Working Dogs for Conservation: Profile of Co-Founder, Megan Parker

Call of the Wild
Megan Parker and her dogs Winston, Mr. Smith (standing) and Pepin. Photo by By Louise Johns
Photo by Richie Graham
Parker rewards Pepin during a work session in Zambia. Photo by Dave Haman
The much beloved Popo, memorialized here with his team from the Grumeti Fund, a WDC African partner organization  Photo by Richie Graham

Nose to the ground, a brown Belgian Malinois with black markings and large pointy ears scans a Missoula, Mont., neighborhood. Athletic and focused, her name is Tule and she has a stare that says “Don’t mess with me.” Her owner, Megan Parker, follows quietly behind, waiting for Tule to find the scat she’s hidden in a neighbor’s yard; over the years, seeding the neighborhood with scat has become one of Parker’s routine activities. “Hi, Jake,” says Parker to her neighbor. “She’s going to get this dangerous poop out of your yard.”

Jake laughs. “Work hard, Tule!”

Seconds later, Tule sits down by a little stream. Calm and quiet and very still, she keeps her dark eyes focused on Parker, a signal that she has found the target buried beneath the rocks: mountain lion scat.

“Oh, you found it?” whispers Parker. “Who’s the best dog ever?”

Who Else Wants to Know How to Deal with Matted Dog Hair?

For those who own a lovely dog, you know that hair mats do really happen. In as much as it’s a friendly disposition, the long and silky coats present a nightmare of a challenge to keep tidy.

The long coats develop into tangles and mats, which provide an unpleasant experience for both dog and the owners. The matted hair becomes even more aggravated when the dog gets wet. Unless these are not brushed or removed, they introduce a number of skin problems to the dog.

On occasions, the fur tangles up to your dog’s skin and this eventually results in itchy sores. The sores are masked by the mats, leading to skin infections which spread throughout the dog’s body. It is, therefore of utmost importance that you get rid of matted dog hair as soon as they develop. 

What is Matted Fur

what is matted dog hair

Matted dogs are dogs that have sticky and hard coats. You’ll know if your dog is matted by running a comb through their fur or hair. Though you might at first just use your hand to run through their coat, it still isn’t recommended because this isn’t enough to thoroughly flow through every strand of hair on their skin.

Use a comb, and you can smoothly go through their coat. It should easily glide through it. But if ever it gets snagged, then that’s a strong sign that you’ve got a matted dog. The best thing to do when this happens is to stop brushing, as forced brushing might improperly pull out their hair from their skin. That would surely be painful! Instead of continuing brushing, you might as well shave it to your dog’s ideal hair length.

What Causes Matted Hair

what causes matted hair

1. Friction

There are a lot of reasons on why your dog’s coat and hair gets matted. However, the usual reason is that of friction. A dog’s matted hair is usually found at the back of their ears, under their neck, in between their armpits, and even sometimes on the lower portion of their legs. These places are the spots where their body usually comes in contact with soil, grass, or other rough and dirty surfaces.

2. Posture and Position

A dog’s posture and position also play a huge factor in why they might be matted. Dogs that always sit down or dogs that are left or right hipped are the ones that are usually matted. This is because air doesn’t dry up their coat if it happens that their coat is wet. It becomes moist and it absorbs dust and dirty due to it being in contact with the surface it’s sitting on.

3. Lack of Grooming

The most important thing about being a dog owner is always to put grooming above anything else. Ensuring that your dog is groomed well also isn’t just about cleanliness, but it’s also about making sure that they stay fit and healthy. Groom them regularly, bath them if they give off foul smell or if they look dirty. This way, you’ll avoid them from getting unnecessary knots and tangles that then lead to matted coat. 

Matted Dog Hair Problems

matted dog hair problems

A lot of serious problems can happen if you don’t do anything about your dog’s matted coat. One of the usual problems that might happen is that they might have a pelted coat. A pelted coat is when the entire coat of your dog is matted, all the way from their neck to their tails, and even their legs and feet.

This then creates a large dirty mat over your dog’s body which can harbor parasites, pets, and other harmful microbial life. And not only that, because this will also make it impossible for you to brush out the mat.

A dog that has matted coat will also feel constant pain because the hair would always be pulling their skin. A slight movement that your dog makes would always result in pain because the hair sticks into their skin’s surface. Their skin surface will then be a breeding ground for bacteria. In worse cases, it can even lead to fungal growth.

How to Get Mats Out of Dog Hair

Fortunately for you, matting in non-shedding dogs can be prevented through regular care and grooming of your dog’s hair. Matted dog hair removal requires that you be patient with your dog, more so when she does not fancy standing still. To prevent a bad dog hair day, you need the best way to get mats out of dog hair. The following methods should come in handy.

1. Use Dog Detangler Spray

Before you start the detangling process, you need to first of all use a detangler spray. The spray makes the whole detangling and dematting process a lot easier on you and the dog. In this way, you can detangle heavy mats easily since the spray softens the hair for an easier process.

However, if the mats and tangles are not that severe, you can skip this step. But I would highly recommend using the spray no matter the severity of the problem. It would enable you to detangle matted hair painlessly.

Before you bath your dog, remember to first of all remove all the tangles and mats that may be present on the dog’s hair. If you might have realized, bathing the dog before makes the problem worse by creating more mats. In other instances, the water makes the tangles tighter. This makes them harder to remove even with the application of a detangler spray. What this means is that if you have a long-haired dog breed, then get rid of all the mats first before you can bath her.

You can choose to also use a detangling shampoo or a detangling conditioner for detangled hair. There is a catch though as these do not provide a lasting solution to this hair problem. 

For my dog’s detangling spray needs, I usually use the Stuff Conditioner and Detangler. I find it to be the best when it comes to removing the severe mats and tangles that my dog experiences. This product is good at both coat protection and also removal and prevention of tangles. If you are looking for a dematting solution that is easier and safe for your dog, then you could try out this product just like me.

The Stuff Dog Conditioner.Ready to use,16oz

The Stuff Dog Conditioner.Ready to use,16oz

2. Use A Slicker Brush and Wide-Tooth Comb for Soft Mats

Just in case your dog has soft mats, a better option would be to use either a slicker brush or a wide tooth comb. Alternatively, these two can be used one after the other by first loosening the mats with the slicker brush.

When done, you can then use the wide-tooth comb for picking the tangles and combing them out. You need to first of all get ready with a good quality slicker brush. It is the only way you will be able to effectively remove the tangles.

Are you wondering what the best option for a wide-toothed comb could be? My choice for this product is the Andis Pet Steel Grooming Comb. It is a low cost yet powerful dual sided comb. Other features I find appealing about this product are its fine and coarse teeth that are sturdy enough to remove mats on a dog’s coat effectively.

Andis Pet 7-1/2-Inch Steel Comb (65730)

Andis Pet 7-1/2-Inch Steel Comb (65730)

Other brushes and combs work out great too, but a slicker brush always does the trick for me. To ensure that you always buy the best, properly asses the qualities of the slicker brushes available before you make any purchase. You should not buy one just for the sake of it.

One that’s neither too hard nor too soft to brush out any tangles should be the best choice. This type can be used on almost any type of dog skin without introducing further problems. For the best choice, I would recommend you go for a self-cleaning slicker brush for more efficiency.

Because of the hundreds of slicker brushes on the market, you might be spoilt for choices. So, if you ever find yourself in this situation, I would suggest you choose the Hertzko Self Cleaning Brush. It is my choice because of its fine, deep penetrating bristles that are capable of grooming my dogs’ undercoat without causing scratches on her skin. Additionally, I like how it cleans itself. Just a simple click and the brush rids itself of dog hair, readying it for next time.

Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker Brush

Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker Brush

When dematting tangles, the best practice with either the slicker brush or the comb is to work with a small patch of hair at a time. The best practice is to start with the head area under the ears as you work the mats towards the tail. Hold the part of the matted fur closest to the skin and comb the tangles upwards. It is imperative that you do this to prevent skin damage or brush burns.

Proper comb care necessitates that once any pin is missing, twisted, crushed or pointing in the opposite direction then it should be discarded. I am not the type to blame my tools, but a damaged tool is bad for your dog’s lovely hair cuticles. Always make sure that the brush pins are smooth, polished and that they do not have rough edges. 

3. Use a Dematting Rake for Hard Mats Area

A dematting rake is a hand-held tool with a row (s) of sharp bladed teeth. If used with extreme care and caution, this tool can be great at removing even the severest of mats. To use it, you simply apply it directly albeit with small strokes onto the mats and tangles.

With every stroke, the mats loosen and open up then you can use the slicker brush for a final finish. The key to a smooth dematting process is to take care not to inflict pains on the skin since the blades of this dog mat remover can easily inflict cuts on the dog’s skin, tail and ears.

The rule of thumbs is to hold the patch of mats close to the skin with your fingers so that unnecessary pulling is avoided. Once you have gently held the matted area, start the dematting process from the upper parts as you work your way through to the bottom of the hair follicles. 

There are cases where the mats are too severe, with a thick undercoat under the mats. In case this is the case with your dog, I would suggest that you use a dematting rake for dogs comprising of curved blades.  These have a better penetrating power than the normal ones. When it comes to their usage, remember not to over rake on a single area of mats. The blades might end up cutting some hair, leaving your dog with a bald patch.

The GoPets Dematting Comb provides the best solution for a dematting rake if you ask me. It works great as a versatile tool for various dematting needs. First, it can be used as a dematting brush, then as a detangling comb and lastly as a de-shedding rake or an undercoat comb.  I usually give it to friends as gifts (they later appreciate it) when they need something to sort out the mats on their furry friends. 

GoPets Dematting Comb with 2 Sided Professional Grooming Rake for Cats & Dogs

GoPets Dematting Comb with 2 Sided Professional Grooming Rake for Cats & Dogs

4. Thinning Shears to the Rescue

Just in case all of the above methods don’t work in solving the matted hair problem, then you could try using blending shears as a last resort. The first step is to lift up a small area of matted tangles. Then use the blender to detangle the area underneath the held hair.

When using the shears, tilt its blade from the skin so that you don’t accidentally sprain the skin. Afterward, make a number of cuts through the tangled patch of hair or alternatively cut behind the mats, closest to the skin.

You can then brush the blended area so that it doesn’t look like a whole patch of hair was chopped from it. One thing I love about blenders is the manner in which they make the hair appear natural. They also have the ability to get rid of any choppy marks left behind.

The key to a neater looking blended matted hair is to use the blender in a vertical position. Otherwise, the hair will not blend in with one another that quite well. Rather than chopping down the matted hair with shears, you should blend the whole body for a more natural look.

A fuller, dematted coat results in the process. With blenders, you can give your dog a look makeover more so the long-nosed breeds. Use the blender to eliminate the excess hair on their cheeks and ears for a more beautiful Shelty or Collie look.

Another use of blending shears could be to trim the skirts of a Spaniel. It creates a natural and soft trimming even if the dog were to be clipped. They can be used on the hocks and feet of dogs for removing any wispy hair. Basically, a blending thinner or shear will have an array of uses once you buy one.

If you are looking for a new shearing blender, then I would suggest the Pet Magasin Pet Thinning Shears. Its serrated comb teeth (28 in number) make for a great general-purpose de-matting tool. 

Pet Magasin Pet Thinning Shears - Professional Thinning Scissors with Toothed Blade

Pet Magasin Pet Thinning Shears – Professional Thinning Scissors with Toothed Blade

Word of Advice

There are times when all of these techniques might fail to work for your best friend. In as much as I wouldn’t want you to find yourself in this scenario, it is sometimes inevitable. If the mats and tangles situation does not improve, then I think it would be time to consider giving your long-haired friend a complete shave. She will not look great at first, but the problem will have been solved. After all, the hair will grow back after a while. For the best guidelines on how to shave your dog, I would suggest you check out the guide provided in this post.


Getting rid of matted hair on a long-haired dog can seem like a tiresome task, particularly if it’s severe. However, with the right tool for the job, it can be a fun activity so long as you take care not to over rake on the skin or accidentally bruise the dog’s skin.

I hope these techniques and tools have in a way solved your dog’s bad hair days. If you have any comments and suggestions, kindly get in touch with me in the comments section below. 

The Review

Matted dog hair removal


Still feeling a little uncertain about what to buy? We’ve put together a list for you:

Review Breakdown

  • The Stuff 16oz Conditioner & Detangler

  • Andis Pet Steel Comb

  • Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker Brush

  • GoPets Dematting Comb

  • Pet Magasin – Pet Thinning Shears

The post Who Else Wants to Know How to Deal with Matted Dog Hair? appeared first on Hello Cute Pup.

Smiling Dog: Jax

Dog’s name and age: Jax, 1 year

Adoption story: I was ready to adopt a dog and thought that a smaller breed would suit me best. When I first spotted Jax I wasn’t sure because of the size and the amount of work they take. But since I have always been a dog person and melt for puppies, I decided he to take him. He was full of energy, very happy and I fell in love. Jax has helped me stay busy and has kept my mood up with his goofy antics. I now believe he came into my life for a reason and I could not be more grateful.

Behind the name: Jax was named after a character from the TV series Sons of Anarchy.

Jaxson’s favorite things: His absolute favorite place to go is the dog park so he can hangout with his pals. He loves going for long walks and looks forward to his Kong every morning.


Who Else Wants To Know More About Best Dog Undercoat Rake?

Caring for our dogs requires an intense amount of dedication from us. However much it may get boring and tiring to do these repetitive tasks, it is one that I particularly love doing. Giving my dog a thorough scrubbing once in a while is one task I absolutely adore.

For short-haired dogs, helping them groom themselves is a pretty straightforward task. For the double-coated breeds, not so much fun is involved. Their long hairs keep shedding in spring and fall making grooming them such a hard task.

It does not always have to be this tiresome provided you have the right tools. Being well-versed with the anatomy of their coats is also a key step in grooming your hairy buddy. In this article, I intend to highlight the best undercoat rake to groom a hairy dog and explore the anatomy of the famous dog undercoat. 

What is Undercoat?

define undercoat

Perhaps you are wondering what this undercoat thing is. In long-haired dog breeds, there are two layers of coats. The upper, coarser coat, and then there is an inner, softer coat. It is this inner coat that is referred to as an undercoat.

Simply put, an undercoat is the soft layer of shorter fur usually present in dog breeds with double coats. The undercoat is found underneath the thicker outer protective coat (guard coat). Usually, the undercoat comprises of fur that’s shorter and softer than those on the top coat.

There is a reason why these coats are two. During extremely cold weather such as winter, the undercoats act as a second layer of insulation. In this way, the dog is kept warm even in the harshest of conditions.

In winter, the outer coat is the first insulative layer. It also repels moisture and rids the body of dirt. As temperatures become more extreme, the undercoat acts as a fuzzy sweater to keep the dog warm. As temperatures increase in summer, dogs with double coats undergo a seasonal process called shedding. 

At this time, the dog only needs less of the undercoat so that air can circulate uniformly through the body to keep the dog cool. It is during this time of the year that caring for these dogs becomes hectic as the shed hair needs to be brushed out or else it fills your living room.

The increased hair occurs seasonally in fall and spring. If care is not taken, your house will be filled with tones of fur. 

Dog Breeds with Undercoat

dog undercoat breeds

Technically, most dogs have the double coat or two-ply coat for protection against cold weather elements. This protective system is designed such that the outer guard hairs are stiffer and are naturally water repellent.

It protects both the undercoat and the dog’s skin from any weather elements. The undercoat, on the other hand, is fleecy and fluffy to provide adequate insulative properties.

Dog breeds with this type of setup are always gorgeous to own, apart from having to clean up the messy blown up hair during the seasonal shedding. There are also numerous dog breeds with this kind of double coats with the difference being in the amount of shedding experienced.

The breeds boasting a double coat are collectively referred to as Spitz dogs. They are bred as either working or herding dogs. Of late, some breeds are being domesticated as toy breeds.

Here are some of the breeds that boast the magnificent double coats. The list is divided into the different categories. 

Toy Breeds:  American Eskimo, Alaskan Husky, Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Chow Chow, Chinook, Finnish Lapphund, Finish Spitz, German Spitz, Keeshond, Icelandic Sheep Dog, Korean Jindo, Norwegian Elkhound, Pomeranian, Norwegian Lundehund, Siberian Husky, Shiba Inu, Swedish Lapphund, Samoyed.

Herding Breeds:  Swedish Vallhund, Shetland Sheepdog, Puli, Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Old English Sheepdog, Norwegian Buhund, German Shepherd Dog, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Pembroke Corgi, Canaan Dog, Bouvier des Flanders, Briard, Belgian Tervuren, Belgian Malinois, Beauceron, Belgian Sheepdog, Bearded Collie, Smooth Collie, Rough Collie, Australian Shepherd, Australian Cattle Dog.

Working Dogs: Tibetan Mastiff, Saint Bernard, Newfoundland, Leonberger, Kuvasz, Komondor, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Entlebucher Mountain Dog, Black Russia Terrier, Bernese Mountain Dog.

Sporting Dogs: Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling, Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Boykin Spaniel, American Water Spaniel.

Terrier Dog Breeds: West Highland White Terrier, Wirehaired Fox Terrier, Wheaten Terrier, Skye Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Sealyham Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Irish Terrier, Parson Russell Terrier, Norfolk Terrier, Tibetan Terrier, Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Australian Terrier.

Lap Dogs: Yorkshire Terrier, Tibetan Spaniel, Shih Tzu, Pomeranian, Havanese.

Why is It Important to Brush and Remove the Undercoat? 

brush undercoat

After the extremities of winter, the increased temperatures render the undercoat of double coated dogs useless. It then needs to be shed so that the dog can cool when it gets hot. At this time, your pet needs proper and regular grooming to stay comfortable.

At some point, you might think of shaving the dog’s coat. However, vets and pet groomers advise against shaving the coat since it protects him from the sun and ultraviolet rays. Another reason you shouldn’t shave your dog is that they don’t sweat like you and hence don’t need an exposed skin to keep cool.

Regardless of all these, it is imperative that you remove the undercoat once the dog starts shedding it. Regular grooming is essential for the coat to perform its intended tasks more so in summer and spring.

When left undone, the fur tangles into mats which end up attracting moisture close to the skin. This moisture makes dogs pretty uncomfortable. By removing the dead undercoat, you create more spaces for air to circulate through within the dog’s skin. You will still be retaining the guard coat for protection against any external factors.

The good thing is that you can do the grooming yourself, just like I usually do. A gentle brush on the undercoat is all that it takes. But if you are a little unsure of yourself, you can seek the services of a professional dog groomer for a decent scrub. 

Dog Undercoat Removal

dog undercoat removal

Let me be sincere with you. Without the right tool for the job, removing your pooch’s dead undercoat is a grueling task. Things tend to get thick at times. For me, an undercoat rake does the job. I would suggest you use the blow rake since in my opinion it is the best undercoat rake. I have used it for years to groom my double coated Australian Shepherd and it works like magic for me.

Undercoat rakes are the ideal tools for those of you who want to home groom their pets. It works by removing the undercoat hairs that are ready to be shed. Just as its name suggests, a rake refers to a tool with a wide working headline with rows of rigid and round teeth.

The head is connected to a handle which you use to gently move the tool up and down the dog’s coat. In the process, the thick undercoat is raked out hair by hair. The selection process of a suitable rake should be done carefully.

Its pins should be such that they are about the same length as those of the dog’s hair. This length is to make sure the rake penetrates up to the undercoat, open it and remove the dead hair. At the same time, the pins should not be too long such that they scratch the skin.

Start the grooming process by making small strokes as you hold taut the dog’s skin. Increase the length of the rake strokes as the undercoat loosens. Always mind how deep the rake goes into the undercoat so as not to scratch your best friend’s skin. Once the coat is loose, brush them out with a slicker brush. A good rake should cost you between $10-$30. 

The Best Undercoat Rake

Pat Your Pet - 2 Sided Undercoat Rake for Dogs

Pat Your Pet – 2 Sided Undercoat Rake for Dogs

If you are looking for an undercoat rake for your pooch’s grooming needs, the Pat Your Pet Grooming Tool is the best tool for the job in my opinion. I have used it for grooming my Australian Shepherd and can attest to its efficiency.

This tool is great for getting rid of knots, mats, and tangles besides being able to remove undercoats in long-haired dogs. It is a product that provides you with a 2-in-1 functionality. First of all, it is a dual 9 toothed comb for the toughest tangles. Secondly, it functions as a 17 teeth de-shedding and thinning tool.

It works best for both small and large breed dogs with either a medium or long sized coat. Regularly brushing the coats with this rake removes the dead hair in the pet’s undercoat. Shedding is reduced in the process.

If you are worried about the teeth either scratching or irritating your canine friend, then the rounded teeth are a welcome relief. These are completely safe on the dog. As a bonus, you get a cute paw tag for your dog. 


Caring for a double coated dog breed can be a grueling task, particularly in the shedding season. There is usually hair everywhere from the couches, the floor and just about anything the dog rubs itself on.

However, with the right undercoat rake, the grooming routine is one that I have come to love. It gives me the chance to further bond with my lovely canine friend. It could work for you too. I hope this article has helped you better understand your dog and how his double coat works and how best to groom it. 

The Review

Dog undercoat rake


Still feeling a little uncertain about what to buy? Here are the best dog undercoat rake you can buy:

Review Breakdown

  • Grooming Tool by Pat Your Pet

The post Who Else Wants To Know More About Best Dog Undercoat Rake? appeared first on Hello Cute Pup.