How To Groom A Matted Dog

Example of an extremely matted dog

Please note:  I may be compensated through the links in the post below, but the opinions are my own.

When long haired dogs don’t get proper grooming and brushing then the fur can get tangled and matted.  This makes life for your beloved friend very uncomfortable.  This matting on a dog can cause the skin to pull because of the tension of the fur which will then result in the dog licking that area to try to relieve himself of the irritation or pain.  This licking in turn makes the matting worse and if left unattended can cause major skin irritation and disorder.  The only way to prevent matting is to brush the dog each day with an appropriate brush for your dog’s coat.  If you are not sure what is the appropriate brush refer to our page on dog grooming brushes.

Sometimes dog fleas.can be the cause of a dog’s coat getting matted.  If the dog has an allergy and licks the area where he has been bitten the fur will get tangled up and matted if it is left unseen to.

Depending how badly matted the dog is then you will need to either cut the area with scissors or get yourself a dematting comb or rake and work the knots out if they are not too bad.  If the dog is matted all over, as in the picture then the only option is to shave the dog using a very short clipper blade.  (If you are not sure how to use dog clippers to give your dog a shave then refer to our page on How To Groom Your Dog With Clippers and, if you are totally new to all of this, our pages on Prepare Yourself for Grooming Your Dog at Home and An Introduction to Clipping Your Dog might be really helpful).  You may find once matting has been taken off, particularly around the eye area, that the skin is red raw underneath.  This is the damage done by the fur pulling on the skin as well as the skin not being able to breathe.  This may need some cream or solution to help the area to heal quickly.

If your dog is matted shave the mats off first before giving the dog a bath.  If you wash a matted dog first it only makes the matting worse.

Check out the range of dematting tools here at!
iconCherrybrook - Rakes and Mat Combs

Worst Areas on a Dog for Matting

Any dog with long coats have a tendency for matting up and certain areas need to be given particular attention.  The areas most prone to matting are:-

  • Under the front shoulders – here the fur mats up as the dog moves it’s legs, and this area in particular needs to be kept brushed regularly.  If the area gets matted up then a dematting comb can be used if the matts are not too thick and the blades on this tool will be able to slice through the knots.  Another alternative is to cut the matts with scissors or, if that is not possible then shaving is the only other option.  Care must be taken not to cut or hurt the dog.
  • Around the ears – particularly on small dogs if brushing is not a regular habit.  The little designer dogs have undercoat which, if not brushed out reguarly, will accumulate and mat up.  Once again, if the knot is too thick for a matting tool then either cut it off with scissors or use the clippers to shave.
  • Between the paws – sometimes the longer fur between the back and front pads clumps up and becomes matted.  The easiest way to remove this is cutting it out with the scissors.  Just be careful not to cut the dog.
  • Under the belly – is also an area to watch out for.  The fur on the inside of the hind legs and around the tummy area is very prone to matting if not kept well brushed.  Sometimes little matts start to appear.  These are best cut out with the scissors or clipping them off with a short blade.  Your dog will be quite sensitive around this area so if you are using a dematting comb then hold the knot with one hand making sure that you are holding it close to the skin so as not to pull as you use the comb with the other hand.
  • Tail – if long coated tails are not regularly brushed they will quickly matt up and also get grass, twigs and other bits of the environment caught up in them.  Some dogs have undercoat which may not be so visible so that on the surface it appears the dog is not matted however underneath the coat is very knotted close to the skin.   This is then difficult to cut off, even with scissors.  In this case it is best to just shave the whole tail very short and start again.
  • All Over – if a long-haired dog has had no brushing for a very long period of time then they will get matted right to the skin, including the face as per the pictures on this page.  This can be so uncomfortable for the dog and, not only that, cause severe health issues by way of infections from skin irritation and grass seeds getting caught in the knots and entering the dog’s body.  The only way to remedy this is to shave the dog, using a very short blade that will be able to cut between the knotted area and the skin  (refer to our page on Dog Grooming Blades), and taking the whole coat off, including the face, ears and tail, and trimming all the knots from between the paws.
Pet Planet Mikki Moult Master LargeThe Mikki Moult Master from is designed to save time and energy. The Ultimate de-shedding tool, the Mikki Moult Master is an easy tool to use. It helps to thin the undercoat and remove dead hair to get an evenly polished look. This product is perfect for breeds such as Border Terriers, Cavaliers, Border Colliers and Labradors, smoothing down the coats to make an ideal show stopper. 
Features :  Designed by professionals with the user in mind; easy grip handle, lightweight & easy to use; heat treated stainless steel; long lasting & strong; dual edged teeth; double the grip, double the effectiveness; used and endorsed by dog grooming champion ALISON RODGERS.

Pet Planet Mikki Matt Master Fine & Medium Coats

Especially designed for fine and medium coats, this Mikki Matt Master from is a fabulous grooming tool for your cat or dog. It provides easy and efficient removal of matts and tangles and is ideal for first time de-matters!
Features: Micro-serrated, stainless steel blades that are shaped for optimum cutting effect and have rounded edges for safety. You will love the new and improved ergonomic handle; dimensions: L16 x W6 x D5cm.


A matted dog needs to be clipped off very short

How to Tell If My Dog is Matted

The best way to tell if your dog is matted close to the skin from undercoat is by running a comb through the coat.  If the comb easily goes through then you know your dog does not have any matts.  If the comb gets stuck and you are not able to get it through then you know the coat is either needing a good brush to get the undercoat out or has got some matting in the undercoat.  This is when a grooming rake may come in handy, however if your dog looks like this one in the photo then a close shaving is the best way to remove it all so you can start again.


DeOnly Natural Pet TrueBlue Detangling Spraytangling Products

If you would rather not clip your dog off completely to the skin, and it would depend upon the severity of the matting and how close to the skin it is, then an alternative would be to try using a dematting tool in conjunction with a special detangling and easy comb spray like TrueBlue EasyComb Detangling Spray available from Only Natural  This product, which contains aloe, lavender, jojoba & panthenolis,  will help to get the coat untangled and make brushing easier to gives your pet a smooth, shiny coat. Aloe naturally calms and soothes skin while lavender and panthenol leave your pet’s coat strong, smooth & shining.  This can be used after a bath, or on a dry coat between baths.

If you choose to try using this method to untangle your dog then it will take some patience and if the dog is matted all over then it may need to be done several sessions as the dog may not be able to tolerate having it done all at once.

VDISC Coat Handler Antistatic Detangler Spray 12oz
from: CherryBrook
Coat Handler Antistatic Detangler Spray is a fabulous finishing and scissoring spray that will not cause skin irritations or build-up. It eliminates static on all animals and is equally effective on wet or dry coats.

  • Subtle melon fragrance
  • Contains no silicones, lanolins, oils or alcohol
  • Safe for dogs and horses

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