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Tips on Brushing & Combing Long and Short-Haired Dogs

Tips On Brushing & Combing Long and Short-Haired Dogs

Grooming is an essential part of keeping your puppy’s skin and coat healthy. Brushing and combing helps keep tangles and mats from their coat. It will also help spread natural oils onto their lustrous coat, making your puppy look and feel better.

Although your puppy may not need a visit to the grooming salon until she’s about six months old (when her adult coat grows in), the sooner you begin grooming her, the better. Getting her used used to being brushed at an early age will help ensure that she’s comfortable with the process going forward. The brushes may frighten your pup at first, so always use a gentle touch–especially when handling sensitive areas such as her face, tummy and tail. Try to hold her legs and paws gently when you brush them so she won’t feel restrained. With patience, verbal praise and healthy treats, most puppies learn to enjoy this pleasant, relaxing ritual.

The volume and variety of grooming products available can be overwhelming at first, so here is a breakdown of the brushes, combs and techniques:


There are a few different types of brushes that are used for different coat types.

Slicker Brush: The most common brush that will work for most all coats is a slicker brush. It is the most versatile brush and works well for a variety of coat types. The short, bent, wire or plastic bristles grab and remove loose undercoat, and frequent use helps prevent tangles and matting.

Bristle Brush: Bristle brushes have soft, straight bristles on a flat base. Because this design doesn’t penetrate as deeply as others, it works best for short coats.

Pin or Wire Brush: Pin or wire brushes have straight, metal or wood bristles on a rubber base. These types of brushes provide deep coverage and are excellent for fluff-drying long fur.

Furminator: The Furminator brush is designed for those breeds that shed on a regular basis. Its main purpose is to remove excess shedding undercoat.


Combs come with different sizes of teeth and different spacing between the teeth.

Large Tooth Comb: Designed for long-haired dogs and dogs with heavy undercoats, a large-tooth comb loosens tangles and removes excess undercoat.

Fine Tooth Comb: Fine-tooth combs work best on short-haired dogs and those with thin undercoats.

Flea Comb: A flea comb can be used to help check your pup for fleas. It can trap the pests their debris in its close-set teeth. If you find evidence of fleas, you will want to follow up with appropriate flea treatment.


A hound glove, mitt or grooming glove features rubber nubs or short bristles on a flexible cloth base that fits over your hand. These work best on short coats, but the sensation of being petted makes it a favorite of all dogs, especially puppies!

How Often You Should Brush Your Dog

How often you should brush or comb your puppy depends on her coat and lifestyle. Typically, dogs with longer hair and active, outdoor lifestyles require more grooming.

Check out the following descriptions to determine your dog’s coat type. (Keep in mind that these guidelines will apply to your puppy’s adult coat.) If she’s a mixed breed, go with the category that matches her dominant breed.

Short and Wiry: Terriers, airedales, schnauzers and wirehaired dachshunds have short, coarse coats with fur that is thick and hard with a longer softer coat on their backs.

  • Tools: Slicker brush; medium-tooth comb.
  • Frequency: Twice a week.
  • Method: To remove loose hair and prevent mats, brush and comb in layers from the skin outward in the direction of the fur.
  • Special needs: Grooming by a professional groomer every six to eight weeks.

Short and Smooth: This coat type has little to no undercoat and is sported by such breeds as basenjis, doberman pinschers and pugs.

  • Tools: Bristle brush or hound glove.
  • Frequency: Once a week.
  • Method: First brush against the hair growth, which will help to remove the loose hair, and then brush with the growth to flatten and help spread natural oils.
  • Special needs: Spray-on conditioners can help keep your dog’s coat shiny. Grooming by a professional groomer four to six times a year.

Short and Double: Labrador retrievers, rottweiler and similar breeds grow a short, double coat. The top coat is straight and coarse, while the undercoat is soft and thin.

  • Tools: Slicker, Furminator, pin brush and metal comb.
  • Frequency: Twice a week; more frequently in spring and summer when shedding.
  • Method: Brush the coat growth to prevent mats and remove excess loose undercoat, then use a metal comb to remove the loose hair.
  • Special needs: Grooming by a professional groomer six times a year.

Long and Silky: Breeds with this coat type, including maltese, silky terriers and yorkshire terriers, don’t grow an undercoat.

  • Tools: Slicker brush; fine-tooth comb.
  • Frequency: Three or four times a week.
  • Method: After removing any mats and tangles, brush then comb the entire coat in the direction the hair grows.
  • Special needs: Grooming by a professional groomer every four to six weeks.

Long and Coarse: Lhasa apsos, shih tzus and tibetan terriers are examples of breeds with long, coarse coats. This type has a thinner, lighter undercoat than long and double types.

  • Tools: Slicker brush, bristle brush, pin brush & fine-tooth comb.
  • Frequency: Three or four times a week.
  • Method: Carefully remove any mats with a slicker brush, and then brush the entire coat with a pin brush or a bristle brush. Once brushed, used a metal comb to go back and check for mats. Always brush in the direction of the hair growth.
  • Special needs: Grooming by a professional groomer every four to six weeks.

Long and Double: This long-haired type features a straight, course outer coat with a thick, heavy undercoat. Breeds include chows, collies and samoyeds.

  • Tools: Slicker brush; large, wide-tooth comb.
  • Frequency: Two or three times a week.
  • Method: Brush the entire body from the skin outward. You may want to work on one small section of fur at a time. After carefully removing any mats, thoroughly comb the coat. Make sure you get the comb next to the skin and comb outward to remove the loose undercoat.
  • Special needs: Grooming by a professional groomer six times per year. Dogs with this coat shed more than any other type, so frequent brushing is essential.

Curly: Poodles, bedlington terriers and kerry blue terriers have curly coats. Although these dogs don’t shed, their fur mats easily.

  • Tools: Slicker brush and metal comb.
  • Frequency: Twice a week.
  • Method: Brush in small sections with the grain of the coat to remove any tangles or mats, then go back and check with a metal comb.
  • Special needs: Grooming by a professional groomer every four to six weeks.

Hairless: Some hairless breeds, like the chinese crested, grow tufts of hair on the head, legs and tail.

  • Tools: Bristle brush or hound glove.
  • Frequency: Every other week.
  • Method: Gently brush in the direction the coat grows, this will help to distribute natural oils onto skin and coat.
  • Special needs: Apply an oil-free moisturizer daily and a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 when outdoors.

Final Tips

Spending this time with your puppy creates great quality bonding time and provides the perfect opportunity to check your puppy for lumps, rashes, sores or parasites. Call your veterinarian if you find anything suspicious. Always praise your puppy during and after your grooming time, and give her a healthy treat for being such a good sport at the end.