What is a Matt?
Matts are formed when there is any kind of friction – different types of hair rubbing against each other such as when a puppy starts to get their adult coat, or from rubbing against a surface eg collar or harness.
Which dogs are prone to matts?
Wool coated breeds are particularly prone to getting matts. These are dogs such as bichon or poodles and their crosses eg cockapoo, cavachons.
But really any breed can get matts if not brushed regularly. Border collies can often get matts in their bloomers!
Which parts of the dog prone to matts?
As matts are caused by friction the common places to find matts are under the armpits, behind the ears, between the pads of the paws
So why are they a problem?
Matts will become tighter over time and get closer to the skin. This stops air circulating which can cause the dogs skin to become overheated. Matts can start to pinch and pull the skin and when severe can restrict movement – eg if a large matt forms in the armpit – this can stop the dog being able to stretch their front legs out, stopping them jumping and running and causing pain when walking. Because they become thick with hair they retain heat and water – so every time the dog gets wet (happens occasionally with UK weather!) the matt acts like a sponge and soaks up the water, this will then take an age to dry- even when the top of the coat seems dry – those matts may still be wet – this can cause irritation to the skin. Because matts are warm and maybe damp – they are a haven for parasites to dwell eg fleas ….this adds to the irritation. Also they can hide foreign bodies such as grass seeds, grass, bits of soil and dirt – all these are now rubbing against the skin and causing irritation. Being so close to the skin means this irritation could cause the skin to become sore, and in worst cases infected but it wouldn’t be seen by the owner as the sores are hidden by the matts.
How do they feel?
Imagine not brushing your hair for a couple of months, or just brushing it with a nice soft baby brush. Now imagine putting your head in and out of a few hedges! The pulling, stretching feeling would be like putting a piece of sellotape under your armpit from the underside of your arm and down your chest – now imagine stretching your arms up over your head……OUCH!!
What can you do to prevent them?
Regular grooming. Sounds simple. Dogs need to be not only brushed but also combed through. The brush you use will vary depending on the type of coat – but it needs to firm enough and have long enough pins to penetrate the length of the coat down to the skin.
Often people say “but I’ve brushed my dog & I can’t see any matts” – Unfortunately brushing is often not enough as the brush can go over the top of the coat – so the top of the coat may be flowing, but underneath is a layer of matts close to the skin. To ensure that you get down to the skin, follow up the brushing with combing. If your comb snags on a knot – go over that area again with the brush and so on.
How often should you brush & comb my dog?
This very much depends on breed – if in doubt – ask your dog groomer. Please don’t rely on what the breeder you got your puppy from says. They may often be more concerned about “selling the puppy” rather than telling you how much work they might be!
This is a rough guide:
· DAILY All wool breeds and cross breeds eg cockerpoos , cavachons, poodles, bichon fries if this seems a lot, split the dog into 7 for 7 days of the week – so 4 legs, body, head, tail
· WEEKLY Double coats such as golden retrievers, border collies, Pomeranians, spaniels in long coat
· FORTNIGHTLY-MONTHLY shorter haired dogs eg chihuahuas, Labradors, spaniels (clipped)
What should you do when you find matts?
Contact your dog groomer! Once matts are formed they are very difficult and can be painful to remove.
NB please do not try to cut out or clip out matts yourself. Dog groomers have a knowledge of the canine anatomy and know how to remove matts safely.
What will your dog groomer do?
If there are only one or two matts on the body of your dog groomer may be able to brush them out (dematt) using specialist brushes. If they are in delicate areas eg ears, armpits – they are likely to be clipped out.
Larger areas of matting will usually be clipped out due to the need for dog groomers to adhere to the Animal Welfare Act which states we must not cause suffering or pain to the dog. Trying to dematt large areas of the dog, or sensitive areas would conflict with the Animal Welfare Act due to the length of time it would take and how uncomfortable this can be for the dog. Brushing over and over in one area can cause abrasions to the skin.
Even with our training and care taken clipping out matts can still on rare occasions cause irritation or abrasions on the skin known as clipper rash. Dogs are not always co-operative when having these potentially painful matts removed and may jerk away suddenly – this increases the risk of injury occurring. On very rare occasions, there is also a risk of cuts to the skin if the skin itself is caught in the matt. As previously mentioned, matts may be hiding a multitude of sins eg sores which may need to have veterinary attention.
You may be asked by your groomer to sign a “Matting Form” – this will take the form of a disclaimer for any of the above occurring.
Your groomer will probably charge an extra “matting fee” – this is due to extra time and care required and extra wear and tear on their equipment – clipping through matts blunts the blades we use, so they will need sharpening by a specialist sharpener before they can be used again. Expect to pay £10-20 extra for matt removal.
“Humanity before Vanity”
Your dog groomer will not be clipping off matts to any particular style…..this will be a very short clip off all over.
No professional dog groomer wants to shave a dog off to the skin – if this is done – its for a reason. Please keep this in mind when people post photos on social media saying “look what the groomer did to Fluffy”. Remember Fluffy probably wasn’t fluffy, she was matted!
Your dogs hair will grow back and your dog groomer will discuss a schedule of appointments with you to keep on top of the coat and advise you on grooming techniques and tools.
Lune Dog Grooming