I'm a groomer and my dog got matted...
Updated: Jan 7
Matting is unfortunately something we encounter daily as groomers. Mats are no fun for the dog, pet owner, or the groomer. We love to educate our clients so in this post I am going to be a little transparent and share with you my matted doodle!
This is Bear my sweet labradoodle pup! When you mix a breed like a poodle with a double coated breed like a labrador or golden there can be some unfortunate consequences. Bear has beautiful curly hair much like a poodle but underneath he still has undercoat that is trying to fall out but gets caught up in his curls. This is no excuse for matting but as you all know life happens, between the holidays, our busy season at the shop, and my human baby turning one my pup's grooming just got put on the back burner. I didn't even have time for his regular baths and brush outs!
Grooming a matted dog
I knew Bear was getting matted but even I, a groomer, who sees mats every day didn't realize just how bad it was until I got him on the grooming table. If we get a dog with a few mats we will try everything we can to de mat them. We bathe them in special shampoo and conditioner, as well as use a detangling spray and then can usually break up the mats with a mat breaker after the bath. But with mats all over the body like Bear's were we really have no choice but to pre shave the dog before the bath. This is because getting them wet and washing can cause the matting to tighten and matted hair does not dry well. So when the owner wants a long cut but the dog has mats we try to give them what they want so we always start with our longest blade and go down until we can successfully get it underneath the matting. Therefore your pet's coat length will depend on how tight the mats are to the skin. In our salon we always want to do the haircut the owner wants but with matting it is always a question of safety and comfort for the pet because de matting especially in certain areas can cause injury to the dog.
I used my second shortest blade on Bear to get through his matting. In this image some of the spots are shorter than others because the matting was so tight that when I first went over it with my blade it wouldn't even cut the matted hair. I had to go back and practically "dig" (without hurting him of course) up under the matts to get them off. This image is also a good representation of how you can be fooled into thinking your dog isn't matted. If you look at his back it just looks fluffy and curly but beside it where I shaved you can tell that all of the matting is close to the skin.
What can you do to prevent matting?
Regular bathing, brushing, and blow outs are the 3 B's of keeping your dog mat free! We preach this to all of our clients but especially the breeds that are prone to matting such as labradoodles and goldendoodles. So many of our sweet pet parents are striving to do well so we often hear statements like this "I brush him daily how can he be matted?!" The answer is that either you aren't bushing enough or you aren't doing it correctly. Line brushing is the only effective way to truly prevent mats or brush them out once they are present. It is hard to describe so I will attach a video but basically you need to separate the hair into a line where you can see skin to know that you are brushing down to the root. The photo below is Bear's hair the night I groomed him. The left side is him not brushed and the right side is him "brushed" how most pet parents are likely bushing. His fur feels nice and soft so we think it is "brushed" however he is still incredibly matted underneath. If you want to double check that your pet is mat free grab a inexpensive metal comb and run it through your dogs coat, if it glides through the fur there is no mats but if it stops and gets hung up there are mats.
Thank you so much for your time reading this post! I hope this is helpful to our pet parents struggling with matting. I always want to be transparent and help my clients better understand what it is we do. If you are one of our clients struggling with this please stop by the shop and we can give you more pointers as well as set you up with a regular grooming schedule that can help keep your pup's coat mat free and to the length you want!
This girl is not a professional groomer but I found her video extremely informative so if you want to learn how to line brush give it a watch!
She puts a little image in there that says, "groomers are starting to hate doodle owners because of matting" but I just want you guys to know that we LOVE doodles and simply want to educate you guys and for you to understand that we always do our best to get the desired haircut but your pet's comfort and safety must come first! :)
Here is a pic of Bear after his grooming! I have never in his two years of life had to cut him this short but it will grow back and even when it was 30 degrees outside he was still running around as happy as could be!