Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mini Aussie Coat: Transitions, Maintenance, & Feel

A Coat of many colors

I always wanted to know...
"What is the coat of the Miniature Australian Shepherd Like?"

I've been meaning to write this post for a while as it was one of my biggest concerns about this breed.  Well, I finally have enough "data" since Indie just turned 1 year old!

My fiance and I think the Australian Shepherd coat is perfect.  The longer I own an Aussie, the bigger the fan I become of everything about them! Even my fiance, who did not want a dog at all because he is a) a cat person and b) thought dogs would be smelly and dirty, is completely enamored with this breed.  Personally, I find a long coat to be more fun to pet and bury my face in than a short haired dog. Indie's coat naturally sheds dirt, is not greasy or smelly, and he doesn't shed very much. What more do you want? This is a hardy, moderate-to-low maintenance working dog and in my opinion, they're the best!

Coat Appearance and Feel
Well, this depends on the age.  Aussies are cotton ball fluffy when they're tiny and then they loose all that fluff and have this thin, soft, wispy chicken feather coat for a while during their adolescent phase. As they get closer to being 1 year old they finally get a long, slightly more dense and coarse adult coat (see pics below).  Right now at 1 year old Indie's coat is long, but not very thick.  I hear it takes two to three years for the coat to really get to full thickness.  In the pics below, it looks thick, but it's really not.  I will keep updating this post as he gets older.

Overall, I find my dog's coat to be very soft, especially the part on top of his head. His coat lays flat against his body and it has a slight shine to it.  I mean, you don't look at an aussie think "Man, that's a lustrous, shiny coat!" like you would with a cocker spaniel or maybe golden retriever, but it really is quite shiny! You can see this shine better on the tri's than the merles.  Indie's coat is more dry and soft instead of silky, greasy, and sleek. I love it!  It's great to pet Indie because he doesn't leave that nasty coating on your hand, do you know what I'm talking about? Some dogs have this "stink" and is stays on your hand. 

Behind his ears his hair is more like goose down.  Ultra soft and when he got older, it was prone to dreading up when wet or from grass seeds being stuck.  The fur on the back is dense and less fluffy (but in a soft way) while the butt is very fluffy and also prone to dreading. 

Aussies coat's are meant to shed the dirt and I find this to be true with Indie.  It's amazing actually.  He can be covered in sand from the beach and as soon as his coat dries there's nary a trace of it left.  If we're out on a walk and he jumps into a pond or a lake, by the time we get back to the car you can't even tell he even went splashing around.  My fiance and I are so thrilled about this.  I was worried, because Indie has white feet, that they would always appear yellowish or dingy. Not so, they are ULTRA white all the time even if he's stepped in anoxic bog mud.  Once he's dry, the dirt just falls right out.

Water resistance
As Indie's adult coat started to come in, around 7 or 8 months old, I notice that it became increasingly water resistant.  It seems so thin to me compared to the uber thick coats I've seen on some aussies, but nonetheless he'll look completely wet and when I go to part his hair he's dry under his top layer!  While this is good for keeping them, it makes a bath and shampoo slightly harder.  You really need a detachable shower nozzle to spray him and physically part and tussle his  hair to get it wet all the way through.

This is actually something that is very important to me.  I can't stand dogs who have oily, musky smelling coats.  You know what I'm talking about.  After you pet them you have this stink on your hand and you have you to go wash it off.  Well, not aussies.  So far, I haven't met one where I felt that way.  Indie can play hard and not get a back for weeks and he's never greasy or smelly.  Our house does not have that "dog smell."  I am forever thankful!!!

Shedding & Maintenance
Well lets just say the biggest maintenance aspect of these dogs is not their coats! (It's the exercise/mental needs!). I don't consider Indie to be a shedder.  I had a shepherd mix growing up and he shed constantly.  Labs seem to shed constantly.  I will notice a few of Indie's hairs every now and then, but hardly at all.  When I have petted shorter hair breeds of dogs, I feel there is this plume of hair that wisps up into the air each time you stroke them. Gross! Well, thankfully not Indie. I could not be more satisfied with his coat!

He tends to get dreads on his butt hairs and behind his ears from grass seeds getting stuck in his goose down-like feathers and I just cut these out with scissors when I feel them.  I give him a brushing about once every two weeks, or when needed.  Mostly I do this to distribute oils, keep his coat shiny, and check for any hair that has been shed.  It takes me about 3 minutes to brush him.  The best way to achieve a healthy coat, aside from light amounts of brushing on occasion, is to feed your mini high quality food!
Other than cutting dreads out, I haven't really had to cut his coat. It looks awesome and styled as it is! In fact, someone in Home Depot asked me if I had his hair professionally done to look that way. I was like "Actually he's been rolling in grass, swimming in the river, and I haven't bathed him in over a month!" I did lightly trim his butt once because they got long, but then realized it actually looked better that way.  If you dog is having diarrhea, you might want to thin out or shorten the butt area a bit.   

Photos of the changes over time:

 Fluffly Puppy Phase: 
2-3 months old

Awkward, short, chicken-feather hair
4-6 months

 Longer Adult Coat Starts to Come in: 
7months - 1year

One Year Old!:

1.5 years-2 years:


  1. Oh this is awesome! I love seeing the progression of how the coat changes over the first year. Indie is such a handsome boy. Huck has white arms, a white chest, and a full white collar, so I was not looking forward to scrubbing all that dirt out after his first romp-around at the river a few months ago. A short time later, though, all the dirt was gone and his fur had miraculously changed from brownish-yellowish to gleaming white again, like magic. That was a breed "perk" that I definitely did not expect. I'm excited to see what his full coat will look like, but I'm also enjoying his "chicken" phase that he's just starting because his fur is super soft right now, almost like a bunny.

    1. Thanks Emma! Yes, I've been excited to make this post since Indie was a puppy! They are so soft when they're little. I liked the chicken feathers stage too. I still thought he looked marvelous then! I'm glad you have had the same positive experience with the coat--how awesome is that!? Self cleaning dog! I think Huck will have a glistening, glossy coat when he's older. That's one of the cool things about the tri coat vs. the merle coat (I think anyways :P). Oh, I updated the "Day in the Life" post and put in lots of pics and tightened it up. Hope it gives the right impression of this awesome breed!

  2. I stumbled across your page while doing some Mini Aussie research. I really enjoyed seeing the coat growth from someone who isn't a breeder. I am meeting more and more mini's but I have yet to find one with a coat like mine (silky and feathery but dense). I noticed it when she was a puppy (she just turned 2 last month) even between her and her two siblings. Have you come across any more 'silky' coated aussies?

    Also! I found a solution to the matting fur for my darling! Once a week I comb out her ears and tail feathers with a flea comb. If there is a "dread" use olive oil and rub the piece of climbed fur between your fingers. This really helps with things like tree sap (which won't shampoo out). Just a dab on your fingers will do the trick and it won't your pup.

    1. Thank you ! Glad you found this useful. I love hearing feedback. Oooo, good to know about the Olive oil trick! I will try that. I definitely try to comb using the flea comb. Helps so much for those delicate spots behind the ears. Otherwise, I just cut the dreads out. The ones behind the ears suck!!

      Does Indie have a similar looking coat to your dog? Because that's how I feel about him...he doesn't look like a "normal" aussie in that way (super thick coat). In my experience, it seems merles have the "fluffier" coats and tri's and bi's get more the silky flat lying coat. But it just depends. I see a lot of super fluffy thick coats and for a long time I kept feeling worried that Indie wasn't getting the "aussie coat." Like maybe something was wrong with him. But his parents don't have super thick coats. His mom was a red merle and she had a shortish coat and his dad was a black bi and had a veeeery silky flat coat, so I think he's ok and it seems my breeder doesn't really produce crazy thick coats like other ones do (probably for good reason, they are a hassle). I always imagined having to deal with combing out this crazy coat like I see on youtube and other sites and then Indie winds up being super low maintenance...go figure!

    2. My girl Kylie who is a black tri seems different then all your photos of Indie. He looks like he has more whirls in his coat. Maybe you have a point about the tri vs. Merle. Ky's mom had a very wiry coat and her father appeared very fluffy with a huge Aussie coat. I remember when I met all three pups (all black tris with different faces) her brother and sister even in the cottony phase seemed to have coarser fur than her. She just turned two at the end of March and has never gotten a big coat. I live in southwest Florida so it is probably a good thing. Although when I went to visit family over Christmas in NJ it was so cold and we got so much snow that her coat ballooned out within in days. It took several weeks to shed it all once we were back in Florida.

      I don't know how the weather is in Arkansas but Kylie is blowing her coat right now for the summer. She isn't the biggest fan of brushing but tolerates it well. However when she blows her coat she is very happy to let me really got at her for an hour or so.

    3. Hmmm....yes, maybe your climate affects her coat. I think that since Aussies are kind of a "mixed bag" breed to begin with (ruff and tumble cattle dogs), there is a LOT of variability in the breed. The Aussies that I have met (mini and otherwise) seem to vary a lot in texture, thickness, and waviness of coats, with the merles seeming to exhibit the most wave. Of course, breeders might only keep dogs with the thickest coats for show purposes, but they throw puppies of all sorts for home/companion animals.

      We haven't lived in AR a full year just yet, so it's hard to tell if he'll blow his coat when it starts to get hot and humid. It's fairly moderate here. Not too cold in winter, but pretty hot in the summer. For the most part, he doesn't shed all that much. I brush him every now and then and only get a little bit. I have dark wood floors in my house and I don't feel like I have huge balls of hair rolling around (like some have reported). Before this we lived in Santa Barbara, CA and it had a moderate climate so he didn't shed much there either.

      Here's another dog from my breeder who seems to have silky hair (though longer than Kylie maybe?) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFPndTQq9-E What do you think, is what her hair looks like? Your picture makes her look like she has pretty short, dense fur.

  3. Wow! The silky texture and length is almost identical (the photo for my profile is from when she was about 8/9 months so much shorter). Thanks for sharing! All in all I would say Kylie's shedding is minimal but if I have neglected her weekly brushings due to work or whatever I will notice more fur on the bed linens. I have noticed female's coats tend to be 'shorter' over all compared to males.

    Here is a better idea of what she looks like at just under a year and half from last summer (I had to create a how-to video for a grad school class) although the first clip with the mirror and the last clip with two red tris are when she was about 6/7 months old.


    1. Hi Kepler! Kylie is SO cute!! Love the photo of you two :) Hey, sorry for my late reply here...had to drop off the face-of-the-earth earlier to get married, start a new job, and do some house repairs. Have a new blog post up now with some cute photos of us with Indie at our wedding :) Anyways, thanks for sharing this update about Kylie! I love comparing notes and it's helpful to know what others experience with their mini's. I agree about the weekly brushings, definitely good if one can do that to minimize shedding. I'd love to check out your video, but it said it was private so I wasn't able to watch.

  4. Would you consider doing a coat series with your black tri as well? I feel like tri coats are often a bit different!

    1. Yes! You read my mind! A plan for that is in the works because I think they're quite different. I've been collecting photos to make one for black tris...just need to the time to sit down and do it :P Soon!

    2. I'd be very interested to see the black tri coat. My little girl is turning 5 months this week and her coat looks like it just fell out over night! She's looking super scraggly now, but I can't wait to see it when her coat starts to fill out :-)