This is a video I made while we were in Phoenix, Arizona where I explain the different tools that I use:
The Hair Factory
I’ve been getting a lot of questions recently about what brushes and tools to use on different coat types. I think this is a very good topic that can help a lot of new groomers and dog owners. The key is not to complicate things – keep it simple. Understanding what each tool does helps me decide when and where to use them most effectively. If I’m working on a short coat, I usually use a rubber curry brush to help loosen up the top layer of dead hair and stimulate the skin. If it’s a medium coated dog, I may start with a slicker brush or a metal comb depending on how thick the coat is. If I’m working on a long coat like a Shih Tzu or a Poodle, I would start with a Greyhound Comb; however, if there are a lot of matted areas, I would use a mat splitter or a dematting rake first.
So you can see that there is no “cookie cutter” way to approach a groom. All of these tools are useful, but not all the time. The main goal is always to get as much of the dead, fuzzy hair out as possible in order to help clear out the pores. If one tool isn’t working well, I’ll try another. I usually try to use something that will not pull and tug too much so that the dog is relatively comfortable while I brush out the tangles and dull hair. Sometimes I’ll drop all my tools and just use my fingers to pinch out bundles of dead hair, which is referred to as Plucking or Handstripping. I suggest getting as much hair out before washing a dog as possible in order to get the best results. The different tools are there to help us achieve this goal. The tools are actually not as important as a willing person who is focused on helping the skin.
I like to think of the skin as the Hair Factory because that’s basically what it is. It produces oils and helps protect, but to put it simply, the skin is what produces the hair. It is not a clean coat that helps the skin maintain a healthy flora, but rather a healthy skin that produces beautiful smooth hair. So just like any factory, if the product it produces is faulty, it is best to focus on the factory rather than the product. If a factory making dog treats, for example, is making bad treats, it would be best to dump the products and fix whatever is going on at the factory so it can make better treats. We wouldn’t try to collect all the bad treats and clean them up, repackage them and resell them. That would be ridiculous, and would permanently ruin the company’s reputation. The same could be said about bad coats. Rather than try to save the hair, clean it up and make it smell nice (for a few days), it would be much better to get rid of the bad coat and focus on the skin so it can produce better hair.
I personally believe it is better to pull the hairs out rather than shave the coat. If we simply shave the coat off, we leave the dull, brittle hairs inside the skin. That means that the hair that grows out will still be dull and brittle because it is still inside the pores, and will continue to grow. A dog’s skin that grows a medium, double-coat may not continue to grow that hair, but it would cause the pores to get backed up and over time it will cause irritation and bumps. When we focus on clearing the pores out and giving the skin a healthy environment to breathe and grow fresh new hairs, we don’t have to worry about the coat. Take care of the skin and let the skin take care of the coat. Rather than focus on the product, focus on the factory. When the factory is running well it will produce good quality products. I believe that my responsibility as a groomer is to take care of the skin first, and give a good haircut second. Good grooming is simply, good skin care.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love sharing information and helping with grooming issues, so please let me know how I can help!