All About Dog Brushes -- With a Note on Combs

From top to bottom, pin brush, boar bristle brush, boar bristle brush with nylon center, rat tail comb, large greyhound metal comb, small metal comb

One of the first things you want to get for your new dog is a good brush -- or two. But which one?

Go to most pet stores and you will see moderately priced brushes that look okay. I remember when I got my first dog I bought one of everything at my local pet store. But when I tried them I found out that they didn't do a very good job. To get good dog brushes, you need to go online. Or go to the vendors at a dog show. Some can be found at beauty supply stores.

Obviously the best brushes in the world won't help you if you don't know how to brush. There’s data on how to brush a long coated small dog in Dog Grooming Instructions. But the basic points are:

1.Use the gentlest brush that will do the job.
2.Brush from the bottom of a tangle to the top.
3.Take your time. Never detangle in a rush.
4.Bathe your dog first if he is dirty, as many tangles are dirt-based.
5.Brushing often is much better than waiting until your dog is in dread locks.

By the way, if you have a smooth coated small dog, such as a beagle or a pug, you hardly need a brush at all. The most I would get would be a boar bristle with nylon. Smooth coated small dogs benefit from a rub down with a wash cloth lightly sprayed with a leave in conditioner such as Chris Christensen OC Magic Foam.

I have listed the best brushes below, from the most gentle to the toughest:

Full boar-bristle brushes

These are basically to smooth down a coat that is already fully brushed. They are very good at gentle hair stimulation. Mason Pearson Brushes are the top of the line, but are extremely pricey, as in over $100.00 for a big one. You can also get good full boar bristle brushes from beauty supply stores, such as Sally’s.

Boar and nylon brushes

These can be used for light tangles, and have more grip than a full boar bristle brush. While Mason Pearson makes these too, you can usually find good boar and nylon brushes at Sally’s for one tenth of the price. Just make sure that you get the kind that does not have a plastic knob at the end of the nylon bristle, as that will tend to break coat.

Soft Pinbrushes

Soft pin brushes are good to smooth coat and to get out light tangles. If you have a Lhasa, Maltese, Yorkshire Terrier or Shih Tzu, these brushes go deeper than a boar and nylon brush but still have a smoothing function. Papillons, Cavaliers, English Toy Spaniels and Long-Coated Chihuahuas, with their medium long coats, don’t need anything stronger than a soft pin brush.Chris Christiansen brushes is a top of the line brand for them.

Nylon Brushes

My friend Karen uses a nylon brush when she has a badly tangled dog. She bathes the dog and soaks him thoroughly in a conditioner. When he is almost dry, she settles in from of the TV and puts on a good movie. She puts the dog on his back in her lap and starts slowly on the tangles, from the bottom to the top. By the end of the movie, the dog is tangle-free.

Stiff Pinbrushes

Another way to de-tangle a long-coated dog, somewhat faster though it pulls out more hair, is to use a stiff pinbrush. You do it basically the same way as with the nylon brush – just minus the movie. The best pinbrush I've found for this is the Scalpmaster.

The general rule is, the more coat you have to deal with, the larger the brush. But personal preference plays a role. I like brushes I can stick in my pocket. But the big paddle brushes are great if you have a small dog in full coat, as one swoop takes you all the way down the side of the dog.

It's up to you.

Now what about combs? Are the big plastic combs you get at a beauty supply store good for dogs? Sorry, Dogs need a metal comb. You want to get the expensive ones, unfortunately. Cheap combs have burrs on their teeth that catch and pull coat. So take a big breath and get a $20.00 comb. Good ones are 1 All Systems Ultimate Combs and Chris Christiansen Butter Combs. They will be much better for your dog. And remember, you use a comb to check for tangles, not to pull them out! For more on combing, see Dog Grooming Instructions.

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