How Often Should You Brush Your Dog?

by | Common Questions, Dog Care

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Dogs have amazing fur coats that control their body temperature and protect their skin from the sun when they spend time outdoors. As a dog owner, it’s important to look after your dog’s fur with regular brushing…

So, how often should you brush your dog?

You should brush your dog at least once a week. For the best results, you can brush a short-haired dog every three to four days and a long-haired dog every two to three days. Brushing your dog more often than two or three times a week is fine, but be sure to use the right brush and don’t push too hard or you might irritate the skin.

How often you brush your dog depends on two things:

  1. the length of your dog’s hair, and
  2. the type of coat your dog has

Let’s take a look at each type of dog coat and how often it needs to be brushed and what happens when you brush your dog (and when you don’t)…

How often to brush each kind of dog coat

Here’s how often you should brush your dog depending on your dog’s hair length and coat:

Examples of breeds with this hair length and coatExamples of breeds with this hair length and coatTraits of this coat typeHow often you should brush
Hairless dog (hairless dog breed or hairless from a skin condition)American Hairless Terrier Hairless Chihuahua– Very little hair in certain spots or no hair at all on the bodyEvery 2 weeks
Curly coatBichon Frise
Poodle
Labradoodle
– Hair is wavy or curlyEvery 3-4 days
Short, smooth coatPointer
Boxer
Great Dane
– Short hair
– Shiny
– Lies close to the body
Every 7 days
Short, wire coatJack Russell Terrier
Airedale  
– Fur feels spiky and rough
– Thick hair  
Every 3-4 days
Short, double coatLabradors
Golden Retrievers
– Top coat
– Thin, soft undercoat
Every 3-4 days
Long, smooth coatYorkshire Terrier
Maltese Poodle
– Silky and long hair
– No undercoat
Every 2-3 days
Long, wire coatWestie
Brussels Griffon
Scottish Terrier
– Straight or wavy top coat
– Thick undercoat
Every 2-3 days
Long, double coatShetland Sheepdogs (find out if Shelties shed)
Border Collies Schnauzers
– Straight, topcoat
– Thick undercoat
Every 2-3 days      

Photo of man brushing a labrador puppy

What type of dog brush should you use?

There are many dog brushes and combs available. Brushes are good for general upkeep, such as massaging the skin, keeping the coat clean and removing loose hair. Dog combs are better for certain jobs in one area of the coat, such as getting out knots and removing fleas from a dog’s coat.

If you’re wondering, click here to find out where dogs can pick up fleas.

Photo of different types of dog brushes

Here are the best dog brushes to use on dogs with different coat types and hair length:

Coat typeBest dog brushes to use
Hairless dog (dog breed or skin condition)Soft brush on hairy parts
Dog grooming glove on hairless areas
Curly coatSlicker brush
Wide-tooth comb
Short, smooth coatBristle brush
Dog grooming glove
Short, wire coatSlicker brush
Medium-tooth comb
Short, double coatSlicker brush
Rake
Metal comb
Long, smooth coatSlicker brush
Large-tooth comb
Long, wire coatSlicker brush
Pin brush
Large-tooth comb
Long, double coatSlicker brush
Rake
Wide-tooth comb

Why you should brush your dog regularly

Photo of different types of dog brushes

Did you know that brushing your dog has many benefits for both of you? Brushing your dog regularly with the right brush can:


·       Help your dog maintain a healthy skin and coat


Each hair on a dog has an oil gland attached to it under the skin. When you brush your dog, you massage the skin and release this oil, which is called ‘sebum’.

Illustration of a dog's skin showing the hair, hair follicle and sebaceous gland with sebum

According to research, sebum keeps the skin moist and healthy, protects it from the environment, kills bacteria, and keeps it clean. Sebum also moisturizes the dog’s hair.

The best brushes to massage your dog’s skin and for general coat maintenance are pinhead brushes and dog grooming gloves.


·       Remove knots and matted hair


Many dogs get knots in their fur, which can be painful to brush out. A dog’s hair is more likely to knot and become matted if it is long. Dogs with long hair need to be brushed every 2-3 days, to keep knots under control.

If your dog has long hair but no knots, then you can use a pinhead brush for that day’s brush to maintain a healthy skin and coat. But if your dog has knots on brushing day, use a slicker brush or wide-toothed comb to gently work through the knots.

Very bad knots and mats may need to be cut out rather than brushed or combed out, so you don’t hurt your dog and make him or her fear being brushed.


·       Keep your dog clean


Regular brushing keeps your dog clean, so you won’t have to bathe your dog too often (click here to find out how often to bathe your dog and what happens if you do – you might be surprised!).

Brushing massages a dog’s skin and causes it to release sebum, a natural oil, onto the dog’s skin. The brush’s bristles then move this sebum through the coat. As this oil moves from the skin to the end of each hair, it takes dirt with it.

So brushing helps to remove dirt from a dog’s skin and coat.


·       Remove loose hair and help your dog shed its seasonal coat


All hair goes through three phases: a growth phase, a rest phase, and a shed phase. During the final shed phase, the old hair leaves the hair follicle in the skin and falls off the dog.

This can happen throughout the year, but most dogs have a good shed when the seasons are changing, in Spring and Fall. This is when their new coats grow out – a cooler coat for summer and a warmer coat for winter.

But sometimes this loose hair becomes matted in a dog’s fur, especially if the dog has a thick coat or a double coat (two coat layers).

Brushing can remove most of this loose hair from the coat to prevent matting. Brushing also minimizes the number of dog hairs you might find lying around your home.

If it’s brush day and your dog is shedding, then you can use a slicker brush or a wide-tooth comb to remove loose hair from your dog.


·       Help your dog regulate its body temperature


A dog’s fur coat is important in helping it control its body temperature. Whether your dog loves lying in the sun (find out why some dogs love to sunbathe by clicking here) or your dog loves playing in the snow, the thickness and condition of the dog’s fur coat goes a long in way in keeping your dog cool or warm enough.

Find out all the tips and tricks to help keep a dog cool HERE.

DID YOU KNOW: A dog’s normal, healthy body temperature ranges between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 and 39.2 degrees Celsius). Some dogs keep their body temperature a little higher or lower than this, which is fine. But anything above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) is dangerous and needs medical help.

Regular brushing helps to keep the coat clean, healthy and untangled, so the coat can do its job of growing and shedding as it should.


·       You may pick up health issues early


When you brush your dog, take some time to check your dog’s skin and overall coat condition. Getting to know your dog will help you pick up health issues, illnesses or growths, so you can get advice and treatment from a veterinarian if you need to.

Look for the following signs and symptoms:

  • Marks, sores, or scabs on the skin
  • Ticks, fleas or parasites in the fur
  • Dry or flaky areas of skin
  • Lumps and bumps
  • The color of the gums and any changes in color
  • Holes in or damaged teeth
  • Any major changes in the appearance and feel of the dog’s skin and hair

·       Be a time for bonding between you and your dog


Brushing your dog and spending time with him/her is a wonderful way to bond with your pet and make you both happier and healthier.

Studies have shown that contact with animals can make you happier, release stress, and help you fight infections.

When you touch your dog, you release a hormone called ‘oxytocin’, which is a bonding hormone. This hormone helps you build an even stronger bond with your dog and a deeper love for each other.

Feeling loved and looked after can also make your pet happier and less anxious. Find out all the ways dogs ask for help and what they’re asking for HERE.

How Long Should You Brush For?

There are two main reasons to brush a dog: general upkeep and to remove loose fur on a shedding dog. Brushing for upkeep should take about 10 minutes to give the coat a quick run through, removing new knots and dirt. When brushing a shedding dog, simply stop brushing when there is no more loose hair showing on the dog brush.

Here are some more recommendations and guidelines on how long to brush your dog:

  • Daily Puppy recommends brushing a puppy for 10 minutes. Start with only a few minutes and build up the time from there, giving your puppy lots of praise and treats during the brushing and after. You want your puppy to get used to brushing and look forward to it, to make grooming easier for when puppy grows into an adult.
  • Adult dogs can be brushed for 10 to 30 minutes when doing upkeep brushing. This should be more than enough time to remove knots and get the full benefit from the brush, such as a shiny coat and the removal of dirt.
  • Always brush in the direction of your dog’s coat, never against the growth, or you could pull out more hair than you should.
  • Remove hair from the comb or brush every two to three brush strokes. Keeping the brush clean will allow the brush to pick up more hair with each stroke.
  • When your dog is shedding, keep brushing until there’s no more fur showing on the brush. This might happen before or after the time recommendations above (10-30 minutes), but this is a better indicator of when to stop brushing a dog that’s shedding hair.
  • Dogs with thick or double coats usually need to be brushed for longer than dogs with short, single, or wire coats.

How often should you brush your dog to prevent shedding?

Brushing does not prevent or stop shedding in dogs, but brushing a dog that’s shedding two to three times a week minimizes the amount of hair the dog leaves lying around. Brushing this often removes all the loose hair before it can fall off. All dogs shed, and no amount of brushing will prevent shedding altogether.

Dogs shed because their hair goes through three stages: a growth phase, a rest phase, and a shed phase. Hair is lost during the final shed phase. Some dogs shed once or twice a year, while others shed hair all year round.

Shedding is a dog’s natural way to lose old hair and replace it with new, healthy hair. It’s also how a dog grows a warm coat for winter and a cooler coat for summer.

Dogs that spend a lot of time indoors, where the temperature stays more or less the same, tend to shed less than outdoor dogs of the same breed. This is because indoor dogs don’t rely on their coats as much to control their body temperature – they rely on heaters to warm up, and air conditioners and fans to stay cool.

It is important to stick to regular brushes every two to three days when your dog is shedding, whether your dog is indoors or outdoors, to keep the loose hair under control and manageable.

Photo of a wet dog coming out of the shower

Should you brush a dog with wet or dry hair?

It’s best to brush a dog with dry hair. Soap and water soften a dog’s hair and skin, making the wet hair looser and weaker than when it’s dry. Brushing a dog with wet hair can break the hair, make knots harder to comb out, or even cause bald patches where the hair is pulled out unevenly.

Because soap and water soften the skin too, brushing a wet dog with a rough brush or with too much pressure can hurt the dog and break the skin into sores.

In fact, just washing your dog too often can cause serious health issues – Click here to read the full story on bathing your dog.

You don’t have to bath your dog every time you brush him/her, but it’s important to brush your dog before every bath. Doing so will remove loose hair and make washing your dog easier.

What happens if you don’t brush your dog?

If you don’t ever brush your dog, your dog won’t enjoy the many benefits that come with regular brushes (they’re all listed and explained above). In fact, some not-so-nice things might happen if you never give your dog a brush.

Here’s what might happen if you never brush your dog:

  • Your dog will leave more hair around your home. All dogs shed, which means all dogs lose hair. Brushing helps to remove loose hairs in one go and keep them under control. Without brushing, a dog will drop a lot more hair around.
  • Your dog might overheat. One of the reasons why a dog loses hair is to control its body temperature. Dogs usually grow a thinner coat in summer and a thicker coat in winter. Brushing helps to remove loose hair and keep the coat healthy. Not brushing a dog’s coat can let the loose hair get knotted in the coat and build up thick mats, making the dog much warmer.
  • Dead skin and dirt may build up on the dog’s skin, causing oiliness and clogged pores. Brushing helps to distribute a dog’s natural skin oil, and remove dirt and dead skin from the skin and coat. When dead skin and oil build up on a dog’s skin, the dog may get infections, acne, and even start smelling bad.

Can you brush your dog too much?

You can brush a dog as often as you like, as long as you don’t push too hard and you use the right brush. If you see your dog’s skin becoming red, dry or patchy, then you are probably brushing too often, brushing the fur the wrong way, or your dog brush is too rough for your dog’s skin.

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MONIQUE

Monique has had pets all her life and will have them for the rest of it.

She currently has 4 adopted fur kids.

Monique loves researching and sharing what she finds out about taking the best care of animals.

Ayo is an African word for ‘happy’, which is why this site is called Ayo Pets (Happy Pets).

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