How, When and How OFTEN to Brush Your Dog (Grooming Guide)

how to brush a dog and how often

Not all dogs were created equal … at least when it comes to their coats and how they should be cared for. 

In this section of The BarxBuddy Guide to Dog Grooming, we offer helpful tips for combing and brushing your dog.

Photo by Alvan Nee on Unsplash

How Often Should You Brush Your Dog?

The general rules for how often to brush a dog are based on the length and type of hair/coat the dog has.

For example, some “hairless” breeds like the Chinese crested and Xoloitzcuintli do have some hair. The powderpuff Chinese crested has long hair on the ears and tufts of hair on their heads, tails and ankles. The coated Xolos has a short coat. Both require only occasional brushing.

Shorter coats seen on breeds such as pugs and Doberman pinschers require brushing once a week; whereas long, silky coats like that of a Yorkshire terrier, or shih tzu need to be brushed daily.

The curly hair of fully coated poodles requires daily brushing to prevent matting, while a double-coated Labrador should be brushed once or twice a week.

Any long hair dog can have issues with matting. However, certain breeds such as bichon, shih tzu, and poodles are prone to this problem. To brush matted hair, you need to hold the hair below the mat next to the skin and gently separate the tangle with your fingers, followed by a brushing. If you’re unable to separate the matted hair, try a spray of dog detangler, a bit of dog conditioner, or a sprinkle of cornstarch to help loosen the hair up before brushing.

When Should You Brush Your Dog?

Although there’s no set time of day that you should brush your dog if he’s comfortable with brushing, set aside time whenever he’s chill. Should you brush your dog before or after bath? Before. Remove tangles and relax him before bathing.

A few other times when brushing is in order include:

  • After a day of play or outdoor activities might be an excellent time to brush your dog to remove tangles and check for ticks
  • Before bath time
  • Before bed; dogs that like to be brushed may find it relaxing, making it easier to fall asleep
  • During periods of heavy shedding (brushing during heavy shedding times will reduce the amount or hair on your floors, clothes, and furniture)

Do not brush your dog when he is wet; this can accelerate the formation of mats, so let your dog’s hair dry after the bath and before brushing.

What Are Types of Dog Brushes?

Your dog’s coat and hair type will determine the best brush or comb. If you’re uncertain about your dog’s grooming needs speak with your vet or a professional groomer.

A woman uses a slicker brush on a long hair dog
Slicker brushes work best on medium to long-hair dogs

Here’s a look at the several types of dog brushes and combs:

  • Bristle brushes, such as the BarxBuddy self-cleaning brush, are appropriate for all coat types. These brushes vary based on the spacing between and the length of the bristles. For longer hair, select a brush with wider spaced, longer bristles. Coarse hair requires a brush with stiff bristles.
  • Pin brushes, sometimes called wire-pin brushes, may or may not have rubber-tipped ends. These brushes are ideal for dogs with medium to long hair and those with woolly or curly coats.
  • Slicker brushes are wider, paddle shape brushes that have fine wire bristles that are useful for removing tangles, mats and loose hair from the undercoat. Dogs with medium to long hair typically prefer these types of brushes. 
  • Rubber glove brush (curry comb) is an effective alternative to traditional brushes if your dog doesn’t like to be brushed. Using a rubber glove brush is an easy way to remove hair and massage your dog’s skin. 
  • General grooming combs are best for use on dogs with longer, thicker hair and undercoats with knots and tangles. Like bristle brushes the teeth on grooming combs may vary in spacing and in length. Wider teeth are best for removing tangles and knots, whereas tightly spaced teeth are suited for tangle-free hair and sensitive areas like around the face.
  • Dematting combs help remove mats in long, heavy thick coats.
  • Flea combs are small fine teeth combs that catch fleas when you comb through a dog’s fur.
  • Standard grooming rake has a row of rounded tip bristles. This style of the comb is effective at removing dead hair from your pet.
  • Undercoat rakes have small, curved blades that work well at removing tangles, mats and loose hair from an undercoat. 
  • Deshedding tools have a row of tightly spaced pins that help remove loose hairs from the topcoat to reduce a dog’s shedding. 

How to Clean a Dog Brush

It’s essential that you routinely clean and disinfect your dog brushes and combs. This process only takes a few steps and will help prevent any bacteria from growing and transferring to your dog’s skin. 

  • Remove all hair from brushes and combs. Want to make removing hair from a dog brush easy? Start with a self-cleaning brush. One push of the button removes the hair.
  • Fill a clean empty container (big enough to hold all the brushes and combs) with hot water.
  • Add about a tablespoon of liquid soap.
  • Let soak for about 20-30 minutes.
  • Remove combs and brushes and rinse them thoroughly.
  • Place brushes and combs into a clean container with Barbicide or take Barbicide or bleach wipes across the teeth of each comb and brush.
  • Dry combs and brushes with a hairdryer to make sure you don’t leave them wet (can cause rust).
  • Clean and dry containers.
  • Store brushes and combs in a clean dry container.