Choosing the Best Dog Grooming Brushes & Their Uses

We should be caring for our dog’s coats the same way we look after our own hair. They need to be brushed regularly to keep it healthy and soft, but the big question remains – which brush do you use? 

We know the feeling of standing in the pet store wondering what on earth you are supposed to pick for your pup, especially when there are so many brushes to choose from.

Guess what? We are here to make life a little easier, taking you through all dog grooming brushes and their uses so that you can make an informed choice that’s going to leave your dog’s coat in the best condition. 

Long hair, short hair, double coated, we’ll help you find the ideal type of dog brush.

dog grooming pet

Types of Dog Grooming Brush

There are four main types of dog brushes, but within these types, there are also subtypes that you will want to be aware of. Let’s go through the different types of dog brush so that you can get a better understanding of their uses. 

1 Brushes

These are the most common types of grooming tool, but they fall into several different categories. It’s worth knowing what each of them has been designed to do.

dog pin brush

Pin Brush. This grooming brush is a great all-rounder as well as the most frequently used. It’s ideal with dogs who have medium to long hair, working through minor mats and tangles to ensure that they have silky smooth hair. 

It’s really gentle on thick coats and curly hair, which is why it is usually the first brush that grooming professionals use.

bristle brush

Bristle Brush. The interesting thing about bristle brushes is that they are usually combined with the pin brush because they work so well together. The reason for this is that the bristle brush is the ideal finisher for grooming, wiping away dirt and debris to leave your pup with a shiny coat. 

Regular brushing with this also increases oil production in your dog’s coat, which means that they are less likely to shed as frequently. When picking a bristle brush, always choose one that matches the length and texture of your dog’s coat. This makes brushing them more effective.

rubber dog brush

Rubber Brush. These are usually in the form of a glove that has little rubber knobs along the surface. It makes a nice alternative to a brush, especially for dogs who are frightened of grooming brushes or perhaps nervous. 

To them, it feels like being stroked without much pressure, but with you getting the benefit of all that loose fur.

slicker dog brush

Slicker Brush. These are really common brushes and are usually used on medium to long-coated dogs. Their typical use is for removing tangles and loose hair from the undercoat. 

The wired bristles on the brush are usually aligned in a specific way or have coated tips to protect their skin. They are highly effective, but be careful not to apply too much pressure as this can cause them discomfort or pain.

2 Combs

Some combs are made for general grooming, some are best for fleas, and others are expert for removing mats and tangles. They are the perfect accompaniment for brushes, and while coat type can be a factor in choosing the right comb, they tend to be multifunctional.

general groming comb

General Grooming Comb. This is a lot like the comb version of the pin brush, perfect for dogs with longer or thicker hair and removing a whole host of knots and tangles from their coats. 

There are a variety of teeth available on these combs, and the width depends on your task. 

Wide spaced teeth are best for removing knots and tangles, and the ones with tighter spacing are perfect for combing their hair after you have removed the main offenders. 

Some combs will even have both styles in one, like the comb version of the bristle brush and pin brush combined.

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dematting comb dog

Dematting Comb. This is ideal for heavy and thick-coated dogs that have matted or knotted hair. Instead of ripping them, it cuts them completely. 

The main issue with this type of comb is that it can definitely be too harsh, and you need to be careful which coat types you use it on. It’s best to check with a professional before you buy and use this on your dogs.

flea comb

Flea Combs. These are a lot like nit combs for humans, with tightly spaced teeth that help you to remove and detect the invaders. They are quick and effective, working well alongside flea treatments to cure infestations and give your dog some relief.

3 Rakes

There are actually a fair number of rakes on the market, but you only really need to focus on the main two. These are all you need, and they will help make grooming and removing loose hair easier.

standard rake for dogs

Standard Rakes. These have wide spacing and rounded ends, helping to prevent pain and irritation to your dog when they are used. They have been designed to remove dead hair from their body and are better suited to dogs with long hair that need gentle knot removal.

undercoat rake

Undercoat Rakes. These are bladed rakes that have been designed for dogs who have a thick and heavy undercoat. Generally speaking, these should be avoided unless the matting and knotting are too severe for normal brushing. 

This is because the undercoat can be damaged permanently by cutting.

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4 Deshedding Tools

De-shedding tools are very popular, especially for breeds that are incredibly fluffy and have big moulting seasons. 

They remove all of the loose hair from the topcoat while also working the undercoat to get rid of dead hair that is lurking there. It’s all done in one motion, and there are a number of designs and sizes that have been made to suit various breeds with de-shedding. 

types of grooming brushes

Which Brush to Use on Your Dog?

Brushing dog hair can be trying when you aren’t sure which dog brushes to use for their coat. Don’t panic, this quick and easy guide will help you match the right brush to your dog. 

Smooth Coats. This is for breeds like bull terriers and dachshunds. Rubber brushes are a great option for these breeds, gentle on their already short hair and removing surface debris. 

Short Coats. Think boxers, beagles, and greyhounds. Something like the slicker brush or pin brush will work brilliantly on these coats, all with the bristle brush to finish. 

Long Coats. Breeds such as Old English Sheepdogs and Bearded Collies fit this. Their course coats are best for brushes like the slicker to handle, alongside an undercoat rake for all that loose and dead hair. 

Silky Coats. Yorkies and Shitzu’s are the best examples here. Usually, their hair is long and they have no undercoat, so the slicker brush comes into good use here alongside the general comb. You can finish with the bristle brush for a silky and shiny look after. 

Wire Coats. Think airedales and wheaten terriers. These coats are rough to touch and they don’t really shed, which means the slicker is a good choice. A general comb can also help to remove dead hair. 


Curly Coats. Poodles and bichon frises are the most common breed for this category. They tend to have very soft curls, which means the gentle touch of both the bristle and the slicker brush is quite welcome. However, almost all of the brushes in this guide will be used on these dogs because of their versatile hair and the styles they are cut into.

What About Double Coated Dogs?

You have to be very careful with dogs that have double coats because their coat is this way for a reason. 

Both long and short-haired breeds can have this, and the second coat tends to be waterproof as well as helping with temperature regulation. 

This is why you should never shave double-coated breeds, like huskies and malamutes, in the summer months. You can actually end up permanently damaging the undercoat, preventing them from properly regulating temperature and also damaging the waterproofing. 

Their coats are the reason they are able to survive hot summers and cold winters. 

Brushes that cut the fur should be avoided, as this will likely lead to the undercoat being damaged over time. Brushes like the Furminator are advertised as being perfect for shedding loose hair from the undercoat, but it’s a bladed tool that cuts the hair instead of brushing it. 

Instead, look for grooming brushes that don’t have blades but still remove loose undercoats.

Why is Grooming Your Dog Important?

When we don’t brush our hair, it becomes matted and tangled. This can be quite painful, and in very extreme circumstances it may need to be shaved off entirely. 

The same goes for your dog, and without proper grooming and maintenance, they risk the same fate. 

It ensures that you keep their coat healthy, and every time you use a brush on your dogs you are removing potential mats. 

Additionally, it helps you keep a better eye on their skin, checking for irritations and potential skin conditions that you might not notice otherwise. 

You can also look out for dandruff and flaky skin, as well as the signs of potential allergies (sore spots and scabs). 

You don’t need a lot of knowledge to groom your dog, but you do need to understand more about coat types and how the brush you choose can impact them – something you can read about in the previous section.

FAQs

What’s the Difference Between Slicker and Pin Brushes?


The slicker brush contains pins that are long and tightly packed together, penetrating deep into the undercoat. Pin brushes have a variety of lengths and spacing, which makes it more versatile for use on different types of dog hair. 

Can I Overbrush My Dog?


No, you cannot over brush your dog. However, if you use the wrong brushing techniques you can cause them pain and discomfort.

You need to be gentle with your dog, being careful of the amount of pressure you apply. Dogs can have very sensitive skin, just like us.

Can I Use a Regular Hairbrush on My Dog?


No, you should try to avoid using a regular hairbrush on your dog. While combs can be good to use in a pinch, they have not been designed in the same way, and both the brushes and combs are usually quite sharp in comparison to those designed for dogs.

Does a Slicker Brush Hurt a Dog?


No, a slicker brush will not hurt your dog when used properly. When used incorrectly, usually as a result of excessive pressure, it can cause discomfort and even pain as the pins press into their skin. Just remember to be gentle.

Final Thoughts

Brushing a dog is a great experience, one that is relaxing for you and your pup. The only downside is actually choosing the brush, but hopefully, this guide has been able to help you get a better idea of the best type for your pet. 

From bristle brushes to the slicker brush, there are loads of different types out there for you to trial. 

The important thing to remember is that your dog’s coat type matters, and this will help you find the best dog brush for the task. 

Other than that? Enjoy the bonding experience that comes with maintaining your dog’s coat.

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