The Best Dog Brush for Your Sheltie
Did you know there are more than 500 different dog brushes on the US market alone? Some are sworn-by brands, while others are made on the cheap and will deteriorate quickly. There are also unsafe counterfeits to watch out for. Given the range of options, how do you choose the best dog brush for your Sheltie?
I sifted through the features and user experiences of top performing brushes to showcase the best picks here. I also explain how to use these brushes correctly to groom your beautiful little Sheltie in stages.
Stage 1. The Undercoat
Grooming double-coated breeds like Shelties must begin with stripping out the woolly undercoat. Ignore this stage at your peril! You'll notice a lot of fluffy dog fur accumulating around your house, and even hanging off your Sheltie in little darts.
There are two ways you can go about grooming the Sheltie undercoat:
I actually do both depending on the thickness of the undercoat, and as I explain below, you'll come to understand which is best for your Sheltie.
Take a fine toothed comb or flea comb like Safari's Dog Flea Comb and start line brushing at the back of the neck. Part the fur with your fingers and gently work the comb through the thick undercoat. Little bits of fluff should comb out.
Now, move along an inch or so and part the fur again. It's a systematic process of reaching right down to the skin and teasing out the loose fur. Your Sheltie will find this quite gentle and shouldn't object much.
The further down the body you get, the more fluff will emerge, as you reach thicker and fluffier parts of the Sheltie coat. Go nice and slow, and spend as much time as you need to do a thorough pass.
Line brushing takes a long time but is the most effective way to groom the undercoat, ensuring you get all the loose fur out. The comb tool is also effective at brushing the long hair behind the ears and the sensitive underside, including the belly and arm pits.
In fact, you can do it all with a comb and be done with the undercoat in about 30-40 minutes (or more or less depending on how often you groom your dog).
Recommended by professional groomers, the Safari Dog Flea Comb is the best dog brush for line brushing Shelties. It has a double row design and suits all dog breeds and coat types. And while you probably don't want to think about it, it's also the best tool to check for fleas, flea eggs, and dry skin.
As well as line brushing you may be interested in raking your Sheltie's coat. Why? While undercoat rakes are more expensive than combs, they do allow for a much faster grooming routine. This means you can take a week or two off line brushing and just run an undercoat rake over the top of your Sheltie.
The best brush for raking is the FURminator Undercoat Deshedding Tool which is a professional grade rake for extracting the fluffy undercoat. The FURminator reduces shedding up to 90 percent with regular use, at least once a week. It also helps keep the keep the coat debris-free.
There's no line brushing involved here; simply run the rake over the top of your Sheltie's coat. The FURminator has stainless steel teeth which reach through the outer coat to remove the loose fur.
Some people are scared of the teeth because they feel sharp, and worry it will hurt their dog. Make sure you follow the instructions! For instance, brushing backwards, over-brushing, or using the rake on sensitive areas definitely will damage your dog's coat and skin. Do it gently and correctly, and your Sheltie be sweet.
The FURminator has some fancy features: an ergonomic handle to make grooming easier for you, and a FURejector button to release hair from the teeth. It's most effective on long haired, double coated breeds like the Husky, Chow Chow, Corgi, German Shepherd, Collie, Leonberger and of course, the Shetland Sheepdog.
It's important that you use the FURminator regularly on dogs with thick double coats. Especially at times of high shedding, such as right before summer when your dog sheds his winter coat.
Females shed more often, after every heat cycle if they haven't been spayed, so will require more work than males. Of course, spaying your Sheltie will help and is widely recommended by vets.
Don't use the FURminator on sensitive areas with wispy undercoat, such as directly behind the ears, under the arm pits, and on the belly. This is where you'll need to revert back to your comb and be extra gentle on these tangle-prone areas.
A FURminator Alternative
If you're worried you (or perhaps your kids) may misuse the FURminator, here's a neat alternative for raking the undercoat. The GoPets Dematting Comb is a double sided rake with a different number of teeth on each side.
The higher density side (23 teeth) is for general de-shedding, de-tangling and undercoat combing. The lower density side (12 teeth) is for de-matting stubborn knots and tangles.
This Dematting Comb is a one-size-fits-all dog and cat brush. Sharp stainless steel blades cut through knotted mats and tangles when they meet resistance. However, unlike the FURminator, all the teeth have dull rounded ends so the steel can neither scratch nor irritate your dog's skin if used improperly.
However, there is a cutting action at play. Each tooth is sharpened to help cut tangles when it meets resistance, and this eliminates tugging on the hair. With tough tangles, hold the hair at the base and comb it out using short strokes. For your dog's comfort, work from the tip of the hair and move your start point toward the base.
The handle is filled with non-toxic silicone gel, similar to that used in medical implants, making it easy to hold. And every purchase of the GoPets Dematting Comb sees a portion of the profits donated to animal charities, no-kill shelters and animal rescues. Nice!
Stage 2. The Outer Coat
Once you've thoroughly worked the loose undercoat, it's time to switch to a slicker brush to finish the outer coat. This is simple and quick - and generally much easier on your Sheltie because all the tough knots are gone by now.
Slicker brushes are more like our human hair brushes and gently stimulate blood flow under the skin while finishing the top coat. We recommend Hertzko's Self Cleaning Slicker Brush as the best brush for finishing. It's easy to clean with a retractable bristle system, so you can just wipe away the fur and debris with your finger.
The goal is to work over your Sheltie's outercoat - as before, starting at the back of the neck and working down to the rump and tail. The bristles have fine bent wires designed to penetrate thicker coats and will reach into the undercoat too. Although its main purpose is to extract trapped food and dirt and remove tangles from the long outer hairs.
Why the Hertzko brush? Brushing your dog with broken or bent bristles can be very painful. Hertzko has solved that by having retractable bristles when the brush is stored, so they can't be damaged in between uses. Your Sheltie will always be brushed with straight, undamaged bristles for a safer grooming.
The purpose of finishing is also to massage your dog's skin, increasing blood circulation and distributing the coat's natural oils. This leaves the coat soft and shiny, and your dog's skin healthier. The Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker Brush also wins Amazon's Best Choice Award.
Stage 3. Bathing
Dog grooming experts recommend you perform a three-part grooming routine. First, daily grooming with a slicker brush over the outer coat de-tangles and smooths the top layers of hair. Second, a weekly line brushing or raking strips out the loose fluff from the undercoat. Thirdly, a monthly nail clipping and bathing with dog shampoo to clean and deodorize.
We find you can defer bathing for longer than a month if you choose. Shelties generally aren't the kind of dogs to roll around in poop and other nasty smells. Plus, they like to keep themselves very clean by licking their fur when they come back from a walk. So it's fine if you want to bathe him every 1-2 months and let their coat's natural oils do the cleaning.
If it needs to be said, don't use human shampoo on your dog. As a different species, their skin has different acidity levels and different parasites. Fleas, anyone? We suggest Wahl's Oatmeal Dog Shampoo. It's pH balanced, alcohol free, paraben free and PEG-80 free. It moisturizes dry skin and provides itch relief for your pooch.
Thoroughly soak your Sheltie in the tub, line parting as you go to get the water right into the undercoat. Otherwise, the phrase "water off a duck's back" will ring true here! We do half the dog at the time (rear end or front end) otherwise he tends to dry off before we even get to the shampoo stage.
Make a rich lather so the shampoo gets everywhere. Then rinse, making sure you get it all out. This will take way longer than washing your puny human hair! It's worth it though - his skin and fur will be spotless afterwards and the coconut scent will make your Sheltie smell delicious.
We like Wahl's dog shampoo because it has a higher concentrate of coconut derived sodding agent, which means a little bit of shampoo goes a long way. Wahl has been serving professional vets and groomers for 50 years.