How to Brush a Long Haired Dog

Three Parts:Getting the Right ToolsBrushing the Coat“Rolling” the Undercoat

Do you have a dog with long hair? Do you want to make sure that its coat stays shiny, healthy, and neat? Long-haired dog breeds like Afghan hounds, collies, and Bernese mountain dogs have gorgeous and sometimes flowing coats. However, these coats need regular grooming and brushing. Knowing what to do – what tools to use and how to brush the outer and undercoat – will help your dog stay its best and beautiful.

Part 1
Getting the Right Tools

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    Buy proper brushes. Dog brushes come in different sizes, shapes, and characteristics. You’ll need at least one or two of these to do a good job, so take into consideration your dog’s breed, hair type, and needs when selecting brushes.[1]
    • For instance, wire-pin brushes work well on curly or wooly coats and on medium to long-haired dogs like retrievers, spaniels, and setters. They may or may not have rubber-tipped ends. Do not use brushes with tips, because these can pull and tear out a healthy coat.[2]
    • You can use bristle brushes on all coat types. However, the longer and coarser your dog’s hair, the more widely spaced and stiff the bristles should be.
    • Slicker brushes have fine bristles made from wire and are especially good at getting rid of tangled hair, as well as touching up the “furnishings” like the ears and the hair on the hocks. Make sure to have one if your dog gets mats in his coat.[3]
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    Find a long-toothed or de-matting comb, too. Some breeds like Newfoundlands and collies need extra care and attention because of their long hair or thick undercoats, which tend to mat more than others. A long-toothed or de-matting comb is a useful tool for such breeds.[4]
    • Either of these combs will help you to deal with tangled hair. They are also good at removing clumps of loose hair when a dog is shedding its winter undercoat.
    • Look for a sturdy tool for this purpose. Steel combs work well, for example.
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    Consider a special slicker brush for the face. The skin and hair around a dog’s face is pretty sensitive. To make sure that you don’t accidentally hurt your pet, or if he has short hair around the eyes and ears, look for a soft-bristled face slicker.[5]
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    Have detangler and water on hand. Detangler will help you to tease out the hardest mats and tangles in your dog’s coat, with the help of a long-toothed comb or slicker brush. Water, on the other hand, gives the coat some elasticity while you brush.[6]
    • Hair with elasticity from water is less likely to break.
    • Put the detangler and water in two separate spray bottles for easy use.

Part 2
Brushing the Coat

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    Prepare the dog. Make sure that your pet is comfortable and ready to be groomed. You may want her to lie down, for example. Then, take the spray bottle and lightly mist the dog’s coat from head to tail.
    • The water will make brushing easier, getting rid of static electricity and giving the hair strands elasticity.[7]
    • Pay attention to how hard you brush. Go gently. If you can hear the sound of each stroke, you are probably pulling the coat too much. In that case, go more lightly or use a different style of brush.
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    Start from the top. Begin at the head with the slicker brush. Be especially gentle here and make sure to avoid your dog’s eyes. If she has a long “beard,” hold the hair out and comb gently so that you do not pull or scratch her skin.[8]
    • In general, you’ll want to brush back against the “lay” of the fur. This means to work against the natural “grain” of the hair, and then to brush it back into place.
    • Going against the lay of the fur will help to loosen dead hair and to stimulate your dog’s skin. You will not be able to do this on a breed with corded hair, however, like a poodle, puli, or komondor. In that case, brush with the lay.[9]
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    Work the ears. Continue to use the slicker brush to work out the hair on and behind the dog’s ears. Take care to be gentle here, too. Look for tangles, as many dogs develop them in this area.
    • If you come across a tangle or mat, spray it with a bit of detangler before slowly trying to tease it out with a comb.
    • Avoid tackling larger tangles in this sensitive area. Either leave it to a professional or cut the mat out with clippers.
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    Remove the collar and smooth out the ruff. Another area that tends to mat is the fur under your dog’s collar. Take off the collar and brush firmly around the neck, using a comb or wire-pin brush. Then move on to the “ruffs” – the thick, fluffy fur on the dog’s neck, shoulders, and chest.
    • Restore the collar once you are done with this area.
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    “Feather” the legs. Take the slicker brush again and move to the legs. While many dogs have short hair here, which does not need brushing, he may have “feathering” or long hair on the back of the legs. Gently tease this hair, using detangler if it is needed.[10]
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    Brush the belly, flanks, and back. First, turn the dog over and use the slicker brush to work against the lay of the hair, moving from his chest down to the belly. Keep in mind that this area is sensitive – particularly the genitals – so be extra careful and gentle.
    • Because of its sensitivity, it’s probably not a good idea to tackle large mats on your dog’s belly. Instead, leave them to a professional groomer.
    • Once you’ve done the belly, switch to a regular wire-pin brush to do his sides and back. Work against the lay when possible.
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    Brush the rear-end and tail. Rear-ends can also be sensitive areas for dogs. You might do a test-run with the slicker brush to see just how sensitive your pet’s is, before deciding whether to do the rest with a wire-pin brush or comb.[11]
    • Then, take a long-toothed comb and move to the tail. A long-haired dog may have lots of tangles and matting here. Use detangler and a comb for difficult spots.
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    Remove matting gently. Many dogs, but especially ones with long and thick double coats, will get mats. Be patient with any and all of these problem spots. Above all, make sure not to pull too hard at the hair and hurt the animal.[12]
    • With a slicker brush, look for mats in the usual spots: behind the ears, in the pants, and under the forelegs.
    • Hold the fur at the base of mats, and then use a long-toothed comb to try to tease the hair apart.
    • For larger or difficult mats, apply detangler and work the liquid into the hair with your fingers. Wait 3-5 minutes before returning with a dematting comb. Start at the loose end of the mat and, with a sawing motion, move the comb slowly in toward the tangle’s base.
    • Take a slicker brush once the knot is loosened and make short strokes in the mat, moving toward the dog’s body. Last, take a long-toothed comb and comb out the whole area to remove any loose hair.
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    Repeat daily. Regular grooming will keep your dog healthy and happy. Brushing removes dirt, fleas, and parasites, spreads out the hair’s natural oils, and keeps the animal’s skin clean. It will also allow you to note any injuries, bumps, or irregularities on the dog.[13]
    • Long-haired dogs should be brushed once a day, ideally. Brushing will remove tangles, promote a healthy coat, and reduce the amount of dander in your home.[14]
    • Brushing also makes other grooming steps like bathing, trimming around the feet, and clipping toenails easier.[15]
    • Done regularly and right, brushing should be an enjoyable experience for your dog and a bonding experience for you both.

Part 3
“Rolling” the Undercoat

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    Mist the dog with water. Many long-haired dog breeds have what it called a “double coat.” This means they have a fluffy undercoat for insulation, covered by a coarser outer coat. “Rolling” this undercoat removes dead hairs, spreads out natural oils, and prevents a good deal of matting.[16]
    • To get started, mist the dog from head to tail with water from your spray bottle. As before, the water should get rid of static electricity.
    • Have dog next lay down on her side. You will want to do one flank at a time.
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    Brush the coat back with a wire-pin brush. Starting at the shoulder, brush back against the lay of the fur. Hold the dog gently near the head and brush the hair toward her head to create a part.[17]
    • Continue to back brush small areas of fur – about 2 inches of coat per stroke – until you reach the dog’s pants.
    • Once you have brushed all the fur from the head to the pants, gently brush it back to its normal lay.
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    Turn dog over. Now, do the other side. Turn the dog over, mist, and repeat the procedure. Brush back with the wire-pin brush, working from the head to the pants, and return the hair to its normal lay when done.
    • Try to roll the dog’s coat once per week throughout the year. When done, you should be able to easily run a comb through the length of the coat.
    • Take a closer look at areas where the comb sticks – you may find small mats, burs, or insects there.


  • It is a good idea to brush outside.
  • You can give your dog a treat afterwards for being so good.
  • You can get your dog to change from sitting to standing to brush in the hard to get areas.
  • To brush your dog it needs to be in a good mood because it might be a bit dangerous to brush a grumpy dog.


  • Do not brush a dog that doesn't want to be brushed.

Things You'll Need

  • A long haired dog
  • A brush

Article Info

Categories: Dog Grooming