How to Groom a Dog With Matted Hair

Groomers understand that severe matting cannot be removed through brushing alone; their only safe option in such instances is to shave the dog.

Preventing matting in your dog is easy: simply brush them regularly, bathe regularly and keep their coat healthy and pristine. But what are you supposed to do if he or she ends up with an intense matted area?


Natural oils and a healthy coat help protect a pet against matting, but its hair may still become matted without regular grooming sessions. Some dogs are more prone to matting than others – particularly those that spend a lot of time outside, where burrs and debris collect in their fur. Mats may also form under front legs, behind ears, or at the base of tail.

Brushing regularly can often help avoid mats and knots for dogs when done on a daily or several times weekly basis, although large knots can form quickly if your pet is neglected in this department. If large knots do form quickly without prompt grooming sessions taking place quickly enough to remove them quickly enough, they can break loose from the skin, become painful for their host, and cause irritation of skin irritation as a result of too severe matting.

If the mats are tightly matted to the skin, brushing may not be possible and shave will need to be performed instead. While not preferred by groomers, shaving may provide the safest solution for your pup.

When grooming dogs with heavy matting, groomers will use clippers with short blades and sharp tips in order to avoid cutting into skin or damaging coat. A sharp blade makes cutting through matting much simpler. In some cases, de-matting tools that resemble combs may also be needed as these have sharp edges that cut through knots more effectively.

If the matting is so severe that it cannot be brushed out, it must be cut off using scissors or razor blade. While this process can be extremely traumatic for your pup, be assured that a groomer will use as much patience as possible during this procedure and recommend regular brushing sessions to prevent mats from reappearing in future visits. Be mindful that holding down or restraint may be necessary during grooming for safety purposes.


Once you’ve brushed away as much loose fur as possible, the next step should be using a detangler on your dog. Detangling products are designed to help tangles come out easily while they can also prevent matting from reoccurring between brushes. There are numerous brands of detangling products on the market; Skout’s Honor detangling spray is one that hydrates coat while providing probiotics which fight skin issues, itching, and odor.

Start from the tips of your dog’s fur, working up. Pay special attention when brushing sensitive areas such as its face, ears and base of tail which can quickly become knotted if not regularly brushed.

As you work your way through the mats, be patient and kind as you remove tangles. Repeated passes over one spot may be necessary in order to eradicate as many knots as possible. In severe matting cases where brushing and combing alone cannot remove them, your groomer will probably shave off some or all of it – this may not be preferred, but may be necessary in order to ensure both you and your pup remain safe from injury.

Hair that becomes matted on dogs can trap grass seeds, dirt and other debris that can lead to serious health issues and restrict movement. Your groomer will likely use a clipper with the shortest blade so there is less chance of cutting their skin accidentally.

Once the matting has been removed, your pet will require a bath with medicated shampoo to soothe their skin. They should also be dried carefully because their newly exposed itchy skin may lead to further scratching – leading to further damage.

As can be seen, matting removal can be a time consuming task that takes many hours of effort to complete successfully. Most groomers charge by the hour for this service. Therefore, to best address matting issue is by regularly brushing your pup and using detangler at least once every week.


Hair matts on dogs can be unbearably painful. While grooming severe matting may be tedious and time-consuming, it is necessary in order to save them from discomfort and potentially life-threatening skin conditions. I always advise owners of longhaired dogs to brush regularly as well as come in for regular full body trims to reduce matting incidence.

Professional detangling products and sprays may help to detangle mild matting; however, the longer a matt goes unchecked without being addressed quickly, the tighter and tighter it becomes, making detangle difficult.

If the matting becomes severe enough around ears and ear flaps or under legs and belly, it may be necessary to shave down to skin level – although not an ideal style choice for most pet owners – in order to ensure the health and safety of the dog.

Utilizing clippers equipped with short blades (please refer to our page on Dog Grooming Blades ), groomers are able to cut through matted hair safely separating it from the dog’s skin while taking great care not to cause injury or cut through their pet’s skin.

Trying to brush out or cut away severe matting from a dog with severe matting is often very risky, and can even endanger their welfare by mistaking where hair ends and skin begins. Therefore, owners are advised to sign a matted dog release form agreeing to have their animal groomed by someone experienced in handling matted animals and understanding all associated risks.

Overall, it may not be beneficial for long-haired dogs to have their fur completely shaved unless they are show dogs or competing in competitions; however, many owners enjoy the look of having their dog with shorter cuts at home; brushing and detangling between appointments will make matt management much simpler.


If your matting problem is mild, detangling sprays and tools may help. Although this process will likely cause your pet distress, it may still prove successful. If the matting occurs near neck areas or belly regions it could prove especially challenging; you may require professional grooming services instead.

Many dog groomers employ metal clippers designed specifically for dogs with sharp blades to trim out matting. This type of clipper can often salvage more hair length than brushing alone can do; however, in extreme cases where large areas of matting cover an animal’s coat it may be best to cut it all off instead.

It is the safest, and most effective option available to protect their pet from skin issues and discomfort. Though many pet parents cannot bear to see their pup this way, most will understand this is what’s best for their pup.

Some groomers will attempt to detangle severe matting with a detangling tool and comb, however this process often requires bathing the animal first in order to loosen and loosen any tight mats further – further complicating removal efforts.

If your client owns a long-haired breed that’s prone to matting, talk with them about the importance of brushing their dog regularly at home and setting up a maintenance schedule with you that includes regular visits for grooming at your grooming salon. Not only will this reduce matting, but it may also decrease full body clipping needs which may be less stressful on their pet.

Before bathing your pup, be sure to brush him or her and use only high quality shampoo. Bath water tends to set mats, making them harder to remove later on. If your pet does get matted again, prevent future matts by using detangling spray during brushing sessions, as well as having their coat clipped shorter in seasons where matting may occur.

Lisa Thompson

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