Double coated breeds, such as collies, golden retrievers and Samoyeds, require more frequent grooming than their single coated relatives. The thick, fluffy undercoat of a double-coated dog tangles easily, and the knots can be hard to notice until they are quite large, because they are hidden under the smooth top coat.
Assemble the Right Tools
Every job is easier with the right tools, and getting the mats out of your double coated dog is no different. Make sure you have a slicker brush, a metal comb with widely-spaced teeth on one side and closely-set teeth on the other, a mat breaker and detangling or conditioning spray. Make sure the teeth on your slicker brush and comb are long enough to penetrate the outer coat and get into the undercoat of your dog. Choose a spray that doesn't require rinsing. You don't want to bathe your dog until he is mat free, and that may take several grooming sessions.
Take Your Time
Spray your dog with detangler or conditioning spray to soften his coat and prevent loose hair from going airborne. Then go over your pup with the slicker brush, removing as much dead hair as possible. Remove as much undercoat as you can. When the loose undercoat hairs get trapped in the coat, rather than shedding on the floor or getting combed out, they create tangles.
Pick out any small, loose tangles with your fingers at the same time. Next, work on any matted spots with the metal comb, using the teeth to work the mat loose from either side, working toward the middle. Finally, cut out any remaining mats with the mat breaker, working away from the skin. If your dog is badly matted, or gets restless while your grooming him, work in multiple 10 or 15 minute sessions until he is tangle free.
Concentrate on Problem Areas
Some areas are prone to developing mats, even with regular grooming. Friction areas, such as where the collar rubs or between the legs, quickly mat because the hairs rub together. The lower legs and tail can also mat easily, because they easily pick up debris, such as small twigs and leaves while your pup is outside. The hairs quickly tangle around the foreign object, creating a mat. Give your pup a quick once over to check for debris each time he comes in from outside.
Maintain Your Work
Once you have gone through the effort of dematting your dog, maintain your work with frequent grooming. You should ideally groom your double coated dog daily, but make it a priority to brush him at least several times a week. Once he is tangle-free, the grooming won't take much time at all. The key to preventing mats and tangles from developing in a double coated breed is to remove as much of the loose undercoat as possible.