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How to Shave a Dog With Matted Hair: 4 Easy Steps

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By Nicole Cosgrove

yorkie being groomed on table

If your dog has matted hair, it’s probably safe to say that you don’t groom your dog much, as mats are often a result of a lack of grooming. Regular brushing is key to keeping a dog mat-free, so keep that in mind as you learn how to shave matted hair off a dog.

When your dog is matted, he probably isn’t comfortable since mats aren’t nice to live with. The most common areas that get matted are under the ears and joints and between the dog’s body and legs. If they’re left too long, mats can work their way down to the skin, making it very uncomfortable for the animal and inhumane to brush them out because of the pain it would induce. A severely matted dog typically needs to be sedated during mat removal.

Without a doubt, shaving mats from your dog is the best way to get rid of them once and for all so your dog can be mat-free and comfortable. Once you’ve removed all your dog’s mats, make it a point to brush your pet regularly and use a tangle remover spray1 to help keep the hair mat-free.

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Preparing to Shave Your Matted Dog

You need to gather a few necessary tools like a slicker dog brush, comb, and electric clippers. Look for multi-speed clippers to ensure you’ll have enough power to get through the thickest of hair. Once you have a brush, dog comb, and multi-speed dog clippers, you’re good to go.

The first thing you need to do is to exercise your dog before you start brushing him, so he’s relaxed and calm while being groomed. Take your four-legged friend for a brisk walk or play a rousing game of fetch for a few minutes. Once your dog has exercised, use your slicker brush to remove tangles and knots on your dog’s coat. This will help prepare the hair for shaving and make the whole process quicker and smoother.

Shave Your Dog Following These 4 Tips and Tricks

Once you’ve done your best at removing tangles and knots, it’s time to get started with those new clippers of yours. It’s a good idea to put your dog on a table and hold him by the collar as you shave away the matted hair. If your dog is large and a bit uncooperative, ask a friend to help you by holding your dog still while you shave him.

Follow these steps when shaving a dog with matted hair:

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The 4 Steps for Shaving a Dog With Matted Hair

1. Use a Number 10 Blade

The ideal all-around shaver blade is the number 10 blade because it will give you that professionally groomed look you’re after. The multi-speed clippers you picked up likely came with a number 10 blade because it’s very common and popular.

dog grooming
Image Credit: KeystonePetPlace, Pixabay

2. Start With the Head

It’s best to start with the dog’s head. Take your dog’s chin in your hand to hold it steady.  Once your dog is still, place the clippers with the comb attachment flat against the dog’s skin to prevent injury then proceed by carefully shaving away the hair. Use this same technique throughout the shaving process and work slowly.

Be very careful when you’re shaving your dog’s face, especially around the eyes and ears. Always stay about an inch away from the eyes. Once you have the face shaved, work your way to the underarms and then to the tail area.

3. Do the Dog’s Back, Sides, and Belly (And Check Your Clippers)

Once you have the face, underarms, and tail areas shaved, focus on your dog’s back, sides, and belly. If your dog has lots of mats on his back, the fur may come off in one big piece or several large patches.

While you’re working on shaving the back, sides, and belly, your clippers may start getting hot. This is why you should check them regularly, so your dog’s skin doesn’t get burned.

Lady grooming a black brown dog
Image Credit: Tima Miroshnichenko, Pexels

4. Comb Out Tangles and Brush Your Dog

Once you’ve shaved your dog’s entire body, use your dog comb to smooth out any tangles left behind. When you’ve de-tangled your dog, use your slicker brush to give him a good once-over to finish the job.

You may discover some areas you missed. If so, go over the areas with your clippers. You can clip off any longer hairs you find using grooming scissors with round safety tips if you have a pair.

When you’re all done and your dog is free of tangles and mats, pat yourself on the back because now you’re a groomer! And don’t forget to give your pooch a tasty treat like a bully stick for being such a good boy!

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Don’t fret if your dog is matted. Take action instead and shave away those awful mats that can be very uncomfortable for your dog. Simply follow the tips and tricks above to safely remove all the mats from your dog’s coat. Keep in mind that mats are often caused by grooming neglect, so start brushing your dog regularly to keep him mat-free and happy!

Featured Image Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych, Shutterstock

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