A Complete Guide to Brushing a Dog the Right Way, According to a Pro Groomer

By: Jennifer NelsonPublished:

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Brushing a dog

A Complete Guide to Brushing a Dog the Right Way, According to a Pro Groomer

Did you know that you shouldn’t brush a Pug the same way you would a Poodle? And that a Boxer requires a different set of brushes compared to the Pomeranian?

As a veteran groomer with 12 years of experience, I always tell my clients that not all dog brushes and dog brushing methods are created equal. Brushing a dog requires different tools, techniques and frequencies that all depend on the dog’s coat type. And it’s important to get it right, because it can help prevent matting and other skin issues later on.

So, let’s talk about the different coat types, popular dog breeds of each coat type, which brushes each coat type needs, and when and how to brush a dog. This is the advice I would give my own clients.

Best Dog Brushes and Brushing Methods for Your Dog’s Coat Type

I recommend different brushing methods for different coat types because using the wrong brush could damage your dog’s fur, and improper technique could cause mats or skin irritation. To find the best brush for your dog, take a look at the different coat types below and the suggestions for brushing those types of dogs.

PRO TIP:  No matter your dog’s coat type, always brush in the direction that your dog’s fur grows.

Brushing Dogs With Short, Smooth Coats

The most popular dog breeds with short, smooth coats include:

  • Bulldogs
  • German Shorthaired Pointers
  • Dachshunds (smooth coat)
  • Boxers
  • Great Danes

For clients with dogs that have short hair, I recommend they use rubber brushes like the Kong Dog ZoomGroom Multi-Use Brush or Dakpets FURblaster Dog & Cat Grooming Glove. I advise them to use this brush on their dogs at least once a week, running it along the fur using medium to firm pressure.

Dogs with smooth coats typically don’t shed much, but if your dog is the exception, you can use the FURminator Short Hair Dog Deshedding Tool no more than once a week. I recommend you use short, gentle strokes and that you don’t go over the same spot more than three times—you can cause bald spots or brush burn.

Brushing Dogs With Short or Medium Double Coats

Dogs with short or medium double coats include:

  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Pugs
  • German Shepherds
  • Corgis
  • Huskies

For dogs with short double coats like Labrador Retrievers and Pugs, use a rubber brush like the Zoom Groom at least once a week and as often as every day using medium to firm pressure.

If your pup has a medium double coat like German Shepherds, Corgis, and Huskies, start with a slicker brush like the Hertzko Self-Cleaning Dog & Cat Slicker Brush. Use medium pressure to brush in the direction of fur growth.

To help reduce shedding, use a metal comb like the Andis Steel Pet Comb or an undercoat rake like the Safari Single Row Undercoat Rake Dog Grooming Tool. Pull the comb or rake through your dog’s hair, being careful not to pull too hard when you reach a clump of fur.

When the fur really flies, you can use a deshedding tool like the FURminator Short Hair Dog Deshedding Tool no more than once a week. Use light pressure and don’t go over the same spot more than three times.

Brushing Dogs With Long Double Coats

The most common dog breeds with long double coats include:

  • Golden Retrievers
  • Australian Shepherds
  • Pomeranians
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Border Collies

This coat type is tricky because it sheds a lot and can also get matted. A few times a week, use a slicker brush like the Hertzko Self-Cleaning Dog & Cat Slicker Brush to remove undercoat and prevent mats.

Once a week (and more often during shedding season), pull a rake like the Safari Single Row Undercoat Rake Dog Grooming Tool through your dog’s fur to remove more undercoat. Up to once a week, you can also use a deshedding tool like the Pet Republique Dematting Rake. Use short strokes with medium pressure to get out more undercoat than the slicker brush and rake can manage.

If your pooch has mats you can’t brush out, use the Master Grooming Tools Ergonomic Pet Dematting Tool to gently pick them apart, from the top of the mat to the bottom. Keep a comb between the mat and your pup’s skin—you can cut your dog if you aren’t careful! Let a groomer shave out mats next to the skin.

Brushing Dogs With Curly or Wavy Coats

Popular pups with curly or wavy coats include:

  • Poodles
  • Bichon Frises
  • Portuguese Water Dogs
  • Havanese (some)
  • Goldendoodles

Curly and wavy coats mat easily and require daily brushing unless you keep your dog’s coat clipped short. Every day, use a slicker brush like the Hertzko Self-Cleaning Dog & Cat Slicker Brush followed by a metal comb like the Andis Steel Pet Comb.

The key is to make sure you’re brushing down to your dog’s skin. Start at your pup’s feet, lift a section of hair and brush underneath the raised hair. Move your way up your dog with this technique. You can then use the metal comb to check for mats and tangles you missed with the brush.

You should be able to get the comb through all your dog’s fur. For mats you can’t brush out, use a dematter like the Master Grooming Tools Ergonomic Pet Dematting Tool to pick them apart gently. This tool is sharp and can cut your dog, so keep a comb between the mat and your pup’s skin. If you notice the mats are too close to the skin, I recommend you enlist the help of a groomer to shave them off.

Brushing Dogs With Straight Coats

Dog breeds with straight coats include:

  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Miniature Schnauzers (some)
  • Shih Tzus (some)
  • Havanese (some)
  • Maltese (some)

Whether fine or thick, straight coats can be tricky to keep brushed out. If you choose to keep your dog in a short clip, you can use a slicker brush like the Hertzko Self-Cleaning Dog & Cat Slicker Brush a couple of times per week. Use medium pressure and make sure you brush down to the skin.

If you keep your pup in a longer clip or a full coat, the best long hair dog brush is the Safari Wire Pin Brush for Dogs. Work on the hair one section at a time. Starting at your dog’s feet, lift a section of hair and brush underneath. Using this technique, gradually make your way up your dog.

PRO TIP: Holding a section of hair while you brush the end helps you not to yank on your pup’s skin.

After using the slicker brush or pin brush, use a metal comb like the Andis Steel Pet Comb to check for mats you missed. You should be able to get the comb through all your dog’s fur.

Brushing Dogs With Wire Coats

Some of the most common dog breeds with wire coats include:

  • Dachshunds (wire-haired)
  • Miniature Schnauzers (some)
  • West Highland White Terriers
  • Cairn Terriers
  • Airedales

You need to brush dogs with wiry coats about once a week to remove undercoat and keep them looking nice. Use gentle pressure with a slicker brush like the Hertzko Self-Cleaning Dog & Cat Slicker Brush, then run a metal comb like the Andis Steel Pet Comb through the hair.

When Should I Brush My Dog?

How often should a dog be brushed? We’ve already talked about how often to brush each coat type, but there are other times you’ll want to brush your pup, too.

Before and After a Bath

Did you know that water makes mats worse? You should always brush your dog and remove mats before bathing them. Plus, you’ll wash less hair down the drain.

After the bath, once your dog is dry, brush them again to remove any knots, prevent mats and help them look their best.

After Getting Wet

Water causes your dog’s hair to get tangled, so brush them once they’re dry. That will help prevent painful mats from forming.

During Shedding Season

Brushing a dog becomes even more critical during shedding season—usually spring and fall. Suddenly, your house seems overrun with fur! Brush your dog daily with a rubber brush or slicker brush, then once a week with a deshedding tool, according to their coat type.

Why Is Brushing a Dog Important?

There are many reasons brushing a dog is a crucial part of giving them the best life. Brushing your dog:

  • Prevents painful mats from forming
  • Reduces shedding
  • Allows you to spot lumps, bumps, parasites and skin issues
  • Keeps your pup looking their best
  • Is a wonderful bonding opportunity

How to Keep Dogs Calm During Brushing

Some dogs don’t like to be brushed, especially if it’s a new experience. The key is to start small and use plenty of treats.

Allow your pup to sniff the brush, then give them a small treat. Brush a few strokes, then reward with another treat. Gradually increase the length of time you brush your dog before rewarding them, and finish with a big treat, like a bully stick, when you’re all done.

Brushing a dog is a critical part of keeping them healthy and happy, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. As long as you keep up with it, brushing your dog can be something you both enjoy. If you’re still struggling to keep your dog brushed out, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local groomer for tips. And remember—the best way to brush a dog is what works for both you and your pup!

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By: Jennifer NelsonPublished:

Adult Dog