When you have a dog that has a double coat there’s a lot of work that goes into maintaining that coat.
Not only do you have to keep the guard hairs (topcoat) looking nice and shiny but you also have to keep the thick hair underneath healthy.
That may sound like a simple task but when you have a giant breed dog that has a very thick undercoat it can be very labor-intensive and time-consuming if you choose to handle all of your dog’s grooming needs
Line combing or line brushing is the most common way that dog groomers and owners of double-coated dogs maintain their dog’s coat.
What is Line Combing?
Line combing or line brushing is a grooming technique used on dogs with a double coat to remove loose undercoats.
It’s different than just running a dog brush on the top of your dog’s coat which does nothing for the undercoat.
When you line comb a dog’s coat, you do it in sections.
Benefits of Line Combing
The benefits of line combing are huge and mandatory when you have a dog that has a double coat.
Removing the loose undercoat with a comb reduces mats that can pull at the skin and be painful for the dog.
It allows the air to flow through the skin and it can reduce hot spots.
Line combing also gives you a chance to assess the skin of the dog and make sure that it is healthy and free from skin infections and parasites such as fleas and ticks.
How to Line Comb
Line combing or line brushing is pretty easy after you’ve done it the first time.
The first time is going to be time-consuming but after that, it’s basically just a maintenance combing because you’ve already done all the hard work!
You can line-comb your dog standing on a grooming table or laying down on the floor.
I prefer to do it on a grooming table because it’s easier to get all the important areas of the dog but I have also definitely done it on the floor while the Newfies are napping.
You want to work in sections and you want to work from the bottom up.
If you’re pressed for time or don’t have a full hour to dedicate to combing, I recommend starting in one of the high-maintenance areas- the areas on a dog that tend to mat easily.
Here’s a quick step-by-step line combing guide to help get you started:
How To Line Comb Your Double-Coated Dog
- Grab your combs. This can be a combination comb or a wide toothcomb
- Pick a section of your dog that you want to start with (chest, rump, side, belly)
- Don’t comb a dry coat! Spray the area with grooming spray (detangling spray)
- Start at the bottom and use your non-combing hand to hold the hair up.
- You should be able to see the skin
- Now start combing
- Repeat these steps until the entire section is combed
A Few Tips
You should start at the front or the back of your dog and not in the middle.
This will just make it easier for you to know what area you’ve combed.
You can start with a brush and work up to using a comb.
The size of the section is going to vary on the size of your dog and the size of your hand.
I like to use a wide-tooth comb with a handle and a combination comb.
Always use a grooming spray or detangling spray.
Whenever you brush or comb your dog you should mist their hair with a spray.
This not only makes the comb glide through the hair better but also cuts down on static and it helps to prevent the hair from breaking.
Your goal is to see a line from where the hair meets the skin.
If you don’t see the skin at first, comb through until you do.
How Often to Line Comb
In an ideal world, it would be great to line comb daily but many people don’t have the time for that.
The first time that you line comb your dog will be the most time-consuming.
After that, it should be a breeze and the high-priority areas can be done weekly in about 15 minutes.
When a double-coated dog is blowing coat, line combing should definitely be done more frequently to get that loose hair out and cut down on mats forming.
Line combing should also be done after bathing and after swimming to help prevent hot spots.
What Type of Comb to Use
The type of dog comb that you use will be largely based on personal preference, your budget, and your dog’s coat.
I put together a little line combing starter pack that you can check out to give you an idea of what items to look for.
For a thicker coat, a comb normally works best over a dog brush.
You can use a greyhound comb, a poodle comb, a combination comb, a wide-tooth comb, a comb with a handle or a comb without a handle.
You can also use a rake, a slicker brush, or a Sullivan comb .
I personally like to use a combination comb when line combing.
For hair that is knotted, hard to pass through or has a lot of static a grooming spray such as The Stuff, Ice on Ice, ProGro, Panagenics or Cowboy Magic.
ProGro is my all-time favorite when diluted down into a spray bottle but the others work great too!
If you don’t have grooming spray, you can dilute your dog conditioner in a spray bottle.
After line combing, make sure to clean your grooming tools in warm, soapy warm and allow them to air dry.
Tuesday 10th of August 2021
I'm having problems after we have been doing water work. Are you line combing after the dog is shampooed and still wet or do you use the dryer and then go thru and line comb? Thx!
Thursday 12th of August 2021
Hi Sue, It's easiest to line comb when the coat is dry. You can use a little grooming spray or leave-in conditioner to prevent breakage if you have it.
Monday 7th of June 2021
This is so helpful. Thank you. We’re new parents to a beautiful brown Newfie puppy and are trying to make sure we do everything the right way!
Monday 13th of January 2020
Do you have any tips for keeping your dog calm during this process? We have an 8 month old Newfie who hates getting brushed.
Monday 13th of January 2020
I would try to keep the grooming sessions short in the beginning and then gradually increase the time. You can also try something like a stuffed Kong or a Lick Mat to keep them occupied.
Friday 19th of April 2019
Thank you for such a helpful article! I have been obsessed with your blog since December when we rescued a one year old newf. You have been so unbelievably helpful with everything that goes into Newfie care. Thanks again!
Tails Around the Ranch
Wednesday 27th of March 2019
Whoa...that must be a long term project! Great explanation and how-to info.
Thursday 4th of April 2019
It can be depending on how much undercoat the dog has. Sherman takes a lot longer than Leroy these days.