Dude, your Doodle is matted.
Hi Everyone. I wanted to take the time to talk about our cutie patootie Doodles and other dog breeds that tend to develop matting. We get a lot of them in the grooming salon. More times than not (probably close to 75%) the pup has felted or matted to the point where we have to shave them short.
When I was a freshman in college, I got a cocker spaniel. He was chocolate with long hair and oh so cute. I loved him so much, but what I didn’t understand was that this little guy would require proper grooming. Next thing I know, my poor little dude was matted from his nose to his toes and I had to pay well over $100 to get him back to a healthy coat. I quickly realized that I was not yet personally or financially responsible enough to have a dog with these particular needs and re-homed him a very dear friend of the family who could make sure all of his needs were met.
Why would I share that story in a blog about proper grooming? Simple… I want to let you know that it’s not uncommon and you aren’t alone. The important thing is to learn about matting (and the types of mats) and how to prevent them before it becomes costly.
Types of mats in pups:
There are a few different types of mats we commonly see at Wagabonz. The most common are the “chunks”. Then there is the impacted undercoats of our double/triple coated breeds (Bernards, Huskies, Malamutes, etc). Finally, there is the most sinister of the mats – felting.
Chunks appear like dreadlocks hanging off of the dog. Many times, these can be simply cut away if they are not too close to the skin. For those that ARE close, we usually spot shave them out. We can occasionally use a mat breaking tool to help break them up and allow us to brush them out.
Impacted undercoat is exactly as it sounds. A double-coated dog will occasionally be unable to shed away its undercoat and it becomes tangled into the topcoat causing matting. A frequent deshedding treatment will usually prevent this from happening, but in some cases these mats do need to be shaved out.
Felting is the most insidious of the three. Felting usually begins very near the skin and spreads throughout the coat like a spiderweb causing the hair to become a solid sheet over the dog rather than individual hairs (like a sheet of felt). These tend to progress quickly because the longer hair at the tips may not appear visibly matted. The only way to safely remove a felted mat is to use clippers with a very short blade to safely get underneath the web and cut the hair away from the skin.
“You just want to shave the dog because it’s faster”
Please understand, nothing breaks our heart more than having to shave a fluffer nutter Doodle or Shih Tzu, but many times it really is the only way to get rid of the issue and start fresh. We always try to inform if we find mats on the dog and will let you know if we have to shave the pup. Also, please know that we will not leave mats on a dog because the parents don’t want it shaved. Mats in general can be very painful. For the ladies reading this, think about the worst hair tangle you ever got as a child. Remember the pain from brushing it out… now multiply that times your pup’s whole body. A tight mat can cut off circulation to the skin and then we have a more serious medical problem.
Occasionally we are able to spot shave, but that leaves the dog looking terrible (Swiss cheese coat). So we have to use our discretion to balance the look of the dog with his/her health. It really is our professional obligation to ensure the dog is comfortable over fashionable. We use the term, “humanity before vanity” a lot in our salon.
All that said, more than one pet parent has been surprised and upset… even after we saved the heavy mats that came off (in one piece) to show them how relieved their pup must be (it doesn’t always work). Just know parent’s… we are on your side, but more than that… we are on your dog’s side.
So, how can we work together to prevent this?
A non-shedding coat is going to mat if it is not kept thoroughly brushed out and combed down to the skin, and when it matts badly enough, it needs to be shaved, period. There is nothing else you can do that will not be very painful (I repeat.. VERY PAINFUL) for the dog. Whether it’s a Goldendoodle, a Poodle, a Wheaten terrier, or whatever: If it has a non-shedding coat, it will mat.
Shaving a coat does not ruin it… don’t worry. Also, the original Furminator was designed for shedding dogs, and the label warns that it is never to be used on a non-shedding coat. However, there is a new Furminator which is designed for non-shedding coats. I have not used it and don’t know how it works, but it would be important to be sure you had the right one, and in any case, it won’t help if a dog has gotten badly matted already.
The only way to avoid bad matts is to keep the coat brushed and combed (there is a difference). The combing to the skin is essential.
Most of our dogs coming into the salon have obviously been “brushed”. But it turns out that brushing is superficial. It’s not getting down to the problem. To really ensure your pup can keep his hair next time you come in, we advise a rake-type brush or grooming comb. If you can’t run a comb through his/her hair near the skin, then you already have a matting problem.
Come by and see us. We have combs and rakes and brushes in stock to help find the right one for your Doodle.
Together we can keep those Doodles, Poodles and other long haired breeds looking Floofy!
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