HELP! My Doodle Has Mats!

June 10, 2015

HELP! My Doodle Has Mats...and I am just about to pull my own hair out!

 "I took my Goldendoodle to the groomer yesterday for a regular groom.  I dropped her off and had some errands to run.  I hadn't even been gone and hour when the groomer called me and wanted permission to shave my dog.  The groomer said she had bad mats.  I brush her all the time.  I didn't know what to do.  I remember someone saying I should never get her clipped.  They said it would make her coat look bad.  The groomer said there was nothing else she could do with Maggie's coat, so I said 'ok'.  When I picked her up.  I almost cried.  What could I have done to prevent this?  Can you help me so we don't ever have to clip her down again?"

I have heard this story time and time again.  A cute Doodle gets dropped off at a groomer with a body full of thick wonderful hair and what appeared to be a few tangles.  When the Doodle gets picked up, it has a coat that has been clipped down to barely an inch long and a very upset Doodle Parent.  The cause for the anguish:  Mats.

Mats occur when the topcoat, the undercoat and loose hair get tangled up. Collars can sometimes get them started.  Wrestling and playing with other pets can cause hair to tangle.  Swimming or playing in the rain can get a mat started.  Many common everyday activities can lead to matting.  If a small mat isn't addressed properly, it can turn into a  much bigger, often painful problem for a dog.  Mats can lock down against a dog's skin,  like hard knots made of cotton and dirt.  Untreated and unresolved, they can be a great place for parasites like fleas to hide and live.  Frankly, nobody likes dealing with these pesky parts of a dog's coat.

So how do we handle them?  What are some of the tools we should have in our arsenal to fight against mats?  I have some suggestions of tools and products I use on my own Goldendoodle, BayLee Anne, and my Schnoodle, Sabe, and with a little time and effort on the part of any Doodle Parent,  we can all keep mats to a minimum.

First, keep your Doodle's coat clean.  Without discussing specific shampoos here, I will say that all of the shampoos we stock at SmagDog are great.  Further, I have personally used most of them on my Goldendoodle, Schnoodle and Rottweiler.  Why the Rottie? She has very sensitive skin and a few allergies to products, so if it is gentle enough for her, I know it will be fine for my Doodle dogs.

Second, condition the coat. For Schnoodles, I really like HappyTails Fur Butter.  It is a thick, heavy conditioning product.  Sabe, my Schnoodle, has an apricot colored, thin, wiry coat with loose curls and I like this product for her. After shampooing her with HappyTails Comfy Dog Oatmeal Shampoo, I apply Fur Butter to her wet coat and massage it in. I use Comfy Dog Shampoo on her because, like my Rottie, she has sensitive skin. And she scratches.  She scratches a lot! She scratches for no obvious reason.  I think she just likes the way it feels.  Often, though, she can irritate her own skin by scratching too much.  Comfy Dog seems to settle her skin irritations and allows her to enjoy her bath.  I bathe her in lukewarm water in a tub and I use a washcloth and lather her all over.  I gently massage the shampoo into her coat.  She really likes that part of her bath!  I think she thinks she is at a spa!   Once she is clean, I rinse the shampoo and apply the Fur Butter all over.  Again, she gets a gentle massage.  After a couple of minutes, I rinse her completely, making sure I didn’t accidentally leave shampoo or conditioner on her tummy or in her ears. These products do not dry her skin.   Nevertheless, I don’t want to leave any product on her skin.  I do love the way they leave her coat, though.  They leave her wiry coat feeling much softer and smelling nice.  I dry her with the cool setting of my blower and brush her out completely with the Purple Master Grooming Tools Slicker Brush.  This brush has firm but soft bristles and works great on wiry Schnoodle and thinner Schnoodle coats.  Just by following these simple steps, I rarely have matting issues with this dog.

Master Grooming Tools Purple Slicker 

My Goldendoodle, BayLee Anne, however, is a different story.  She is a gorgeous, ultra-cream, loose wavy, English Goldendoodle.  She is beautiful and loving, but mats are always an issue with her.  She loves to play in her pool, wrestle with her sisters, and just scrub her face in the grass.  Sometimes, frankly, she is a real mess!  And keeping her clean can be a challenge.  But, again, I cannot stress how important it is to keep a coat clean and allergen and flea free.  Fleas are easy to prevent and treat, but dirt, grass and allergens can be more difficult to combat.  Allergens cause scratching.  Scratching causes hair to tangle and can lead to mats.  As I mentioned before, collars can also cause matting because they rub hair in the same area.  Though some Goldendoodles can wear a collar all the time, mine cannot. Collars cause her to mat around her neck.  I collar her for her safety, but when she is home and safely in her fenced-in protected environment, I remove her collar.

My favorite and most used tools against her mats are Cowboy Magic Detangler & Shine and the Safari Mat Remover Tool.  Cowboy Magic Detangler is a lightweight, lightly oily, leave-in conditioner that was made originally for horses’ manes and tails. Cowboy Magic has been expanded and approved for use on dogs.  Cowboy Magic is so safe, in fact, it can be used on human hair where tangling is an issue.  Used sparingly, it conditions BayLee Anne's coat, leaves her smelling nice, and promotes amazing softness.  Cowboy Magic Detangler makes brushing her after her bath and in between grooms a breeze.

We do offer other great detangling products.  I have used HappyTails Ruff to Smooth Detangler, Fur Butter, Glo Coat Detangler and Les Pooch Crème Rinse.  All of these are wonderful products, but my personal choice, for my Goldendoodle, is Cowboy Magic Detangler.  To brush her out, after her coat is dry, I like the Furminator Slicker Brush for everyday use.  I also have a Master Grooming Ergonomic Slicker Brush, found in Master Grooming Comb and Brush Combo Set, for quick topcoat brushes. Lastly, I keep of couple of Master Grooming Finishing Combs on hand.  These are also in the Combo Set.  These are great for ears, tails and the hair that grows on her footpads. 

Sometimes, though, she does get mats.  They have to be removed. I work the mats out of her coat before she gets a full bath or goes out to be professionally groomed.  I never want to get that dreaded “we have to shave your dog” call.

I use Cowboy Magic on the mats in her dirty coat to start to loosen them.  Some mats are pretty easy to remove.  With a little Cowboy Magic worked into her tangles, I can simply cut through them or cut them out completely with my 4 inch Curved Ballpoint Scissors.  In case she moves, I only use the round tipped ballpoint scissors for this.  I won’t accidently stick her with the pointed ends that non-ballpoint scissors have.  I strongly recommend using round tipped scissors if you are not a professional groomer with lots of experience trimming dogs.  I also have my Safari Mat Remover Tool handy. Together with Cowboy Magic, this little tool is a must for any dog owner who has a long or curly haired breed!  This saves me so much time and saves her lots of pain.  

 Cowboy Magic Detangler

If I cannot simply clip out a mat with my little scissors, I add more Cowboy Magic and break through the mats with my Safari Mat Remover.  It works like a comb with little curved blades.  It is surprisingly safe to use and it is really a pretty easy process.  I use the Safari Mat Remover to cut through the mats, starting at her skin and working my way out to the end of the hair.  It is pretty much like just combing right through the terrible tangles.  It cuts through even the toughest mats with almost no pulling.

I know it hurts when normal combs and brushes stick in mats and pull against her skin.  To be honest, I had a really hard time dealing with that before I found the Safari Mat Remover.  Together with Cowboy Magic, however, this tool is a wonderful investment.  After the mats break up, I just comb them all the way out of her coat.  I used the ballpoint scissors to trim the ends of her coat and she looks great!

After we go through this process, she always gets a treat.  I know any pulling of her hair can hurt and I am always praising her for enduring this process.  

After the mats are gone, she gets a lukewarm bath and lots of massaging with her pet shampoo. Because all the Cowboy Magic Detangler washes out, she gets a little more after she is towel dried. Then I dry her like normal with a cool blower and then I usually top her off with either a spritz of a Nootie Spritzer or some Fur Spritzer by Olive.  Fur Spritzer has a more earthy patchouli fragrance, and sometimes, I prefer that over the sweet fruity or flowery smells of Nootie Products.

If you were de-matting your dog before a trip to a professional groomer, to ensure your Doodle doesn’t get clipped down at the groomer's, you might want to skip the bath, and just take your unbathed, dematted Doodle to your groomer.

I should let you know I prefer my Goldendoodle's coat not to exceed 4 inches in length.  I keep her coat short because we live so far south and the heat and humidity are here almost all year long. Coupled with her favorite activities listed previously, it just works better for us to keep her coat shorter than some Doodle Parents prefer.  Nevertheless, these mat prevention steps and dematting suggestions will work with much longer coats. As I stated before, it will take a little time and commitment on the part of Doodle Parents to do this. But these simple maintenance processes will save a lot of sadness and pain.  Nothing is 100% if your dog is badly prone to mats, but doing this will help out so much!  Most of all, learning to use these tools and products can help ensure against that dreaded "clipper" call from the groomer that no one wants to get.

If you need assistance with any of this, please email me via the Contact Us link on  .

I wish you and your Doodle or Schnoodle Happy Grooming and healthy beautiful coats!