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Australian Shepherd Haircut – Shave Time!

Shortly after the Sydney (mis)adventure, I gave the dogs their Australian Shepherd haircut – aka the shave down.  The last few times they got their summer haircuts, it was at the hand of the groomer and they turned out great.  I decided to try to improve my technique and do a better job than when I created the Sydney Mistake.

It is important to rake out their coat before you give them a haircut.  This is not something I understood during my earlier shave downs.  (That being said, before anybody panics, both of our dogs have had their hair grow back in just fine when I did not brush/rake them first.)  I think raking them out helps the shaver cut their hair in a cleaner and more even fashion.  You can read about the undercoat rake out process here.

There are photos at the bottom of the post that detail the process.  But here is the quick and easy version –

Quick Summary of the Australian Shepherd Haircut

Give them a bath if their coat is loaded with dirt.  I like Earthbath products because they are good for sensitive or itchy skin and they smell nice.
Let them dry.  I usually let them air dry over the day and continue the grooming process the following day.
Do a quick de-tangle session using a slicker brush and undercoat rake.  You want to get the hair smoothed out and going in the same direction so the shaver can cut properly.
Shave away!  Use a shaver that comes with different length comb attachments. We used a “3” because it was the biggest we had.  I would probably start with at least a “4” next time.


Lessons I’ve Learned from Grooming Trooper

These clippers are specifically designed for pets and they come with more comb options.

I believe the last Australian Shepherd haircut, where the shaver seemed to be grabbing only top coat and not removing any bottom coat, was the result of poor brushing.  Imagine what your haircut would look like if you had slept on it wet, it was tangled and matted to your head and then your hairdresser started to trim it without pulling everything straight.  There would be spots where you might have hair missing all the way to the skin and places where the scissors may not be able to trim well because an invisible hair clod was lurking underneath the top hairs.

I hope that makes sense.

In any case, I brushed Trooper out, shaved him a little and then raked and brushed him where I had just shaved.  I was impressed.  As a non-groomer, my results looked pretty good.  With a section of hair removed, I could now better access the undercoat of the next section.  So before proceeding, I raked out the next section (just a little – shaving takes long enough without doing a full rake out) so I could see everything I was about to shave.

I used a ‘3’ comb but I really wished I had a longer one.  I wanted to leave them a little longer, brush them out and see how it looked.  But oh well, the 3 worked fine too.  I think newer shavers often have more combs to choose from.  (The clippers to the right have more combs and might be a better option if you are looking to keep your dog’s hair longer.)

Australian Shepherd Haircut Time!

Create a small section of neat hair that has been raked and brushed out. Then SHAVE IT!  Ta-da

Rake/brush out what you just uncovered to make sure you are clear to move onto the next section. Also, rake/brush out the next session.

Shave some more.

This was the hair pile at that point.

I finished shaving everything I could access. Note the incomplete pants.

Hair pile

Sydney allowed me to work on her long enough to shave down her belly (which is WAY hairier than Trooper’s) and a little around her neck.

While I was working on Sydney, Trooper appeared and sat down too close for his own good. More shaving for him! This is the resulting hair pile when I was finished – he is about 90% done.

Trooper’s haircut status at the end of the session. His chest and neck still need work and I’d like to even out a few places.


  1. I am so glad you’ve had luck with shavings…we have a collie/aussie mix that just turned a year old. Midwest rains and humidity have been a pain when it comes to her coat. I have been considering shaving her, and now I think I will!

    • Hi Emily – Thank you for the comment! Glad to help. I have found the grooming process to be much smoother if they are relatively clean and their coats are brushed out. They will end up looking more even as well. Good luck!