What is a Matt?

Matts can form over a long period of time or almost over night.

When fur becomes tangled, it forms a knot. Little knots of fur will join with other little knots forming larger masses which we refer to as a matts.

The hairs actually have tiny barbs along the shaft of the hair much like a rose bush. When the fur isn’t brushed on a regular basis, those barbs get hooked with each other to form a tangle. More tangles get hooked together and guess what? Your dog is a walking carpet.

What Causes A Matt?

Improper bathing

Improper brushing



Excess dander (skin flakes or dandruff)

Oily coat




Static (common with a dry coat)


The Birth Of A Matted Dog.

Get some hairs twisted, the barbs are all tangled, throw in some dirt and dander(skin flakes) and you have the beginning of a mess.

Let’s get it wet, toss in some shampoo and conditioner, that is almost impossible to rinse out of tangled fur and you get a wonderfully tight matt, snugged up against the skin.

Now, let’s say you have repeatedly bathed your pup, have missed regular grooming, for whatever reasons and poof, you have a nicely matted dog. You decide that even though the dog lives inside and only scoots out to pee for a minute during the cold season, you don’t want to get the fur bag groomed shorter. You decide to leave Rover matted so he won’t get cold.

Meanwhile that hair is still growing, but can’t go anywhere as the matt is in the way, so the fur gets more packed, more tangled and more knotted.

Now the dog starts to stink. So you bath him again. The fur tightens up even more! Where does the matt start and the skin end? Who knows, the mass of fur so tight to the skin now, that you can’t tell.

Oh oh! Now the skin can’t breathe because the matts are too tight to let any air circulation around the skin. The skin sweats, but the moisture can’t go anywhere. The skin gets red, sore and eventually starts to rot.

By this point nobody really wants to touch the dog, so the dog doesn’t get any pets or scratches.

The dog starts to get grumpy. You take it out for a walk, with a sweater of course. You have a hard time finding his collar because the matts have grown around it. The dog has dirty, matted fur and moist skin. Guess what, the dog is cold.

If you would like to know how a matted dog feels follow the instructions:

1. Take a cold shower with your clothes on.

2. Wrap yourself in saran wrap (over your wet clothes).

3. Put on a fur coat.

4. Go outside in the winter.

Now the dog really smells because he has been packing around dirt, dander and now open sores under the matts. A bath doesn’t even make a difference.

Finally, you take him to a groomer and try to explain that you didn’t want to groom him all winter because you didn’t want him to get cold.

The groomer asks you, “Is he an outside dog?”

You shake your head.

“Does he have a sweater?”

You nod your head.

You leave the shop feeling like a fool asking the groomer not to take him too short, because you brushed him last night and he’s not too matted.

After you leave the shop, the groomer watches the dog. He can’t walk properly as the matts are impeding his movements. The dog shakes his head, but the ears don’t move because the matts around the head have become one solid matt and his ears are secured to his head.

The groomer sighs and wonders ‘Why?’

The dog lives inside a warm house, uses a sweater when going outside, nails probably haven’t been cut which means there are probably some that have grown through the pad and of course probably sores under the matts.

The groomer knows a few things: It’s going to take a longer period of time to groom the dog. The dog is in pain from the matts, sores and nails. Shaving will irritate his already sensitive skin. There is a good chance the dog will bite. The owner is going to complain about the length of time and the higher cost for the groom. And last but not least, it is not the groomers fault, nor is it the dogs’ fault. The above scenario, believe it or not, is quite common.

IF you are going to bath the dog at home, it is of utmost importance to brush out the dog before the bath. All the matts must be thoroughly untangled and removed so that you can take a fine toothed comb and comb the dog through (with the comb against the skin) without hitting a snag.

Don’t make the same mistake many people make, thinking that it will be easier to brush out after a bath, like human hair. As stated above, bathing just tightens the matts. Animals have fur, we have hair. It is very different.

If you try cutting out the matts, you run a great risk in cutting the dog. Learn the proper brushing method to prevent Matts!.

Do Some Dogs Matt Faster Than Others?

Absolutely, depending on how many barbs the fur has, will determine how fast your dog matts. Barbs on the fur are not breed specific. Certain breeds will generally have more or less barbs than other breeds, but it is not set in stone.

You can have siblings from the same litter and have one that matts and one that doesn’t. The matting capabilities of a dog, is very individualistic, the more barbs, the more likely the mutt will matt.

The amount of barbs coupled with the brushing, will dictate how severe and how fast your dog will matt.

What About Cats?

Different factors cause matting in cats.

The most common cause of matts in felines is obesity. They are too fat to bend to groom themselves.

Kitties that are on a low quality food have an unhealthy coat. An unhealthy coat tangles easily and on a regular basis.

Medium and long haired breeds get overwhelmed and sometimes just can’t keep up with the amount of hair they have to groom, especially when they are shedding.

Age is another factor. Some cats really let themselves go in the senior years. Their coat also changes becoming more dense and often more greasy. Their sheds don’t happen as easy as their activity level has decreased and are sleeping more which prevents the opportunity to run against objects which also helps in the shedding process.

Some are just lazy groomers. They just don’t care.

Helping your fur ball shed by brushing them on a regular basis will prevent matting. If your cat will only sit for five minutes to be brushed, then brush him for five minutes a few times a day.

Do Not Cut Out Matts On Cats!

Cats have very thin skin. When tangles join, often a small flap of skin is pulled up into the middle.

You may think you are cutting just the fur, until blood starts pouring. It is so easy to cut the cat so please, don’t bother cutting, you may wind up with a hefty vet bill.

If your little lion is matted, take him/her to a cat groomer or a veterinarian. More information on cat grooming is available here.

How To Prevent Matting

1. Brush thoroughly, section by section, on a regular basis.

2. Brush before bathing to the point that you can get a fine toothed comb through the fur, everywhere, without any snags.

3. Rinse shampoo and conditioner completely.

4. Blow dry dog/cat section by section.

5. Visit the groomer on a regular basis.

6. Feed a high quality food.

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