Australian Cattle Dogs are "ruff" and ready, but they still require care by their owners so they remain in tip-top shape. They are no so much show dogs, and they are accustomed to getting down and dirty in dangerous situations, so you should be ready for a lot. Finally, but certainly not least, is that the Heeler has a double coat despite the little hairs, and you will need to learn the differences and why they are important. This page will help you understand those differences and why they must be observed.
Keeping this dog's coat clean is a must even as it is a short-haired dog who doesn't need the daily grooming a silky, long-haired dog — such as a Spaniel — requires. Learning how to groom a Blue Healer is not just performing the tasks but understanding when, how, and why to do it. Grooming only when she's dirty can associate the task with displeasure, and by then there may be problems that can lead to skin irritations and worse.
Taking a few minutes out once or twice a week to calmly, lovingly, and casually brush the coat while doing other grooming things can help with bonding. It will also help prevent problems with your Queensland Heeler's skin as well as make things much cleaner on a microscopic level (which is a big deal, as that's where dander gets its power to cause allergic reactions) and keep your Australian Cattle Dog happy and healthy.
The Australian Cattle Dog is a hardy little canine whose easy-care, short-haired, highly resistant coat nevertheless needs proper and regular grooming. The frequency isn't much, however, and unless he's really squirrelly in the outback or deep woods, once a week or so is fine. Still, you'll want to show your love, and getting the best brush for Blue Heeler is sure to help that work. You'll want a short-bristled, not-too-hard brush that gets the burrs and bugs out but won't scratch or otherwise harm the skin beneath the hair.
The undercoat requires more than a mere comb or brush, as it must be kept free of dead hair, mats, and tangles that can collect and occur beneath the out coat of guard hairs. This means that if there is just one brush that you can get, it should be a "rake" that gets down to pull out that dead hair without causing injury to the skin — which can cause serious problems. The FURminator Slicker Brush is well-known for being perhaps the single brush for those on a budget, as it rakes, combs, and de-sheds.
Still, you should have an assortment of brushes (and combs) to make sure the coat is completely cared for. While it can be an alternative for budget-conscious Aussie Cattle Dog owners who prefer something other than a FURminator, the Fuzzy Whiskers Glove does much of what it does and has the added feature of helping to bond you and your Heeler.
When it comes to brushing, you should consider these things to get the job done with as little fuss as possible:
- Set up a day and basic time every week to 10 days
- A quiet place and time is recommended
- Have a bag or bin to collect dead hair and debris
- Have all your tools laid out on a towel
- Perhaps have some quiet, calm music playing
- Don't rush the brushing
Although mentioned elsewhere on this page as the best brush for a Blue Heeler, the Furminator's finely tuned action is explained here in regarding to tangles. You might mistake the Australian Cattle Dog's coat as being so short as to prevent tangles, but it is a double-coat. Also, tangles don't just happen to long-haired, or silky, or fine-haired dogs. Hair is hair, and if there are two or more strands together, a tangle is entirely possible.
On the other hand, you don't want to brush, comb, or otherwise groom your Blue Heeler so frequently that it causes problems. The weather-resistant coat and natural oils do a great deal toward helping keep the dog's coat in good shape, and they did so for a very long time before brushes were invented! You simply want to aid nature by helping get out tangles that may be starting up before they get knotted, matted, or messy.
As stated elsewhere, the FURminator is perhaps the best brush for getting down to the core of tangles in your Heeler's undercoat, but most any slicker brush will do in a pinch.
Here are some tips for dealing with tangles and helping to prevent them:
- Carefully run your fingers, massage-like, through the coat to find any possible tangles
- Get a pump bottle with detangled spray
- Have a small towel to help shield her eyes from the spray mist
- Try to work out the tangles with your fingers
- Work carefully with a flea comb to get the tangles out
- Use the slicker brush or FURminator as the last step
- Brush against the grain with the slicker brush
The typical Blue Heelers dog wash procedure is somewhat easy even as it requires more care regarding the dog's mental well-being than it does care of the coat. By making sure you take the time to patiently prepare, bathe, and dry your Australian Cattle Dog, the coat will be equally taken care of. In any case, a bath every few months or so — or when she gets dirty from getting into something stinky, messy, or thorny — is best. You should never bathe too much as this can destroy the natural oils, which in turn creates dry, easily scratched skin prone to infections, "hot spots" that tangle and matt easily, and other health concerns. A couple of times a year, the Aussie Cattle Dog has a coat blow-out, and after one of these messy events is a good time to bathe her so as to get any dead or summer/winter coat leftovers out.
One of the best dog shampoos for this breed is Burt's Bees for Dogs All-Natural Oatmeal Shampoo with Colloidal Oat Flour and Honey, as it helps keep the coat extremely supple, strong, and healthy in very dry and punishing environments. The honey is like an oil itself, to keep the natural oils intact, and the oatmeal keeps the skin extremely healthy. When bathing, be sure to not have the water too hot, too cold, or too deep. You will want to have lots of towels, and to not rush or excite you dog — especially during the first few baths. Have a flea comb to get out any tiny critters while bathing, and be sure to rinse thoroughly and more than once to make sure all the soap is out. Towel-dry the coat as much as possible, and don't use a human hair dryer as it can easily burn a dog's skin. A low-heat, high-powered dog hair dryer is good, but towel-drying is the best as it allows the coat to naturally dry after most the water has been soaked up.
There's not much in the way of haircuts and styles for the average Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) as they are hard-working canines whose coat has long been suited to weather what they do in the harsh areas they do it. Still, there are a lot of Heeler owners who insist on "helping" their dogs stay cool despite the double-coat these dogs have and which do the job well enough. Searching online or even asking if a Red or Blue Heeler shaved is typical is sure to get a lively discussion going. Many groomers will say they prefer to not shave Aussie Cattle Dogs, and some will say that they charge a lot more for the task.
If you are wondering if can you shave a blue heeler, then you'll probably want to do it in a way that will help prevent the coat from growing back in a crazy way. Of course, it's probably best to have an experienced groomer do it. Still, if you insist on shaving a Blue Heeler (or Red), then you'll probably want to do it in a way that will help prevent the coat from growing back in a crazy way. Shaving a dog's double-coat must be done carefully as the two coats behave very differently when cut. There are no styles, per se, that are identified as being ACD styles. What most groomers will say is that the legs, head, and ears must be paid attention to so as to make the transition from shaved to not-so-shaved areas look nice.
The number one rule is: Don't shave the dog's face. Carefully taper the hair in front of the ears and the back of the head so it doesn't look choppy, and do the same for the legs to blend the hair into the shaved area. Using a #7 blade is highly recommended to get the basic job done. A #10 blade will help smooth out the rough parts.
Every part of any given dog requires care, and as the devil is in the details, you should not overlook the Blue Heeler teeth, nails, and ears. Unless you live in the Australian outback where your ACD can get out and stretch his legs the way she was bred to do, you'll want to keep your own ears and eyes open for the clues that mean something with your dog requires attention. If the nails are clicking, they need to be trimmed. If she is scratching her ears constantly, then there may be mites. If she is causing hair loss or or thinning hair by constant licking, she may have Acral Lick Dermatitis (ALD). This condition is also known as "lick granuloma," and it can be serious. It is often caused by stress that is brought on by lack of proper exercise. Heelers need a lot of daily activity to burn up their energy, and it's easy for them to get anxious and start licking their coats to the point of concern.
As for their teeth, they should be introduced while puppies to having their teeth handled. Using your fingers to gently "brush" their teeth and gums will help them be comfortable when you actually brush their adult teeth. One of the best dog toothpastes to use — and you should never use a human toothpaste for dogs! — is C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpastes which come in beef, poultry and other flavors your Aussie Cattle Dog will love.
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