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Basic Tools

Slicker Brush

A slicker brush is the most used brush. It is a wire bristle brush used to demat minor tangles, overall neatening of the coat as well as fluffing. I would recommend only using soft slicker brushes like the self-cleaning one by Safari. If you want to spend more or you plan on becoming professional then a double sided slicker brush by Activet is The Best. With that you can demat almost anything.

It is only used for dogs with hair or fur longer than a quarter of an inch. Keep in mind that dogs such as Maltese, Shih-Tzu’s, and Yorkies have skin that is likened to an eyelid. Before using a slicker brush on any dog, first practice on the inside of your forearm. Once you discover a comfortable amount of pressure, practice consistency. Go even lighter on the dogs’ underside and inside of rear legs. The skin there is very sensitive. Do Not use the slicker brush near the eye area. Most dogs will move around while being brushed and a wire bristle in the eye can do a lot of damage.

When you find a tangle place the hair over the inside of your hand to brush out. Do this any time you’re going to do more than two strokes in one spot. Too much rubbing in one area will cause brush burn. It feels like fire on their skin, is very red and very noticeable by the time you’re done with the full groom.

Dematting Comb

Any tangles the slicker brush can’t get out can usually be taken out by a dematting comb such as the 6 blade dematting tool by Master Grooming Tools. It does have a blade at the base of the teeth so be very careful when cleaning the comb. A lot of times when hair is tangled it can pull skin up into the hair. Because of this it is Not safe to do a smooth level stroke through like you would a normal bush or comb. It is easier than you think to cut the dog this way; even when you don’t notice any pulled skin.

Instead you will clockwise scoop to hook the tangle and then Very Gently counter-clockwise rotate your hand back towards you (looks like revving a motorcycle). You can also use your fingers to hold the hairs at their base to avoid tugging at the skin. Repeat either as many times to get the tangle out or to move the tangle at least a half inch away from the skin. Once safely away from the skin, thinning shears can be used to remove the rest of the knot in a less noticeable way than straight shears.

Undercoat Rake

For double coated breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Labradors, German and Australian Shepherds you’ll mainly use an undercoat rake. You’ll want it to be double rowed such as the one by JW. This will remove the dead, trapped undercoat; leaving the top coat to lay nicely. The thigh/hip area sheds the most. Be sure to do a quick brush through with a slicker brush first to find and remove any tangles. If the rake is used on a regular basis such as four times a week it will completely get rid of the shedding problem.

Curry Brush

A rubber curry brush like the one by Zoom Groom is what you would use on a short coated dog such as Pugs, Chihuahuas, Boxers, Great Danes and Greyhounds. It also works well on Labs, even the thick coated ones. This brush can also be helpful during bathing.

Brush burn is very easy with this brush so use extra caution. Brush lightly going with the hair then against it multiple times in a fluid motion. It’s tempting to apply a lot of pressure when you see all of those little hairs going flying off but be patient. Avoid brush burn by putting in the extra time.

Bristle Brush

A bristle brush is not used often. It is mainly used after the grooming process is done to help give the coat a shine or work in a leave-in conditioner. If you have a dog with flaky dandruff skin the bristle brush can be used in the same manner you handle the curry brush. This will remove most of the flaking and help to bring back some of the skins natural oils to combat the dry skin.


A comb is used often during the trimming process. It’s best to get a greyhound style comb which has a large spaced side and a small spaced side. Use the larger gapped side first to find any remaining tangles then work them out with a slicker brush or dematting comb. Then use the smaller gapped side to neaten hair or move to area needed for trimming.


A Furminator has become a very popular choice among pet owners in the past few years. It has small spaced short teeth, a self-cleaning button, and a blade at the base. Although it is very helpful for short coated, double coated dogs it should not be used for anything else. Even with the long haired option it will still eventually give your dog a haircut when you were just trying to brush out undercoat. Although it is a very fast way to get out dead undercoat that is not the only hair it is removing. I would recommend you use this after a thorough brush out with an undercoat rake. Use the furminator minimally unless your dog already has very short hair such as a short smooth coated lab or Rottweiler.

If you have, against my recommendation, shaved your golden, lab or other double coated breed to a 3/8 of an inch length or less then you absolutely must use the furminator on the body so that the coat will grow back properly. Shaving your thick coated shedding dog in an attempt to avoid shedding and having to brush, you will end up with a horrible mess. Without a top coat your dog will not be able to regulate their temperature as well, the skin still won’t be able to breathe because you never removed the dead hair. Your dog will still shed, just shorter pieces. The hair will then either grow very unevenly, not grow back at all in some areas or in a million different directions regardless of how well it used to lay down prior.

If you insist on shaving your double coated breed remember that it is not a quick ticket out of the brushing chore. Use an undercoat rake before shaving until all dead hair has been removed. Then use the furminator after shaving to take out any remaining fuzz, ensuring a healthy grow back. Be sure to use a furminator and a curry brush every week as the hair is growing back out.

Tweezers or Hemostats

Tweezers and/or hemostats can be used to remove ticks. When removing ticks move hair way so that you only have a hold of the tick. Do not apply too much pressure or you could have a face full of blood the second the tick bursts. Twist the tick several times while being careful not to lose grip of it. Make sure the actual tick is rotating with the tool. This will loosen the ticks grip whether it is dead or alive. This will ensure the head does not get left inside the body, avoiding infection. Once the grip is released pull the tick out in a quick motion. Clean area with hydrogen peroxide. These tools can also be used to remove ear hair which we will go over in Prep Work later on.

Nail Trimmers

Nail trimmers usually come in two sizes, small and large. You can also use cat nail trimmers for very small dogs or dew claws with tight spaces. The size and mainly the thickness of the nail will determine which size to use on the dog. If you are becoming a groomer I would recommend buying new ones about every three months as they will become dull fast. They may still cut at three months but not comfortably for the dog. If you can avoid being bitten by simply buying new nail trimmers you should do it. Millers Forge is a good brand. You want to choose nail trimmers with a good gap between the handles so you don’t pinch your skin every time you cut down on a nail. I would recommend having a professional trim your dogs nails though.

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