Smooth-coated breeds like the Smooth Dachshund, Doberman Pinscher and Basset Hound posess a short, close-lying topcoat with little or no undercoat. This coat type is the easiest to care for because matting is not a consideration. A smooth coat has specific shedding issues as the individual hair is pointed at the tip and will penetrate fabrics making it more difficult to remove than shed undercoat. Use a Rubber Curry Brush to remove loose hair and to polish the coat...or a stiff bristle brush, or hound's glove against the growth of coat to loosen dead hair and skin. Then brush with the growth of coat to remove debris and distribute natural oils.
The Australian Cattle Dog, Anatolian Shepherd and Labrador Retriever are examples of breeds that have short, double coats consisting of a coarse, straight topcoat approximately 1/2" to 1" long and a thick, downy undercoat held against the skin. Though considered short coats, some of these breeds will have slightly longer furnishings in the rough of the neck, rump and tail. These breeds' water-repellent coats keep them warm and insulated while working in water or cold climates. This coat is easily maintained although excessive shedding occurs seasonally.
A slicker brush used against and then with the growth of coat will loosen dead hair and skin. Be sure to lift the coat, brushing from the skin out. Pay close attention to the ruff of the neck and the rump, where undercoat is thickest. A comb will help remove undercoat from these areas. A de-shedding tool is suitable for use on this coat type but should not replace the regular use of a brush.
The Golden Retriever, Norwegian Elkhound and Rottweiler are medium double-coated breeds consisting of a straight, coarse topcoat approximately 1" to 2.5" in length and possibly longer on the neck, rump and tail, creating a soft finish to the outline of the dog. The coat is water-resistant with dense undercoat all over the body and especially heavy around the neck, rump and tail. This coat type requires frequent routine brushing to remove shedding undercoat. A slicker brush used against and then with the growth of coat will loosen dead hair and skin. Be sure to lift the coat, brushing from the skin out. Pay close attention to the ruff of the neck and the rump, where undercoat is thickest. A comb will help remove undercoat from these areas. A de-shedding tool is suitable for use on this coat type but should not replace the regular use of a brush.
Due to the length and amount of coat on breeds such as the Chow Chow, Collie, Samoyed and Newfoundland, the grooming process can be back-breaking work. Sticking to a regular grooming schedule is important to keep these dogs in peak condition. A long-double coat consists of a straight, coarse topcoat approximately 2" to 5" in length and may be longer on the neck, rump and tail, creating a soft finish to the outline of the dog. Brush your dog thoroughly with a slicker brush, making sure to part the coat and brush from the skin out. Remove the loose undercoat with a large, wide-tooth comb. The wider tined end of a small stainless-steel comb can be used for the smaller breeds, such as the Pekingese and Pomeranian.
Use a mat comb for severe matting around the neck, rump or tail. Or, mats can be isolated and removed inconspicuously with a coarse thinning shear. The coat is water-resistant with dense undercoat all over the body and especially heavy around the neck, rump and tail. This coat type requires frequent routine brushing to remove shedding undercoat and reduce the potential for matting in the rough, rump and tail coat.
The texture of long coats will vary from coarse to silky depending on the breed. Some breeds have double coats, others only single coats, but all the dogs have naturally long coats that "drop" or hang down from the body. As beautiful as the Lhasa Apso, Maltese and Afghan Hound (to mention a few breeds) are, the challenges of caring for a longhaired breed may not be practical for some pet owners. Their long, profuse coats can easily become matted, necessitating a lengthy and expensive grooming session.
A mat comb can help, but sometimes the coat just can't be saved. If this is the case, clip the matted hair off the dog before bathing. An alternative would be to keep the coat at a shorter, more manageable length. These long, straight coats need delicate treatment. While exhibitors generally use the rigid, straight bristles of the pin brush to prevent splitting and thinning - the pin brush glides through well-maintained coats and is excellent for finishing or fluff drying - this brush is not ideal for pet owners because it doesn't remove the undercoat, which is one culprit behind troublesome matting. Pet owners should use a slicker brush when working on these drop-coated breeds. Brush out, systematically, in layers from the skin out. Test with a comb as you move through the coat, de-matting if necessary.
Breeds like Irish and Gordon Setters, and American and English Cocker Spaniels, possess a flat-coat consisting of a coarse straight, or slightly wavy, flat-lying topcoat with longer silky furnishings. An undercoat may or may not be present and can be sparse or abundant depending on the breed. The body coat is generally easy to maintain; however, the longer furnishings which can adorn the dog's legs, rump, undercarriage, tail and ears can easily become matted.
Brush with a slicker brush, paying close attention to the long furnishings.Test with a comb and use a mat comb on problem areas. Or, mats can be isolated and removed inconspicuously with a coarse thinning shear.
The Kerry Blue Terrier, Bichon Frise and Poodle are breeds that have a curly-coat consisting of a crisp topcoat and woolly undercoat. Together, the two coats create a dense yet soft hair covering on the dog. Curly coated dogs are generally shaped by scissor to achieve the correct breed profile for show. Many pet owners opt for a shorter clipped style to allow for easier care. Curly coats must be prepared correctly for shaping by drying the hair straight from the skin out, known as fluff-drying. This procedure stands the coat up and off the body and will retain a freshly groomed finish for a longer time.
A properly dense coat will hold the shed coat against the skin. This is why many believe the poodle and other dense, curly coated breeds to be good pets for people with allergies. Brush your curly-coated dog thoroughly with a gentle variety slicker brush, paying close attention to friction points. Test with a comb and use a mat comb if necessary.
Special treatment maintains the desired hard coat texture of breeds such as the Cairn, West Highland White, Airedale and Welsh Terriers. A hard coat consists of a crisp, wiry, flat-lying topcoat and a soft undercoat. Some breeds may have a hard jacket and silky furnishings making these dogs more vulnerable to matting. Special treatment known as "hand-stripping" or "carding" is necessary to maintain the desired harsh texture of hard coats. However, for most pet owners hand stripping is viewed as unnecessary. Proper breed silhouette can be achieved by a combination of clipping and scissoring techniques, though after time will soften the coat. Hard coats rarely become so matted that a clip down is needed. Unfortunately, coat texture will vary from soft to hard due to breeding, grooming technique and upkeep. Some dogs may have a harsh jacket and silky furnishings, which is more vulnerable to matting.
Brush your hard-coated dog thoroughly with a gentle variety slicker brush, paying close attention to friction points. Test with a comb and use a mat comb if necessary.
De-matting your dog's coat is absolutely no fun for you or him! Regular brushing and combing will eliminate the likelihood of having to participate in such un-pleasantries. In the best-case scenario, you can use a de-matting spray worked into the mats, making it easier to pull them apart with your fingers. They can also be loosened with a slicker brush and split with a mat comb. There are no magic tricks when it comes to getting out mats - nothing replaces elbow grease! Mat combs are extremely sharp; always work with the sharp edges facing you.
Secure the dog's skin by pulling it taut. Place the mat comb behind the mat and with short, quick strokes pull the mat comb through the mat. Do not use a sawing motion. This is rather like taking off a Band-Aid: it hurts much less if you do it quickly. Matting can hide a variety of skin afflictions. If the dog's coat is in firm clumps or, worse yet, is matted like a rug onto his skin, the coat must be clipped as short as needed to remove the mats. By this time, the dog's health and comfort are definitely suffering, and esthetics should be the last consideration.