How to Brush Mats out of Dog Hair

Two Methods:Brushing Out the MatsCutting Out the Mats

The best way to brush mats out of dog's hair is to prevent them forming in the first place. Mats will only get worse, so they must be removed. If your dog has mats in his coat, this advice will help you to untangle them.

Method 1
Brushing Out the Mats

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    Make sure your dog is calm. Removing mats can be an extremely uncomfortable process for your dog. Dogs have very sensitive skin, and mats can pull and put stress on the skin.[1] Pet your dog, talk to him in a calm voice, and give him treats as you begin.[2]
    • Try to get the dog to lie down if you can.[3]
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    Spray the coat with detangler. Before you begin, you can spray your dog's coat with a detangling spray. This can help loosen up mats and make them easier to brush out.[4] Leave the detangling spray on the coat for a few minutes.[5]
    • Detangling sprays may not always work. They will not work on severe mats in your dog's coat.[6]
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    Brush your dog. Use a slicker brush to locate the mats. A slicker brush has wire bristles that are slightly bent at the ends. Make sure the bristles don't touch your dog's skin.[7]
    • Mats are often found around the ears, below the neck, under the belly, and along the back legs.
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    Hold the mat at the base. Take the base of the mat into your hand, at the section closest to your dog's skin. This protects your dog's skin from excess pulling and damage as you try to work out the mat. It also keeps you from giving your dog's skin brush burn since your hand is between the brush and the dog's skin.[8]
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    Untangle the mat with your fingers. When you find mats, start to untangle them with your fingers. Make sure to be extra gentle. Mats pull painfully at your dog's skin. Ease the hair in the mat apart a little at a time.This will take awhile, so you need to have patience.[9]
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    Rub cornstarch into the mat. Cornstarch is often used as a dematting aid. It can help loosen and untangle the fur.[10]
    • You can also try spraying a light coat of coconut oil onto each mat and then combing out.
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    Pick the mat. When the mat is very tangled and your fingers aren't working, try picking through it with a comb or other dematting tool instead of just combing through it. This picking action helps break up the hair. Lift the tool in and out of the hair instead of pulling in through. Go from the ends up towards the base. You want to loosen the hair. Don't worry about separating completely.[11]
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    Comb through it with a dematting comb. Once you separate as much of the mat as you can with your fingers, run through the mat with a dematting comb. Pull the comb through the mat from the base to the tip.[12]
    • If the mat is bad, comb through from the tip to the base to lessen the strain on your dog's hair. Use a teasing motion instead of combing straight through.
    • Make sure to keep a hold on the mat so you don't pull at your dog's skin.
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    Try a mat rake. If the mat doesn't come out after using your fingers and a comb or brush, try a mat rake. Comb it gently through the mats. The mat rake has sharp teeth that help cut through the mat.[13]
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    Finish brushing. Once you have gotten the mat loosened enough, use your slicker brush to finish brushing the mat. Make sure to brush in the direction the hair grows.[14] Continue brushing out the rest of your dog's coat.[15]

Method 2
Cutting Out the Mats

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    Use a mat splitter. If the mat won't break apart or loosen with your fingers, the rake, or comb, try a mat splitter. Keep holding the mat at the base. Use the mat splitter to cut the mat into smaller strips. After you cut it into smaller sections, try to work through it with your fingers or a comb.[16]
    • Use a sawing motion when you cut the hair.[17]
    • Be careful using a mat splitter. It has a razor sharp edge and can seriously injure your dog. Always watch out for the ears, folds of skin, loose skin, and the tip of the tail.[18]
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    Try electric clippers. When everything else fails, try clippers. Use the clippers to slowly shave away the mat. This may leave a bare patch where you have shaved the coat.[19]
    • Make sure to watch carefully as you trim away the mat. Do not cut too close to your dog's skin.[20]
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    Take the dog to the groomers. If the mats are too difficult to remove, or your dog is not cooperating, take your dog to the groomers. They can shave the dog or use their knowledge, experience, and tools to remove the mats easier than you can.[21]
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    Avoid using scissors. Though some people suggest using scissors, you should refrain from using them on your pet. You can seriously injure your dog, especially around the sensitive areas like the ears.[22] Scissors can cut the skin or pull and strain it. Even dematting tools can be dangerous due to their razor-sharp blades.[23]
    • If you are uncomfortable using these sharp objects on your dog, then take him to a professional.


  • Always brush and comb a dog's long coat out before a bath, or any slightly matted hair will be worse afterward.
  • Brush your dog weekly to prevent future mats from occurring.
  • Brushing with a brush is okay for a superficial brush. But a metal comb is always needed for any knots at the roots. Be careful not to tear any hair out. Knots must be teased out.
  • When drying your dog, pat dry with a towel and wrap it around him/her. Try to get the dog to stay wrapped up like that long enough for its own body heat to dry up most of the moisture.
  • Try using a crochet hook to pick apart the mat before using a splitter.[24]
  • Don't try to pull the mat out by hand. This can injure your dog.[25]

Sources and Citations

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Article Info

Categories: Dog Grooming