ALL About Matting

What are Mats

A mat is a tangle or tangled section of a dog’s coat. If a dog sheds (and all dogs do to some extent) and the dead fur is not brushed out or falls off the dog naturally, then the coat develops a layer of dead fur that gets stuck in the live fur. Dead hair and live hair can then fuse together and become a mat. This is the same process humans use to make felted fabrics.

Matting is a serious health and hygiene issue. Mats collect moisture and dirt and are great places for bacteria and fungus to create skin infections (hot spots). They pull at the skin and affect blood flow, sometimes causing bruising. Matting can prevent a coat from properly shielding a dog from the weather and insulating them against the heat of summer and the cold of winter.

Causes and Prevention

Mats develop over time. Mats are caused by:

  • Improper or infrequent brushing
  • Letting a dog get wet then air/towel dry
  • Friction

To prevent matting, a dog should:

  • Be brushed all over every 1 to 2 days
  • Visit a groomer for regular maintenance
  • Not wear harnesses, collars, or clothes 24/7 (causes friction)
  • Be blow dried (if possible) and brushed after getting wet
  • Be cut/shaved short if regular grooming at home is not feasible or if the dog’s lifestyle means it is prone to matting

At The Barking Barber, we want to make sure you have the tools and knowledge to maintain your dog’s coat in between grooms. Please ask your groomer for a brushing demonstration and about which tools are best for your dog’s hair type.

Dealing with Mats

A dog is considered matted if you cannot get a metal comb to the dog’s skin and brush through the coat easily. If the comb gets stuck the mats must either be:

  1. Shaved out
  2. Brushed out with a slicker brush, mat breaker, and comb

Mats should NEVER be cut out of the coat with scissors. The mats pull the skin up so it is very easy to snip the dog’s skin instead of the mat.


Shaving out mats is the easiest and least traumatic option for your dog. To shave out a mat, a clipper blade must pass under the mats, not through them. This is why matted dogs must be shaved very short. It is important to know that shaving out mats:

  • Increases the risk of nicks, cuts, hematomas (blood blisters), and clipper burn
  • May reveal hidden medical conditions like skin infections or parasites
  • Increases the risk of scratching after the groom which may cause cuts and scratches
  • May make the dog act oddly for a while until they get use to their new haircut
  • Increases the risk of sunburn after the groom
  • May mean the dog needs a coat in cold weather
  • If the dog is double-coated the fur may grow back a different colour, texture, or not at all


Brushing out mats can be very painful and often takes a very long time. A good groomer may, and should, refuse to brush out your dog if they feel the process would be too much for the dog to handle. Please note that brushing out a matted dog may cause:

  • Brush burn/redness/irritated skin
  • Broken and damaged fur that may not protect the dog properly from the elements
  • Pain/stress during or after grooming
  • Make your dog hate grooming


Dematting a dog, either by shaving or brushing, takes extra time, patience, and skill. It also causes extra wear and tear on a groomer’s equipment which must be maintained. Because of this, The Barking Barber charges extra fees for dematting services based on the size, breed, and coat type of the dog.

  Extra Small Small Medium Large Extra Large Giant
Minimal $15 $15 $15 $20 $25 $25
Over 25% $30 $30 $40 $50 $60 $60

Health. Hygiene. Style.