Grooming your shepherd, retriever or similar double-coated pup requires more than just running a brush through his coat and calling it a day. These fluffsters blow their coats twice a year. The wooly undercoat also tends to mat. A mini-arsenal of grooming tools can prevent furballs from flying all over your home and forestall irritating mats.
A wide brush with fine wire bristles across the pad, a slicker brush allows you to maintain a double coat. The teeth are angled to help grab onto the dead hairs and remove them. The longer the coat, the stiffer and longer the bristles should be. Brush with the grain of the fur on the outer coat and then against the grain to help remove the undercoat, working in short strokes and small sections. Finish by running the brush with the grain again. Take particular care around the neck and rump where the undercoat is thicker. When used regularly, the slicker brush can help prevent mats and tangles. Slicker brushes can help remove moderate mats and also finish the coat. Several types are available, including self-cleaning models that release the collected fur at the touch of a button.
Wire pins, sometimes rubber tipped, stick out from a pin brush. These work best if Teddy has a medium or long coat, or Zeus sports a curly coat. Unlike slickers, the pins are straight. These brushes are similar to many human-hair brushes, which in a pinch can be substituted. The longer the coat, the longer and more spread out the pins should be. As with a slicker, brush your dog with the grain, then against the grain, then with the grain again. These won't help with mats and are best used as finishing brushes.
As the name implies, an undercoat rake is shaped like a rake with semi-long teeth spread somewhat far apart. The teeth often are slightly angled to help grab onto the loose undercoat. Again, coat length dictates the size of the rake and the position of the teeth. The undercoat rake is designed to cut through the outer coat and release, then remove the dead hairs from the undercoat. Undercoat rakes are ideal when Lassie blows his coat in fall and spring.
A smaller brush, the de-matting tool features wire bristles used exclusively for removing mats. These tools work well on most mats, even some of the worst ones. Try a de-matting tool before cutting a mat out. A wide-toothed comb can help release dead hairs from the undercoat, which will relieve your dog and help with shedding. After using a slicker or pin brush, run a wide-toothed comb against the grain to help remove the dead hairs, then re-brush with the slicker or pin brush with the grain.