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Bichons frises look like fluffy clouds – that is until they don’t anymore and their fur is all matted. Without a robust brushing routine, your fluffy dog can easily get tangled hair. In some cases, you have no option but to shave it all off.
To prevent this, we’ve put together all the information you need to know to detangle your bichon frise’s matted hair and how to keep it detangled in the future.
Can You Detangle a Bichon Frise Without Shaving?
If you’ve ever tried to detangle your own hair, you already know that this can be a really painful process. So, when should you shave your pup and when should you try to detangle the coat?
If your pup has small and loose tangles, you can use the right tools to brush out these knots. If the mats are large, tight, or very close to the skin, cutting them out will prevent the pain for your bichon. It will also help your bichon avoid an extremely negative experience which will perhaps make maintenance more difficult in the future.
If you decide to shave your pup, never attempt this at home unless you have professional grooming tools, including clippers and blood-clotting products. There is a high chance you will cut their skin too, then you will have to treat your pup to avoid infection. It’s always best to go to a professional groomer that can make this experience quick, painless, and safe.
Why Is It Important to Prevent Your Bichon Frise from Having Matted Hair?
Bichons have what is known as a double coat with curly hair. Without frequent brushing, the coat becomes matted. This is because some of the dog’s fur is shed and, without brushing, these hairs get tangled with the rest of the fur. If not detangled, they continue to keep more and more fallen fur in there, mats growing larger and larger.
If you do not prevent your dog from having matted hair, the tangled hair becomes very tight and close to its skin. This is known as “pelted” among groomers and the lack of proper airflow leads to skin irritation, doesn’t allow your pup to regulate its body temperature properly, and may even hide unwanted parasites, such as fleas or ticks.
This matted hair is also uncomfortable and even painful for your pooch.
How to Detangle Bichon Frise Hair
With that, let’s see how you can detangle your bichon frise’s hair without having to shave it.
Step 1: Get the Right Tools
Before starting, gather everything you need. The wrong equipment can put your pup through a lot of unnecessary damage and pain. For a bichon frise, you may want to invest in a metal comb. If there are any stubborn mats that you cannot get through, you may use a slicker brush. Also, there are numerous detangling products online – these will help the hair become looser, so you can remove the mats with maximum ease.
Step 2: Locate the Tangled Hair
Next, start brushing your pup to find the mats. In most cases, you will find that the areas with the most problems are around the ears, under the belly, back legs, and below the neck, where we usually scratch our furry friends.
Step 3: Apply Detangling Product
Step 4: Loosen the Mats
With your fingers, try to loosen the mats. Depending on how tangled the hair is, this process may take some time. Pull the hair in the mat a little at a time, with maximum care to avoid causing any pain to your pooch. If it is not possible, you can use a mat splitting tool to cut the mat (in the direction of hair growth).
Step 5: Brush Your Bichon Frise
After you loosen up the mats as much as possible, you can use the slicker brush to detangle them completely. Make sure you brush a few hairs at a time to avoid pain.
Step 6: Bathe Your Pup
After all mats and tangles are gone, bathe your bichon frise. You can also apply a conditioner after using shampoo to avoid the further formation of mats. Dry the dog carefully to avoid matting.
Mistakes to Avoid
Here are a few mistakes to avoid when trying to detangle your bichon frise and to prevent matting in the first place.
1. Brushing Only the Top Layer
One of the most frequent mistakes is to brush only the top layer of the coat. Some owners may think that they could hurt the pup’s sensitive skin if they brush the coat all the way through. Actually, if you only briefly comb the top layer, the matting can get much worse because you essentially push the loose hairs deeper into their coat and closer to the skin.
2. Using the Wrong Tools
It’s extremely important to use the right tools to brush your pup. The quality of such products is also extremely important, so make sure you do some research and find out what’s the best for your bichon frise. Investing in a high-quality shampoo (see my recommendations), conditioner, and detangling product is also important to prevent mats.
3. Removing Mats When Hair Is Wet
You should never attempt to remove mats or tangled hair when the dog is wet. This can cause significant skin and hair damage and cause pain, while wet hair can be even more difficult to detangle. Your pup should be completely dry before removing the mats.
Tips & Tricks
Lastly, below are two tips to keep in mind when taking care of your bichon frise.
1. Regular Brushing Routine
If you want to avoid matting altogether to spare yourself and your pup from this painful process, you need to establish a brushing routine. The brushing frequency depends on the season. For instance, when shifting to summer and winter, your pup’s coating changes, and you need to brush them more often than usual to get rid of the loose hairs that may get trapped in their fur.
2. Short Hair
To prevent tangled hair, make sure you visit the groomer as often as possible and keep the hair short. This will make brushing at home much easier, lowering the chances of mats. However, keep in mind that your bichon’s coat is important for its health, so shaving it off is not recommended. For instance, if you shave your bichon during summer, their skin can get sunburnt. Also, they may have issues staying warm during winter if the coat is too short.
Before taking your dog to a groomer, make sure to check out my article about bichon frise haircut styles.
All in all, detangling a bichon frise’s matted hair is not a very difficult process. The best thing you can do is to make sure that their hair is regularly brushed to avoid mats and tangles. In extreme cases, you may want to take your pup to a professional groomer to shave out the mats, although this should be avoided by ensuring a proper hair maintenance routine to keep your dog healthy.