How do I: Brush and comb a dog’s coat
One of the most important things that anyone can do to ensure a healthy coat is to brush and comb it out at least once a week. Now I cannot stress enough that once a week is the “least” which implies that every other day would be pretty darn good and once a day would be optimal. It is very important to brush and comb thoroughly and correctly between professional grooming appointments. An overall brushing with a slicker brush is just the beginning. That only takes care of the surface of the coat.
The best way to thoroughly brush is to segment the hair in a systematic order to ensure that all of the hair is getting brushed not just the surface. Photo (a) The brushing motion should be in the direction of the natural growth. I find it very effective to begin at the bottom of the area ie. the leg and work my way up. Care must be taken to brush just the hair and to avoid scratching the skin. I use a down and away type of motion which moves the hair in the brush away from the skin rather than scraping along the skin. Speed is not the goal, being thorough is. This sectioned brushing procedure can reveal the presence of some mats.
Brushing should always be followed by combing in the same segmented fashion as in photo (b). I use a metal comb that has tines that are close together. Combing will ensure that you will find all mats that have formed.
As each mat is discovered during the comb out I use a mat breaker as in photo (d) and (e) to loosen the mat then use the comb again to ensure that all of it has been removed. If a mat that is discovered is tight to the skin a professional dog groomer is best qualified to remove it.
When I come across a mat that is tight to the skin my decision as a professional groomer is usually to shave it out. Tight to the skin mats put the dog’s skin at risk of being cut if worked on with a mat breaker. Warning: Never, ever use scissors to cut at a mat…Never! I use my clipper with a #10 or #15 or even #30 or #40 blade to get safely under the mat to shave it out. This will leave a bare spot so I make as small as possible a shaved area as possible…no wide naked swaths to ruin the look of the coat.
I follow up with an overall combing to check for any accidentally missed mats to ensure a thorough brushing and comb out is complete. Regular brushing followed by combing, as well as removing mats as they develop makes taking care of a dog’s coat much easier. A matted dog is a dog that is in pain.