How To Get Mats Out Of Your Golden Retrievers Coat

Written by Cory Eckert

If you own a Golden Retriever, you already know that your dog is loyal, lovable, and has an easy-going temperament. You also know that this breed is known for its golden coat of thick, soft fur.

With such an easy-going temperament, grooming this beautiful coat can be a great bonding experience.  

It’s best to start early, while your golden is still a pup, so that he/she understands and knows the routine.

Daily head to toe brushing is ideal but even once a week will help prevent matting and decrease shedding.

As your golden ages, you'll understand exactly what I mean about matting and shedding!

When Golden Retrievers do get mats, they are notorious for getting them behind their ears, under their arms and legs and around the “back end area”.  These thick clumps of hair can be tricky to remove. That’s why regular brushing and thinning of their hair in these areas can be a great preventative measure.

If your Golden Retriever has mats, they will only get worse and should be removed.  Here are few methods and steps to follow to help rid your dog from those nasty mats!

Method 1: Brushing Out The Mats

Be sure to check out our post on the Best Brushes and Combs for Golden Retrievers before deciding on which brush, comb, or rake to buy!

Step 1 - Make Sure Your Dog Is Calm.

Pet and talk to your dog in a calm voice. Give him treats as you begin. Try to get him to lie down if you can. Removing mats can be extremely uncomfortable for your dog.  They have very sensitive skin, and mats can pull and put stress on the skin. 

Step 2 - Spray His Coat With A Detangler.

Before you begin, you can spray your dog's coat with a detangling spray. Leave the detangling spray on for a few minutes. This can help loosen up mats and make them easier to brush out.

*Detangling sprays may not always work on severe mats in your dog's coat.

Step 3 - Brush Your Dog.

Mats are often found around the ears, below the neck, under the stomach, and along the back legs. Use a slicker brush, which has wire bristles that are slightly bent at the ends, to locate the mats. Make sure the bristles don't touch your dog's skin to avoid irritation.

Step 4 - Hold The Mat At The Base.

At the area closest to your dog’s skin, take the base of the mat into your hand. This protects your dog’s skin from excessive pulling and damage. It will also help prevent brush burn since your hand will be between the brush and your dog’s skin. 

Step 5 - Untangle The Mat With Your Fingers.

When you find mats, attempt to untangle them with your fingers first. Be extremely gentle, this can be painful for your dog’s skin. Separate the mat hair a little at a time. Patience is the key!

Step 6 - Rub Cornstarch Into The Mat.

Cornstarch is often used as a dematting aid. It can help loosen and untangle the fur. Another alternative is spraying a light coat of coconut oil onto each mat before combing it out.

Step 7 - Pick The Mat.

Sometimes when a mat is very tangled, picking through with a comb or other dematting tool will work better than your fingers. This picking action helps separate the hair by going in and out instead of pulling through. Instead of starting at the base, go from the ends upward. This will help loosen the hair even though it may not be completely separated.

Step 8 - Comb Through With A Dematting Comb.

If you still can’t separate all of the mat with your fingers, use a dematting comb. Pull the comb through the mat from the base to the tip.

Again, if the mat is bad, reverse the action and comb from the tip to the base to lessen the strain on your dog’s hair. Do not comb straight through but use a teasing motion. Make sure to hold onto the mat to avoid pulling your dog’s skin.

Step 9 - Try A Mat Rake.

If your fingers, a brush, or even a comb fails to work try a mat rake. The mat rake has sharp teeth and can cut through the mat. This should be done very gently.

Step 10 - Finish Brushing

If the mat is loosened enough, use the slicker brush to finish brushing the mat. Brush in the direction that the hair grows and continue to brush out your dog’s coat.

Method 2: Cutting Out The Mats

Step 1 - Try to use a mat splitter. 

Try a mat splitter if the mat won't break apart or loosen with your fingers, the rake, or a comb. Keep holding the mat at the base. Use the mat splitter to cut the mat into smaller strips. Work through it with your fingers or a comb. Use a sawing motion when you cut the hair.

*Be careful using a mat splitter because it is razor sharp and can seriously injure your dog’s ears, folds of skin or loose skin and the tip of the tail.

Step 2 - Try electric clippers.

When all else fails, try clippers. Use the clippers to shave away the mat, work slowly to prevent injury. This may leave a bare patch on the coat where you have shaved.

*Be careful – do not cut too close to your dog’s skin!

Step 3 - Take the dog to the groomers.

If your dog is not cooperating or the mats are too difficult – take your dog to the groomers. They have the knowledge, experience and tools to address those difficult mats. If it’s needed, as a last resort, they can shave down those mats for you!

Step 4 - Avoid using scissors.

Some suggest using scissors; however, this could be an unsafe practice. You can seriously injure your dog – you can pull, strain and/or cut the skin, especially around sensitive areas like the ears.

*If you are not comfortable using sharp objects, take your dog to a professional.

Tips and Tricks

  • Brush your dog weekly to prevent future mats from occurring.  Make him/her as comfortable as possible, establish a routine early on so they know what to expect.
  • Always brush and comb your dog's long coat out before a bath, if not, any slightly matted hair will be worse afterward.
  • When drying your dog, pat dry with a towel and wrap it around him. See if you can get him to stay wrapped up like that long enough for his own body heat to dry up most of the moisture.
  • Brushing with a brush is okay, but a metal comb is always needed for any knots at the roots. Be careful not to tear any hair out, knots must be teased out.
  • Start with the very end of the mat, not the roots. If you try to loosen the mat from bottom up, you will probably cause pain.
  • Don't try to pull the mat out by hand, you may injure your dog.
  • Try to pick apart the mat before using a splitter or any other tool. 
  • If you do not feel confident in attacking those nasty mats – seek a professional!  Your dog will thank you!

Do you have any mat removal tips or tricks that we missed? We'd love to hear from you! Comment below and let us know.

About the author

Cory Eckert

Cory is the co-creator of and a life long dog enthusiast. From training livestock dogs as a child to working with obedience classes as an adult, it's hard to imagine Cory without a dog. Currently enjoying being a dog parent to Remi (a chocolate lab) and Annie (a golden retriever).

  • Nice article and informative

    • AnnieTheGolden says:

      Thanks Mike, glad you liked it!

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