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How To Get Mats Out of Dog Fur

A soft silky coat looks so beautiful on a dog. Maintaining such a look, however, requires a lot of care and attention. A dog with matted fur doesn’t look so great, so it's imperative to know how to get mats out of dog fur.

Breeds that have non-shedding coats, such as Poodles, Bichons, Shih Tzu’s and Yorkshire Terriers, have the great advantage of not dropping hair all over you and your home. They look beautiful when well groomed, but a dog with matted fur not so much. Not only are they unsightly, but they can also be bad news for your beloved pet.  Matted fur can contribute to:

  • Pain and discomfort
  • Loss of blood supply to the skin and extremities
  • Prevention of air circulation to the skin
  • Bacterial infections from damaged skin
  • Sores
  • Parasitic infestations
  • Rectal impaction


It’s clear to understand why prevention is far better than cure.

If you notice mats forming, there are things you can do to help. All dogs benefit from a good daily brushing, but dogs with non-shedding coats require daily attention. This is how to remove mats from your dog's fur:

  1. First, ensure he is calm and relaxed. It is best to place small dogs on a table or surface where you can easily reach them to see what you’re doing. With a standard poodle for instance, that isn’t possible, so just have him standing on the floor.
  2. Ensure you have all your tools to hand before you start. You will need a good quality long pin slicker brush, a greyhound comb, and detangling spray or argan oil. If you know your dog has mats in his coat, you may also require a blade rake comb and a mat splitter.
  3. It is essential to make this process as PAIN-FREE for your dog as possible, so be gentle and take your time. It can be very uncomfortable for a dog with matted fur, so don’t tug at the coat. It can pull on the skin cause the dog discomfort. He won’t welcome you grooming him again in the future.
  4. First, take your slicker brush and groom your dog all over, paying special attention to problem areas such as around the ears, the legs, underarms and belly. If, after an initial brush through, you can tell there are mats, then spray them with detangle spray or rub just a few drops of argan oil into your hands and rub your hands through the dog’s coat, rubbing a little extra into any mats. Leave it to soak in for a few minutes.
  5. The next process in how to remove mats from your dog’s fur is to hold them firmly at the base and carefully brush them out. Use the blade rake and a mat splitter to break them up for easier removal. Ensure you gradually get right down to the dog’s undercoat. Don’t be tempted to go too deep to start off with but do it gradually. If the slicker brush cannot penetrate deeply enough, the greyhound comb may do a better job.
  6. Once you have brushed the coat thoroughly all over, use the greyhound comb to check through the coat for any further mats.
  7. When the coat is thoroughly brushed through and completely tangle free, you can apply one more spritz of detangling spray or a small amount of argan oil, but only if required. It will help keep the coat knot free.


Bathing your dog can be helpful too for a dog with matted fur. Apply a good quality dog shampoo (human shampoo should not be used on dogs). Follow this up with a coat conditioner and make sure you rinse thoroughly with lukewarm running water. When you’ve finished, first towel dry, then use a hair dryer on a low heat setting to dry the hair while you gently brush it out. Remove any mats or knots as described above. Once clean, dry and tangle free, finish off with a small spritz of detangling spray or a small amount of argan oil to help keep the coat knot free.

Remember that bathing your dog too often is not beneficial to his skin or his coat as it strips natural oils and can cause problems. Remember also to keep soap away from his ears and eyes.

If you can’t keep up with daily grooming. It is better to keep your dog’s coat clipped short, so it is easier to manage.

Argan oil is toxic if ingested in large quantities. Keep the bottle away from your dog.


For more on Dog Grooming, check out our E-Book on the Ins and Outs of Bathing Your Dog!