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Your dog’s breeder or a professional dog groomer can advise you on the correct grooming tools to use on your dog’s coat. Pin brushes help remove tangles and can be useful for dogs with long hair or feathering. If your dog requires both a pin brush and a bristle brush (for removing loose hair and dirt and polishing the coat), look for a double-sided brush with pins on one side, bristles on the other.
Slicker brushes have curved wire pins and are used to help remove mats, dead hair and the debris that your dog picks up in his coat pretty much wherever he walks. A slicker brush can be a good choice for many long-haired breeds when used on a regular basis, but avoid using it on fine, silky, straight coats, as it can damage the hair. An undercoat rake can work wonders on a double-coated dog whose undercoat is loosening.
Don’t forget to comb out the beard, mustache and eyebrows (known as facial furnishings) of breeds such as Bearded Collies, Old English Sheepdogs and Tibetan Terriers. They often collect food or get wet when the dog drinks, so they need extra care.
At maturity, you should expect to comb or brush your long-haired dog’s coat at least every other day (and daily, in some cases). How long it takes to care for the coat depends on the dog’s size and how well you have trained him to accept being groomed. If he’s not used to it or if you have let tangles or mats form, grooming time is probably not going to be quick or pleasurable for either of you. Skip grooming your long-haired dog now and you will both regret it later.
The best way to make grooming easy on yourself and your dog is to acclimate him to being combed or brushed when he’s a puppy, well before his coat has achieved its full length. If you practice on him at this early age, he will come to enjoy the attention and accept the use of the grooming tools. In the beginning, spend just a couple of minutes each day grooming him; as he gets used to the process, gradually extend the amount of time you spend caring for his coat. And, of course, you should always be gentle.
Still not sure you can commit to caring for a long-haired dog's coat? Make it part of your routine: Lots of pet owners choose to groom their dogs while they watch TV at night, when they are already settled for the evening. When done properly, grooming your dog's coat can be a relaxing time for both of you, rather than an onerous chore to be avoided.
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