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, October 3, 2012

What Would You Do? Matted Cockapoo

Some groomers would say that I have a sickness.
I know that some groomers that have worked for me would say so.
Even my daughter might say so.

It is called 'demat' sickness, or 'save some coat' sickness.

I know that this is a big debate on some of the grooming forums.

Many groomers believe that if a dog is matted, it should be shaved down, given a smoothie,  or start all over again.
Whatever groomers want to call it.
Many groomers believe that owners do not deserve to have their dogs coat saved in any way, when they let their dogs coat mat up in the first place.
Many groomers also believe that it is not fair to the dog to try to save coat when it is matted.

I agree with some of this.

I agree that it is not fair to put a dog through a long, painful dematting process just because an owner doesn't want their dogs coat short.
I agree that a dog should  not be dematted for an owner that makes no attempt to brush their dog between groomings.

I don't agree that every dog should be shaved down and given a smoothie to start all over if some of the coat can be saved.

I am big on trying to save some kind of cute face, even if I have to take it fairly short to save a little hair, just don't shave all of the hair off. 

I am also big on trying to save some hair on the ears if possible.
Just because the ears have some mats, does not mean that they have to be completely taken down with a #10 blade.

I am also big on saving something on the tail.
Anything is better then a shaved tail that looks like a rats tail.

I do this for a couple of reasons.

One is for the dog, so that it does not feel completely naked.
The other reason is partly for the owner and partly for me.
I feel that it is less of a shock to an owner, when you have to shave a dog down because of matting, for the shaved dog to still have a cute face, cute ears, and a cute tail.
The other reason is for me, because I like the challenge.

I will admit that I spent the first few years of my grooming career dematting everything.
Not because of my sickness, but because I had no backbone to stand up to owners that did not want their matted dogs clipped short.
I dematted a lot of dogs that should have never been dematted.

Thankfully I learned how to say 'no' when necessary.
I hated dematting.
Not because it was more work, but because it could hurt the dog.
I hated when they would cry out when I tried to pull out a mat.
I also hated myself for not having the ba**s to tell an owner 'no' I am not going to hurt your dog for your vanity.

So, I found different ways to save the coat without hurting the dog. 

THAT is why I now have this sickness.
I love the challenge of saving matted areas on a dog.

Like this dog.

She has been bathed and blow dried.

She is very matted.

Her legs are matted, her ears have very large mats in them, her neck and face are matted, and so is her tail.

The mats are very tight, and she absolutely hates being brushed.

This was only her second grooming.

I groomed her for the first time when she was 7 months old.

Her owners had done a pretty good job of keeping her combed out and I was able to scissor her all over the first time.

Unfortunately, they did not listen to us when we told them to book in advance, or call for an appointment at least a month ahead of time.

They had to wait for this appointment.

What would you do?

How would you groom her?

Would you just shave everything off and start over?

 Even though this dog was very matted, and the owners understood that their dog had to be taken short, I still wanted to give her a cute cut.

My sickness...remember?

The HV dryer had blown the mat far enough away from the skin to let me get a #4F through the coat.

Her cheeks where so matted that I had to use a #5F to clip out the mat.

Her mustache and most of her beard were mat free, so I lifted up the good hair and  only cut out her cheeks.

Once I scissor the face and flip the ear back down, the shaved out cheek won't even show.

 Because I had to take the body so short, I decided to take the beard and mustache short also.

I blended the beard and mustache into the shaved part of the cheek.

When you look straight on at the dogs face, she still looks like she has a full face.

Next were the ears.

Under all of this hair is a very large mat.

The mat was right up against the ear leather and extended most of the way down the ear.

So I parted the good hair on top of the ear and moved it out of the way.

I took a #10 blade and lightly picked away under the large mat.

I cut just enough to remove only the mat.

Then I brushed the hair that was left.

There is a hole there in the ear hair, but the top hair that I pushed to the side will hide that.

This is the ear mat free and it did not hurt the dog to save it.

I also let the owner know that I cut a large section of the dogs hair out of the ear so that if  they move the hair and see the hole they will know why.

I also tell them so that I don't get a frantic call later that some of their dogs ear hair is missing.

Because this dogs ear had gotten so matted in the first place, and also to balance the cut out a little more, I scissored about two inches off of the bottom of the ear.

Last, the matted tail.

This tail was matted solid about a third of the way down.

I had to use a #5f blade to safely get under the mat that was wrapped around the tail.

 The rest of the tail was easily brushed out.

Then I trimmed up the rest of the tail.

Ta Da...a dog that had to be clipped short because of bad matting, but she is still cute.

I also took the time to talk to the owners and give them a few suggestions on how to brush their dog, and how to get her to accept the brush.

They were very interested in learning how to keep her brushed out.

I also talked to them about getting on a regular grooming schedule.

They booked her next appointment before they left.

I think that they are going to turn out to be great customers.

The after picture explains why I have my sickness.
Why I enjoy finding ways to save coat when I can without hurting the dog.

Just imagine what this dog would have looked like if her face were shave, her ears were shaved, and she had a rats tail.

Anyway....that is what I did. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. I would have done EXACTLY the same thing, to a T. I'll even go so far as doing a 5/8 blade or a 3 on the body and go as short as a 5 or a seven in the matted areas (when only parts of the dog are matted). It really all depends on the owners, the dog, and the level of matting. I hate dematting, but I also hate sending out bald dogs.

  2. I love how you groomed this dog! I'm sure the owners appreciated it, and I hope they continue to be vigilant in their brushing routine as they sound like they will be.

    1. Hi Jacki,
      If I was reading the owners right, I think that they will do a good job trying to keep her brushed out. TRYING being the key word here. :) I think that they thought that their dog looked like a puppy again.
      Lisa, MFF

  3. I just did a dog like this one yesterday. I have the same sickness. I love the challenge of trying to save as much coat as possible without causing discomfort to the dog. I've found that most groomers anymore are all about quantity and not quality, so they simply grab their 10 blade and shave away, without even trying to save the coat. The bad economy has caused these groomers to think about their wallets instead of what's best for the dog. Sad, but true. If I have to work an extra two hours to help out a dog, I will. There's nothing more satisfying than taking a badly matted pup, and turning it into a beautiful angel. Nice job on that cockapoo. Karen in NJ

  4. Hi Lisa!

    I was inspired by this post to do a similar one on my page with a Wheaten I did today. I made sure to link back here since you were my inspiration. If you are interested, you can find that post here: http://thewritinggroomer.blogspot.com/2012/10/matted-wheaten.html

    It was also interesting to read your post on scissoring heads. I'm confident with my heads, but it's fun to see how every groomer does things differently.

    Anyway, have a great weekend!


    1. Hi Jennifer,
      That was a really good post. I love the face . You did a great job! I love ears like that on a Wheaton. So many of my Wheaton owners want long, stringy ears. :( After all of that hard work, did they still think that their dog looked shaved? I have had a number of dogs where I was really proud of how much hair I was able to leave, only to have the owner still think that the dog 'looked shaved'. It can be be so frustrating. She looks so happy in the after pictures. :)
      Lisa, MFF

    2. Lisa,
      Thank you very much! You know what the guy said when he picked up that Wheaten? "She'll look beautiful in about a month." Um, thank you? You're welcome? I'm sorry? I had no idea how to react to that. I try not to let it bother me when people think their dog looks shaved. I know the dog left looking the very best it could, and if the owners don't appreciate that, it's their problem, not mine.

    3. Oh Jennifer,
      That so goes under 'owners tactless comments'! It is amazing what they will say to you. I have to admit that that kind of comment would make me not bother to go out of my way to save anything on his dog again. I guarantee that it will be 5 or 6 months before he gets that dog groomed again, and he will once again beg you, or another groomer not to take his dog too short.:( So many Wheaton owners want their dogs long and shaggy, but can't be bothered to brush them between grooms.
      Well, from one professional to another....she looked great!
      Lisa, MFF

  5. your sentiments echo mine exactly! in my experience, shaving down & handing back a nekkid dog is without doubt the most effective way of alienating ignorant dog owners - denialists, groomer hoppers, OAYers - often the 'less desirable' first timers that some groomers hope to convert into more desirable clients with their talent. guess what, they may never return to give you the chance to do so. you've a good chance of becoming the "last terrible groomer" who "shaved our dog down when all we wanted was a nice trim". we have to redouble efforts (& then some) to educate these dog owners, so turning out an appealing but not-quite-nekkid dog can help. i think its a worthwhile & useful application of skill & experience.

    1. Hi Trudy,
      I am so for educating the owner. Also, do it in a way that does not put the owner down, or talk down to them, because they let their dogs coat mat up. I truly believe that some owners really don't understand the harm in letting their dog become matted. So, I save hunks of mat to show them, then I describe how that mat was pulling their dogs skin every time he/ she took a step, how their skin can't breath under the matting causing skin issues for their dog, and Vet bills for them.
      Some people it does not matter how much you tell them that the matting hurts their dog, but most do listen. If you can help at least one dog by educating their owner, it is worth your time to educate.

  6. I really enjoyed this blog post. Thank you! I bet your customers were delightfully surprised with that haircut.

  7. I'm so glad there are others out there with the same sickness! Other groomers think I'm crazy, it's so nice to know I'm not the only one! I agree, the after picture is always what feeds it, and the look on the owner's face when they see that tail still fluffy and ears still floppy...the pup you did here came out beautiful! And I'm sure your sickness goes a step further, and you have a really hard time "teaching the owners a lesson"? Even after the ears are matted for the third time?? Because at that point the dog is used to it, and snoring while you slowly comb each hair away from the entanglement that is the entire ear and you know that next dog won't really take you the whole hour so you can just take five more minutes...!!! At least that's how some of my days go.

    Your blog is great though, very relatable and readable, and I love all the pictures! Sometimes it's so hard to tell what people are talking about...so thank you and I look forward to reading more!

    1. Hi Andrea,
      Thank you. I am glad that you like my blog.
      I am glad that you have the same sickness. :) No, I rarely 'teach my customers a lesson'. Unfortunately, I am very good at dematting, and if I know that I can save coat without hurting the dog, I just do it. I will say that there have been a few customers that I dematted their dog one too many times, and refused to do it any more, because they were not trying in the least to care for the dog between groomings. As long as I can see that an owner is at least trying to brush their dog, no matter how bad they are at it, I will try to save as much coat as possible.
      If it is a dog that can't stand being brushed or dematted, I will clip it as short as I need to. I have had many a day go longer than I planned because of my sickness, even though I am pretty fast at dematting.
      I know that other groomers out there think that shaving the dog short is 'teaching the owner a lesson', but I don't agree. I don't think that it teaches them anything. I agree with Trudy's statement, that she made in the above comment, it just alienates the customer.
      Thanks again for reading. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  8. Oh you are just wonderful thank you for the advice an tips an tricks. A friend of minds has poodle and is very over protective about her dog or her son should i say lol. So coming across your page and seeing all the details too is very insightful. I also have some very good advice an free information i would like to
    share with everyone it has excellent video strictly for grooming thank you very much again!


  9. Hi KT,
    Thank you, I am glad that my blog could help. I really enjoyed the video. All of the dogs where groomed beautifully. I really liked the Shih-tzu's face. :)
    Lisa, MFF

  10. Tracy Matthewman
    This article is really informative. I enjoy the amount of detail that has gone into this page. I will absolutely be a daily visitor from now on. Don't stop the great writing! Thank you Cockapoo grooming secrets

  11. I don't understand why it's so hard to just brush your dog once a week. I have a cockapoo, when I got him I was 15 and that was in 2012. He was neglected and abused, he was so matted and poofy that I had to do something. I took scissors and I cut matted hair from his face when he let me, I didn't clip his skin at all from there over the span of 3 months I cut all the matted hair off and made his coat even. It took so long because he was so scared and skittish. He is my first dog, after that he would let me brush him and bath him. After a 8ish months he was in love with the brush and bath. Now he is happy and hasn't been matted or scared sense.