Brushes & Combs for Dogs: How to Choose the Right One


brushes & combs for dogs

Choosing the right brush or comb for your pet is an essential first step for even the most basic home grooming.

Brush types

Although there are many diverse shapes and sizes, there are basically three special brush types.

Bristle Brushes: Bristle brushes can be used on all coat varieties and differ according to the spacing between bristles and the length of the bristles. Generally, the longer the hair coat, the more widely spaced and longer the bristles should be. Also, the coarser the hair, the more rigid those bristles need to be.

Wire-Pin Brushes: Wire-pin brushes, with or without rubber-tipped ends, are the favored option for pets with medium to long hair and those with curly or woolly coats.

Slicker Brushes: Slicker brushes have fine wire bristles and are particularly useful for removing mats and knots.


Rubber curry combs are helpful at massaging the skin and removing dead hair from short-haired breeds. It is also a good initiative to have a Grooming Rake or Mat breaker on hand to remove mats.

Refer to the chart below for recommendations on the best brushes for your pet’s hair coat.

Type of Hair Coat Recommended Brush Type Brushing Direction
Short, smooth coats (most Retrievers, Hounds, Chihuahuas, etc.) Soft to medium bristle brush with short, closely spaced bristles With the coat’s grain
Short, wiry coats (Terriers, etc.) Firm bristle brush with short, closely spaced bristles; and a slicker brush With the coat’s grain
Medium to long flowing coats (Golden Retrievers, Spaniels, Setters, Lhasa Apso, etc.) Soft to medium bristle brush with long, medium- to wide-spaced bristles; a wire-pin brush; and a slicker brush for mats and tangles With the coat’s grain
Harsh, outer coats with soft, woolly undercoats (Sheepdogs, Collies, Shepherds, Chows, Pomeranian’s, etc.) Firm bristle brush with long, wide-spaced bristles; a wire-pin brush; and a slicker brush for tangles and mats With the grain — outer coat; Against the grain–under coat
Thin, delicate coats (Yorkie’s, Maltese, etc.) Wire-pin brush; and a soft slicker brush for tangles and mats With and against the coat’s grain


Table Information excerpted from Guide to Home Pet Grooming by Dr. Chris C. Pinney, D.V.M. Used by arrangement with Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. Hauppauge, New York.

When brushing or combing, be calm and take your time. Be particularly careful when removing mats or tangles. Brushing can and ought to be a pleasant practice for your pet as the gentle stroking feel good on your pet’s skin. It does not take too many excruciating ‘rips’ through tangles, on the other hand, to make brushing a process your pet will try to evade rather than welcome. The best way to build trust and make this a gratifying bonding time for both of you is to brush your pet often, if possible daily. This circumvents problem mats and knots from developing.