An important part of raising and caring for a Havanese dog is ensuring their coat remains free of mats. Not only are mats unpleasant to look at, but they are painful for the dogs themselves. As the mats form, they pull the skin together and can lead to bruises, skin problems, and other health concerns. There are several good ways to keep your Havanese’s hair from matting, which we will cover in this article, as well as some options you should avoid. Best way to remove heavy matting Your first step to keeping your Havanese hair from matting will require removing the existing mats. While there are some safe options, removing mats can also be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. It’s important to first evaluate the severity of the matting before deciding how to proceed. A dog that has severe matting over their entire body will likely need to be professionally groomed in order to safely be shaved. Attempting to cut out severe mats on your own, whether with scissors or clippers, can result in injury to the dog. This is because these mats are likely very close to your dog’s skin, and you can accidentally cut their skin open in an attempt to remove the mats. Ouch! Proper equipment necessary to remove extensive matting can also be expensive, so a trip to an experienced groomer who can safely remove the mats is often well worth the initial expense. Afterwards, a groomer is often willing to teach you other ways to keep your dog free of mats in the future! https://www.houndgames.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/brushed-havanese.jpg For smaller matting If your Havanese dog isn’t matted over a large portion of their body, and only has a few mats in places like their ears, you can often manage some of the work at home. Grooming equipment such as a dematting tool, scissors or shears, a slicker brush, and a comb can all help in this process. For an affordable and effective dematter we recommend the Safari De-Matting Comb from Chewy. It’s important to remember that mats are painful, and dematting your dog can cause even more pain. It’s often necessary to work to remove mats in short sessions to give them a rest from any discomfort. Using a slicker brush like this one can help untangle mats that are less severe than others. For especially stubborn mats, you’ll want to consider a dematting tool like the above mentioned. You can make this dematting process easier on your dog by holding the mat while you work on it, to avoid pulling on their skin. If you decide to use a scissors to remove a mat, it’s extremely important to place something, like your fingers or a comb, between the mat and your dog’s skin. Otherwise, you risk not noticing that you are cutting your dog’s skin until it’s too late. Method of cutting a mat Rather than cutting the mat off directly, which can leave a “hole” in the coat of your Havanese, you should actually cut the mat in half by aiming the point of the scissors directly away from your dog, instead of parallel to their body. Once you’ve broken up the mat this way, it will be easier to brush out with a slicker brush or comb, without being as noticeable. Common places to check for mats on a Havanese are: \t Behind the ears \t Under the elbows \t Between their legs \t Between their toes As you are checking for mats, it’s important to look through the coat of your Havanese all the way to the skin. Mats can lurk deeper in the fur, even if the top of the coat is brushed and appears to be well groomed. Coconut oil and other natural remedies There are several remedies that can aid in removing mats from a Havanese, besides brushing alone. Several natural remedies that many owners report to work include coconut oil and cornstarch. Applying a small amount of coconut oil to the mat may aid in breaking up the mat, as the oil makes the hair easier to pull apart. This won’t work on large mats, but may help with smaller ones. You can also mix a tablespoon of coconut oil with two tablespoons of warm water to create a spray that can be used. Rather than applying the oily substance directly to your dog, you’ll have a less concentrated solution to use over more areas. However, coconut oil isn’t likely to help prevent mats. Only regular brushing and proper coat maintenance can keep your dog’s coat free of mats and tangles. In fact, leaving coconut oil on your dog’s coat may lead to additional mats in the future. Once you’ve broken up any mats, you’ll need to thoroughly wash the coconut oil from your Havanese. Another option that many Havanese owners use to break apart mats is cornstarch. Applying some of the cornstarch to their dog’s coat helps the hairs to untangle when brushing. Cornstarch is also easier to rinse out of your dog’s coat than coconut oil, and doesn’t leave an oily residue. While natural remedies to remove mats often require a bath afterwards, a bath is often warranted in a dog that is matting. Clean fur won’t mat as easily. It’s important that the bath occurs after the brushing, though, because bathing and drying a matted dog can cause the mats to become even tighter. https://www.houndgames.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/wet-havanese.jpg How to prevent matting in a Havanese If you don't plan to show your dog in conformation events, you do not need to keep your Havanese in a long coat. You may consider having your dog groomed, and their hair cut to a shorter length every 6-8 weeks or so to prevent mats from forming. However, even if you plan to keep your dog’s coat shorter, you will still need to maintain their coat in between grooming visits to prevent mats. Because Havanese have fine, soft hair, it tangles easily if not brushed properly. Two of the brushes that are best for a Havanese are the slicker brush and the pin brush. Both of these brushes have long and solid bristle stems that reach all the way to the dog’s skin. This is important because brushing your Havanese with a bristle brush or another type of brush that only reaches the top layer of the coat leaves the rest of the coat free for matting. Dampening the coat of a Havanese before brushing them helps to keep the hair from breaking as you brush. You can use a simple spray bottle and water to mist their coat, or use a coat conditioner. Next, the way that you brush your Havanese is critical to preventing mats. Not only do you need the correct brush, but you need to brush the coat using a technique called line brushing. \t Start by dividing the coat of your Havanese in half, parting it down their spine. \t Brush the coat on one side of the part, both with the natural direction of hair growth, and against it. \t After this section is brushed, create a new line in their fur about half an inch to an inch lower than the first line. \t Repeat the brushing steps as above. \t Continue dividing your dog’s coat into sections until you’ve brushed their entire body. Ideally, your Havanese will learn to lay comfortably on their side while being brushed. This technique will allow you to make sure all of your dog’s coat is brushed, rather than just the outer layer. If your Havanese has a longer coat, you’ll also want to separate their coat into sections to brush the entirety of their legs, neck, and head. Brushing should always be soft and gentle. If you are pulling at your dog’s coat, or pressing into their skin, you are brushing too hard or using an incorrect technique. Bathing to reduce matting It’s important that your dog’s coat remains clean to assist in reducing the unwanted matting. A Havanese that has a longer coat will likely need bathing weekly in order to keep the coat clean and prevent matting. If you keep your Havanese in a shorter trim, they can usually go 4-8 weeks without a bath, depending on your individual dog and your dog’s lifestyle. When in doubt, a professional groomer should be able to advise you on the frequency of bathing, brushing, and trims for your individual Havanese.