8 Steps to Untangle Matted Dog Hair

SONY DSCIn addition to his good-natured disposition, you dog’s long, silky coat is one of his most wonderful traits. But it can also be one of his most challenging. Long coats have a tendency to develop mats and tangles, and getting them out can be very tricky for you and an unpleasant experience for your dog. Long-haired dogs that like to get wet are especially likely to develop these coat problems.

Removing mats and tangles can be difficult, especially if you have a dog who doesn’t like to stand still. Plus, sensitive dogs won’t appreciate you pulling on their coats, and may be unwilling to tolerate the procedure. Consider using treats to help your dog associate grooming sessions with something pleasant.

The best approach is prevention. Brush your dog daily to keep his coat clean and to prevent mats from developing. Tangles are typically easy to avoid with regular grooming. Fine-coated dogs and dogs with long, thick undercoats will quickly mat if they are not brushed regularly. If your dog loves the outdoors, then he will likely pick up burrs, sticks and leaves that can cause his coat to mat more quickly.

If you find your long-coated dog has developed mats and tangles, start working on them now before the situation gets completely out of hand.

8 Steps to Untangle Matted Dog Hair

1. Assemble your tools. In order to conquer mats and tangles, you need the right equipment. A dematting tool, a mat splitting tool and a slicker brush are your best friends when taking on mats and tangles. You can find these tools at a pet supply store, or online.

2. Have good products on hand. To make the dematting and detangling process easier on both you and your dog, arm yourself with the best products for the job. COWBOY MAGIC® Detangler & Shine™  helps loosen the hair caught up in mats and tangles. Since you’ll need to bathe your dog after you remove mats and tangles, have COWBOY MAGIC® Rosewater Shampoo and Rosewater Conditioner nearby.

8 Steps to Untangle Matted Dog Hair

3. Find the mats and tangles. Brush your dog with the slicker brush to locate mats and tangles. Mats often form under the ears, below the neck, under the belly and along the back legs.

4. Apply detangler. Start the detangling and dematting process by applying COWBOY MAGIC® Detangler & Shine™ to areas of the coat that are matted or tangled. Rub the product into the coat so it penetrates the problem area.

8 Steps to Untangle Matted Dog Hair

5. Use your fingers. Work the mat or tangle out with your fingers by pulling and easing the hair apart a little at a time. This is painstaking work, but your efforts will pay off if you keep at it. If you can’t break through the mat after working on it for a considerable amount of time, use the mat splitting tool to cut through the mat. Be sure to cut in the direction the hair grows.

8 Steps to Untangle Matted Dog Hair

6. Use your brush. When you have removed as much of the tangle or mat as you can, use the slicker brush to finish the job. For tangles, gently brush a few hairs at a time to separate them from the rest of the tangle. For mats, brush in the direction the hair grows, adding more COWBOY MAGIC® Detangler & Shine™ if necessary to loosen the hairs.

8 Steps to Untangle Matted Dog Hair

7. Bathe your dog. Once you have removed as many of the mats and tangles you can, give your dog a bath. Be sure all the mats and tangles are gone before you wet your dog, as water will make a tangle worse and a mat tighter and harder to get out. Use COWBOY MAGIC® Rosewater Shampoo to get your dog clean, and follow with COWBOY MAGIC® Rosewater Conditioner to help ensure mats and tangles don’t develop as you are drying your dog.

8. Prevent problems. To help prevent mats and tangles from coming back, apply COWBOY MAGIC® Detangler & Shine™ to your dog’s coat after he’s completely dry. If your dog likes to swim, put the Detangler & Shine™ on him just before he goes into the water to help prevent mats and tangles from forming.

If your dog’s coat has been neglected and he has a particularly bad case of matting or tangling as a result, he may need to go to a professional groomer for clip or a shave. Or, if you have a good pair of clippers and know how to use them, you can do it yourself. If your dog has developed a skin irritation or sores as a result of having matter tangled in his coat, he may need to visit your veterinarian.

Clipping the coat to a very short length will enable you to start over and help prevent mats and tangles from forming in the first place.

With the right tools, products and procedures at your fingertips, you can keep mats and tangles at bay, even if your dog is prone to them. Your dog will be happier for the extra effort, and so will you.


  1. Very good article with excellent advice. When brushing daily it is important to use a comb also to make sure that you are getting through the coat all the way to the skin. It is easy to brush over the top of the coat and allow Matts to form underneath.
    A comb is a very good tool to add to the list as it is a little easier on the skin.
    Also, if the dog is very active keeping the coat shorter is easier in everyone. For curly coats it may be necessary to se the groomer every 3 – 4 weeks.

  2. Maudie Sieberkrob says:

    Thank you for this information. I have always loved long haired dogs though uptake can be expensive and/or time consuming. We will be checking out your products. It is so traumatic for our Shih Tzu and us when he has been ‘shaved’…..he is embarrassed.

    • Dianne says:

      Dogs can’t be embarrassed. They do not have the range of emotions that humans do.

      • Ranjit says:

        My Lhasa Apso does get embarrassed when his hairs are trimmed close to his skin. If someone laughs at him after his hair gets trimmed he will bark and run and hide under the bed. For few days he will not venture out till he regains his confidence.

  3. Rebecca says:

    These are great suggestions. Thank you. If, despite all these, your pet DOES shed, I recommend a product called the Chom Chom roller. It works really well for removing pet hair on furniture and upholstery.

  4. Great post! Wish I could’ve seen this before I shaved my dog haha. Thanks for the info!

  5. poodle lover says:

    I struggle all the time with my pup’s hair getting tangled. Thanks so much for the great tips!

  6. […] the hair is matted, good luck getting it nice again. But apparently, it is possible! Check out this post at Cowboy Magic for how to detangle the […]

  7. Marsha says:

    I have an 11 month old collie that looks great on the outside but has mats behind ears and tummy, and all through his mane. He has a huge full coat and his puppy hair just is so soft, it keeps matting bad. My groomer (which I use once a month) is not getting all the mats out and I am having a hard time also. Will try your product and hope it works!

    • Cowboy Magic Team says:

      Let us know how it works for you!

    • Makana Aloha says:

      I feel you. I have a Labradoodle 20 mos old. The groomer tried his best to remove all of it but he couldn’t. The matted are too close to the skin. I just bought it today. I, too, pray this would ease my pup!! I also hope this would not irritate his skin. He is sensitive to non-oatmeal products.

  8. Brigitte says:

    I would love to use your product, and was excited to find it at my local feed store, but my problem is that is has fragrance. It would be wonderful if you would offer your product fragrance free as an option. Many people are fragrance sensitive, and it is a major trigger for asthma sufferers. I find that most dogs don’t like fragrance either due to their heightened sense of smell. Offering a fragrance free option, would allow so many more people to benefit from your great product.

  9. Lauren Swan says:

    I had to disagree with this as so many products have strong fragrances. I think it is very light and pleasant.

  10. Dann Barbery says:

    My lhaza apso x shih tzu’s hair is always tangled. I had to give her a bath almost everyday just to have it fixed. Thanks for this informative post, now I know what to do.

    We offer the best dog wash adelaide

  11. Angela Matthews says:

    Because rosewater is anti bacterial, anti septic and anti inflammatory when used on the skin, would it be OK to leave on a dog with itchy skin or heat rash?

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