Owning a dog comes with many responsibilities, and grooming is high on the list of maintenance tasks. But whether you have a short-haired or long-haired breed, all dogs could do with a regular brush.
It’s all part of keeping your dog’s coat clean and healthy. Your dog’s type of coat will determine how often you should brush and the type of brush you should use. But before we delve into the good stuff, let’s look at why brushing is essential for your dog’s wellbeing.
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Why should you brush your dog?
Removes excess hair
Many dog breeds shed fur which can build up in the body of the coat. Brushing helps remove your dog’s excess fur allowing the skin and coat to ‘breathe’ more easily.
By removing loose fur you’ll also catch rogue dog hairs that would otherwise be left on your clothes or furniture. If you’re sick of dog hair all over your home, that’s a big bonus reason for brushing!
Distributes natural oils
A regular brush will help distribute the natural oils in your dog’s skin. These oils play a big part in keeping the coat healthy and shiny. This will also help dirt slide off the coat more freely, which means you won’t need to bathe your dog as frequently.
Removes matts and tangles
Perhaps the biggest need for brushing is to remove mats and tangles from your dog’s coat. Long-haired, fine-furred breeds, are particularly prone to matting. My Miniature schnauzer Loki is one of them.
If the mats get out of hand, you may need to shave your dog’s coat right back to the skin. Which is not fair on the dog and is something most owners want to avoid.
Severe matting can dramatically hinder a dog’s quality of life – it can stop a dog from being able to move or function properly and can even cause fungal infections and skin problems. Brushing regularly will keep those mats at bay.
Brushing also gives you the opportunity to do a health check at the same time. It allows you to check for any unusual lumps or bumps, fleas or ticks, injuries or cuts that you may not notice otherwise.
It’s a great chance to give your dog the once over to check everything’s fine and dandy with Fido. If you notice anything concerning, you’ll be able to see the vet and treat the problem before it escalates.
For some dogs brushing can become a dreaded event. If it’s not introduced at an early age in a positive way, owners can have a lifelong struggle on their hands. If grooming is a struggle for you and your dog, read my top tips on ‘how to keep a dog calm while grooming.’
But brushing when introduced gently, is a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your dog. It should be a positive and pleasant experience for both of you that grows your relationship.
How often should you brush your dog?
As mentioned earlier, how often you brush your dog has a lot to do with your dog’s coat type.
Breeds with short coats like the French Bulldog, Labrador and the Boxer, don’t require frequent brushing like their long-haired counterparts.
The fur doesn’t mat or tangle as easily, but they’ll still benefit from a brush once every couple of weeks to remove any loose fur.
A rubber bristled glove will help loosen dirt and hair from the undercoat. It’s gentle on your dog’s skin, and will seem like you’re simply stroking your dog. They’ll be none the wiser!
Long-haired breeds like the Wheaten Terrier, Collie and Yorkshire Terrier need brushing at least once a week. If your dog’s fur tends to mat or tangle easily, you may find you need to brush once every couple of days.
Medium-haired, wiry breeds
Many breeds from the terrier family are considered wiry-coated. And in fact my miniature schnauzer is too, although she has the softest coat I’ve ever seen on a schnauzer.
Many terriers have longer areas of coat true to their breed. So just like long-haired breeds they’ll benefit from a weekly if not daily brushing to avoid mats and tangles.
For wiry terrier breeds, a slicker brush is a must. I also find a metal comb is useful to tease out tangles, and a mat breaker for when knots get a little out of control. Just be sure to use this carefully so you don’t scrape the skin. They can be very sharp!
Top tips for brushing your dog
- Always brush with the way your dog’s coat grows, never against it.
- When tackling mats, pinch close to your dog’s skin at the roots. Then tease out gently with a comb to avoid pulling.
- For stubborn tangles, use a detangling spray. Leave on for 2 minutes and comb free with a metal comb.
- Keep the brush away from your dog’s skin, especially with slicker brushes which can be painful. Always brush down and out.
- If your dog has many mats close to the skin, you may need to see the groomer who will likely shave them off.
- If your dog seems visibly stressed while brushing, don’t force or manhandle your dog. Go slow and come back to it another time.
- Take time to make brushing an enjoyable experience. If your dog has tangles or mats, go gently and slowly being careful not to damage the coat.
Which breed of dog do you have and how often do you brush them? Let me know in the comments below…
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