How to Use Clippers on a Matted Dog

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Matting is a condition where your dog has fur with knots and tangles. The condition can sometimes be painful and lead to complications like skin irritation. Moreover, the fur knots can cover parasites that affect your dog’s health. 

Any dog with long hair can get matting, but there are breeds and coat types that are more prone to matting. They include curly coats, Bichon, Shih Tzu, Doodles, and Poodles. In addition, double-coated dogs are also prone to matting. 

Let’s take an in-depth look at the causes and how to handle the situation.

Causes of Matting

  • Allergy- Dogs with long hair and allergies are prone to matting. This is because the long hair can become uncomfortable, making the dog itch and lick the hair, causing the formation of knots and tangles. 
  • Water- When your dog goes out in the rain or a pool of water, the hair between the legs and underbelly hair gets wet. This moisture does not dry up properly and causes matting on the underbelly and between the legs most of the time. In addition, if your dog loves swimming, the chances of matting are high. This is why it is advisable to dry your dog’s fur after taking a swim or a wash at home. Also, be sure to brush your dog’s fur to remove mats before getting your dog wet.
  • Friction- Matting develops where there is a lot of friction. The areas with lots of friction include the dog’s armpits, where the collar is located, behind the ears, where your dog frequently scratches themselves, and between the dog’s legs (where the fur comes in contact with the floor or grass). 
  • Fleas and other fur parasites- Your dog can be infested with parasites that prompt it to scratch its fur. The scratching creates lots of knots that lead to matting. 
  • Season change- There is a time in the year when your dog’s fur changes from being thick to thin and vice versa. When this happens, it leaves loose fur on the dog’s coat, and if they are not brushed, they create tangles leading to matting. 

Matting in Your Dog’s Fur: How to Avoid It

Brush your dog’s fur regularly

This should be something that every dog owner should often do. The frequency with which you comb your dog’s fur is dependent on the season (especially the shedding season) and the type of dog coat. There are dog breeds with curly, fine, or long coats. It is recommended that you brush these dog breeds daily. Other dog breeds have coats that owners can brush once a week. 

When combing your dog’s fur, you should ensure that you brush deep into the coat. If you only brush the top layer, you push the knots down to the dog’s skin, worsening the matting. Owners can prevent this by choosing a suitable brush for their dog’s fur. 

Make regular visits to your professional groomer

There are dog coats that need intensive care to prevent matting. Dog breeds like Bichon Frises and Doodle mixes need a regular brush out service to keep matting at bay. Pairing the regular visits to the professional groomer with regular brushing will ensure your dog’s fur is neat and free from parasites. 

Remove your dog’s harness when not in use

Mats form underneath your dog’s collar. Matting occurs because of the friction that creates knots on the chest and armpits area. Use a rolled leather collar when your dog is not on the leash. This prevents the formation of knots on your dog’s neck. 

Maintain a short coat on your dog

This is a good option when you want to prevent matting. You should ensure that your dog’s fur is trimmed short. This not only prevents matting but also eases brushing your dog’s coat. This option is for dogs that have single-layer coats.

This means that double-coated breeds should not be shaved unless medically recommended. It is essential to take note of this as some dog breeds cannot survive the cold without their two layers of coat. The coat also protects from the sun’s heat and temperature regulation. 

Groomer trimming a small dog

How to Treat Matting with Clippers

One of the best treatment options for tangles and knots on a dog’s fur is cutting the knots with clippers. This is the safest and less painful way of dealing with mats on your dog’s hair. Here is a guideline on how to use clippers on a matted dog:

Step 1: Learn how to shave

Before you can start using clippers on your dog’s hair, learn how to shave by looking at how your professional groomer does it. This will help you learn the skill and improve your confidence when handling the clippers. In addition, dogs can detect nervousness, making the process long and hectic. 

Step 2: Secure your dog safely

Securing your dog with a leash will ensure that the dog does not flinch during hair clipping. You can tie the leash around a support pillar and ensure the dog cannot jump from the table or where you have placed it. 

Step 3: Ask for help if need be

You can ask your friend or relative to help keep the dog still, as some dogs cannot keep calm during grooming. 

Step 4: Start shaving the head

Begin by shaving your dog’s head with the number 10 blade on your clippers. You should be keen when shaving the areas around the eyes and ears and maintain a distance of one inch away from the dog’s eyes.

Step 5: Shave the tail and underarms

For these areas, hold the clippers with the comb attachment flat against the dog’s skin to avoid injury. Stop shaving if the dog begins to squirm too much. 

Step 6: Shave the back

Shave the dog’s back starting from behind the head to the tail. Switch to a slightly larger blade if the mats have not reached down to the dog’s skin. 

Step 7: Shave the legs and sides

When shaving the sides and legs, you might notice that the dog’s fur comes off in one piece. This shows that your dog’s coat was severely matted. You should monitor the heat of the shavers as they can sometimes overheat and cause skin burns. 

Step 8: Shave the belly

This should be the last area that you shave. You may notice that your dog starts to itch after the shaving process is over. Bath your dog in cool water to rinse off the fur and calm the skin. 

Step 9: Brush out tangles

Buy a slicker brush for your dog’s fur to brush out the fur regularly when your dog’s hair begins to grow again. 


Matting is a condition that, when left untreated, can have dire effects on your dog. Therefore, regular brushing and visits to a professional groomer are essential to keep tangles and knots at bay. As you have learned from this article, it’s crucial to regularly comb and trim your dog’s fur to avoid matting. Clippers are also a great way to get rid of matting. If the process proves challenging, seek professional help. 

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