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Why your dogs coat gets matted and what you can do about it

What is matting?

Matting is a condition where your dogs hair become tangled and knotted around itself forming large clumps of hair stuck together (think dreadlocks). It occurs most commonly in breeds with curly, fine or double coats. Matting can occur on both the outer and undercoat, mainly in areas where there is lots of movement and friction (e.g. around collar, behind ears and under armpits.

What happens when my dog gets matted?

The hair wraps around itself and pulls the fur together which restricts air circulation to the skin and can cut off blood supply to extremities. Without air circulation, the skin cannot dry properly and will leave it raw and inflamed. It can cause pain and discomfort when the dog is moving and restrict some movements. Matting around the genitals can trap in urine and faeces causing irritation and infection.

Why does my dog fur get matted?

  • Friction: This is one of the main causes and why matting is most commonly found behind ears, around the collar line and under the armpits.
  • Type of Coat: Single coated dogs are less likely to get matting compared to double coated dogs who have a thick under coat that is difficult to see.
  • Texture: Curly coats (e.g. Poodles, Bichons) are more prone to matting as the hair naturally curls trapping in dirt and debris which will stay in the coat until it is brushed out. A silky coat will mat easily as the hairs are very thin if not brushed.
  • Season: Matting occurs more frequently during shedding season as loose fur gets trapped and impacted against the skin.
  • Activities:  e.g. swimming will cause dogs hair to mat faster as the moisture causes hair to curl and dries wrapped around itself. At the beach sand can get trapped within the fur and causes matting.
  • Amount of brushing: Brushing straightens the coat out and removes the dead fur. If not brushed, fur gets trapped and moves closer to the skin.

How to prevent matting?

  • Brushing: This is the most effective way to prevent matting. How often depends on the breed, coat type and hair length. Using the correct brush is key and then following through with a comb will find knots that the brush has missed. If you cant comb the coat then we cant clip it.
  • Bath regularly  with correct Shampoo and Conditioner:  Don't use human shampoo on your dog ever and following the shampoo with a conditioner helps to soften the hair making it easier to brush. Talk to us about what shampoo is right for your dog.
  • Protect against fleas and parasites: Fleas and parasites causes irritation for the dog and causes itching which encourages friction and ultimately matting.
  • Good Quality food: Good food will help reduce skin irritation that encourages scratching.
  • Remove harnesses and/or collars when not using
  • Trim curly coat dogs regularly:  To keep the coat manageable for brushing
  • De-shed double coats regularly.
  • Never shave a double coat

What to do if my dogs coat is matted?

When dealing with matting, think of your own head hair when it gets knotty. You can try and pick at a mat and brush and comb it out if it is little and loose, otherwise any larger knots trying to brush out will be painful for your dog and create a negative brushing experience which can make it harder in the future.

Do not use scissors to cut out matting unless you are properly trained, have grooming scissors and feel comfortable doing so. Often matting is close the the skin and using scissors instead of clippers can result in injury. Using clippers is the safest option to remove any mats as they can glide under the matting without cutting the skin.

How to Brush out matting:

Separate matting from skin and other hair.

Hold end of the mat by the skin with your fingers so you don't brush and pull the skin.

Spray with grooming or de tangling spray to help loosen hairs

Brush in the direction of the hair and keep going until hair separates.

What groomers can (and can't) do with matted coats

If you cannot brush your dog then please do not expect that we can either.

Quality groomers do not want to shave the fur any shorter than they have to. Shaving is not a short cut to get the job done quickly. It can be slow, tedious and dangerous. We are working on areas of the dog where the skin is thin, already irritated and being pulled on. Removing a heavily matted coat involves risks of nicks and cuts due to warts, moles and skin folds being hidden within the matted fur and must be removed with care.

Clippers cannot go through the matting they have to go under it so depending on how close the matting is to the skin will determine how long the coat can be kept.

Talk to your groomer, show them any matting and let them feel the dogs coat and discuss options e.g. Shave the matted areas and leave the rest of the coat the desired length e.g. shave armpits, behind ears and inner legs and blend it to the rest of the coat. Or shave the whole coat short so that it is even and will regrow evenly.

Time Lapse Video of shaving a matted dog

We love your dogs as much as you do and this is why we do what we do. We believe in doing whats best for your dog and live by the mantra health and well being over vanity. We don't ever want to shave your dog and upset you but when there is matting we have no other option.