Should You Demat or Just Shave Your Dog?
When a dog’s hair becomes matted, you must decide whether to demat or shave. This is determined by the degree of matting. If the matting isn’t too severe, you can sometimes comb out the mats with a little effort. If the matting is extensive or extremely tight, the most humane option is to shave it off and start over. Matted hair is painful and uncomfortably uncomfortable for a dog.
Dematting is time-consuming, to say the least, and can be painful for the dog. Damage to the hair shaft cannot be reversed once it has occurred. You must remove it in the same way that your beautician removes split ends from your hair.
There are a variety of sprays, conditioners, and shampoos that can help with mat removal, but there is no grooming shortcut for getting the mats to fall out. Anyone who is willing to do the work can remove the mat.
Matted hair can be caused by allergies and scratching, fleas and biting, and bathing the dog without combing out. Regular grooming, bathing, brushing, and good nutrition are the foundations of healthy hair.
You can demat most hair without causing too much discomfort to the dog if you use the right tools in the right way. A bladed plastic letter opener makes an excellent dematting tool. Make sure you’re only running it through your hair and not any loose skin.
Silicone aids in the slipperiness and separation of hair. There are many silicone-containing dematting products on the market, including some that are used on horses’ manes and tails but have been shown to work well on dogs as well. Horse products such as Show Sheen® and Cowboy Magic® have proven to be extremely effective on dog hair. Apply these products to your hair and let them dry naturally, or use a blow dryer to dry them. Do not attempt to brush it out until the hair is completely dry. When it’s dry, you’ll find that brushing out the hair and mats is much easier and less painful for the dog.
There are also many dog-specific dematting solutions on the market that help the hair slide apart very well. Inquire with a groomer about the products he likes or may sell. Even an old human favorite, Johnson…amp; Johnson’s No More Tangles®, can help detangle a dog.
You may need to experiment with a few different products before you find one that works well on your dog’s coat without leaving it greasy or sticky. Remember that a little goes a long way. One of the reasons some products do not work well is because they are overapplied.
The Dematting Methodology
If the dog’s hair is not severely matted, the first step is to bathe and condition the dog, as well as work out some tangles in the tub while the hair is wet. If you use a force dryer on the coat, like professional groomers do, you can blow out a few tangles with the dryer, and if you have a badly matted area, use a slicker brush on that mat in a gentle pat-pull motion, being careful not to scrape the dog’s skin. Slicker brushes are frequently mishandled, but if used correctly, they will last a long time. The slicker brush should loosen the matted hair, and then you can pick at it and comb it out with a wide-tooth comb.
When examined under a microscope, hair appears to have scales on the cuticle. Damaged hair scales will protrude from the cuticle, snag other hairs and debris, and mat. Smooth hair is healthy hair. Keeping a dog’s skin healthy will also keep her coat healthy. A healthy diet, regular grooming, and using a conditioning spray before brushing will help to keep the hair cuticle in good condition.
If the hair is extremely matted and has a lot of undercoat, you can use a dematting rake with curved blades to cut through the matted hair. These tools are great for removing undercoat, but you can’t use them in the same spot on the dog for too long because they cut the hair and leave a bald patch.
If your slicker brush’s pins are missing, twisted, crushed, or protruding in the wrong direction, it’s time to replace it. Damaged tools will harm the hair cuticle and the skin of your pet. Make certain that all of your combs and brushes have smooth, polished tines and pins, as well as no rough edges that can harm your hair or skin.
Blenders and Thinners to the Rescue
When all else fails, you can remove the matting with thinning or blending shears. Lift the matted hair and use your thinners or blenders to smooth it out. Make a couple of cuts through the matted hair or behind the mat next to the skin, making sure to tilt the blade away from the skin so you don’t cut the dog. You can usually brush out the mat without looking like you just cut off a chunk of hair.
Thinners and blenders make hair look more natural and can be used to remove choppy marks left by scissors or clipper blades. If possible, use them vertically to allow the hair to fall naturally. They will not blend in as well if used horizontally across the hair.
Don’t get carried away with your thinners and make several cuts, or you’ll end up with a huge chunk cut out. Thinners and blenders remove only a portion of the hair, leaving the remainder to fall between the teeth. This gives the hair a more natural appearance.
Rather than cutting with blending shears, you can blend hair all over the dog to make it look natural. This can make a dematted coat appear fuller, but you can also improve a dog’s face by using blenders to remove excess hair in front of the ears and cheeks. This works especially well on long-nosed breeds like Collies and Shelties to highlight their lovely features.
You can use blending shears down the skirts of Spaniels to soften the line of trimming and make the Spaniel look as if his hair grew naturally like this, even if he is clipped rather than hand stripped.
Blend the hair around the ears and tails of thick-coated dogs to thin out the hair and slightly trim the coat. Blending shears can also be used on the feet and hocks of dogs to make them look more natural and to remove wispy hairs. Once you’ve gotten used to using thinners and blending shears, you’ll realize how useful they are and how difficult it is to live without them.
Shaving a Matted Dog
If your dog’s coat is matted, the most humane thing to do is shave it off and start over. Put a sweater on her if it’s cold. If it’s hot, keep her out of direct sunlight to avoid sunburn.
It’s critical to keep the skin taut while shaving the dog’s mats. Mats can be so tight that they pull up skin, nicking or seriously cutting your dog if you’re not careful. If you’re going to use scissors, insert a comb between the mat and the skin and cut only what’s on top of the comb. If you can’t get a comb underneath the mat, use a very close blade, such as an A5 blade number 10, 15, or higher, to gently get underneath. Be cautious around the belly button and the tuck-up where the hind leg meets the body, as there is loose skin that can easily be cut. When possible, clip with the grain of the hair. If this is not an option, clip in reverse or against the grain to remove the mat. It all depends on the thickness of the matting and its location. The most important thing is to avoid cutting the dog’s skin.
The length of the coat and where it is cut determine whether or not you can make the dog look good. If the dog’s head and ears aren’t too matted, you can leave a cute head and face, leave the tail longer, and shave the body short. In the summer, this look is frequently requested at grooming salons; some groomers refer to it as a smoothie.
Assume you have a Schnauzer with mats on his chest and belly. This dog could be shelled out by leaving the fringe on the sides but shaving the hair on the belly and chest. Unless your dog rolls over, no one will notice the shaved portion. This technique is effective on any dog with longer side and leg hair, such as Cocker Spaniels, Yorkies, and Afghan Hounds.
If your dog’s ears are matted, you can shave them short and leave a small beard on the dog’s face, which is known as a German trim. Remember, it’s just hair, and it will regrow!