Caring for An Australian Shepherd’s Coat: Key Stages and How To Prepare

🔄 Updated on November 18th, 2022

two-australian-shepherd-dogs-with-beautiful-coat-running

Have you ever noticed how the coat of an Australian shepherd changes as they grow older? I was shocked to see how my Aussie’s coat transformed from puppyhood to adulthood. What I wasn’t prepared for was the amount of grooming that went into keeping their coat healthy.

So, if you’re as interested as I was in learning how to care for an Australian Shepherd, keep reading as I dive into what to expect with each of the Australian Shepherd coat stages.

The Different Australian Shepherd Coat Types and Stages

All dogs go through growth stages where their coat changes in appearance and texture. Australian shepherds have two main growth stages, puppy and adult.

Still, other coat changes occur throughout their lifetime that affect how they look. Read on to learn about the different Australian Shepherd coat types and stages.

Puppy Stage

The cutest of the Aussie coat types is the puppy coat. When an Aussie is first born, they’re small, snuggly fluff balls. The soft, silky fir is beautiful and does a great job keeping the newborn pups warm. 

When Do Aussies Shed Their Puppy Coats? 

The fluffy hair starts to shed around four to six months and slowly transitions to the adolescent phase. You can expect the puppy coat to be gone by their first birthday. 

Be prepared for a lot of cleanups as your puppy starts to shed its coat. Although your dog is small, there’s a lot of hair on that tiny body. 

Lint rollers, vacuums, and a soft brush are all crucial tools to combat the shedding stage. Don’t put them away once the puppy coat is gone, though. You’ll need those tools for the next stage. 

Adult Stage

After your Aussie sheds its puppy coat, a soft, silky adult coat will replace it. As you see your dog’s adult coat grow in, you’ll be happy to find that the clumps and bald spots that might’ve appeared in puppyhood disappear. Instead, you’ll notice the standard multicolored Aussie coat that makes them so unique. 

When do Aussies get their full coat? 

Typically, that occurs by two years old. By that time, you should have a solid grooming routine down. You’ll also find out what your Aussie coat colors will be. 

Keep in mind that a working coat Aussie Shepherd is less likely to develop matted fur or shed compared to their “show” counterparts.

Australian Shepherd Coat Colors in Adulthood

Aussie coat colors and patterns can vary quite a bit, but there are four standard colors you’ll come across most often: 

  • Black 
  • Blue Merle (mix of gray and white spots)
  • Red
  • Red Merle (mix with red spots)

Australian Shepherd coat colors include various white markings and tan points. Points are specific places, including the eyebrows, inner ears, and feet. 

australian-shepherd-coat-colors

Markings can appear anywhere and be any color, but the Aussie’s large white patches are usually the most noticeable. These patches can appear around the waist or on the chest, tail, head, or legs. 

Do Australian Shepherds Have a Double Coat?

An Aussie’s adult coat consists of two layers: an undercoat and a topcoat. This dual-layered coat is called a double coat. The undercoat is a warm, wooly layer that keeps this outdoor breed warm in the winter. 

The top coat is much longer. Its purpose is to wick away water and keep dirt from reaching the skin, which is essential for this outdoor-loving breed. 

However, don’t get used to this Australian Shepherd double coat, as it won’t stick around all year long. That leads us to coat blow, which we’ll cover in the next section. 

Coat Blow

Remember the grooming tools I mentioned above? Hopefully, you kept them handy because coat blow is precisely as bad as it sounds. You’ll need to break out the lint roller and vacuum and prepare for some serious grooming sessions during coat blow season.

Once a year, typically when seasons change, Australian shepherd coats go through a “blowout.” That’s just a fancy way of saying that they shed large amounts of fur to prepare for the warmer months. 

During the Australian Shepherd blowing coat stage, the old dead hair gets replaced with a new coat for the summer. Unfortunately, that means your house and furniture are liable to get covered in fluffy dog hair for a few weeks. 

Try not to worry, though. Seeing all that hair fall out can be worrisome at first, but regular brushing can help reduce the amount of shedding and keep their coat shiny and healthy. 

Late Adulthood

When you first see your Aussie puppy, you’ll probably assume its color in its first few months will be the color it keeps for the rest of its life. However, it’s pretty standard for an Aussie’s coat to shift color as it ages and at various points in its life. There are a couple of different reasons this happens. 

One reason for color change is simply aging, as adult coats often differ from puppy coats. As a result, you might see more gray or white appear in their fur. Sometimes, your dog’s coat may darken, or their markings and points could become less pronounced. 

Another reason for a color change is that many Aussies have multiple shades in their fur, which may become more or less prominent with age. For example, a large red spot on your puppy might shift toward several smaller red spots as its adult coat grows in. 

Finally, some color changes may occur due to hormonal factors, such as during pregnancy or when the dog goes into heat. In addition, medical issues can cause color changes. If you think your dog might have an underlying problem, contact your vet.  

Australian Shepherd Coat Care: How To Do It Right

Now you know more about Australian Shepherd coat stages, but what’s the right approach to coat care? Australian shepherds have sleek, fluffy coats requiring extra attention for proper maintenance. 

The most important thing to remember is to begin grooming your pup from a young age, so they become accustomed to the process. 

Regular brushing will help remove dirt and debris and distribute natural oils throughout their coat. During your Aussie’s coat blow, they may need to get brushed once or twice daily. Tools like shedding blades or undercoat rakes and stiff brushes are ideal for making the process easier. 

In addition to brushing, Australian shepherds also benefit from regular baths using breed-specific shampoo every two to three months or as needed. Taking good care of your Australian Shepherd’s coat helps them look their best and ensures they stay comfortable and healthy.

What To Do if Your Aussie’s Coat Becomes Matted or Tangled

Any Australian shepherd owner knows that their thick, fluffy coat can quickly become matted with dirt and debris. Not only are mats unsightly, but they’re also unhealthy. The best way to remove mats is to work them out with your fingers or a brush gently. 

This method might seem time-consuming, but if you try to cut them out with scissors, you’ll risk cutting your dog’s skin. 

Don’t be afraid to seek a vet or groomer’s help if the mats are particularly tight or close to your skin. 

Once you get your pup’s mats out, make sure you always keep them well-groomed and free of mats to avoid potential skin irritation or infection. It may take a bit of extra effort, but keeping your dog clean and healthy is worth it. 

FAQ

Here are some answers to a few commonly asked questions about the Australian Shepherd coat and its growth stages. 

What does a healthy Aussie coat look like?

A healthy coat should be shiny and full, without bald spots or excessive shedding outside coat blow season. Some patchiness should be expected when your dog sheds its undercoat, but if you notice any of its topcoat coming out, you might want to contact your vet.

Will diet affect an Aussie’s coat?

Regular brushing and grooming can help to stimulate healthy hair growth, but diet also plays a crucial role. 
Make sure your Aussie gets plenty of essential fatty acids through their food or supplements and all the necessary vitamins and minerals for healthy fur growth. A poor diet can affect how and when your pet loses their fur. 

Do Aussies need flea and tick prevention?

Flea and tick prevention is crucial for your dog’s health. These pests can harm your pup’s coat and put their overall health at risk. Not to mention, they pose a severe health risk to anyone in your home, as well. 

Final Thoughts: Australian Shepherd Coat Stages

I hope this article helped you understand a bit more about the Aussie’s coat stages. It’s important to know what coat stage your Aussie is in so you can care for their coat properly. 

Always remember that a well-maintained coat is the key to a happy pup. It keeps them looking great and, most importantly, is a sign they’re in excellent health. 

Sarah Alward | Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Sarah Alward | Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Our resident DVM helps review every article to ensure we always provide scientifically accurate, up-to-date information. She’s proud to help provide pet parents everywhere with the info they need to keep their pets safe, healthy, and comfortable.