How to Remove Mats from a Dog's Coat

Regular grooming can help prevent mats from forming in Fido's coat.
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You're peacefully brushing your dog's coat when your comb suddenly hits an obstruction. You've found a mat --a solid clump of fur that forms when the hair tangles and collects shed hair, dirt and debris. Mats can occur anywhere in the coat, but you are most likely to find them behind your dog's ears, near the armpits or on the hindquarters. Unfortunately, brushing and combing alone aren't enough to untangle a mat, but it must be removed. You'll need some patience, time, and perhaps a little help.

Step 1

Have your dog sit or lie in a position that lets you control him while giving you easy access to the mat. If your dog is particularly squirmy, you may want to have a helper hold him while you work on the mat.

Step 2

Spray the mat with a conditioning spray, and allow it to soak in for several minutes.

Step 3

Hold the mat at its base, near your dog's skin. To prevent pain or injury, your hand must be a barrier between the dog's sensitive skin and any instruments you use on the mat.

Step 4

Pull the mat gently with your fingers, separating as much of it as you can that way.

Step 5

Use the mat splitter to break the mat into two or three parts, slowly working the splitter vertically down the length of the mat with a sawing motion.

Step 6

Tease the mat apart, using a slicker brush on each of the sections you created with the mat splitter. Work slowly, making sure you don't pull at your dog's fur. Continue to tease out the mat until the brush slides through easily. If tangles persist, repeat Steps 4 and 5, breaking the mat into smaller pieces.

Step 7

Let go of your dog's fur, and brush through as usual with a pin brush. Give your dog a reward to celebrate.


  • Never use scissors near your dog's skin. Any sudden move on the dog's part can cause injury.


  • If you are dealing with a particularly stubborn mat, or if the mat has formed too close to your dog's skin, have the mat removed by a professional groomer.

Items You Will Need

  • Oil-based coat conditioning spray
  • Mat splitter
  • Slicker brush
  • Pin brush