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It’s Summertime! How to Shave your Dog at Home

Sydney with her coat long and full. Definitely not comfortable in hot months.

Please check out our latest update on shaving your double coated Australian Shepherd.

Okay, so it’s not exactly the beginning of summer.  But we still have to make it through August and in some regions, September can be hot as well.  So it’s a good time to talk about haircuts.

My dogs garner a lot of attention when we go for walks or outings and what strikes me as hilarious is the fact that they get called ‘cute’, ‘adorable’, so ‘puppy-like’, etc.  It’s funny because I shave them myself!  And I do it with little regard for how ‘Australian Shepherd appropriate’ it will look in the end.  I do not show my Aussies; I care only for their comfort and happiness.

Please note:  I am not a professional dog groomer and I do not have experience with professional level grooming supplies.  However, there are several entry level shavers (like this one) that do the trick just fine.

Click here to skip the instructions and go right to the tips and issues section.


How to shave your Australian Shepherd at Home

Below is the video of the shave session I recently did with Trooper and Sydney.  I’ll post it early so you don’t have to read through everything if you don’t want to.  However, please note that the video is a simpler introduction to shaving your dog at home.  The actual footage on shaving is brief and there is a lot more detail written out below.


Why NOT give your dog a haircut?

We have a friend who lives down the street from us. You’ll meet them later when we talk about treating dog bite wounds at home (!!). For now, all you need to know is my friend has two absolutely beautiful Australian Shepherds. She has a female (who is a blue merle) and a male (who is a red merle) – the opposite of my dogs.

Their coats are long and full. They get brushed daily. They are taller and lankier than my dogs. When I pass them going for a walk, I always think to myself that they look ready for the show ring.

Trooper with his winter coat – this can’t be comfortable in all seasons.

However….when we have hiked together, her dogs seem miserable.  It gets hot and very humid here and I can only imagine those coats are weighing them down.  She doesn’t shave them because she feels they don’t need it (and maybe they don’t; she knows them best).  I know there is controversy over whether or not it is appropriate to shave a dog with a double-coat.  Many say it will not grow back correctly.  I imagine that might happen with some individuals, but it seems to be a rare occurrence.

Reasons I have heard and experienced for not shaving one’s dog – 

  • Grooming is expensive

Yup, for my two pups, it has cost $100-$150, depending on the groomer.

  • It stresses my dogs out to be left at the groomer.

I’ve seen this in other dogs.  Mine apparently act fine in my absence.

  • My dog doesn’t need it.  His coat insulates him against both cold and hot weather.

Yeah, so they say.  Observe the behavior and activity level of a shaved dog vs. the same dog with a long coat.  It’s like they return to puppy-dom.


If you use one or both of the first two reasons why you do not shave your dog (especially an Australian Shepherd, who suffers both from a heavy coat and a huge desire for activity) and you desperately wish for Fido’s increased comfort and ability to partake in summertime fun, then why not shave him yourself?  For some people, it does not even cross their minds that they can do it themselves.

Sydney’s activity level drops dramatically when she has a long coat.

Reasons I have heard for not shaving one’s dog at home – 

  • I don’t know what I’m doing. It is a task best left to a ‘professional’.

True, a professional dog groomer will probably shave your dog’s coat to perfection.  That doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

  • I don’t have the time.

I believe time and priorities are all decisions you make.  This isn’t the place for that discussion.  Shaving your dog does take time but it can be done in stages.

  • I can’t afford the dog clippers.

This might be true.  “Dog clippers” can be very expensive.  But why not try an inexpensive clipper and see if it works?  More coming later…

  • My dog hates it.  He’ll bite me.

True story – this could happen.  Maybe you can’t do it by yourself then.


These are all good reasons.  But if you really want to shave your dog, then I think each of these reasons are tiny hurdles that can be overcome.

Before giving advice and directions, I want to state these facts now and probably again:

  • I’m not a professional dog groomer.
  • I have no dog grooming training.
  • I have done very little research on how to properly groom an Australian Shepherd.

Trooper gives me the “I’m irritated” look whenever he’s had enough.

Lastly, I don’t care what they look like when we’re finished. (Okay, I care a little; but not enough to stop me from shaving them at home.)

Before discussing the actual shaving methods I use, I’d like to address the points given above for not shaving one’s Australian Shepherd (or any dog breed with a heavy coat) at home.

Experience:  I am not a grooming professional and I shave my Aussies at home.  Therefore, so can you.

Time:  I make the time.  If I can’t finish in one setting, I shave in stages and come back to him/her later.

Clipper Expense:  I bought the clippers I use from Walmart about 8 years ago.  I do very little maintenance on them and have used them for the past 3 summers.  I have a few complaints and minor issues (which I will address later) but nothing so extreme that I feel restricted in shaving the dogs myself.

Dog Behavior:  I’m lucky.  I know that.  My dogs are easy but it’s only because they’ve been trained.  If your Australian Shepherd is fearful (or hateful) of getting shaved, an assistant will be a godsend.  A table and secure collar attachment will work wonders.  If your dog has a mild negative response to the experience, I would suggest an assistant, lots of treats on hand and working in stages.

Okay, so how to do it….


Not all dogs will be this excited to lay down on the shaving sheet. You may have to work up to it.

Preparing to Shave your Australian Shepherd at Home:

  • Lay down a sheet in a quiet space where you can work in peace.  If you have a table (and a helper – you do not want your dog jumping off), that is the best for your back as well as shave angle.
  • Make sure your clippers can plug in nearby and leave you with enough cord to work.
  • Tie your dog to something if working by yourself OR leave him/her untied if they respond well to you.
  • Get treats next to you if needed.  I don’t do this because my dogs tend to cooperate.  I do, however, give each a big spoonful of peanut butter afterwards as a thank you for their tolerance.
  • Brush your Aussie’s coat – I only occasionally do this for Trooper because his pants and neck get tangled, which make it difficult to shave.  I never brush Sydney for the purpose of shaving her because her hair shaves off without issue.

Shaving Your Dog – Using the Clippers
Remember, I’m not a professional groomer.

  • Using the clippers is easy once you get going.  Attach a comb for desired shave length.  The smaller the number, the shorter the hair.
  • Shave in the direction of hair growth.
  • Angle the clipper head as steep or shallow as you like, depending on how you’d like to shave their coat.
  • Move the clippers along at a moderate pace.  You’ll find a groove.  Too fast and you don’t shave anything.  Too slow and you don’t shave enough.
  • If your dog is on the ground and not standing, gravity isn’t going to come to your aid.  You’ll need to shake/flick the clippers off to the side to dislodge the hair off the head.  If you are shaving on a table, the hair will likely just fall once shaved off.

The resulting shaved hair is much easier to manage if you have a sheet or shave on a table.

Some tips for a Smoother Shave Session

  • Start in an area that won’t bother your dog so that you can habituate them to the clippers.
  • Once your Aussie is okay with what is going on, immediately switch to the troublesome areas and get them out of the way.  Trooper HATES it when I shave his pants.  So I try to do it early before his aggravation level is elevated.  He doesn’t mind his belly or back at all so I try to leave them for last when I know his patience is running out.
  • If your clippers get hot, take a break.
  • Work on your Aussie’s schedule – if he/she needs a break, take one.  As you both become more experienced and comfortable with at-home shaving, you’ll be able to get more done in one session.  But think of your first few haircuts as training sessions.  Stop while it’s still successful and positive for you both.
  • Be gentle and patient around their ears.  The hair is different (usually greasier, softer, silkier, etc) and can snag really easily.  If in doubt, put the clippers aside and use scissors.  But still proceed with caution.  You don’t want to startle your dog while working near their head and cause an accident with either the clippers or scissors.
  • Try scissors!  Before re-discovering the clippers that I had lost in storage for a few years, I always did their summer haircuts with scissors.  Yes, the haircuts looked absolutely ridiculous, but it kept everybody cool.  And guess what?  I STILL got complements on how cute and puppy-like my dogs looked.  Go figure…

Yay! Now with short hair and freedom to explore the outdoors, we can conquer the world!

Issues I have encountered

  • My clippers get hot, really hot!  When we reach that point, I take a break because I worry the clippers will burn their skin.  I don’t know if it would actually do damage but I’ve noticed both dogs get squirmy when the clippers are hot, which tells me something has changed.
  • Sometimes my clippers don’t do squat!  I run them through the hair and nothing cuts off.  Sometimes it is because hair jammed in the comb and I just need to blow it out.  Other times, I am unable to identify an issue.  I wonder if it has to do with dirt in their coat, shave angle or poor quality clippers.  All are possible reasons I will explore next time I shave them. (Feel free to comment below if you understand what is causing this issue.)
  • Sometimes (like 50% of the time), I shave their hair and it appears that they are left with only their undercoat.  It’s the strangest thing.  It really only happens with Trooper and as I mention in the video, he ends up looking like a grey, homeless, fuzzball.  I know that when they come back from the groomer, they are still the color they were when they went in, meaning the groomer shaved both coat layers and left the topcoat.  (Again, please feel free to comment on how this could be done better.)
  • It can make a mess.  Yes, shaving your dog is going to create some floating dog hair.  You can try it outside or put down a sheet.  I just plan my vacuuming to take place on the day I’m shaving the dogs so that I pick up stray hair fluffs after I’m all done.

Sorry for the long post!  Experienced dog groomers – please feel free to comment on how we can all be better DIY-er’s with shaving our dogs at home.  Happy shaving!

Trooper sporting a dashing haircut, done entirely by moi with a pair or scissors (Summer 2010).


  1. You are not supposed to shave aussies, it doesn’t actually cool them off, it just makes them hotter

  2. I am having the same issues with my clippers. Did you figure it out?

  3. I love your blog, but the only problem I had is that you never shave an australian shepherd. You only clip their fur where it is long, and keep it to an inch long. If you shave an aussie, you are ruining that undercoat that protects their skin and insolates their body heat and keeps away the cold and hot.

    • Thank you for your comment. I plan to write an update to this article soon.

  4. I tried to never have my aussie shaved; however, when her skin got embedded with fox tails after I moved to Arizona, shaving her was the only way to see and remove the fox tails. Not to mention $500.oo surgery for the ones which went deep inside. Aussie fur is a magnet for fox tails, whereas, other breeds aren’t bothered the least.

    • Yes, we have a similar issue with goat heads and cactus bits. Sydney gets cholla chunks stuck to her all the time and I consider myself lucky if I can pull it out of her hair in one piece. I recently found a foreign object nestled in the hair near her foot pads and had to cut it out. I have no idea how long it had been there but it had managed to hide from both me and the dog brush. Their hair is long right now but I’m not sure how long that’ll last.