Can You Detangle a Dog's Matted Fur Without Cutting It All Off?

Regular brushing keeps the mats away.
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When your poor pup's hair gets badly matted, it can pull painfully on his skin. It also can harbor dirt and bacteria. You have the power to make him feel better while he enjoys your undivided attention as you brush out the mats. If they are ignored, mats can become so large and dense that the only option is to cut them carefully away. Instead of ruining your buddy's coat this way, catch mats early and brush them out.

Step 1

Hold the mat between your fingers at the base, making sure your fingers hold the mat tightly. This prevents you from touching your pup's skin with a prickly brush, and it keeps you from pulling on his skin as you tug at the matted hair.

Step 2

Hold a slicker brush near the outer edge of the mat, and brush the mat with short, quick strokes. Move the brush nearer the middle of the mat as the fur near the edge starts to loosen.

Step 3

Spray the mat with a detangling product designed for use with dogs, and let the liquid soak into the mat for a few minutes if you are having trouble brushing out the mat. If your pooch doesn't like the spray bottle, wipe some detangler on the mat with your fingers, rubbing the mat gently to work it in.

Step 4

Repeat the brushing process, holding the mat firmly with one hand and brushing from the outer edge of the mat.

Step 5

Use a mat splitter to break up stubborn mats. Hold the mat tightly with one hand and place the mat splitter carefully near your fingers, then pull it through the mat. A mat splitter has several parallel blades that cut the mat into smaller pieces, which you then can attack individually.

Step 6

Pull a slicker brush through the smaller mats one at a time, starting at the outer edge and working inward to loosen the fur.


  • If there's a mat you just can't conquer, take your pooch to a groomer to have the mat shaved off. Some can be so close to the skin that it's nearly impossible to cut them off with scissors; you don't want to risk cutting his tender skin.


  • Break up the time you spend working on your furry friend's mats so he doesn't learn to dread it. Spend a few minutes working on the mat, then play with your pup for a while before getting back to work on the mat.

  • Brushing your pup daily can help prevent mats before they get started.

  • Always brush the fur in the direction it grows, and this includes brushing the mats. Brush away from the dog, following the fur's natural direction.

Items You Will Need

  • Slicker brush
  • Detangling spray
  • Mat splitter