The 3 Best Dog Brushes for Shelties

How to Brush Your Sheltie

Our Shelties showing off their fur production capacity

1. A Detangling Comb

This is the main brush you'll need to handle all the shedding. Use it once a week to strip out the woolly undercoat and tease out moderate knots. I recommend this 2-in-1 Detangling Comb.

A Detangling Comb is best for de-shedding your Sheltie's undercoat

A detangling comb is best for de-shedding your Sheltie's undercoat.

The most efficient way to groom a Sheltie is called 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 continually, 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 are on sensitive areas like the arm and leg pits and behind the ears. This is where we turn to our next brush.

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. Use this Pet Comb or similar.

A fine-toothed comb is best for detangling your Sheltie's wispier fur

A fine-toothed comb is best for detangling your Sheltie's wispier fur.

Fine mats form in your Sheltie's joints and behind his ears because the fur is always rubbing and twisting against itself here. If left too long, these tight mats near the skin can be painful for your pooch. Breeders do a quick comb in these areas every day to stay on top of the mats, as they can grow into big knobs of tangled fur that otherwise need to be trimmed out.

A fine-toothed comb is also good for line brushing around the troublesome neck area, where the fur mats under the collar. And while you probably don't want to think about it, it's the best kind of brush to have on hand if your Sheltie catches fleas.

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. I recommend this Self Cleaning Slicker Brush which has retractable bristles for cleaning and storage, so the pins aren't as liable to break and scratch your Sheltie's skin.

A slicker brush is best for tidying up your Sheltie's outercoat

A slicker brush is best for tidying up your Sheltie's outercoat.

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.

Just some well-groomed Shelties

Some well-groomed Shelties

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. I really like TropiClean's PerfectFur Dog Shampoo which is designed for dogs with double coats. It exfoliates the skin and loosens the shedding undercoat to help it come away.

Use a dog shampoo made for double-coated breeds

Use a dog shampoo made for double-coated breeds.

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.

Sheltie in The Bath

Are you kidding me?

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.

Becky Casale

Becky Casale is the creator of Sheltie Planet and Science Me. Over the years she acquired a vault of knowledge about Shetland Sheepdogs through hands-on experience, breeders, trainers, pet owners, and the scientific literature. She lives in New Zealand with Pete, Fox, Kea, and Piper.


Shelties: The Complete Pet Owner's Guide