Not only are Australian Shepherds outstanding working dogs, but they’re attractive due to their colorful yet lush coats. It’s why so many new owners gravitate to this breed every year. However, one common question is whether these beautiful coats shed.
Australian Shepherds are heavy shedding dogs. Aussies have a coat that’ll shed moderately all year round. However, the shedding heavily increases during spring, as they need to get shed their thick and heavy winter coats, in preparation for warmer weather.
So, if you’re hyper-sensitive to dander (dog equivalent of dandruff), it may be a better idea to opt for a hypoallergenic dog instead. Having trouble picking one? Here’s a list of 55 hypoallergenic dog breeds. You’re bound to find one you like!
RECOMMENDED: The Smart Owner’s Guide to Aussies
Why Shedding in Australian Shepherds Matter
When you decide to keep a dog, such as the Australian Shepherd, you’ll likely spend a lot of time around the dog. They’re not called “velcro dogs” for no reason. More often than not, the Aussie will be shedding. But why is this important?
Many people, roughly 10% to 20% of the population, are allergic to dogs. To clarify, they’re not really allergic to dogs, per se. People are allergic to the “dander” produced by dogs. Just think of dander as dandruff on dogs.
As an Australian Shepherd starts to shed, the dander is also released into the environment. These allergens can really be troublesome, especially in an enclosed environment. And if you have rugs or carpet in your house, expect the dander to build up in the home.
If you are thinking about keeping an Australian Shepherd and you’re allergic to dogs, there are two options you have:
1. You can opt for a hypoallergenic dog, which are dogs that either don’t shed or rarely shed. Sure, this may not 100% solve your allergy problem – but it’s probably the best you can do.
2. You follow some steps to minimize your chances allergies in the home. With a little work, even ultra-sensitive dog owners can manage an Australian Shepherd.
Owners: How Much do Aussies Shed?
I Heart Dog conducted a survey with 85 real Australian Shepherd owners. Here’s their thoughts on shedding and their Aussie.
15% said their Australian Shepherd experiences Extreme Shedding.
65% said their Australian Shepherd experiences Moderate Shedding.
20% said their Australian Shepherd experiences Low Shedding.
0% said their Australian Shepherd experiences No Shedding.
It’s not a surprise that all Australian Shepherd owners claim their dog sheds. And while 20% of owners say their dog has low-shedding, they still shed more than your typical hypoallergenic dog.
Real Owner Tips on Dealing With Shedding
Joanne recommends: “Because the Aussie I have now has a long, heavy coat, I do brush often and use a rake to get through any parts of the coat that are ready to shed. I don’t have facilities to bathe her myself, so I take her to the groomer for that – whenever I think she needs it as she is always in the house. I take her to the groomer probably about every 5 weeks or so.“
Janet recommends that you brush your Aussie regularly and groom the dog every 6 weeks or so.
Donna, who voted for extreme shedding, summed up her response with “BRUSH, BRUSH, BRUSH!”
Carlo mentioned that he’s tried everything but “nothing works.” He added, “you just need to brush them as often as possible.“
According to Becky, brushing your Aussie three times a week is sufficient. On the other hand, Sue suggests you brush your dog every single day.
Although most owners suggest brushing often, Linda has given up, saying “no – just vacuum often” instead.
7 Tips for Dealing With Aussie Shedding
Keep in mind, these tips don’t guarantee an allergy-free home with your Australian Shepherd. And even if you’re not allergic to dogs, these tips are great hygiene tips for a cleaner home.
1. Keep Your Australian Shepherd Outside
This is obviously not something you can do in blazing cold weather, as Aussies aren’t suitable for cold or blizzard-like conditions. But if you live somewhere like Los Angeles or Texas, this can be a great way for reducing allergens in the house.
If your Aussie sheds outside, then the dander gets released outside. With a light breeze, those allergens will be long gone!
2. No Rugs or Carpets
As mentioned, dander (along with fur) likes to collect on carpets and rugs. And if you don’t do anything about it, you may be experiencing some terrible allergies. The best (and most obvious) solution is to remove all rugs and carpets.
A house with both carpet and other materials (wood, marble, etc.) would be best. But, removing carpet just isn’t a cost-effective solution for most people. If you plan to keep your Australian Shepherd in the house, there are other solutions.
You can keep your dog in the area of the house that does not have carpet. Most people choose the kitchen area, where kitchen flooring is almost never carpet. Keep in mind, if this non-carpeted space is small, you’ll need to frequently take them out to exercise.
3. Allergy Medication
Although I wouldn’t recommend constantly being on medication for the sake of dog allergies, there may be times when it’ll help a lot. For example, during spring season when your Australian Shepherd starts to heavily shed.
Or if it’s just one of those weeks when your sinuses are experiencing sensory overload, medication makes sense. Before you go out and buy some generic allergy medication, always consult with your physician or doctor.
Let them know the medicine is primarily for dog allergies and they’ll be able to make helpful suggestions or recommendations. Not all medications may work well, so professional consultation is very important in this case.
4. Be Patient With Your Aussie
After speaking with several owners who experience allergic reactions to dogs, i’ve realized one thing. They all claim that the allergies have gotten better over time. After being constantly exposed to the allergens, it’s not a surprise the human body will become desensitized to it.
In other words, your body will get used to your Aussie’s allergens. But of course, we are not medical professionals. These are just the experiences of real owners with real dogs. So with a little patience and time, your allergies can improve – but there is no guarantee.
5. Install HEPA Filters
Install HEPA filters throughout your home, and keep dust-catching furnishings such as curtains and rugs to a minimum. Clean often to thoroughly remove dust and dander, wash furniture covers, curtains and other cloth items as often as possible.
Buy a HEPA vacuum cleaner with a micro filter bag to catch all of the allergens.
6. Wash Clothes Often
If you’ve ever experienced owning a heavy shedding dog such as the Aussie, then you already know fur can get everywhere. The moment you cuddle up with your dog, you know your clothes are already plastered with fur. And where there is dog fur, there is dander.
7. Groom Often
The last obvious seems the most obvious but is probably the most effective: groom your Aussie as often as possible. Remove the dander before it gets a chance to circulate in the air. However, keep in mind that when you’re brushing the fur off the coat, dander will fly.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to take your Aussie outside when you’re grooming. Or if you have the time and budget, take them to a groomers. However, we don’t suggest this given how often you have to brush your Aussie.
How to Groom an Australian Shepherd
Australian Shepherds, like many dogs, require a decent amount of grooming. If you’re looking for a low maintenance dog breed, the Australian Shepherd is not the way to go. Instead, perhaps go for a Bichon Frise or Maltese?
If you’re seriously about the Aussie, you need to know grooming is going to be an important regimen in caring for your dog. Even if you’re not allergic to dogs, they still need to be groomed. Without grooming, their fur can get tangled and lead to discomfort or pain.
Coat Brushing – You didn’t think we’d start this quick guide with anything else, did you? Depending on the severity of your Aussie’s shedding, twice a week is okay. Some dogs need more and some less.
Tooth brushing – Something that most dog owners don’t do regularly enough is toothbrushing for the dog. This is especially important if your dog gets a lot of treats, specifically human food as treats. Brushing every day is the most ideal, but even twice a week is okay. Note: If you’re feeding your dog “human foods” always check to see if they are safe.
Bathing – Be careful not to bathe your Australian Shepherd too often. Doing so could make them vulnerable to certain skin ailments. Once a month should be sufficient, unless your mischievous Aussie likes to get dirty. I like to tell all new owners, bathe as necessary.
Nail Clipping – If your Aussie is walking around the house and you can hear loud thumps, then it’s time to trim those nails! Long nails can lead to discomfort, especially if they accidentally chip a nail. The best way to prevent this is to trim their nails whenever they grow too long.
Also, be careful as you’re clipping them – you don’t want to draw blood. And if you’re not very confident or comfortable with this, you can ask your vet or professional dog groomer to do this.
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