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Well, at 8 months old, Cleo has entered the mat factory, I guess. I clipped her down with the 1/2" comb about a month ago, leaving ears, topknot, and tail alone, and a bit of a bellbottom (see pics). This has made it much easier to brush her. But her hair is growing in very thick, and her topknot especially is giving me trouble. It's so thick it's hard to see what i've already brushed or combed out, and i'm getting static that makes it harder to brush that long hair, etc. So far, most of the mats I'm finding are in the long topknot hair, toward the back of her head. I've trimmed out a couple small knots under her ears, but not as bad.

I'm using a tipped slicker brush and a greyhound comb with wide and narrow teeth. The brush catches in the short body hair, though she doesn't seem to mind it until i get to the sensitive joint areas. However, she does get impatient because it's taking SO much longer to brush her on the table, especially her head and the longer part of her legs. (The other day, i had her lying down with her head in my lap and she was okay with that for a long time, but it was hard on my back.) I brush her at least every other day. It is tough for me to fit in a bath more than once every 3 weeks, because it takes so long. When i bathe her, i use shampoo (2x) and conditioner that I rinse out. Should i use a leave-in conditioner instead, and if so, what kind?

Am I using the right kind of brush? This is what i've got: https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/product/well-and-good-wooden-cushion-slicker-dog-brush
Either way i think i need a different one for this period, because it is getting uncomfortable for my hands and wrists (i have some arthritis). I know i should be using some kind of spray when i brush her, and maybe that will make all the difference? I've seen ice on ice and cowboy magic recommended--are these for spraying daily during brush-outs? Could i use them just on the mats I find, or should i spray her whole coat when i'm brushing and combing? If i'm doing that every day, will her coat get sticky from the spray?

Also--i am very sensitive to fragrance, so i'd love the spray to be something with not too strong a smell or at least one that dissipates quickly! Does such a thing exist?

Thank you for any advice!
 

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Showsheen is the spray on that I use for daily comb outs. A groomer recommended it, especially when you have a light colored dog that runs in grass or mud. Look up line combing, or line brushing on YouTube. It is important to get all the way down to the skin. I have one boy with a very thick coat and during coat change it got to the point where a comb out was taking three hours. I eventually cut his coat down and let it grow back out after he got through the change. I like Activet brushes and Chris Christensen's Coral slicker. They are pricey. Coat change is going to be work, no matter what brush you use. Here are pictures of my youngest dog right before I cut his coat down, and then, his "skinny boy" photo.
 

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Cleo is looking so good! Misha is about exactly the same age, so I think we'll be going through similar issues. I will try to address a few things that work for me.

1. Yes grooming spray. I use The Stuff, but I think it's similar to some of the others you mentioned. I do not think it makes the coat sticky, but I only apply it after bath.

2. I bathe weekly. I notice that the further we get from a bath, the more frequently I have to brush. Good bath technique will do a lot to discourage mats.

3. Brushes... I use a similar one to what you have. I also have a non coated slicker and a pin brush and a comb. Misha tolerates the pin brush and coated slicker better than the others. I use the Safari brand coated slicker but I do not think it is that much different.

Bath routine... I use shampoo then a conditioner then rinse. Then I immediately towel the dog, and spray him down with grooming spray. Then I cover as much of him as I can with the pin brush. (all while very wet) And after the pin brush I use the slicker, still while wet. I thoroughly brush out all the wet hair. Then I blow dry him with a high velocity dryer, pausing every once in a while to brush him out with a slicker. I do this quickly so the hair does not have a chance to dry in clumps. After he is completely dry, he gets a once over with the slicker and I free him.

After a bath, I don't have to brush much for a few days. But then I start doing it every day or two. Often very casually when he is chilling on the couch with me.

The topknot does get long to a point that it becomes difficult to brush without causing him significant annoyance. When that happened he got a shorter trim down to a more manageable length. If it happens again I will trim again.

No idea if any of that is useful, but that's' where we're currently at. Hang in there!
 

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Showsheen is the spray on that I use for daily comb outs. A groomer recommended it, especially when you have a light colored dog that runs in grass or mud. Look up line combing, or line brushing on YouTube. It is important to get all the way down to the skin. I have one boy with a very thick coat and during coat change it got to the point where a comb out was taking three hours. I eventually cut his coat down and let it grow back out after he got through the change. I like Activet brushes and Chris Christensen's Coral slicker. They are pricey. Coat change is going to be work, no matter what brush you use. Here are pictures of my youngest dog right before I cut his coat down, and then, his "skinny boy" photo.
Aw! These photos feel like I'm looking into Peggy's future. I'm going to miss that puppy fluff, but so excited to see the poodle beneath it all!
 

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I am in the mat factory too!!! I cannot even fathom how Norman gets all these mats... I had to shave almost his whole ear off because I realized the bottom of them were severely matted. I was heartbroken! HE now looks like he has a bowl cut!!

I use a greyhound comb... granted it takes me a long long time as well!! I shampoo and condition him but let the conditioner sit while I run a regular hair brush (like people use) through his hair. This shows me where mats are and I can work on them with the greyhound brush while the conditioner sits.

As for leave-in conditioner I am looking into this as well. I do have a dangler spray and gel that I have used. Called "Cowboy Magic" it is all over amazon you can find it easily. It is "scented" but to be honest I cannot smell a thing unless I put it to my nose. Like a light flowery scent maybe?? A PF member gave me advice to spray it and let it sit for a few minutes. I have yet to try this but will. It will help mats supposedly and I really hope she's right!!

AS far as preventing matting (I am not sure if you do this) but I have learned that combing Norman at least once daily has helped A LOT!!! I use a regular hairbrush to do this and if I find a mat I will use the greyhound comb to pick at it. Sometimes I still have to scissor chucks off his body! I just hate doing that.

The worst place for me is his ankles (poms) and his top knot. I find mats that are at the root of his fur and almost impossible to get out!!!! I need to trim his topknot a bit shorter and hopefully this will help. As for his poms, they are so unruly!! I have a very difficult time with them and he gets mats mostly here. Nightly brushing has been my blessing!!

I wish you luck!!
 

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2. I bathe weekly. I notice that the further we get from a bath, the more frequently I have to brush. Good bath technique will do a lot to discourage mats.
Raindrops, do you notice dry irritated skin with bathing weekly? Norman seems to have irritates skin on his hips and I feel I will worsen his itching if I bathe too often. What conditioner do you use?
I do want to bathe more though to help with matting and to get the dried pee off his legs since he's still working on how to properly lift his leg to pee LOL!
 

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Thank you all--your poodles are so pretty!
I ended up ordering Ice on Ice, and while I wait for it to get here, i'm trying misting with diluted conditioner, and that is helping at least with the static. I'm still mulling brushes. I can't seem to find any i can try in person, so i might order a couple different ones to see what i like. Her topknot is really thick, it's such a change from her puppy hair and seemed to happen overnight. She is definitely due for a bath so this weekend i think i'll give her a trim again, and that should make things easier. I don't know how to make time for more frequent baths, it literally takes me 2 hours (and and that's if i don't do a haircut!)--the drying part takes forever even though i use a heavy duty dryer. I'm hoping that now b/c her hair is short it will be a little faster.
 

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Raindrops, do you notice dry irritated skin with bathing weekly? Norman seems to have irritates skin on his hips and I feel I will worsen his itching if I bathe too often. What conditioner do you use?
I do want to bathe more though to help with matting and to get the dried pee off his legs since he's still working on how to properly lift his leg to pee LOL!
I have never noticed dry skin on Misha even when I only used shampoo (though at that time I was using 4legger shampoo which seems super gentle). As he has transitioned to adult coat I've been using Chris Christensen spectrum one shampoo and conditioner. It is supposed to cut down on drying time. It is quite expensive though. I may buy the bulk quantity or try something a little cheaper after it runs out.

I think the dry skin has more to do with diet than bathing. Many show dogs are literally bathed daily or every other day. Misha's always been raw fed so he gets a lot of fat in his diet and omega fatty acids. Those are very important for skin and hair health. You can add krill oil to the diet if you want to go the supplement route.

He may get better at lifting his leg if he spends time around a good mentor dog that marks a lot. I know Misha picked it up after he spent a lot of time following around other dogs that were marking! He seemed to be studying them.
 

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Thank you all--your poodles are so pretty!
I ended up ordering Ice on Ice, and while I wait for it to get here, i'm trying misting with diluted conditioner, and that is helping at least with the static. I'm still mulling brushes. I can't seem to find any i can try in person, so i might order a couple different ones to see what i like. Her topknot is really thick, it's such a change from her puppy hair and seemed to happen overnight. She is definitely due for a bath so this weekend i think i'll give her a trim again, and that should make things easier. I don't know how to make time for more frequent baths, it literally takes me 2 hours (and and that's if i don't do a haircut!)--the drying part takes forever even though i use a heavy duty dryer. I'm hoping that now b/c her hair is short it will be a little faster.
I feel you on that. It usually takes me about an hour for bath and dry but Misha is a lot smaller. I find the biggest thing that speeds it up is making sure to really towel off well and brush super thoroughly with a slicker. The more the hair is clumped, the less the dryer will penetrate and it ends up taking a lot longer. Maybe people with spoos have better advice on this. I just try to do a bath every Sunday night.
 

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I have the Kalstine grooming book, and it seems to say that i'm supposed to dry as I brush, so that's what I've been doing. I'm certainly open to other approaches! i find that while i'm working on drying one area, in another the top layers of her coat start to air dry and then it gets tangled, while the underneath is still wet. My hope is that adding the detangler/conditioner spray right before i start to dry her will make things a lot easier.
 

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I have the Kalstine grooming book, and it seems to say that i'm supposed to dry as I brush, so that's what I've been doing. I'm certainly open to other approaches! i find that while i'm working on drying one area, in another the top layers of her coat start to air dry and then it gets tangled, while the underneath is still wet. My hope is that adding the detangler/conditioner spray right before i start to dry her will make things a lot easier.
I've seen that too, but more in a "brush as you dry" rather than dry as you brush. But I've done that and it doesn't seem to result in any difference than the way I do it. In fact, as you say, it slows the process down which allows hair to dry more and I have to rewet it and it's annoying. So I switched to just really thoroughly brushing the wet hair before drying and it works perfectly fine. I know I've heard other people on here say they do the same. I try to finish a section before I move on to the next. First legs and tail, then back, then head since that dries a bit slower, but I often still have to rewet it a bit.
 

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At almost 1 year, Annie is also still a mat-a- minute. Interestingly, she seems to be trying hard to be a corded poodle and except for behind her ears, she mats into discrete separated strands. I keep telling her if I wanted a corded dog, I'd have gotten a Puli or a Komondor, but her hair isn't listening!

She produces so many matts- she even matted my hair! I was brushing my hair and found a tiny knot. Had to cut it out and discovered my blonde hair was wrapped in black poodle fuzz lol.

A steel comb is the only thing that helps for me, the pin brush just slips through the strands, and a slicker pulls too much. I haven't tried a detangling spray, because I'm also very fragrance sensitive - I might try diluting my own (unscented, all natural) conditioner in a spray bottle and see if it helps.

I just trimmed her topknot, tail, and ears significantly because OMG am I tired of brushing. She needs a bath, but, lacking a HV dryer, it takes SO LONG and I hate the brushing that's involved. I may take her to the local pet store that has a doggie wash and some sort of strong blower this weekend. Less time brushing would be worth the $10 they charge!
 

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When my Standards are going through their coat changes I tend to just clip them short enough that matting isn't an issue - not stripped naked, but about 3/4 of an inch long all over, for example with a 3F. I shave armpits closer where matting tends to occur, scissor topknots tighter, especially around the back of the head by the ears where they tend to mat more, etc. We do too many other things that I don't want to spend time brushing constantly, don't want to make them dislike grooming for the future by lots of pulling on hair to dematt, etc. That's not to say that I don't get them used to being on the table and work with them to make sure they understand that they must behave for clipping, bathing, blowing out, etc. but there's plenty of time to grow out for fancier cuts once coat change nonsense is over. Unless you just can't part with such full coat for a reason, I would consider cutting down to a manageable length for the duration of coat change.....
 

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Raindrops, do you notice dry irritated skin with bathing weekly? Norman seems to have irritates skin on his hips and I feel I will worsen his itching if I bathe too often. What conditioner do you use?
I do want to bathe more though to help with matting and to get the dried pee off his legs since he's still working on how to properly lift his leg to pee LOL!
Are you carefully rinsing off the shampoo? Any residue of shampoo left on the skin can be drying and irritating. I spend most of the time in the bath rinsing my dog, more than I do washing. I wash every two weeks and sometimes I apply conditioner to her pompoms and ears, never need it on the rest of her body.

As for oils/fats in the diet... my dog is on a lower fat/moderate protein/higher fiber diet to keep her ulcerative colitis under control and she has gorgeous fur with no issues with dry skin. I mention this because sometimes more fat/oil in diet doesn’t equal less dry or less irritated skin issues and it could equal digestion issues so go slow making dietary changes.

If he’s itching, and it’s not always after a bath, it could be food or environmental.
 
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I have never noticed dry skin on Misha even when I only used shampoo (though at that time I was using 4legger shampoo which seems super gentle). As he has transitioned to adult coat I've been using Chris Christensen spectrum one shampoo and conditioner. It is supposed to cut down on drying time. It is quite expensive though. I may buy the bulk quantity or try something a little cheaper after it runs out.

I think the dry skin has more to do with diet than bathing. Many show dogs are literally bathed daily or every other day. Misha's always been raw fed so he gets a lot of fat in his diet and omega fatty acids. Those are very important for skin and hair health. You can add krill oil to the diet if you want to go the supplement route.

He may get better at lifting his leg if he spends time around a good mentor dog that marks a lot. I know Misha picked it up after he spent a lot of time following around other dogs that were marking! He seemed to be studying them.
I will looking into that shampoo and conditioner, I believe after glancing onto Amazon that that was one I was considering a few months back. After trying this oatmeal conditioner I haven't noticed enough of a difference to want to buy it again. I see that its meant for thick coats so I am hopefully it'll help us :)

His dry skin on his hips could easily be due to his diet. The bulk of it is homemade. I think adding some more nutrient for skin health is a great idea. Thank you for that suggestion!! Eventually I will be leaning towards a raw diet. I have heard excellent things!!

Thanks again for the great suggestions.
 

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Poppy went through two entire coat changes. One from 8-16 months....the second one from 2 yrs to 3 yrs which is when she turned from black to blue. We went very very short on the body...a #5 blade which leaves 1/5" of hair. Her ears, tail and topknot were longer, of course. The only place we had matting was her ears, mosly right at the edges of the leather. When I would find a mat I would work a very generous amount of cornstarch i to the mat then gently comb it out from the edges inward. This worked well for us.

Make sure you blow or brush out excess cornstarch very thoroughly or you will have a sticky mess in the coat when it gets wet. Not fun.

Poppy is a tomboy so she gets bathed very often...sometimes more than once a week. The shampoo I use is Nature's Specialties Almond Crisp . You dilute it HEAVILY before using. 1 oz shampoo to 32 oz water. I put it into an empty dish detergent bottle so I can squirt it on her where needed. It cleans very well without very drying her skin or coat. I use their Coat Conditioner, also diluted heavily before using. I have found that using too much conditioner and not rinsing well enough can actually make it easier for the coat to mat. I have used Nature's Specialties products for 26 yrs and my groomer uses them in her shop too. I order on Amazon. A 32 oz bottle of is shampoo lasts me about 1 yr because of diluting it so thoroughly before using.

Years ago I changed out my bathroom shower head to a hand held shower and it made such a difference when bathing the dogs...so easy to really rinse well.

For many years I did not have an hv dryer. A year and a half ago I got the inexpensive Shelandy dryer from Amazon, $70, and it is a game changer. A big time saver and it separates the hair as I dry. Sets it up well for clipping.

Both Poppy and Iris before her, have had extremely soft and silky coats and they were especially prone to matting on the ears. I always took special care to pay attention to the ears so that mats did not get a foothold in the ears. I actually shaved Iris' ears short during coat change because she hated me fussing with them...then I liked them short so much I kept them that way for 14 yrs.

Best of luck to anyone who is dealing with coat change. Here is a picture of my dear girl, Iris, with her cute short ears.
 

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Also--i am very sensitive to fragrance, so i'd love the spray to be something with not too strong a smell or at least one that dissipates quickly! Does such a thing exist?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I use Nature's Specialties almond crisp shampoo and coat conditioner as well, and they are not too fragrant at all (i'm very sensitive). Also I thought I was going to be able to dilute them a lot, but maybe because Cleo's coat is very thick, if i dilute the shampoo too much, it doesn't penetrate her coat. Still, i dilute it some, and I'm very happy with it. I am trying the Ice on Ice conditioning spray for brushing and i think it is helping. Will also be trying Showsheen Miracle Coat, which my breeder just recommended as well as people here. I also have the Shelandy dryer, and it's good, but it still takes me forever to dry her (maybe again b/c of the thick coat)--though less time now than it did before i trimmed her down with a 1/2" comb. In fact i think she dried faster after i sprayed her with the CC detangler.
Love the photo of Iris with short hair on her ears! So pretty.
 

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I'm not sure about scent. The Stuff does have a scent but I do not think it is overpowering at all. Even after I put a lot of it on, the only thing I smell on him is the conditioner (which smells strong even after rinsing, so that I'd say is maybe overpowering).

I imagine a spoo would take a lot longer to dry with the greater surface area. The only thing that really speeds it up for me is making sure the fur is 100% brushed out first. I think that cuts the time in half. I do think the shorter cut will help though.

Hang in there! I'm sure Cleo will be beautiful even if you give up and shave her down!
 
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