How do I groom a mattted dog
Here is Tinkerbell…with about 6 months of overgrown and matted hair. The first consideration really is whether to de-mat or not to de-mat a dog. In my opinion, if a dog has mats which are close to the skin and over more that 10% of its body, then the dog should be shaved down with the safest blade length possible. Even this is not a hard and fast rule. If I see that de-matting will cause pain or pose a risk of cutting the skin it really does not matter about the percentile of mats. The safety and comfort of the dog comes before all else.
Photo A shows the matted condition of Tinkerbell’s back. These mats are close to the skin and cover her rump from about midway down the back.
Photo B shows the matted condition of her legs. Here we are looking at mats that are even closer to the skin and in very difficult to reach spots on both the inner and outer portions of all 4 legs. The decision to shave off the entire dog is clear.
In the case of a very matted dog, I choose to do a pre-shave before bathing the dog. This does take a toll on the sharpness of one’s blade, however, Tinkerbell although not clean was not gritty dirty which is not so bad. Were I to bathe her before shaving the mats would absorb and hold the water longer making the drying process take longer. Not only that, some of the oils and dirt may not wash out as readily from under the mats so pre-shave it is. Photo C shows that I began down the back using a #10 blade to get under the mats.
There was matting on her face as shown in Photo D so I also pre-shaved her face. If the face does not have mats I usually do not include it in the pre-shave process. The pre-shave is also referred to as roughing in…not hard to see why.
I continued down her chest and under her belly with the #10 blade removing the matted coat.
I worked my way down each of her legs as well getting rid of all the matted hair. Photo F shows Tinkerbell totally pre-shave and ready to be bathed. Her ears, muzzle and tail were not matted so I left them intact for the bath.
Here in Photo G, Tinkerbell is fluffy dry and ready for the finishing trim. Notice how nicely the remaining hair sits up and away from her skin now that the oils are washed away. This demonstrates the importance of bathing a dog prior to the hair trimming…the glommed down oily hair does not make for a good look.
Photo H and Photo I show the before and after of scooping out the hair growth from between the pads of the feet. I use a #40 blade for this but it can be done with a #30 or even a #10.
Now it a simple matter of going over the entire body with a #10 blade again to even out the look of the trim. I can now also see clearly how to address the length of the dog’s nails…as shown in Photo J and Photo K.
I plucked and cleaned out the inner part of Tinkerbell’s ears, her muzzle and ears have been shortened considerably, her tail combed out and tidied and her grooming session is complete.