Updated: Nov 1, 2021
How knots form on your dog, and why their removal is always ‘Humanity over Vanity’
If you read my article in the Oct 2019 issue of Heckington Living magazine, you may recall how I spoke about how keeping your dog well groomed can be more about their health than how they look. As a responsible and loving owner it is your responsibility to administer regular and effective grooming. It is my role to style your dog. Think of it in the same way that you will brush or comb your hair on a daily basis but you will still go to a hairdresser or barber to put in the style.
With all the extra walkies, the 2020 lockdown saw many dogs develop knots upon knots, which then turn into matts and felting where the fur becomes so densely tangled that the skin is pulled tight, can't breath and can even restrict movement. We saw our fair share of this at Groomio's and whilst there is really no excuse, it is common the length and breadth of the country. Through a professional groomers group I came across the following article which has been reproduced with the permission of its author Jackie Grimmett. So, it is not just me that is saying it.
Referring to the above photograph, this is how Dog Groomers know a dog hasn't been brushed correctly in-between appointments.
The end of the hair nearest finger has been brushed, but not deep enough. This has led to the moulted hair not being removed by deep brushing and combing right down to the skin’s surface. Thus forming tangles, that over days, weeks, months depending on lack of correct home brushing leading to the moulted hair knitting together to form a solid pelt of hair that sits as a fleece, just centimetres above the skin of the dog. Behind those tangles and knots, a Groomer can judge there is ' at least ' 4 to 6 weeks of new growth of hair. With each individual dog that presents in a salon, it can show just how long those knots have been forming. The sad fact is, those tangles and knots are causing your dog pain each time it moves. After just 6 weeks or sooner if the dog gets bathed, or wet from rain, etc,. those knots will join together and form a straitjacket of hair, close to the skin, causing restriction of natural movement of the dog.
This in turn causes strain on muscles, joints even the skeleton, causing further internal pain.
Your Groomer never wants any dog to suffer, and we as humans know just how painful a tiny knot in our hair can be when we try to remove it with a brush or comb.
Also like everyone they too have to abide by The Animal Welfare Act.
This means, NO-ONE can cause ‘Pain, Suffering or Distress’ to ANY Animal!
The ONLY humane way to remove these knots is by clipping behind them with clippers and the right length of clipper blade, that will slide through that free hair without pulling on the dog's already sore skin. Scissors aren’t an option, and too dangerous to use, because it would be too easy the cut skin pulled up and hidden deep in those knots.
This will mean a dog will have a very short hair cut!
This isn’t the fault of the Groomer, their hands are tied by abiding to The Animal Welfare Act.
Yes, sadly honestly, there are Owners who put their own Vanity about how their pet looks to them, before the welfare, wellbeing and sanity of their dog’s by blaming the Groomer, for their dog’s short haircut, when the blame lies solely with the lack of home care by the Owner!
As Owner’s we have to understand, “It’s hair, it grows back!”
Far better a few holes, or a short haircut, that then gives us a blank canvas to start maintaining our dogs hair properly with our Groomer’s help!
Caring Groomers who have the welfare and wellbeing of all dogs paramount and are always happy to show any owner how to correctly brush and comb!
Combing from skin to end of hair should always be done after you brush, in order to get out those tiny, tiny knots, it is so important to avoid this ever happening.
Areas that often get overlooked, or missed are behind their ears where the ears meet the back of the skull and neck, the ends of their ears, under the dog’s front ‘armpits’, under their back legs, around their ankles, and their tails.
Learn to part the hair in sections as you work, and brush then comb to ensure you have got right down to skin level. If you are unsure, your Groomer will be happy to show you the correct way to brush and comb your dog.
Please don't blame the Groomer for your dog's short-haired cut!
It is simply the lack of correct care at home which led to the only humane option being taken for the welfare of the dog!
Remember every dog a groomer grooms, is a walking advert not only for their grooming skills, but for their compassion too.
Whilst to ‘vanity’s’ eyes, a dog might not look good, because a Groomer had to remove the odd knot or mat, leaving behind a bald area.
Or even clip the whole dog short because the whole dog was trapped in a fleece of solid knotted hair.
In compassion’s eyes, the Groomer did that in the ‘Dog’s best interest and welfare’ not their vanity or the vanity of us as the Owner. The dog will feel better, not feeling the discomfort of that knot or multiple knots pulling on their skin with every movement anymore, and that in all honesty surely is the right Humane way for any caring person to act.
So whilst we might get asked about our dog’s looks, and have to admit it was our fault a we let knots form, we can feel proud that we put our dogs feelings before our own embarrassment about their looks!
Humanity over Vanity every time!
Our dog's welfare should and must ALWAYS come first!
© Jackie Grimmett 2019 Consultant, Author and Tutor to the Dog Grooming profession since 1968 Promoting a standard of Excellence in the Art of Canine Grooming