Bathing without matting - Havanese Forum : Havanese Forums
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-12-2019, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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Bathing without matting

I have a Hav with long cotton texture coat. I thoroughly brush/comb before bathing. I fill the tub with water, put him in the tub and shampoo. I then drain the tub, apply conditioner, wait, then spray water to rinse. I put him in a towel and then blow dry. He always gets terrible matts. What am I doing wrong?
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-12-2019, 03:35 PM
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I hope you get some replies from more experienced dog washers.

Skye is in full coat, I would call it silky as opposed to cottony, but maybe it's the same.

We don't immerse him in water. Put him in the tub and soak him down with gentle spray. Lather with earthbath Mango Tango 2-in-1 Conditioning Shampoo. Work the shampoo gently through his coat and let set for a couple of minutes to allow conditioner to absorb. Rinse throughly with the sprayer. Dry with towel and blow dry. Drying is a two person job. My wife runs the blower while I fluff up his coat with my fingers, a pin brush and/or comb.

I think immersion in a full tub may allow mats to form. Think of the hair floating up in the water. With working the lather through his wet coat we can be massaging any potential mats out at the same time. Skye might have few little mats following our drying routine but nothing that can't be very easily worked out with a little finger massaging and the steel comb.

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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-12-2019, 04:31 PM
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I (retired dog groomer) agree with PNWAlan, don’t fill the tub. Dilute your shampoo in a large squirt bottle with a lot of water. Wet the dog with a sprayer nozzle with the lay of the coat, then saturate with the diluted shampoo. Minimal “scrubbing”, just gently massage the shampoo through the coat. Rinse well, again with the lay of the coat and gently. Repeat with conditioner and/or a diluted vinegar and water rinse. A vinegar rinse will get out any soap residue which can contribute to matting.

Towel dry by patting and squeezing - no rubbing. If you want to try a leave in conditioner, put it on the dog now, while still damp.
When you blow dry, use a pin or slicker to brush while the dryer separates the hairs for you. Try to direct the dryer in a way that the hair gently blows in one direction, while you brush, then when that section is dry move to the next. Having the dryer on a stand is extremely helpful in this regard. For a dog that mats easily, I recommend thoroughly drying in this manner so you wind up with a dog that is perfectly “finished” when done - completely dematted and silky smooth. This is the best time to scissor for a a nice even look, as well.

Good luck!


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Last edited by cishepard; 08-12-2019 at 04:34 PM.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 12:31 AM
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Originally Posted by cishepard View Post
I (retired dog groomer) agree with PNWAlan, don’t fill the tub. Dilute your shampoo in a large squirt bottle with a lot of water. Wet the dog with a sprayer nozzle with the lay of the coat, then saturate with the diluted shampoo. Minimal “scrubbing”, just gently massage the shampoo through the coat. Rinse well, again with the lay of the coat and gently. Repeat with conditioner and/or a diluted vinegar and water rinse. A vinegar rinse will get out any soap residue which can contribute to matting.

Towel dry by patting and squeezing - no rubbing. If you want to try a leave in conditioner, put it on the dog now, while still damp.
When you blow dry, use a pin or slicker to brush while the dryer separates the hairs for you. Try to direct the dryer in a way that the hair gently blows in one direction, while you brush, then when that section is dry move to the next. Having the dryer on a stand is extremely helpful in this regard. For a dog that mats easily, I recommend thoroughly drying in this manner so you wind up with a dog that is perfectly “finished” when done - completely dematted and silky smooth. This is the best time to scissor for a a nice even look, as well.

Good luck!
That's what I do - the wet, diluted shampoo (in a regular bottle not squirt), lather, rinse (wet/ rinse with the shower head spray nozzle). Perry is in a puppy cut so I don't blow dry him (it's warm here year round )
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-15-2019, 10:27 AM
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Great Question and Thanks!! @cishepard for your Awesome Tips.

I recently bought a dog grooming hair dryer, a hair dryer-holder and another grooming stand on Amazon, which helped a lot. The hairdryer doesn't get hot, has a lot of power and definitely works better than a regular human hair dryer. It's not the best professional dog grooming dryer but I'm very happy with it. I sat the grooming stand on a table and attached the dryer holder to the table.

I have large grooming table but found the small grooming table worked better because Patti doesn't have as much room to move around and I can turn the table. Patti is an average size Havanese weighing between 13-14lbs.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-15-2019, 09:46 PM
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Mostly I just do everything I can to avoid “rubbing.” I spray everything in the direction of the hair, comb shampoo and conditioner through with my fingers instead of lathering vigorously, wrap him in a towel instead of rubbing the towel, etc. Sometimes when I do this with the Ice on Ice conditioner where there are lots of tiny tangles I swear the water almost washes them away.

I don’t always dry because in my climate he dries quickly on his own. Lately, though, I’ve been drying most of the time because I notice the heat combined with whatever spray product I comb with works better than the spray alone.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-15-2019, 09:47 PM
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I forgot, I do wait until he’s probably 50% dry before I start blow drying. This is about 5 minutes wrapped in a towel.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-16-2019, 03:00 AM
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Originally Posted by CaroleG View Post
I have a Hav with long cotton texture coat. I thoroughly brush/comb before bathing. I fill the tub with water, put him in the tub and shampoo. I then drain the tub, apply conditioner, wait, then spray water to rinse. I put him in a towel and then blow dry. He always gets terrible matts. What am I doing wrong?
Thanks for asking, Carole! I am doing the same thing as you, with the same results. I just figured that is the way it goes! I am glad we got very busy yesterday and I had no time to bathe her. I learned a lot with this post which I am going to try out this morning!
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-16-2019, 10:34 AM
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I was thinking about this today and I think it’s the washing and scrubbing in the tub of water that is counterproductive. I have “floated” the coat, something suggested to me here because my Havanese has a very dense undercoat, and it allows the conditioner to penetrate where I’d have to lift up all of the layers to otherwise get conditioner. The tub of water doesn’t seem to cause more tangles this way. I don’t do it often because it’s kind of a hassle with my bathroom setup since the hand sprayer is in the shower, so I shampoo him as usual and rinse with the hand sprayer in the shower stall first. Then I move him to the tub. Basically you fill the tub with water and dilute conditioner in it and let him soak for a few minutes. Then you either don’t rinse or just lightly rinse, in the direction of the hair growth. When I do this and pull him out of the water, all of hair falls naturally in the proper direction because it is soaking wet.

Part of the reason I don’t do it often is because the shower isn’t there to contain him, and at the end of his bath I always tell him to “shake, shake, shake,” off the extra water. So he makes a mess! But I don’t think this would be a problem with most people’s routine, lol! I’ve been meaning to try floating his coat in a rubber tub inside the shower instead of in the bathtub, to use less water and avoid moving him, but I haven’t gotten around to it.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-17-2019, 10:58 AM
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We always use a tub of water too. It may be what you're doing with your fingers while he's in the water. If you stroke down, and through with your fingers, it shouldn't mat the fur.

Shampoo gets rinsed out before conditioner.

If there is any mat before the bath, it will just get felted. Always brush before.

A lot of people think their dog is brushed out, but mats have to be brushed out all the way down to the skin-not just so they look brushed out on the outside of the coat.
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Last edited by Tom King; 08-17-2019 at 11:01 AM.
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