I ask people all the time about what kind of home grooming they do with their dog. I’m very glad to say most do in fact brush their dog, but the main question I get is, “What brush should I use?”. While there are heaps to choose from, I’m sure you can imagine you wouldn’t use the same brush on all dogs. It can still be incredibly tricky to choose the right one without ending up with one of everything!
One for shedding, one for the long haired areas, one for the smooth parts and one for knots. There are heaps of different types of brushes all designed for different types of coats (dog hair) and for different purposes.
Below is a list of common brushes and their uses. There are many, many more but as a pet owner, there’s no need to have a drawer full like I would! You may only need 1 or 2. Don’t let the pet shop lady push you into purchasing one for each day of the week 😉
This is all you need for a long haired dog! Other brushes are useful too, but if you keep on top of your dogs hair with a comb, you should not need to use anything else.
You can get a double sided comb or a straight comb, long teeth or short teeth, ones with soft handles, wooden handles or no handle.
Make sure you get one with steel teeth and two different sized teeth spacing. The handle you choose is completely up to you and what’s most comfortable.
A comb is used on any long haired dog and is best used for removing knots; the different sized spacing will help in removing bigger knots through to smaller knots. Comb your dog just as you would your own hair, if the comb gets stuck it usually means there is a knot, find the knot with your fingers and use the end of the comb to cut the knot in half if possible, once it’s small enough, use the comb as normal again over the knot and it should slide out easily.
If your dog has a thick, double coat like a Bernese Mountain Dog, it would be best used in conjunction with a long pinned slicker brush, but is not essential.
Common Breeds: Golden Retriever, Maltese Terrier, Yorkie, Poodle etc.
Uses: Any long hair & to remove knots
These brushes come in an array of widths, pin lengths and pin firmness. Generally speaking, you would choose a small width for a small dog or area (if you feel more comfortable using a smaller brush on smaller areas like their face), a longer or shorter pin length depending on the depth of their coat (A samoyed would use a longer pinned slicker to a Husky and the longer the pins the less pressure you need to reach the skin so be careful!), softer pins are for softer, easier to remove knots but I would stick with soft/medium pins anyway as the harder the pins the more chances of brush burn. I’ve personally not felt the need to get a hard pinned slicker.
If your dog has no knots but has some undercoat coming out, I like to use a slicker to loosen it all up and then collect anything I’ve missed with a comb. If there is a particularly stubborn knot I would use a slicker over the knot again to loosen the knot, if it doesn’t come out, I switch to a comb. So It’s pretty much used in conjunction with a steel comb but there are certain circumstances when it is better to use a slicker.
Common Breeds: German Shepherds, Samoyeds, Husky’s etc.
Uses: Any long hair & to loosen the coat
My favourite brush! This ones for the short haired breeds (or to give any dog a massage while having a bath!). I have pulled soooo much hair off of a dog just by misting the dog with a conditioning spray and brushing them over with a rubber curry in circular motions. Most love the massaging feeling and you can see what you’ve removed from them if you look under the brush at the rubber teeth. Very satisfying!
Choose a size and shape that fits your hand nicely and that fits around your dog’s body comfortably. If they have loose skin in areas it’s best to pull it taught (gently) so that the brush isn’t skipping over their skin folds like receiving a massage without massage oil!
Common Breeds: Jack Russel, Dachshund Short Haired, Pug, Staffy etc.
Uses: Removes loose hair
For long haired breeds, If you’ve been brushing your dog regularly (or not) and the hair has built up into clumps you may find it easier and even quicker to use a de-shedding rake instead of the comb and slicker brush routine. These tools have either one or two rows of metal prongs/teeth that are quite thick. They’re designed to pull the under coat (those clumps) up and out. They can help with knots but the teeth aren’t really designed for knots and that’s when you may want to switch to a comb. If you find a knot, the de-shedding rake will feel like it’s gotten stuck in the coat, remove the rake gently and try to remove the knot with the comb, then continue with the rake. Be careful running the rake over the leg joints, it’s best used over the body of the dog. Stock to the comb and slicker method for sensitive areas.
Common Breeds: German Shepherd, Alaskan Malamute, Newfoundland, Chow-Chow etc. Not really suited to drop coated breeds though.
Uses: Removing clumps of hair during high shedding times
Not to be confused with the de-shedding rake! This is a serious tool that I don’t personally believe should be sold without explanation.
A Mat, when referring to a dogs coat, Is a knot that has become so knotted and twisted, it has formed a large, tight hair mass (mat), often quite taught on the dogs skin.
They generally need to be cut out or shaved off, carefully. To avoid, bruising, skin irritation, itchiness and more horrible things.
So, this device was invented. It’s a hard one to explain without physically showing you but I’ll do my best!
The teeth on this tool are actually cutting blades. You can use them to try to cut portions of the mat which are intertwined in the hopes of saving the dogs coat from needing to be shaved off. If you are able to slice the mat into pieces, so to speak, you would then use a combination of a comb and slicker to smooth it out and fully remove the mat. However, it can be quite dangerous depending on your dog’s tolerance, how much pain they are in and how close the mat is to their skin. Use with caution!
Common Breeds: Not specific to any coat type.
Uses: Slicing knotted hair to aid in mat removal
If your dog has short or smooth hair you really only need to get a rubber curry for in between grooms, although most are happy to wait for the groomer to do it and that’s fine because their hair is short, there’s generally no risk factor to choosing not to brush. But I would encourage it as many dogs enjoy the massage!
If you are blessed with a long coated or heavy coated dog then I do hope you enjoy brushing! You can get away with only buying a steel comb and keeping on top of any thickening or extra fluffy areas as the hair begins to shed. Drop coated breeds like Maltese Terriers can get very tangly so daily-weekly combing is ideal.
Hopefully, that’s helped you make an informed brush decision and if you have another grooming tool you’re thinking of purchasing or that you have at home and are not sure if it suits you or your dog, feel free to leave me a comment! I’m always happy to help!