Grooming The Family Aussie
Compared to many terriers, the Aussie is relatively easy to maintain as a family pet. Many pet shop groomers are unfamiliar with the breed and tend to "over groom" the Aussie, using grooming for a Westie, Minature Schnauzer or Cairn as a guide. That inevitably results in a clippered grooming that removes too much body coat and furnishings, including the longer coat from the ruff (chest), rear legs and even the top knot (top of the head). If you ever get such a grooming, don't be too dismayed. The hair will grow back. Following are the relatively easy grooming procedures for the family pet Aussie and I use these for my retired Aussies too.
Each week, comb out the entire coat twice (body, furnishings, muzzle...yes the entire coat), the first time using a comb with a coarse tooth width and second time using a comb with a medium tooth width. This will remove dead coat and keep the coat in great condition to repel dirt, water, etc. You may also want to consider obtaining a furminator to help thin the coat, especially the undercoat, to keep your Aussie more comfortable, particularly during the summer months. While an Aussie coat does not easily mat as long as it's regularly groomed, you may want to consider obtaining a pin brush for those weeks when your Aussie gets dirty or caught in the rain or if you miss a week of grooming. Also, a small slicker brush can help when combing out the finer hair on legs.
About every four weeks, more or less depending on coat and nail growth:
Go to the photos page to help visualize the "ideal" Aussie look.
Grooming The Show Aussie
I know one of the things that may have attracted you to Aussies is the many show photos I have on this website. Show grooming requires considerable hand stripping, hand plucking and shaping. For those that live near me, I am happy to make grooming arrangements with you. If you live afar, I will be happy to help you locate a qualified groomer and direct them to resources to help you keep your Aussie in "show coat."
I use a pragmatic, reasonably holistic approach to care for my dogs. I feed a combination of raw, cooked and natural products with the primary diet being Purina Pro Plan Shreds kibble. Following is the vaccination/medication treatment protocol I recommend:
Illnesses and Osteopathic Problems
Most Aussies live long lives well into their teens and I have heard of one Aussie that lived to 22 years of age. But, like people, they aren't without illness and other physical problems. According to a 2002 survey, the most common problems in the Australian Terrier breed are diabetes, allergies, luxating patellas and epilepsy/seizures. Less prevalent problems include hypothyroidism, pancreatitis, cushings syndrome, addison's disease, cancer, ruptured cranial cruciate ligament, arthritis and legg-calves-perthes disease.
Of all those problems, the only known problem in my Aussie lines is occasional occurrence of luxating patellas. The easiest way to describe a luxating patella is a knee that slips out of joint. Luxating patella severity is graded from level one (least severe) to level four (most severe). Severe patella luxation can be corrected with surgery. While a knee that slips out of joint would be a severe problem for a human, Aussies with minor luxation (level one or two) of one or both patellas need no treatment other than regular exercise to keep supporting muscles, tendons and ligaments strong. To this point, I have received only one report of a luxating patella (level one) in my breedings.