What is a “mat” anyway?

This is one happy puppy who had no mats and who was ecstatic about her grooming experience!

Despite Matt (my youngest son) being one of my favorite humans, a “mat” embedded in a dog (or cat’s) fur is another beast to deal with entirely! I often hear my grooming clients tell me that they brush their dogs daily, but here, I wanted to get to the nitty gritty of those pesky matts.

A dogs coat has two layers: an undercoat and a top coat. Most dog parents who brush daily are only getting to the top coat and on the surface, but this could make matting worse by pushing all the loose fur and tangles closer to the skin. When brushing the top coat of dogs with thick undercoats (for example Doodles), you have to part the hair in sections to really get to brushing the undercoat (this is called “line brushing”). Different brushes are available for different breeds to get at this undercoat and it takes time and patience to get the job done properly.

Typically, the thick mats that we find in a clump on a dogs undercoat roll themselves into a mush of fur, pulling other hair from those adjacent to the mat itself. Think of tumbleweed that picks up bits of sticks and dirt as it tumbles – it grows. So too can a mat grow – but the problem is, that its still attached to the dogs skin and can pull at the skin thereby hurting the fur baby. The groomers only compassionate solution in this event is to gently cut the mat away from the skin, which is a delicate process as the skin becomes thinner and easier to cut the longer it sits under the mat.

My best advice to parents of dogs with an undercoat:

  1. Brush daily (not just the superficial top coat brush, but get to the undercoat).
  2. Schedule regular appointments with your groomer. You will be saving money in the long run if your groomer doesn’t have to remove many mats. 4-6 weeks is normal with a daily home routine makes grooming a pleasant experience for everyone.
  3. Consider your lifestyle….if you have small children, a full time job, your own hobbies etc – its probably best to keep your dogs locks shorter. This requires less brushing and is easier for your dog and his/her groomer when it comes time to have him professionally groomed.
  4. Brush your dog every time it gets wet. This includes a run around your yard on a morning when the grass is full of dew. Mats form on wet hair and for easier when there is dirt and grass hanging around.
  5. Talk to your groomer on how to maintain your dogs coat during grooming appointments.

Give me a call and I can talk you through those inbetween grooming rituals.

Leave a Reply