Having a dog is so much more than playing fetch in the backyard; it’s vet visits, exercise, companionship, and brushing-lots and lots of brushing. Contrary to popular belief, brushing isn’t just for long-haired dog breeds, all dogs will benefit from thorough and regular brushing. Brushing is important to remove tangles, snarls and mats as well as to distribute your dog’s natural skin oils to keep their skin soft and supple. Those skin oils also need to be distibuted the full length of the hair shaft to give your dog’s haircoat a healthy feel and shine.
The more hair that ends up on the brush, the less hair that ends up on your furniture, clothes, and carpets. Brushing is the single best way to decrease unwanted shedding from your dog. Is your dog one of those non-shedding breeds? Even more reason to brush as those breeds still lose hair, it just ends up tangled in the haircoat instead.
There’s more to brushing than just detangling snarled fur, brushing can also be a bonding activity-something you and your dog do together. The act of brushing, like a massage, has the ability to relax your canine companion, reduce their stress and anxiety and strengthen that human-animal bond that is so important in pet parentship. Brushing is also a great opportunity to check your dog over for lumps, bumps, injuries, bugs, and other abnormalities.
How to Choose the Best Brush for Your Dog
Dog brushes are not a one-size-fits all type of item and if you’ve never looked into buying one, you may be surprised at the number of options available. It can actually be a little overwhelming if you haven’t done your research. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Below you’ll find a few factors to consider to help you narrow down your dog brush search.
- Your dog’s hair coat – An Afghan Hound is going to need a different type of brush than a Chinese Crested, obviously. But length of the haircoat isn’t the only consideration. You’ll also want to look at haircoat thickness-does your dog have a double coat that needs a brush that gets deep down, through that wool-like undercoat? Or are they fairly thin haired and you want something soft and gentle so as not to injury their skin? Is the hair in tight curls or flowing locks that tend to mat and snarl? And finally, you may want to use a different brush during heavy shedding seasons to help pull out as much loose hair as possible.
- Size of the brush – A tiny Pomeranian probably won’t enjoy being brushed with a Saint Bernard sized brush, it could be a little intimidating and uncomfortable, not to mention nonconforming to a little dog’s angles and curves. On the other hand, using a small brush on a large dog could mean you’ll be brushing for the better part of a day just to cover the entire body. The size of the brush depends on the size of the dog and the grooming abilities of you.
- Ease of use – A brush is not just a brush, as you’re quickly finding out. Even if you find the perfect fit for your dog’s haircoat, it may not agree with you, and if a brush is uncomfortable or awkward for the operator, it’s less likely to be used. Find a brush that not only meets your pup’s needs but that has an ergonomic handle and is weighted properly for you to maneuver easily. You may have to test drive a few in order to see the difference.
- Cleanability – Dog brushes are tools that are really in the thick of it, so to speak. They get dirty, hairy, greasy, and sometimes even chewed on. So, it’s important to choose a brush that not only cleans your dog, but is easy to clean itself. Some brushes are great at pulling loose hair from your dog’s coat, but impossible to pull the hair off of them. Check for one with self-cleaning capabilities or at least an easy soap and water washability.
Different Types of Dog Brushes
So now that you know that not every dog’s haircoat is going to be happy with just any brush, let’s get to the types of brushes there are out there and where they are best used.
The 12 Best Dog Brushes on the Market 2019 – Reviews and Comparison
We can all use a little help when it comes to wading through the many, many types of dog brushes that are available on the market. So, here’s a review of the 12 best ones out there.
1. Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker Brush
- Best for all haircoat types, including thick, double-coated breeds.
This slicker brush is tough enough to brush through tough, thick undercoat hair, yet gentle enough not to damage fragile skin and fur. The self-cleaning feature allows for a quick clean up with the press of a button. Also, for you is a comfort grip handle and anti-slip handle to prevent wrist strain even when the brushing gets rough.
2. Pet Neat Professional De-shedding Tool
- Best for reducing shedding in long or thick haircoats.
Designed to be a quick and easy way to remove all of the loose and dead hair from a dog’s haircoat and keep it trapped in the brush until you remove it. A durable brush that will withstand many brushings of many dogs, it even comes with a lifetime guarantee.
3. FURminator Undercoat De-shedding Tool for Dogs
- Best for decreasing shedding especially in double-coated breeds.
This de-shedding tool from FURminator comes in two different models-one for long hair and one for shorter hair. The difference lies in the length of the teeth. De-shedding tools like this one work well to remove loose, dead hair from all types of haircoats but especially thick or long ones. The self-cleaning mechanism of this tool makes disposal of that hair quick and easy.
4. Glendan Slicker Dog Brush
- Best for removal of dirt, debris, and mats from any type of haircoat.
The Glendan Slicker Dog Brush comes in two different sizes to better customize your grooming experience. The smaller brush works well for small breed dogs and the larger size for medium to large breeds. The curved pins are plastic tipped for safety and help get down into thick hair and remove any dirt or loose hairs that may be hiding there. The pins can also massage the skin while you brush to increase natural oil production.
5. Hartz Groomer’s Best Combo Detangling Brush
- Best for all haircoat types. One side helps detangle while the other side brushes dirt and hair away.
This two-sided brush features one with widely spaced teeth with a protective coating to help detangle and remove mats and snarls. The other side features tightly compacted bristles to help whisk away dirt and dander and massage the skin for redistribution of natural skin oils.
6. Thunderpaws Best Professional De-Shedding Tool and Pet Grooming Brush
- Best for removing dead and loose hair to decrease the amount of shedding.
This durable de-shedding tool from Thunderpaws is designed to remove dead and loose hair from any haircoat type. It is built to last with a lifetime warranty and an ergonomically shaped handle for less stress on you. This tool even comes with a cover so that you can protect the teeth in between brushings.
7. Poodle Pet Double-Sided Pet Brush
- Best for all types of haircoats, a universal grooming brush.
This double-sided brush from Poodle Pet is an all-in-one grooming tool. The metal pin side will help detangle tough mats and tangles, while the bristle side will brush away dirt and hair to put the finishing touches on your grooming session. The handle is anti-slip to better accommodate you, and the padded back helps cut down on static electricity.
8. Pro Quality Self Cleaning Slicker Brush for Dogs
- Best for the removal of hair, mats, and dirt from all haircoat types.
This slicker brush from Pro Quality has widely spaced metal pins that are designed to brush through thick hair remove tangles while snagging loose hair before it can be shed. Then with the click of a button, the pins retract so that the captured hair can be easily removed and discarded.
9. PETDURO Pet Undercoat Rake
- Best for removal of tough mats and tangles.
This double-sided undercoat rake has curved teeth to reach underneath tough mats in order to get them untangled and removed. One side has teeth that are closer together and the other side has wider spaced teeth to better fit the size and difficulty of the mat or tangle. This rake also has an ergonomically shaped handle to make it easier for you to control.
10. Oster Dog Rake and Shedding Brush
- Best for removing tangles, mats, and loose hair from dense undercoats.
The Oster Dog Rake and Shedding Brush works well for thick and long-haired dogs. The curved teeth of this rake sink deep down into the thick undercoat to remove loose hair and mats with minimal cutting. The teeth are spaced widely enough to get underneath tough tangles and this brush is easily cleaned and rust resistant.
11. Andis Firm Slicker Brush
- Best for reducing shedding by removing loose hair from top and undercoat.
The Andis Slicker Brush is recommended to be used following a conditioning spray in order to loosen any tangles. It works by grabbing loose and dead hair and removing it from the top coat and the thick undercoat. If used in this method routinely it claims to reduce shedding by 90%.
12. CleanHouse Pets Slicker Brush
- Best for decreasing shedding on all haircoat types.
The CleanHouse Pets Slicker Brush is designed with curved teeth to grab onto loose hair and pull it from the coat. The hair then remains in the brush until you push the self-cleaning button to retract the teeth and remove the hairball quickly and easily.
How to Brush a Dog’s Coat
Once you have the right equipment, it’s time to get started brushing your dog. The most important thing to remember is to make it fun and ensure that your dog is comfortable with the process. You may have to start with small areas and work up to brushing your dog’s whole body if they are at all nervous about it. Following these guidelines will help as well.
- Tip 1: Go in the right direction. Always brush in the direction that the hair grows. This usually means from head to tail. It’s also easier to start at your dog’s head so that any dirt and debris will be brushed onto unbrushed hair and not onto the part of the haircoat that you just cleaned. Brush down and out as well, meaning away from the skin so that you pull hair and dirt off of the coat instead of driving it in deeper.
- Tip 2: Be gentle. Your dog isn’t going to appreciate pulling or ripping at their hair, especially if it’s tangled or snarled. You can also break or stretch the hairs if you brush too vigorously which can lead to a fuzzy, tangled appearance. However, there’s a perfect balance to brushing, you want to gentle bur also use firm, short strokes that will massage the skin and remove dirt and loose hair.
- Tip 3: Repeat often. Longer-haired and thicker-haired dogs are going to need to be brushed at least once a week, some more frequently. The more often that you brush them, the healthier their skin and coat will be and the less dog hair you’ll have around your house. Shorter-haired breeds can typically get by with a couple of thorough brushings a month.
- Tip 4: Listen to your dog. If your pup is at all uneasy with the brushing process, you’ll need to take your time and go slowly. Start small by just brushing the head or back and then give them a break. Reward them for a job well done. Leave any mats or snarls until your dog is more comfortable with brushing so that they won’t have negative feelings towards it forever.
- Tip 5: Mats, tangles, and snarls. These are going to take extra special care as attempting to brush them can be painful and may cause your pup to bite. Depending on the problem you may consider using a specialized de-matting tool or coat conditioner to help loosen it before brushing. Take your time and be as gentle as possible. Some mats or tangles may need to be snipped out with scissors.
- Tip 6: Bring in the professionals. If at anytime you’re unsure or uncomfortable brushing your dog, consider taking them to a professional groomer. Professional grooming may be necessary if your dog’s coat is in rough shape from infrequent brushing or medical issues. Groomers may be able to give you tips and techniques as well as recommend types of brushes for you to use to groom at home as well.
How to Reduce Shedding in Dogs
Shedding hair is a natural process in dogs that rids them of old and dead hairs. There’s no way to stop it completely, but fortunately, there are some ways to help decrease that amount of hair. The main and most important way is frequent brushings. The more hair your dog has, the more often they should be brushed. For those thick-coated breeds, a de-shedding tool may be worth its weight in gold. These tools just work better than regular brushes at capturing those dead and loose hairs to you can dispose of them in the garbage.
Bathing your dog can help in the battle against shedding as well. The water and massaging action of a bath also helps remove that loose hair. As you may have noticed, dogs tend to shed a lot just after a good bath, so brushing them immediately when you’re finished will cut down on the amount of shed hair in your house.
Your dog’s diet also plays a role in the amount of hair that they will shed. A healthy hair coat requires proper amounts of essential fatty acids in order to maintain the structure of the hair shaft and the natural skin oil production. Be sure that you’re feeding your dog a quality, complete dog food and consider a fatty acid supplement, like fish oil, if their hair coat is dry and brittle. Always talk with your veterinarian before giving your dog any supplementation.
The overall health of your dog plays an important role in the amount that they shed. Dogs with allergies, fleas, or other conditions that cause itching will shed more just because they are constantly scratching the hair out. Other conditions like hypothyroidism and Cushings may cause a difference in your dog’s hair coat that leads to excessive shedding as well.
Frequently Asked Questions About Brushing Your Dog
Brushing your dog may not be as cut and dry as you would like, so here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.
Brushing your dog should be an enjoyable activity for the both of you. It’s the perfect one-on-one time that will not only help strengthen your bond, but is also necessary for their overall health. Brushing may seem like a simple procedure, one that anyone can do, but the truth is there is a certain technique and some specialized products that will help. The most important things to remember is to keep your dog comfortable, be gentle, and make it fun.