Scourge of the Sofa: a Shedding Dog

When Brushing Your Shedding Dog, Use the Right Tool

It's only logical that if you get to your dog’s hair before it falls out, it won't end up on your clothes, your furniture, your pillow, or your dinner plate. That means you need to brush -- sometimes weekly, sometimes a few times a week, and sometimes daily during periods of heavy shedding. And you need to use the appropriate brushes.

To maximize brushing's effectiveness you need the right tool, which depends on your dog's particular coat type.

For shorter coats (think Beagles, Pugs, or German Shorthaired Pointers):

  • You can do a fine job of loosening dead hair and setting it free with a natural-bristle brush or even a hound mitt or glove with bristles on the palm.
  • First brush the coat in the opposite direction of hair growth, to pull dead hair out, then brush in the direction of hair growth to remove it. Repeat this process a few times to get out all the hair and to distribute the natural oils from the skin all over the coat.
  • If using a hound mitt or glove, massage the coat in a circular motion to loosen hair, then "brush" (i.e., "pet") in the direction of hair growth. Repeat a few times, especially when shedding is heavy.

For dogs with longer coats, and especially for double-coated dogs -- the ones with a downy undercoat beneath a harder outer coat, such as Pomeranians, Collies, and Newfoundlands:

  • You need a tool that can reach down under that outer coat to grab the downy undercoat and pull out the dead hairs. Slicker brushes are excellent tools for such dogs. Go over the coat in both directions a few times, until you're pulling out less and less hair from the brush.
  • When shedding really picks up, especially with the double-coated breeds, switch over to a coat rake or shedding tool. They all work a little differently, but basically you pull the tool along the coat in the direction of hair growth, then pull up and away. For shedding tools with blades, don't press too hard. If you run across any tangles or mats, pick these out with a steel comb or use a mat splitter.