Dog Grooming – Brushing and Combing Techniques

A dog’s coat is easily damaged by rough handling and improper grooming techniques. Each strand of hair has tiny scales that lie flat against the hair shaft. As the hair is pulled and stretched (which is not desirable), the scales project out like barbs. Adjacent hairs become snarled and eventually break during the unsnarling process.

Dry hair attracts static electricity, which causes individual hairs to stick together. It is a good practice to use an antistatic coat conditioner before brushing. A number of popular products are available as pumps, aerosols, and rub-on creams. You can also simply spray the coat lightly with water.

The coat should be brushed with tools that pass smoothly through the hair. In general, a pin brush can be used safely without stretching the hair. To avoid stretching, do not pull forcefully on a rake, slicker brush, or comb—except when removing dead hair during the shedding stage. If you find that you are pulling hard, you are either trying to groom too deep into the coat with each stroke or you are using a grooming tool with teeth or bristles that are too stiff or too close together.

With longhaired dogs, insert the bristle or pin brush all the way into the coat and twist it slightly. Using short strokes, brush against the lay of the hair. Avoid using long strokes, as this can break the hair. You can also line brush— working up the side of your dog, brushing short sections at a time. You push the hair up, then brush small sections down at a time. This way, the hair underneath is brushed out as well as the top coat. It always makes sense to talk to your dog’s breeder about the best grooming techniques for the breed.

For shorthaired breeds, brush with the lay of the hair, starting at the head and working back toward the tail. In all breeds, pay particular attention to the hindquarters and backs of the thighs, where dead hair is likely to mat. Carefully check behind the ears, as the soft hair there may also mat.

If the dog is blowing her undercoat, remove loose hair with a rake. Start on the underside of the dog and work layer by layer up to the topside.

Hairless dogs can be wiped with a damp towel, then carefully dried. They may need a bath to remove excess skin oils and to prevent the buildup of sunscreen (necessary to prevent sunburn).