It’s always important to choose the right tool for any job. Here are some Civilized Tips on how to choose the right brush for your pet:

Slicker Brush – the basic brush for most medium and longhaired dogs, this brush has metal bristles that are very close together. Long bristles are better for longer coats because they can get down into the undercoat to grab shedding hair. Be careful not to scratch your dog’s skin. Use light pressure and follow the pattern of hair growth, pulling up and away from your dog’s skin as you finish each stroke.

Pin Brush – These are meant to fluff up coats in medium or longhaired pets. We recommend pin brushes that have plastic tips or are blunted with small caps because they’re more comfortable for your dog. Dogs who have painful brushing experiences will not cooperate and deserve better brushes!

Rubber brushes – are helpful to bathe dogs with many coat types because they promote suds and loosen shedding hair at bath time. Best used in short coated dogs and cats because they’re gentle on the skin and generate a sort of electrostatic charge that attracts loose hair to the brush.

Double Sided Brush – these brushes have 2 sides, one is usually a Bristle Brush (plastic or boar bristles) and the other a Pin Brush. Pin brushes are meant to remove tangles and knots in fine hair. Bristle brushes are great to finish up the brushing. This combo tool is best for medium to longhaired pets because the pin brush is not useful or comfortable on sleek short hair.

Bristle Brush – For pets with smooth flatter coats this is probably all you need. It removes shedding hair and stimulates the production of healthy desirable skin oils.

Undercoat Rake – For double coated dogs like the Nordic breeds (Malamutes, Huskies, Chows & more) and some smaller ones (e.g. Pomeranians, Spitz). Helps to remove the clumps of undercoat that they shed for healthier skin, hair and a cleaner house and car. Use gently, avoid contact with the skin please.

Deshedding Tool (e.g. Furminator) are for dogs with heavy coats or double coated breeds because they go down into the undercoat and pull away dead hairs that haven’t starting to shed yet. Not for smooth coated pets (use the rubber curry brush instead)!

Dematter or Mat Breaker – This is a special tool meant to remove solid mats. The advantage is that it will preserve the uniformity of the coat’s appearance compared to cutting out the mat with a scissors, which can also result in skin lacerations if you’re not careful with those scissors, yikes! You have to use the dematting tools carefully because they have a blade at the base, so keep the tool parallel to the skin’s surface and pull away from your dog as you work through the mat.

Moulting Comb – The teeth are 2 different lengths. The short ones work through the undercoat and the longer ones effectively groom the long hair of the top coat. This comb is best for double coated dog breeds.

Grooming Comb – The teeth are one height and spaced slightly apart, recommended for curly wooly type coats.

Flea Comb – this tool has metal or plastic teeth very close together to trap fleas and eggs. They don’t work well in thick or wooly type coats and they do not replace a flea preventative treatment recommended by your veterinarian. Flea combs are not flea treatment, but if you’re not sure if your pet has fleas they are helpful in finding the proof (fleas or flea dirt).

Plastic Human Comb – Sometimes the best comb is a flexible plastic one with slightly rounded teeth. Wig combs resemble the moulting comb and may do a fine job for your pet. Regular pocket combs may be a good tool, too.

Introduce your dog to brushing early. Give a special food treat to help him to relax and enjoy your time together. Do a little bit more often (daily or several times a week) rather than a marathon unpleasant session that neither of you will enjoy.

Dr. Stefanie Schwartz, DVM, MSc, Dip. ACVB is a board certified veterinary behaviorist and founder of If you need help with a misbehaving pet, please visit

© Stefanie Schwartz 2019