Can You Over Brush Your Dog?

Dogs with longer fur need more frequent brushing.
Dogs with longer fur need more frequent brushing. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Brushing your dog is an important part of keeping him healthy and strengthening your relationship. Regular grooming sessions give you a chance to bond with your pup in addition to reducing shedding, getting rid of dirt and tangles and making your dog a bit softer and fluffier. Brushing needs vary from dog to dog, and it is possible to over-brush depending on your dog’s breed and the brush you use.

Breed Types

Every dog breed requires grooming, but some require much more than others. Long-haired breeds, such as the collie, Maltese and Yorkshire terrier, need to be brushed several times per week. Short-haired breeds like the American English coonhound, Doberman pinscher and Jack Russell terrier do not get tangles in their fur, so they only need weekly brushes to clear loose hair. You should only brush as much as your dog’s coat demands.

The Right Tools

There are a variety of dog brushes available, with each brush offering a specific function. Pin brushes normally work best for long-haired dogs, rubber brushes help remove dirt on short-haired breeds and stripping knives are useful for removing hair caught in your dog’s undercoat. Speak with a professional groomer about which brushes are best for your particular dog breed and to get instructions on how to use them.

Signs of Over-Brushing

If you brush your dog too often (or too roughly), you will begin to see a few symptoms related to the overenthusiastic grooming. Dogs will develop abrasions where they are brushed most, while brush burn manifests in the form of redden, sensitive skin. Should you notice any of these symptoms, take a break from brushing for a while so they can resolve. If irritation continues, seek a vet’s assistance. Remember: Grooming is as much about health as it is appearance, and your dog’s health and safety should always be your prime concern.

How to Brush

Brushing your pup in the proper fashion will ensure your grooming is safe, effective and fun. Always brush down and away from the skin, and make sure you brush along the natural growth pattern of the coat. Use a gentle touch and approach grooming with a positive attitude and your dog will be more receptive to the process. If your dog has serious mats or tangles, the only solution may be a quick shave by a professional groomer.

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