The 3 Best Dog Brushes for Shelties
The Sheltie's double coat demands three specialized dog brushes: a detangler for stripping the fluffy undercoat, a fine-toothed comb for untangling wispy mats, and a slicker brush for tidying the coarse outercoat.
1. A Detangling Comb
The main brush you need to handle all the shedding is a detangler. Use it once a week to strip out the woolly undercoat and tease out moderate knots. Other Sheltie owners swear by the undercoat rake, although I feel like I get more precision with a detangler.
The most efficient way to groom a Sheltie is line brushing. Starting at the back of the neck, part the fur horizontally so you can see his skin and use your detangling comb in small strokes. When there's no more resistance and no more fur coming out, move down an inch and repeat the process. With this technique, you can target all the undercoat on the body, rump and legs. It's a systematic process of reaching right down to the skin and teasing out the loose fur.
If your Sheltie squirms, you're being too aggressive with the brush. Take your time and talk in a soothing voice. When you encounter tension, gently grip the fur at the base to reduce the pull on your dog's delicate skin. The only places you don't want to use your detangler or rake are on sensitive areas like the face, neck, ears, belly, and joints.
2. A Fine-Toothed Comb
A fine toothed comb, also known as a flea comb, gives you more precision. Tease out any mats from the long wispy fur behind the ears, under the arm and leg pits, and around the belly and groin.
Fine mats form in your Sheltie's joints and behind his ears because the fur is always rubbing and twisting here. If left too long, these tight mats pull on the skin and become painful. A fine-toothed comb is also good for line brushing around the troublesome neck area, where the fur mats easily under the collar.
3. A Slicker Brush
Once you've removed all the mats and the loose undercoat, switch to a slicker brush to finish the outer coat. Looks for one with retractable bristles for cleaning and storage, so the pins aren't as liable to break and scratch your Sheltie's skin.
This stage is quick and painless for your Sheltie, as all the heavy mats are all gone. Finishing with a slicker brush tidies the outercoat, massages your dog's skin, increases blood circulation, and distributes the natural oils. It leaves the coat soft and shiny without any debris.
And that's it—you're done! Aim to groom your Sheltie every week with all three brushes in the sequence described above, or more frequently if your furball is shedding heavily and your carpets can't take it.
Bathing Your Sheltie
About once a month, clip your Sheltie's nails and give him a bath to clean his skin and deodorize his fur. You can put off bathing for a couple of months if you prefer; Shelties generally aren't the kind of dogs to roll around in poop and other nasty smells. But if you leave it too long, he can develop blocked pores (hard lumps under the skin which can grow really quite large) or itchy and flaky skin.
Don't use human shampoo on your dog. As a different species, their skin has different acidity levels and is vulnerable to different parasites. Choose a shampoo for double coated dogs which exfoliates the skin and loosens the shedding undercoat to help it come away. If your Sheltie has dry or sensitive skin, opt for a hypoallergenic dog shampoo for thick coats.
Thoroughly soak your Sheltie in the tub, line parting as you go to get the water right into the undercoat. The phrase "water off a duck's back" springs to mind.
The best strategy is to drench to lower half the body first with the shower head right up against her skin. Shampoo that half, giving your Sheltie a nice scratch and some kind words of encouragement, then rinse it all out thoroughly. Try not to leave any shampoo residue behind as it’ll itch and irritate her skin later.
Rinse thoroughly. This will take much longer than washing human hair because there's just so much of it. It's worth it though: your Sheltie's skin and fur will be spotless and he'll smell delicious.
After bathing, gently pat your dog dry with a towel. Don't rub her or you'll damage the undercoat which, like human hair, is more prone to breakage when wet. Then allow her to dry off naturally indoors, or outside if the weather’s warm.
If your furniture can't take a wet Sheltie rubbing herself all over it, carefully blow dry the coat on a low setting, parting the hair as you go. Wait until the coat is fully dry before brushing.