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Ask A Groomer: What Is A Mat?

Has the groomer ever shaved part or all of your dog and claimed it was due to matting, but you didn’t really understand what that meant? What is a mat anyway? Why is that a reason your dog can’t have long fluffy hair?

A mat is a large tangle of hair that will feel like a lump in your dog’s coat. Small mats might be able to be brushed out without causing your dog too much pain, but attempting to brush large mats out of a dog can be painful and even dangerous. Dematting can cause various injuries from brush burn to cuts as a result of cutting skin that has been pulled into the mat.

Image Source: kthypryn via Flickr

Once your dog has mats, the best course of action is to cut the mats out or, if the matting is severe, shave the dog. It’s the only humane thing to do for severe matting.

Once your dog has been shaved, how can you prevent them from being shaved in the future? The key is good brushing. You want to make sure you are brushing all the way to the skin. Using a slicker or pin brush, lift your dog’s hair and brush underneath it. Once you think you’ve thoroughly brushed your dog, use a fine toothed metal comb to find any more tangles.

Depending on how long your dog’s hair is, you’ll need to brush your dog anywhere from once a week to every day to prevent matting. Always brush your dog before washing them! Water makes mats worse. Conditioning spray or corn starch can be applied to small mats to aid in brushing.


The longer you wish to keep your dog’s coat, the more frequently you should have them groomed. The groomer may find mats you’ve missed and should be able to remove them before they become severe enough to require shaving.

As always, if you have any questions, be sure to ask your groomer.

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Written by Jennifer Nelson
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