Coat De-Matting — A Neccessary Evil

De-matting is the physical removal of mats from a dog's coat. The process can be unnerving for the groomer, uncomfortable for the dog and expensive for the owner. Though there are many detangling and de-matting agents, sprays and powders on the market, nothing can replace preventative maintenance when it comes to matting hair. Routine and thorough brushing along with proper bathing and conditioning of the coat can prevent matting in all cases. Some coat types are more susceptible to matting than others. These coat types are: Long coats, curly coats, silky furnishings on flat and hard coats, and long double coats.

Contributing Factors: There are contributing factors to matting. The obvious is neglect of routine brushing and basic coat care. Correct brushing technique removes the undercoat and separates the individual strands of the topcoat. It stimulates the skin and distributes natural oils throughout the coat. A healthy, pliable coat is less likely to become heavily matted than a dry, damaged coat.

The undercoat is a culprit of matting. The fine, soft undercoat becomes entangled with the topcoat. The two different textures of coat can become woven together during the dog's regular movement and normal activities. Testing what was brushed with a comb will help the groomer identify any remaining areas of heavy undercoat and matted or tangled topcoat. Friction points are especially prone to severe matting. These areas are behind ears, under the dog's collar, cheeks, under the forelegs, the flank, the rump and tail. Coats not sealed properly with a conditioning product after bathing are very prone to matting. Leaving the cuticle "open" after bathing creates rough texture. Cuticle grasps cuticle and the individual hair shafts become entwined. This creates static electricity and friction, not a good combination for maintaining a healthy, mat and tangle- free coat.

There are no magic tricks when it comes to getting mats out of a coat. A systematic approach using a detangling product with the assistance of a de-matting tool can, in most cases, help to save most of the dog's coat. However, there are situations when the struggle of de-matting should be avoided and the coat should be clipped as short as necessary to remove the mats. These situations would include:

  1. If the dog has a felted coat, in firm clumps or matted like a rug onto his skin, the dog must be clipped as short as needed to remove the mats. When a dog is in this kind of retched condition, the dog's aesthetics should be the last consideration. By this time the dog's health and comfort are definitely suffering. Matting can hide a variety of skin afflictions. Be sure to warn the owner of what clipping away the mats might uncover. Many times professional groomers are blamed for causing a skin irritation after exposing an existing problem.
  2. The individual sensitivities of the dog create a painful or potentially dangerous grooming session. Geriatric pets and puppies are far less tolerant of the de-matting process and rightfully so. If a generally good-natured dog must be held down or muzzled for de-matting, the dog should be trimmed short. A visit to the grooming salon should be as pleasant as possible for the dog, the groomer and the owner. The dog’s health, safety and comfort should ALWAYS be your first concern.