Do Dog Deshedders Work?

Goldens can benefit from a deshedding tool.
Janie Airey/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Since their debut in 2003, deshedding tools for pet owners have sold by the millions. Deshedders work using the basic principles of carding, a traditional technique employed by groomers. You need to use deshedding tools with caution to avoid damaging your dog's coat or irritating his skin.

Traditional Carding Process

Dog deshedding tools were created to work much like a carding tool or stripping knife. Carding is a method of pulling out the dead undercoat with a fine-toothed, almost serrated-looking tool. In the past, groomers used clipper blades that were not turned on to gently rake through a dog's coat. The comb or blades pick up and pull out dead hairs, leaving a healthy, low-shedding topcoat behind.

How They Work

Deshedding tools available online or in pet supply stores are replicas of traditional carding tools and can be used easily by the average dog owner. Most are T-shaped, with a wide handle and a metal blade or comb attached at the top. To use them properly, rake gently from head to tail following the direction of the hair growth. The deshedder will usually pull out very fine, linty undercoat with every stroke.

Dog Coats that Benefit

Dog coats that will benefit most from a deshedding tool are those with thick double coats, meaning that they have ample undercoat. The Labrador retriever, German shepherd, French bulldog and Cavalier King Charles spaniel, fall into this category. Even if your dog has a substantial double coat, use caution when you introduce this tool. Some dog owners have found that the carding or deshedding process is damaging to their dog's unique coat type.

When Not to Use a Deshedder

Single-coated dogs and hypoallergenic breeds, such as the poodle, Maltese, bichon frise, and Havanese, do not benefit from a deshedding tool. While they may shed minimally, they do not have a double coat that can be effectively treated by these tools. In addition, the skin of dogs with very thin single, shedding coats, such as the greyhound and the Pharoah hound, can be irritated by deshedders.

Other Tools at Your Disposal

Removing the fur from your dog's undercoat can also be done with a regular slicker brush. Regular bathing and brushing will cut down on your dog's shedding as well. While generally there is no harm in trying a deshedder on your dog, using a deshedding tool is not the only way, or even the best method in some situations. In fact, some coats can be damaged by overuse with a deshedder. Stop use of a deshedder if your dog's coat gets cut or damaged by the deshedder, or if his skin becomes irritated after a grooming session.