s coat, swapping to dry towels as necessary. Blow-dry the dog on the lowest heat and air settings until the coat is completely dry, brushing with a pin brush to prevent tangles and encourage the sheltie’s trademark flat, sleek coat.
Stand the dog on a stable surface and brush from head to tail with the coat rake. This heavy-duty brush reaches deep into the undercoat to pull out dead, loose hairs. Shelties have a dense undercoat that wraps around the longer outer coat, so raking every inch of the coat is necessary to ward off mats.
Comb the dog’s coat in the direction of hair growth, using a greyhound-type comb. This specialty comb has small metal teeth that smooth the coat and encourage it to lay flat. If the comb sticks or doesn’t pass easily through the hair, re-comb the spot with the rake to remove snarls, then try again with the specialty comb.
Lift the dog’s tail and snip away the long hairs at the base of the tail and along the back legs. The sheltie’s long, thick hair will cake and mat with fecal matter if not properly trimmed, so cut the hair down to avoid excess mess.
Hold one of the sheltie's feet in your hand and brush the hair back toward the leg. Cut the long hairs that stick out above the top of the foot. Shelties are notorious for having fuzzy feet, and cutting the hair back prevents debris and mud balls from building up between the toes.
Trim the nails with a pair of sharp nail clippers. If your sheltie has clear toenails, place the edge of the blade just in front of the dark quick line inside the nail. If your dog has black nails, snip the nail back in small increments, stopping when you see a faint pink line in the middle of the nail. Many shelties are active enough to grind their nails down as they run, but less-active dogs should have their nails trimmed every couple of weeks.
Brush your dog’s teeth with a dog-specific toothpaste. Squirt a tiny bit on the toothbrush and rub it gently over every tooth, letting the dog lick the toothbrush to familiarize herself with the taste. Give your sheltie a fresh, raw beef knuckle or marrow bone to keep her teeth clean between grooming sessions.
- Groom your sheltie at least once every two weeks. Brushing every day will keep shedding at bay, but thorough grooming at two-week intervals will keep your dog's coat shiny and healthy.
- If your dog is severely matted, consult a professional groomer. A heavily matted coat may require a complete shave down.
- Never discipline your dog during grooming. Work in short sessions, rewarding your dog with praise or a small treat to encourage her to stand calmly as you brush.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.