Originally published by DoodleDoods on February 9, 2022 by Whitney.
Ah, the bane of every Doodle parents’ existence – matted dog hair. How dare these adorable creatures find their way into our hearts, only to make us constantly suffer the wrath…of their HAIR? Doodle owners know all too well that keeping these guys looking like teddy bears comes with a price…and it ain’t cheap.
Luckily, this isn’t one of those “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it”-type scenarios. In this article, we’re going to cover all things “matted dog hair”. We want new and seasoned Doodle parents alike to go in armed and ready to fight, and to learn how to keep the tangles and mats at bay for good. Trust us – you and your groomer will thank you.
What is Matted Hair?
Matted hair occurs when a large clump of a dog’s hair becomes tangled and knotted around itself. A mat is different from a surface-level knot or tangle in that it commonly involves the hair going all the way down to the skin.
Regardless of a mat’s size, they are almost always noticeable to the touch. You’ll be petting your pup, running your fingers through their beautiful coat (just minding your own business), when suddenly a finger will get hooked into a hair ball. And no matter how hard to try to pull the hair ball apart, it just won’t budge.
You can typically see the larger ones because they tend to create parts in the hair, with an obvious clump of tangled hair in between. But oftentimes, these immovable clumps of hair are embedded somewhere within the coat, and are typically left unseen until they can no longer be easily managed and removed.
Why Does Dog Hair Get Matted?
Matted dog hair usually starts out with just a couple of strands of hair becoming knotted due to shedding or friction of some sort. The friction could be from rough play, or being pet or scratched in a specific area frequently. Water also contributes to matting and acts as a sponge, making hair mats tighter.
Once there’s a small knot in the hair, a snowball effect happens where more friction in that area creates a bigger and worse knot, which eventually turns into a full-on mat.
This snowball effect is exactly why proper and frequent brushing is essential if you have a Doodle. As Doodles are already prone to matting, a lack of proper coat care and brushing will only exacerbate the issue. At that point, you get a severely matted dog – or worse, a completely pelted dog.
Health and Medical Problems Caused by Matting
Not only are hair mats super uncomfortable for dogs, tight matted dog hair can cause various and severe health and medical issues. When mats are removed, underlying health conditions caused by the matting are revealed.
Even very mild hair mats can cause skin irritation, bruising, and progress to acute moist dermatitis (“hot spots”) or infected lesions.
Parasites like fleas and ticks can infest a dog by living deep in the hair mat and out of the owner’s sight. Mats around the anus can cause an accumulation of feces, and in severe cases, impede defecation.
More severe hair mats can cause strangulating wounds, which are most often seen on an animal’s limb. This happens when a mat grows completely around the leg, causing blood supply to be cut off. In severe but reversible cases, the mat can cut into the skin, which can be surgically and medically treated over weeks to months. In severe but irreversible cases, the mat can cut down to the bone and become so tight that blood supply is cut off on that limb, requiring amputation.
What Does Severely Matted Dog Look Like?
This is a severely matted Goldendoodle who was obviously neglected in terms of coat care. If you look closely, you can see the flea infestation within the pelted hair.
Is a Matted Dog Abuse?
Now, it’s clear that matted dog hair can cause discomfort and health issues. However, at what point is a matted dog considered an abused dog?
Like most Doodle owners, I’m sure you are doing your best at proper coat care. Even if you’re not brushing every day, any amount of coat care means that you are at least cognizant of your Doodle’s special grooming requirements. If your Doodle has some matting, but you are aware of it and actively working to demat and prevent future mats – that’s not abuse.
It’s abuse when the dog is clearly suffering from matting but the owner insists on keeping the hair long “at all costs”. There’s this concept of humanity over vanity, which you can read more about here.
However, we know that if you’re reading this, you want to take good care of your Doodle. What are some questions you have about grooming your Doodle?