Is there anything worse as a dog owner than having to deal with matted dog hair? It’s ugly, dirty, painful for your beloved pooch, and can quickly escalate out of control and become a severe health issue if not treated quickly and correctly.
For Doodle owners, (such as myself), keeping your pooch tidy, clean, and mat-free is vitally important for their health and well-being.
Failure to do so can lead to substantial discomfort for your dog, as well as the hefty price of professional grooming sessions in order to rectify the problem.
This guide will take an in-depth look at the problem of matted hair for Doodles, including the causes of matted hair, the health conditions associated with the problem, and the most effective methods to deal with it.
We’ll also provide you with detailed answers to some of the frequently asked questions.
What Exactly Is Matted Hair?
The problem of matted hair arises when a large section of a dog’s hair becomes knotted and tangled around itself. This is different from most surface-level tangles or knots since it usually involves the hair becoming tangled all the way down to skin-level.
Mats typically occur in dog breeds that exhibit fine, curly, or double coats. Therefore, with this in mind, Doodles are particularly susceptible to matting.
These problematic, deep-rooted tangles of hair come in all sizes, and are almost always apparent to the touch. You could well be casually stroking your pooch, running your hands through their coat, when all of a sudden one of your fingers gets hooked into a fur ball.
Larger mats are unsurprisingly easier to spot considering they often create parts in the hair.
However, some of the smaller clumps of hair embedded deep within the coat are left unseen for extended periods of time. This makes it considerably more difficult to easily remove or manage them.
What Causes Hair To Become Matted?
More often than not, matted hair starts from as little as a tangle between a couple of strands of hair.
Whether this stems from shedding or another type of friction such as rough play or being stroked in a particular area frequently, it doesn’t take long before a snowball effect occurs and the knotted area turns into a full-on mat.
It’s also worth noting that water can contribute to matting as it acts almost like a sponge, binding hair mats tighter together.
To avoid the snowball effect in Doodles, it’s essential to engage in frequent and proper brushing. The mixed breeds are already susceptible to matting, so a lack of effective coat maintenance and brushing will only intensify the problem.
This is particularly apparent for breeds such as the Poodle and Goldendoodle that are considered non-shedding dogs.
In other words, they don’t shed the dead hair by themselves, so therefore require brushing a minimum of two to three times a week.
Where Does Fur Commonly Become Matted?
Although matting can happen anywhere fur grows, there are a few common areas you should check regularly.
Hips and outer thighs – whether this is because of the way your Doodle sleeps or the thickness of their coat in this particular area, don’t be surprised to find a mat on their hips or lower back legs.
Sides before stomach – to check this area, run your hand from your pooch’s hip along its side and then down towards their stomach. You should typically feel a loose flap of skin where your Doodle’s side transitions into their belly area, and this is a common location for matting.
Behind the ears – this area of the body can stay damp for longer, trap moisture, and is a popular place for humans to touch (and subsequently transfer oil onto a Doodle’s skin). Furthermore, dogs will also scratch their ears which causes their fur to get moved around.
Base of the tail – more often than not, you’ll be able to tell if a mat is forming around this area based on the top coat’s smoothness. If your Doodle is constantly licking its tail, it’s highly likely that the moisture is going to cause a mat further down the line.
In addition to the areas listed above, Doodles can also experience matting behind the legs and in the armpits. This is mainly because they’re in constant motion, as well as being prone to moisture.
Is Matted Hair Painful For Dogs?
To provide a simple and straightforward answer, yes it is!
Put yourself in the position of a dog and imagine having a tightly-wound knot of hair pulling at your entire scalp all day. No matter how hard you may try to relieve the irritation and untangle the knot, the pain is unrelenting.
Furthermore, this pain doesn’t just apply to the head of a Doodle or a specific body part, they experience this discomfort and pain all over their body.
Health Problems From Matted Hair
In addition to the incredible discomfort caused by hair mats, Doodles with tight matted hair can also suffer from a number of severe health and medical conditions. Listed below are a few of the most common.
Skin irritation – this can occur from even the mildest hair mats. In addition to irritation, hair mats also cause bruising and sometimes progress to acute moist dermatitis or infected lesions. What’s more, wounds that are left untreated can often attract maggots.
Strangulating wounds – many of the most severe hair mats can result in strangulating wounds, usually seen on the limbs of a dog. This occurs when a mat develops completely around the limb, effectively cutting off the blood supply. In reversible cases, the mat cuts into the skin, but can be surgically treated and rectified. However, in irreversible cases, the mat can cut right down to the bone and become so tight that amputation is the only option.
Parasites – common parasites such as dog ticks and fleas can infest a Doodle by residing deep within the hair mat, out of sight from the owner.
Accumulation of feces – mats around the area of the anus tend to result in a build-up of feces, which in the most severe cases, can impede defecation.
Tips For Dealing With Matted Hair
- It’s always a good idea to train your Doodle to enjoy the grooming process. That way they’ll stand long enough to effectively get the mats out. Try to start brushing them daily from a young age, even if they don’t necessarily need it. Also, give them plenty of praise and reward them with tasty treats so they associate grooming with positive things.
For top tips on how to groom your doodle check out our blogs below:
- To avoid the formation of matted hair, a spray or detangle cream can work wonders. They can be applied effectively before your pooch starts swimming in a lake or river to make sure the post-swim brush is notably easier. Just be sure to only use products that are specifically designed for dogs.
- As important as it is to monitor your Doodle’s entire body for mats, pay particular attention to the areas that are prone to the problem. For example, behind the legs, behind the ears, on the undercarriage, in the armpits, and so on.
- Open and honest communication with your groomer will help you learn the best and most effective methods of brushing your Doodle. They’ll usually be more than happy to share some of their tips since this information will make their job considerably easier.
- If your Doodle’s coat is in a severely matted condition and hasn’t been cared for in a long time, it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as possible. An extremely matted coat can often lead to skin irritation or infection that requires treatment from a medical professional.
- Don’t neglect the hair around the paws as this can be prone to matting. Try to keep it nice and short, so if you need to give it a little trim between professional grooming sessions, find a pair of suitable dog clippers. These are much better than scissors for your Doodle’s sensitive paw pads.
- Dog clippers are equally useful for keeping your Doodle’s rear end clean and tidy. As mentioned previously, this area can become messy and impede defecation if not looked after properly.
- A final tip to keep in mind is to provide your Doodle with a good, well-balanced diet. This improves the health of their coat, meaning that it’s far less prone to problematic matted hair. Keep an eye out for omega-3 or fish oil in your pooch’s food and supplements as these ingredients are beneficial.
Can I Use A Dematting Tool?
If your Doodle has mats that can’t easily be brushed out, many people turn to a dematting tool to remove the matted hair. These tools work by slicing through mats, and in principle, are fine to use if the matted hair isn’t too serious.
However, it’s important to bear in mind that the majority of dematting tools can cause damage to dog hair, similar to the split ends experienced by humans. In some cases, this can lead to even worse hair matting.
Moreover, dematting tools are dangerous due to the fact that they’re incredibly sharp and can easily cut your dog. The last thing you want is a manageable health issue turning into a visit to the Emergency Room.
To add further weight against the use of a dematting tool, professional groomers also tend to avoid them.
With all this in mind, perhaps the best approach to dematting is to not use a dematting tool at all. If, however, you insist on using one, take a look at our recommendations for the best dematting tools for Doodles.
The most effective way to use a dematting tool is to use a metal comb and get as close as you can to the skin. If you’re able to get a space between your Doodle’s skin and the mat, use the metal comb almost like a barrier, and then safely cut the mat sitting on top of the comb.
This way you should avoid any risk of cutting your dog’s skin. Needless to say, if you have a super wriggly Doodle, make sure to use extra caution.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Having A Matted Doodle Abuse?
The answer to this question is determined by your approach to the problem. As explained in this guide, matted hair can cause significant pain, discomfort, and severe health issues for dogs, so at what point is having a matted Doodle considered abuse?
Most responsible Doodle owners do their very best to provide proper coat care. While this may not be reflected in daily brushing, any amount of coat maintenance suggests that they’re at least aware of the breed’s special grooming requirements.
So, if your Doodle has some small areas of matting, but you’re fully aware of it and trying your best to rectify the issue and prevent future mats, this doesn’t meet the criteria for “abuse”.
In contrast, if a Doodle is obviously suffering from matting and nothing is being done on the owner’s part to address the problem, this constitutes “abuse”. Keeping a dog’s hair long just so they look good is no excuse if they’re clearly suffering from matted hair.
Does Bathing Your Doodle Make Matting Better?
Absolutely not, try your best to avoid bathing your Doodle if they’re struggling with matted hair. As mentioned a little earlier in the guide, water can make hair mats even tighter.
This is why it’s essential to brush your pooch out completely before bathing them or taking them for a swim in a lake or river.
Where Do Mats Begin?
The most problematic mats begin at the base near the skin, not at the top of the hair.
So, if you think your Doodle is completely mat-free, make sure you reach your fingers down into the nape of the hair to feel for any snarls and tangles. If you’re able to identify a potential mat before it develops, it’ll be considerably easier to remove.
Can You Cut Out Matted Hair?
It’s never a good idea to try and cut out matted hair from your Doodle.
This is because the mats are often tighter than you think and can even have some skin attached to them. So, if you try and cut out their mats, there’s every chance that you’ll end up cutting them.
Is It Difficult And Expensive To Groom A Goldendoodle?
The difficulty of grooming a Goldendoodle depends on their coat type. Dogs with a curly coat are demanding and require daily brushing to prevent the occurence of matting. On the other hand, Goldendoodles with a wavy coat can cope with brushing on a weekly basis.
In terms of price, larger Goldendoodles are typically more expensive to groom than smaller Goldendoodles.
On average, you’d expect to pay between $50 to $80 every eight weeks for professional grooming sessions. This of course depends on the amount of coat maintenance you carry out at home, too.
Which Mixed Breed Dogs Are Hypoallergenic?
Poodles are well-renowned for being one of the most hypoallergenic breeds. This is why they’re combined with other high-shedding breeds so often.
The hybrid offspring that’s created has many of the same characteristics as the shedding parent (for example, a Golden Retriever or Labrador) but doesn’t shed anywhere near as much as a purebred.
Therefore, Doodles are an incredibly popular choice of dog for allergy sufferers. Whether you decide to opt for a Cavapoo, Goldendoodle, Bernedoodle, Labradoodle, or any other Doodle cross, your allergies should be safely under control.
Is A Longer Or Shorter Cut Better For Preventing Mats?
Unsurprisingly, a shorter cut is far easier to keep mat-free than a longer coat of fur. If your Doodle has longer fur, there’ll be much more effort required on your part to keep their coat mat-free.
Does Cornstarch Help With Mats?
Many groomers swear by cornstarch as an effective remedy for detangling mats. All you need to do is apply some dry cornstarch to a dry mat, and then use your brushes to cleanly brush it out.
There are so many reasons why your Doodle may end up with matted fur, often through no fault of the dog or owner. In order to ensure your dog remains mat free, make sure that you brush them frequently (especially after bathing or swimming) and if possible take your Doodle for a regular professional groom.