Pages Navigation Menu

The Shaved Australian Shepherd & Why it’s okay

I’ve written a lot about grooming lately.  There was the follow-up post to when Sydney was shaved too short and then more recently, our in-depth photo post about using an undercoat rake to manage Australian Shepherd shedding.  In my own angst about the shaved Australian Shepherd and undercoat chaos management, I have been doing a lot of reading and I just had to write about it again.

In case you haven’t heard –

The shaved Australian Shepherd is a dog that is said to have a coat that is ‘destroyed for life’.  Not only will the hair grow back in horribly (if at all), but the dog will suffer from immediate and disastrous sunburn.  And don’t forget the severe embarrassment the dog will feel at having been made to look like a mongrel.  Their double coat should be more properly maintained with an undercoat rake and regular grooming visits.  As an owner, if you refuse to take these measures, then you should never have gotten the dog in the first place.

Some time after I published the post and Youtube video showing our shaved Australian Shepherds, I started to accumulate some pretty nasty comments.  I eventually disabled the comments so that viewers could learn something without such loaded vitriol.  I have since turned them back on and written a follow-up post supporting our original stance on shaving a double coated dog.

Maybe all those claims are true.  And if you have read the extensive Q&A by an unnamed groomer, you will see that for some very narrow circumstances, the shaved Australian Shepherd may have coat regrowth problems.  And maybe if you immediately throw them outside in downtown Phoenix, they will get a sunburn.

I have two and while I love the look of their beautiful long coats, I honestly prefer the utility and lower maintenance of a shaved Australian Shepherd.  And considering that their coats have always grown back in without issue, I’m leaning toward it is not a problem to shave them.  I have done a really good job for the past year or so brushing out their coats.  And they are definitely more comfortable with the undercoat worked loose.  But after a recent hiking (mis)adventure, we will definitely be shaving them again.

Sydney’s Grooming Session

Trooper has been brushed out three times on one side and once on the other (see recent undercoat rake post).  In the spirit of maintaining their long hair with gold star Australian Shepherd ownership status, I should keep working on it.  Sydney was up next for a rake and brush out session.

This is the (undercoat) hair pile achieved from raking out everything except her pants.

Long haired Sydney all gussied up.  Maybe I have a vision problem, but it looks to me like all her hair grew back in.

Why we will have Shaved Australian Shepherds once again

Our (mis)adventure took place at the same hiking location as A Romp in the River.  It was high 70s outside and we were looking forward to trekking near water.  Not only does it give the dogs a place to cool off but it means we do not have to pack in as much water and the dog bowl.

The first mishap was when we started going through brush in an attempt to get around some difficult terrain.  While nothing pricked me, apparently the dogs were accumulating goat heads ‘like whoa’.  I knew something was wrong when Sydney slowed down and Trooper just stopped moving altogether.  I looked back at him, called for him but he would not advance.

This is a goat head thorn. Google it and look at the various sizes and pokiness. They puncture tires, get caught in dog hair and poke through your flipflops.

Poor Trooper – he had 3-4 goat heads per foot pad area.  They were next to his nails, between his pads, in his pads…it was bad.  And then they were all up in his feathers, pants and belly.  Each time he pulled one out himself, it would get stuck in his tongue and then he would frantically shake his head to get rid of it.

I could not crouch down where he was because there were more goat heads.  So I cleared him of goat heads where my arms were to go and then scooped him up.  I carried him until we hit a cleared path and took care of him on the river rocks.

Sydney never stops and it is a serious problem for goat head thorns.  She will endure the pain in order to keep up with the pack.  This tends to lodge the thorns deep into her feet and feathery hair.  When I started to work on her, I realized I was not going to be successful without a knife or scissors.  Thankfully, Brian has a knife-like blade on his key-chain so I sawed away for 20 minutes, removing tons of hair and goat head thorns.

A Shaved Australian Shepherd Swims Better

This is a theory and something I plan to soon check out.  After the goat head episode, Sydney had a very bad experience in the river.  She enjoys swimming, she always gets in the water and she has never had trouble before.  We will save the scary part of the story for a later date but in summary, I think her thick coat was a major contributor to her struggle.

A quick search on the internet brought up this discussion about which breeds do well in water.  Can you guess one of the body types to keep out of the water?  Thick double coated breeds!  Additionally, this reddit thread has a distraught Australian Shepherd owner asking for how to manage the mats that often result from swimming.  All of the responses involve an increased brush maintenance routine.  Groom groom groom!

So my theory is that a shaved Australian Shepherd has an easier time swimming, accumulates less junk in their hair and is easier to keep groomed.

The state of Sydney’s hair after the major swimming afternoon.

Trooper does not fully submerge himself so his coat stays a lot more organized.

To Shave or Not to Shave

As I mentioned at the beginning, if you are on the fence, I strongly recommend reading “DeBunking the ‘Don’t Shave Your Dog’ Myth“.  It is a little disorganized but it will answer every question you have.   After reserving 20-30 minutes each night for grooming the dogs, I am looking forward to having shaved dogs again.

I will continue to brush and rake them when necessary but it should be much faster.  They have good diets and are healthy, so I have full confidence that their hair will grow back.  And despite what the other camp says about “long coats keeping them cool”, my dogs act much more comfortable with their shaved haircuts.  Our adventurous life will be so much easier and fun – for all four of us.  Bring on the shaver!


  1. My dog is a border collie but very similar to the aussie shepherd. His first summer he was miserable, he got grass seeds and hid in cool spots and shaded puddles. We groomed him regularly but as soon as he sat in a puddle he couldn’t be groomed his coat was just too thick and when wet impossible to groom. We also have lots of ticks where we live and it is really hard to tick check a thick double coat. It only took a few days of rain to make his coat unmanageable so we bought clippers and shaved him, well he went from miserable to ecstatic in one day he raced around and literally bounced with joy! Within one or two months his coat was already a couple of inches long and was like a plush toy, soft and even. Spike is now 12 years old and he gets clipped every year, his coat is really thick and healthy and grows back just like it was before clipping, we groom for as long as possible but even in dry weather this takes at least half an hour a day, and often longer, and there are some spots he hates having groomed. It is in my opinion a kindness to him to clip him each summer and allows him to swim in the dam without looking like his coat is going to sink him and allows us to dry him so he can come inside in the evenings for family time. Clipping works for us ?

    • Thank you so much for the comment! I’m glad you tried shaving and got the pleasure of seeing Spike’s relief and joy. I love watching the dogs become puppies again when they feel so good.

  2. Thank you for sharing! We live in South Texas and it feels like a sauna outside majority of the summer days. I have an Australian Shepherd and debated if we should or shouldn’t shave her. She was so miserable in the summer, but she is an athlete that LOVES catching frisbees outside and swimming in the river. There were several days of playing outside for just five minutes and she worried me (it’s like she couldn’t cool off even after dipping in the pool). So for her love of outside and our hot summer days, I shaved her down… I have never seen her more comfortable; so for those that say the layers keep them cool (my dog definitely debunks that theory). She actually gets to play and run outside, dive-bomb into the dog pool, and I have never had troubles with sunburn or her hair growing back (it grows back very fast actually, we have to do a few shaves to get us through the summer). It was the best decision, and she gets to enjoy herself! So, I think it’s wonderful that you shared this!!!

    • Thank you for the great comment! I’m so glad your pup can enjoy being outside again. Thick coats are great for the show ring and for cold weather, but I do not accept the idea that layers keep them cool. Like you said, their behavior says it all.

  3. I just got my 2 year old aussie shepherd shaved…. he was miserable and hot and disnt want to play ball or play with the frisbee!! So i got him shaved!!! What a difference!! So much cooler and a new lease on life!!!! He looks gorgeous and is so much happier xxx

  4. I have a Minnie Australian Shepherd and I live in SW FL and durning the summer I tried keeping her long but she hates being brushed and tries to bite but also all she did was lay on the tile and cry and pant I have been shaving her now during the summers for 4 years and I see an instant happy puppy result she runs and plays and seems worth free. During the winter her fur grows out and it’s just as pretty and soft as it was in the beginning so I believe strongly that it’s ok to shave them ❤️

    • Worry free* sorry not worth free