About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Matted Dogs

I don't get really matted dogs very often anymore. Most of my customers are regulars.
Even some of my regulars wait way too long to get theirs pets groomed.

This is 'Peanut'. He is a Dachshund/poo mix.
He has not been groomed in 5 months.
Needless to say, 'Peanut' is a matted mess.

Yes, ALL of my customers dogs go straight into the tub, matted or not.
If I clipped this dog before the bath, I would be fighting to clip through dirty hair. I would also most likely have to use a #7 or shorter blade to safely get between the matting and the skin.
I would also dull a blade or two.

 I use 'BestShot Ultra Shampoo' on ALL of the matted dogs I do.
I prefer to bathe by hand, working the shampoo well into the mats.
I also make sure the shampoo is scrubbed well, down to the skin.
I also loosen the largest mats, by gently pulling them apart.
I scrub, scrub, scrub, rinse and scrub again if necessary.

 When rinsing a matted dog, I put the sprayer right up into the matting, and right up against the skin, to make sure all of the shampoo is out. 

After the dog is rinsed, I work 'BestShot Ultra Conditioner' into the coat like shampoo.
I scrub the conditioner into all of the mats.
I let the conditioner sit for a couple of minutes, then rinse thoroughly. 

 The secret to bathing a matted dog, is that you MUST HV  Dry them straight from the tub.
DO NOT cage dry. The mats will tighten while drying.

HVing straight from the tub will allow the shampoo and conditioner to work together to loosen the mat.

Use the wider mouth of the hose to dry.
Put the hose right up against the skin, and dry from the skin out, working the mats away from the skin.
The goal here is to move the mat far away enough from the skin, so that a blade can easily glide through clean hair.
In this picture and the one above, I have pulled the dryer away a little to show the space between the mat and skin.
It is not necessary to get all of the matting completely dry, just make sure the hair between the skin and mat is completely dry, that is the only hair you will be clipping.
 'Peanut' is now dry and ready to safely clip.
I do follow up HV drying with some hand fluff drying.
I do not dematt, I just fluff up a little and separate the mattes a little more.

  Where as before the bath I would have had to clip this dog with a #7 or shorter blade, I am now able to easily and safely glide a #4F blade through this coat.
I did have to use a #5F on the neck and beard, because the matting was tightest there.

I would have had to struggle with finding air space between the skin and dirty hair before the bath. 
I would also have had to fight with blades becoming hot very fast from having to work through a dirty coat.

With a clean coat, I am able to clip almost the whole dog before the blade gets hot.

 Everything had to go on 'Peanut', because he was very matted everywhere.
Because I bathed him before the bath, he was able to have a longer smoothy, and does not look totally skinned.

That also means less chance of clipper irritation. 

 I was also able to scissor a cute short (but not shaved) face on 'Peanut'.

'Peanut's' hair is mostly a soft coat. His coat mats tightly and is very unforgiving.
The mats loosened just enough to make a nice air space between the matt and skin.

This is 'Sophie'. She came in the same day.
'Sophie' also has not been groomed in 5 months.
She is also very matted.

The matted dogs always come in on the same day, don't they?

Here 'Sophie' has been bathed and HVed.
Her hair is a mixture of a wire coat and a soft coat.
When HVed, her matts almost totally blow out.
I could have gotten a 3/4 of 5/8 blade through her coat.

Before the bath, if I had clipped her when she was dirty, I would have had to use a #5 or #7. 
'Sophie's' owners wanted her taken down with a #7F, because they want the cut to last a long time.
Clipping a clean coat saves wear and tear on blades, and also leaves a nice velvety look to the coat.

Clipping after the bath does not take any extra time.
'Sophie's' groom took an hour from start to finish.

Owners instructions: cut short, everything off
Body: clipdown #7F
Ears: off with #7F, scissor edges
Head: #4F blade, scissor tight and dome shape
Face: off with #7F and scissor
Tail: same as body blade

Owners instructions: Do what you have to.

Body: Clipdown #4F blade
Ears: #5 blade
Head: #4F light touch, scissor to shape
Face: scissor off mattes and shape
Beard: off with a #5F blade
Tail: off with body blade

I totally believe that clipping a dog after the bath is the safer way to go.

1. Less chance of nicking from forcing the blade through a dirty or matted coat. 
2. Less chance of clipper irritation from fighting a blade through a dirty or matted coat.
3. No constantly changing hot, dulled blades.
4. Blades stay sharp longer.
 5. A more pleasant grooming experience for the pet and the groomer.
That is why I groom.
I want the dogs to feel good during and after the groom.

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. Matted dog = bath FIRST. I must conform to the 'new' ways :/ lol signed, stuck in the 80's, Marg

    1. Hi Marg,
      I love bathing matted dogs and seeing how much longer I can clip them after they are clean and the mat is loosened up. It is like a challenge for me.
      Lisa, MFF

  2. Intresting, i've always been told that bathing a dog with matts makes the matts even tighter making it worse! I may try this though

    1. Hi Joanna,

      You were told the right thing, BUT that is only if you let them air dry, or kennel dry. If you take them straight from the tub and use the HV dryer (wide nozzle right up against the skin) to blow the mats out, or away from the skin, the mats will not tighten up.


  3. Hi, Im Kay, i will be posting under some of your blogs as anonymous cause I dont have an account haha. I am sorta new to grooming...a little under a year. I was taught to always preshave. how do you get a dog dry do fast? I had a standard poodle in today with reallllly long thick frizzy hair....if i hadnt of preshaved....it wouldve taken me over an hour just to dry him...

    1. Hi Kay,
      I was taught the same way and preshaved for many years.
      Drying time depends on the quality of the HV dryer you are using. It also depends on how you prepare the coat before you start to dry.
      I use a magnet towel to get as much water off of the dog as I can. Then I rub the dog down with a regular towel. I put a towel on the drying table to soak up any water out of their feet. If the dog is a large hairy dog (like a Standard) I cover the dog in a towel while drying. I don't use the pointy nozzle on the HV I like the wide mouth of the hose. I put that wide mouth right up against the skin and dry from the skin out in a small circular motions.
      Rubbing a towel over the area you are drying (while you are drying it) helps speed up the drying process also. Most Standards take me around 20 to 30 minutes to dry. Of course I didn't spend any time fighting a blade through a dirty coat before the bath, so for me it works. I am so used to only clipping clean coats now, that I am not sure I would ever be able to go back to pre-shaving. lol
      You should do what is comfortable for you. Maybe try the clipping after the bath for a week to try it out. If you don't like it go back to what you were doing. As long the end result is a clean well groomed dog, it does not matter which way you get there. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  4. hi, I have been grooming for approx. one year. I am having problems with matted dogs. I have tried to pre clip and also bath first. nothing seems to work. most of my dogs are lab doodles or golden doodles. I do not want to use a E7 or #10 but I can't seem to get any of the blades to go through. what am I doing wrong? also, it has been taking be between 4 to 5 hours for each dog. Help!