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Hair of the Dog: How to Detangle Your Dog's Matted Coat

If your dog’s fur is a matted mess, try these tricks


Some dogs just seem to be prone to matted coats. The reasons vary from longhaired breeds, which tangle easily; teenage dogs shedding their puppy fur and growing their adult coats; to dogs living in rainy or humid areas, which may cause frizzy fur.

Whatever the reason, the first step to keeping tangles and mats at bay is regular brushing. Longhaired dogs benefit from brushing three to five times a week; shorthaired dogs should be brushed two to three times a week.

DIY detangling tools

  • Slicker brush. A good everyday grooming tool with thin wires, which can help work out most mats.
  • Undercoat rake. If you have a dog with a mix of long and short fur, such as a golden retriever or a collie, use one of these — it’s the best-kept secret of dog groomers.
  • Comb. For a really stubborn mat, grab one of these. They have long, sharp, heavy teeth that help break up stubborn mats. As with any pointy tool, use it with caution to prevent hurting yourself or your pup.
  • Mat splitter. This one-sided blade cuts apart mats using a sawing motion. Saw away from your pooch, of course.

When the mat still won’t come out

Don’t worry; it happens. Resist the urge to cut it out with scissors. Instead, see a professional. A groomer will get the mat out and can recommend an overall doggie haircut to avoid the problem in the future.

If your dog is impossibly matted all over, a full-body shave may be the least painful option. But don’t worry, their coat will grow back and you can keep it silky this time.

Shop dog grooming supplies

Visit the PetSmart Grooming Salon page to find a professionally trained pet stylist near you.