Sometimes a dog's healthy, shiny "wow" factor can become an “ow” factor. Breeds with medium-length hair or long hair like poodle mixes, Yorkshire terriers and some retrievers, have a tendency to tangle. While a variety of grooming tools can help, certain brushes and combs are best suited to handle mat-prone fur.
Slicker brushes are large rectangular or square brushes with fine wire bristles. Most slicker brushes have teeth that are slightly curved or angled. The size of the brush pad and curvature of the bristles allow for easy removal of both the under and outer coat. Mats often occur when dogs shed their undercoats, and that dead hair becomes trapped between their skin and outer guard hairs. Brush double-coated, tangle-prone dogs with a slicker brush daily, both with and against the grain, to remove loose, excess fur.
Pin brushes resemble a lot of human hairbrushes -- short, rubber-tipped wire pins are embedded into a medium-size brush pad. Unlike slicker brushes, the teeth are straight instead of curved. A pin brush is a great tool for long, silky-hair breeds like Yorkies and cottony, woolly breeds like the Bichon Frise. These brushes are best used as finishing brushes or whenever your buddy has a small, sticky tangle. Use a pin brush, brushing away from the skin and starting at the ends, to gently work out any small knots or tangles that could become a matted mess in no time.
Pet grooming rakes come in three varieties: wide, narrow and fine. The wide and narrow-tooth varieties work to remove the dead undercoat and prevent mats in long, thick-coated breeds like Collies. Grooming rakes are shaped, as their name suggests, like rakes with aluminum or stainless steel teeth. These teeth are inflexible and tough, perfect for cutting through the outer coat and releasing any dead hair underneath.
Sometimes all the prevention in the world can’t stop a rogue mat or two from creeping up on your buddy’s coat. It’s imperative to attack the mat while it’s still tiny, before it causes him any pain. A wide-tooth comb combats newly formed mats; however, don’t try to swipe a mat through quickly. Instead of combing, use the comb to gently pick at and break the mat apart, working from the ends of the hair and making your way toward the skin patiently. Once the mat is safely broken apart, use your slicker brush to release any residual loops or tangles.