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What is Matting?

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Matting is very dense, tangled clumps of fur. Mats occur frequently in many dog breeds with fine, curly, or double coats when the coat is not brushed on a regular basis with the correct tools. 

Mats frequently form in areas where there is lots of friction — around the neck area where the collar sits, behind the ears, under their chin, their armpits, under where their harness sits, their feet, and their rear legs. Other causes of matting could be seasonal allergies (licking at fur), fleas, or water. Matting causes skin irritation and discomfort for your pup since it pulls on their skin.

In extreme cases, the dog's coat will become "pelted" — when matting is tight to the skin, preventing proper airflow. Matting and pelting prevent proper temperature regulation, hide parasites like fleas, ticks, maggots, and cause extreme discomfort and pain for the dog. 

How to Prevent Matting in Your Dog's Fur

The number one thing you can do to prevent matting in your dog's coat is regular and thorough brushing and combing. Breeds that have long, curly, or fine coats should be brushed more often, daily in some cases. 

One of the most common mistakes made when brushing a dog's fur is only brushing or combing the top layer. This can make matting worse since that will push down all the loose fur and tangles closer to the skin. You can avoid this by using the correct brush for your dog’s coat and running a comb over to check your work. 

Using a detangling leave-in conditioning spray can make brushing easier as well, especially if your dog has a long coat that tangles easily. We recommend: Chris Christensen Big G Slicker Brush, a Comb, and Hydra Ultra Detangle & Dematting Spray 

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Make Regular Appointments with Your Professional Groomer

Coat maintenance is very important to prevent matting in all curly, coarse, or fine hair breeds and mixes. We recommend going to your groomer for a full groom and haircut service on average every 6 to 8 weeks to keep their coat in tip-top shape.  

Keeping a consistent grooming schedule, paired with at home brushing, will help create and keep a positive grooming experience for your pup. 

Your Dog's Coat is Matted — What Now?

If you've found a mat or area of matting while brushing your dog, there are two things you can do depending on the severity of the mat. 

You can use a slicker brush and comb to slowly work through the mat. Brushing too much in one area can cause brush burn - redness on the skin due to brushing too hard or consistently in the same spot. It’s important not to put too much pressure on your pups skin when attempting to brush out a mat. 

If the mat is very close to the skin and your pup is visibly uncomfortable with it being brushed, let your professional groomer handle it. Shaving it off may be the only way to remove that mat and keep your pup happy and safe from brush burn or further skin irritation. 

Your Dog's Ears 
The skin on your dog's ears is very sensitive and thin. All matting on and around the ear does have to be shaved for you pups safety and comfort. This may cause your pup to shake their head in discomfort, since the ear will feel very light. This can cause Hematomas (when blood vessels collect at the bottom of the ear).

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Hematomas can be very painful for your dog and must be treated by your veterinarian. It’s important to keep your dog from shaking their heads too much because that could also cause hematomas to rupture. A DIY to avoid this is cutting a hole in the toe part of a sock and slipping it over their head or purchasing a Happy Hoodie on Amazon.

What Groomers Can (and Can't) Do with Mats

Quality professional groomers do not want to shave your dog shorter than requested or what's necessary. Matting often makes their job quite difficult as it determines the length they can cut the dog's coat, as they must clip underneath the mats. If there is pelting present, this means the haircut will be short. This can be upsetting for pet owners when they pick up their dog from the grooming shop expecting a longer haircut, but oftentimes the groomer doesn't have any other option. When it comes to severe matting that cannot be brushed out, pet owners have two choices:

  • Shave the matted areas shorter, while leaving the rest of the coat at the desired length — while we will try to blend these shorter areas, it's often obvious where the coat is shorter. It is easier to do this if the mats are limited to certain areas, such as the belly or inner legs. This option will make the cut look choppy, uneven, and like the look of swiss cheese.

  • Shave all over at the shorter length required to remove the matting. This can be quite short if the mats have knotted close to the skin, but the haircut is even all over and won't look quite so spotty. A fresh start!

Overall, the best thing you can do is prevent mats from forming with regular brushing and coat maintenance. Make sure you've connected with your trustworthy dog groomer for tips and tricks on managing your dog's fur and keep your pup happy and healthy.

What Your Groomer Wants You to Know

We are passionate dog lovers who have made a career choice of spending time with dogs and grooming is what we love. When your dog is matted, we believe in doing what is best for your dog. We know the pain that mats cause, and our priority is to ensure your dog's comfort and safety.  Shaving is not a “short cut” to get the job done quickly, this can be a very slow, tedious, and dangerous process. We are working on areas of your dog where skin is thin, already irritated and their skin is being pulled because of tight mats. Removing a heavily matted coat includes risks of nicks, cuts, or abrasions due to warts, moles and skin folds trapped and hidden within the matted hair.


Therefore, shaving a matted dog must be done slowly with utmost care. After shaving a matted dog, the skin may be red, irritated, and sensitive. This is normal once tension that tight is released. There’s nothing a groomer can do to avoid the irritation already beneath the mat but to safely remove it.

Have questions?

Give us a call at (833) 279-5874

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