How To Shave a Matted Dog? [Steps]

Not only is matted dog hair unsightly, but it can also lead to further problems. When matted hair gets out of hand, it can cause bruising and skin sores, or even lead to a flea infestation.

Do your pooch (and yourself) a favor and start fresh by shaving off matted dog hair.

how to shave a matted dog
How to shave a matted dog? [Steps]

In this article, we’ll guide you through the process.

How Does Dog Hair Become Matted?

There are more than a few ways that a dog’s fur could become matted over time. Exposure to water, lack of grooming, and seasonal shedding can all lead to hair getting tangled and matted to your pet’s body. Matting can also occur in areas of a dog’s body that experience frequent friction, such as around their necks and stomachs, where a collar and harness sit and can become tangled with your pet’s fur. 

wet poodle sitting
A wet Poodle sitting on the sand.

Some dog breeds are indeed more susceptible to matting than others. The more curly a pet’s coat is, the more of an issue that tangles and matting can become, even if they’re groomed frequently. Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, and Shih Tzus are considered breeds that are most commonly known as having coats that are difficult to maintain, but every dog needs to be groomed often and shaved on occasion.  

Matting occurs when loose dead fur has fallen away from your pet’s skin and become tangled with healthy live fur. If not shaved and groomed correctly, the tangles can gather into larger and larger clumps over time, causing your furry friend discomfort and making the matting increasingly difficult to remedy. 

Step-by-Step Guide to Shaving Matted Dog Hair

Although preventing matting can sometimes be unavoidable, especially for dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors, there are easy solutions that any pet owner can do at home. Learning how to shave a matted dog in just a few simple steps can help solve the problem and teach some preventative measures to assist you with grooming your pet in the future. 

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Before shaving a dog with matted fur, it’s important to assess how bad the damage to their coat is and what equipment will be needed to fix the problem. If there is only a small area of matted fur, you might be able to attend to the area with regular scissors or a grooming tool called a de-matting comb.

grooming tools for dogs
It is cost-effective to groom your dogs at home with your own grooming tools.

If the matting is more severe, you might have to shave the dog’s entire coat, and in this case, it’s recommended to use a set of pet hair clippers with a very short blade attachment. A #10 is the best size blade to attach to your clippers when dealing with dog hair though you may have to use a #7 on particularly stubborn matting. 

It’s also important to remember not to bathe your dog before shaving the matted fur. Water only causes matting to become worse, so save the bath until after the grooming is taken care of. 

Step 2: Find a Comfortable Location 

Having their matted fur shaved can be a scary experience for some dogs, and they might become jumpy or skittish during the grooming process. If this is the case, it might be best to ask for some assistance from a friend to help keep the dog calm and steady while you shave the matted fur. 

Shih Tzu grooming preparation
Shih Tzu on the grooming table for his grooming session.

It’s also important to pick a location where you have enough room to move around and easily reach all the fur that needs to be shaved. A tabletop is recommended, but a bathtub also works as long as you have enough room for the task. 

Shaving matted dog fur isn’t difficult, but the hardest part of the task is keeping your puppy calm and steady while you do the grooming. If necessary, you may have to keep your pet leashed while you shave their body and remove the leash while grooming around their neck. 

Step 3: Shave The Dog’s Head 

When shaving a matted dog’s coat, it’s recommended to start from the top of the body and work your way down from there. 

close up Poodle face
A close-up shot of Poodle’s face.

Before beginning to shave the fur, try running your comb or rake through the dog’s coat to see where the matting has occurred and what areas you’ll need to address. Once you’re ready to begin shaving, make sure your dog is calm and standing as still as possible before you begin. 

Using your clippers, you’ll start by shaving around the dog’s head first. It’s important to be very careful around this area and to leave at least a one-inch space around their nose, eyes, mouth, ears, and any other sensitive areas

Step 4: Shave the Dog’s Neck, Back, Legs, and Tail

Moving down from the head, use your clippers to shave around the neck and back before moving down to the tail and legs. Make sure to pay attention to the joints of your pet’s legs, as those areas are often exposed to friction during movement and can become especially matted over time.

dog groomed
A white dog was groomed.

It’s also important to take breaks if your dog becomes restless or nervous during the process. If your pet becomes anxious during grooming, the excessive movement might make you miss spots of matted fur that will have to be adjusted again later on. It’s also important to keep the dog still so that you can keep your clippers pressed as flat as possible against the fur to protect your pet’s delicate skin underneath the hair. 

As you reach the legs, it’s important to be especially careful when dealing with the fur around a dog’s paws. If the angles are too tricky to work with, it may be more beneficial to use scissors around this part of the dog’s body. 

Step 5: Shave the Dogs Stomach Last

There’s a reason that dogs love getting their bellies rubbed. The skin of a dog’s stomach is extremely sensitive, so it’s best to leave this area for last, as it might be the most challenging section of matted fur to shave while also keeping your dog calm. 

dog shave
Dog having a haircut.

Take your time, and don’t rush the process as you shave the fur here. It’s also important to remember that electric clippers can often become hot with long periods of use, so you should frequently check to ensure the clippers aren’t burning your dog’s skin as you shave them. 

Step 6: Bathe Your Dog

After shaving all of the matted furs off of your pet, their skin might become itchy, and you’ll want any stray hairs caught in their newly-groomed coat washed away. 

dog grooming products
A dog wrapped in a towel.

Using cool water, give your dog a gentle bath and pay attention to any areas you may have missed while shaving. It’s also important to only use soaps that are animal-safe and agreeable to your pet’s skin. 

After the bath, dry your dog off and trim any missed spots of matted fur with scissors before taking a detangling comb and going over your dog’s newly trimmed coat. If there isn’t any matting left, you can congratulate yourself on a job well done! Finish up by using a slicker brush over your pet’s fur, and give them a treat for being good during the shaving process!

Final Thoughts 

Although matting is unavoidable when dealing with animal fur, after reading these steps, you’ll be confident and ready to step up to the task whenever the problem occurs. You and your pet will be thankful for the improvement!