It is no secret that doodles are the most adorable dogs in existence. However, us doodle parents know all too well that their cute and cuddly appearance comes with a price tag. Most of us find ourselves spending a lot of time maintaining their coats at home (including line brushing once in a while), and spending a lot of money getting them professionally groomed.
Daily brushing is very important – a necessity, even – when you have a doodle. This is especially true if you have an F1b doodle. Otherwise, your doodle will unsurprisingly get a lot of hair mats, or in extreme cases, a pelted coat. Neither are fun to deal with. In fact, many professional groomers lately have been complaining about doodles and their parents. They complain because the parents have high expectations on keeping their doodle “doodle-like”, but they sometimes have to shave off the coat entirely because of severe matting or pelted coats. And then the parents freak out.
How Often Should You Line Brush?
As doodle parents, we need to be more mindful and acknowledge that the signature doodle look we all love requires daily upkeep on our part. This is why brushing is something you need to do everyday.
But let’s say it’s been a few days (or weeks…#guilty) since you last brushed your dood at all. If that’s the case, you’re going to need to do something a little more intensive: line brushing. That is to say that while brushing is required daily, line brushing is probably not needed that often. I understand it to be more of an intensive treatment if the dog hasn’t been brushed in a while. Either way, line brushing will certainly keep the mats and tangles at bay, and will prevent hair mats from forming at all. It’s also a good thing to do frequently if you don’t want the groomer to “poodle your doodle”.
“But it’s just a little mat…”
You might think hair mats are not that big of a deal. Aside from being a breeding ground for fleas, matting is extremely uncomfortable for dogs. Imagine if your hair was all knotted and tangled together, pulling at your skin all over your body. Can you see how uncomfortable that would be?
Two Tools You Need for Line Brushing
The two tools you need for line brushing are a good greyhound comb, and an even better slicker brush. Please don’t use any old cheap slicker brush, especially if you are using it to brush your dood every day. Low-quality brushes can cause brush burn.
I personally use the Andis steel pet comb and the Chris Christensen Big G slicker brush. They have been a wonderful addition to my DIY grooming tool box. I have also personally experienced a dramatic decrease in the time I spend brushing Chloe with the Big G slicker brush.
Comb Before Brushing
Before you begin, use your comb and just try to run the comb through the hair all over the body. If the comb gets caught in the hair, that’s a sign that you’ll need to work on that area further.
If at any point you cannot see the skin when combing, that means that the dog’s hair is deeply matted.
After you’ve determined how much of the dog’s coat will need special attention, you will take your slicker brush and get started.
Line Brushing a Doodle
Line brushing is not a difficult thing to do, but it is relatively time consuming. This is because it involves brushing small chunks of hair at a time.
You may not see this piece of advice everywhere, but I* (*I am not a professional groomer) think it makes most sense to start brushing the hair at the lowest point on the body. Meaning, instead of starting to brush at the top of the head, you would start down near the butt area (and starting at the feet when working on the legs). The point of starting at the bottom is to “clear a path” so that you’re not constantly fighting knotty hair. You don’t want to make your dog uncomfortable trying to brush through tangled hair all over the body.
As for the actual act of brushing, here’s what to do. Take a small portion of hair and part it. (You can part it with a comb if you want to be extra precise.)
Brush the hair beneath the part with the slicker brush.
Be sure to brush the hair all the way down to the skin.
The key with line brushing is to make 100% sure that you are brushing all the way down to the skin.
Brush the hair until it runs through smoothly. Once it runs smooth, part the hair about a half-inch above and brush the hair beneath the part.
Keep doing this gradually, until you’ve brushed your way up the body, line by line. (This is why it’s called line brushing!)
If, at any point during brushing, you cannot see the skin or cannot brush all the way down to the skin, then you know the dog has matting. If this is the case, you can gently work on the area with the slicker brush until the matting is gone. However, if you’re spending more than a few minutes on one area and there’s still a solid mat, then your dog will probably need to be shaved.
Keep in mind that the longer you try and get mats out of the dog’s coat, the more discomfort and pain your dog will experience. The absolute last thing you want is to traumatize your dog to the point that it gets scared of being brushed ever again. “Humanity over vanity”, fellow doodle parents. (If your dog must be shaved, don’t worry, the hair will grow back sooner than you know it!)