The two most important factors to consider when buying any type of dog brush is your dog’s hair (or fur if s(he) has a double-coat) and the dog’s size. For example, a dog brush that’s designed for long, fine, or wavy hair — like a golden retriever or collie — wouldn’t be the best choice for a dog with short, curly or wiry hair, like a poodle or a terrier.
Dog brushes are available in various types. Many brushes are intended solely for keeping your dog’s coat clean and shiny by stimulating your dog’s natural oils to rise to the coat’s surface. Shedding brushes are designed to reach down into your dog’s undercoat and lift up loose hair and dirt that gathers on your dog’s skin.
Some deshedding brushes can also be used to detangle matted hair, particularly around the dog’s withers. When shopping for a shedding brush, consider the following features that the best shedding brush should have.
Since a brush is basically made up of bristles, it may seem counterintuitive to look for a deshedding brush that doesn’t have bristles. Of the eight brushes we tested, the most effective in removing hair had a stainless steel component. Our top pick, the Hertzko – Slicker Brush, is composed of many rows of stainless-steel pins that reach deep into a dog’s coat and draw up loose hair. Our favorite for long-hair breeds, the FURminator – Grooming Rake, has stainless-steel prongs, and our pick for short-hair breeds, SleekEZ – Shedding Tool, has a stainless-steel serrated blade.
The size of your dog will determine the appropriate shedding brush to buy. We wouldn’t buy the same brush for a Great Dane as we would for a Pomeranian, but many — if not most — deshedding brushes are “one size fits all.” We recommend searching out a shedding brush that’s available in different sizes, like the SleekEZ. FURminator also has various sizes to choose from.
You want to take your time in shedding your beloved canine pal so to avoid painfully pulling and tugging his/her hair and causing your dog distress. Since you’ll be holding the brush for a while, it makes sense that the brush should fit comfortably in your hand. We found the SleekEZ’s curved wood oval the best ergonomically as it’s designed to fit into the palm. The GoPets – Dematting Comb has a unique handle encased in silicone gel, which molded into the hand.
Ease of cleaning
As you’re deshedding your dog, hair will gather in the brush head and should be easy to remove after several strokes of your dog’s coat. The rake-style shedding brush is the easiest to clean because there’s enough space between the rake’s prongs; hair gathers together and comes off in a clump. Generally, slicker brushes are the most difficult to clean because the pins are densely packed. The Hertzko brush, however, has a very handy button that, when pressed, retracts the pins into the brush head, and hair can be peeled off the flat surface.
You certainly want a dog deshedding brush to hold up for many grooming sessions. Avoid brushes that are made of plastic or rubber, which can bend and get deformed with continued use. In addition, because of their flexibility, the plastic or rubber brushes that we tested removed only a small amount of hair or none at all.
How we tested
We tested all the shedding brushes on two different breeds with different hair types. One dog was a border collie with a varied mix of undercoat, fine hair, wavy hair, and coarse hair. Our other dog was a terrier mix with short wavy hair. Both dogs are accustomed to grooming. Over a two-week period, we brushed each dog for an hour with the same shedding brush and noted how well (or not) it removed loose hair and detangled mats.
The border collie tends to have matted hair on his long, thick withers and around his ears and neck ruff, and so we took special care in these sensitive areas to avoid the brush pulling or tugging. The terrier mix’s coat is more even, but he sheds short hairs constantly, and we focused on his undercoat. With these two very different hair types, we were able to determine which brush was best for long- and short-hair breeds and which brush made the grooming process enjoyable and stress-free.
Best Overall: Hertzko - Slicker Brush
Of all the brushes we tested, the Hertzko Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush worked the best on both our long- and short-haired dogs. Slicker brushes are a common grooming tool for dogs and cats, but they can definitely be a hassle to clean since you need to manually pluck out the hair trapped between the metal pins.
Not so with the Hertzko. This efficient grooming tool has a button on the top of the brush head that, when pressed, retracts the angled bristles into the head, leaving behind the swath of hair it’s removed. Our dogs also seemed to enjoy being brushed — not always the case — because the Hertzko doesn’t pull and tug, which is especially important around the withers, an area that’s often matted and sensitive to pulling. Read more…
The Hertzko has an ergonomic handle that’s comfortable to hold and is so well-designed that you can brush gently and still remove shedding hair. The Hertzko is also available in several models for large and small dogs with sensitive skin.
Best For Long Hair: FURminator
FURminator pet-grooming products have been on the market since 2002, and are one of the most popular in the world. The company has many different types of grooming brushes on the market for both dogs and cats and has specific tools for long- and short-haired breeds. The FURminator Grooming Rake has a unique design; its row of 38 metal teeth rotate and lift loose hair without pulling. The rake is made specifically for dogs with long hair and/or thick coats, and it worked wonders on our border collie.
Used as recommended, you do need to brush gradually so the rake can do its job in untangling matted hair. We found the FURminator rake to be especially effective in removing our dog’s thick undercoat without any discomfort. We did test the rake on our short-haired dog, but it didn’t really do much other than gather up some hair from his top coat. The FURminator rake is very reasonably priced, so go for the real thing and not the slightly cheaper imitators.
Best For Short Hair: SleekEZ
The SleekEZ – Deshedding Tool has a unique proprietary design that can be used on dogs, cats, and horses. The Original version we tested is made for medium to large dogs, and although it wasn’t as effective for our long-hair dog, it was a winner for a short-hair terrier mix. The SleepEZ is probably the the most beautiful and expertly crafted pet-grooming tool you’ll ever see. It’s made of a 5″ oval of poplar, which fits perfectly into the palm of your hand, with a wavy row of tiny stainless-steel teeth (resembling a small saw) inserted into the wood.
As you brush, the blade scrapes away loose hair, which falls into small piles, so make sure you groom your dog on a non-carpeted floor or outdoors. The blade doesn’t pull on the dog’s coat, and if enough pressure is applied, the SleekEZ gives your dog a soothing massage as well. Another benefit is that the blade gets your dog’s natural oils to the surface and improves his/her coat’s appearance.
Hartz - Groomer's Combo Brush
The Hartz Groomer’s Best brush has two brush heads; one with flexible 1/2″ stainless-steel rounded pins for detangling, and the second is a traditional pet-grooming brush with stiff nylon bristles for smoothing out a dog’s coat. The detangling brush head didn’t do much our our terrier-mix’s coat, but it detangled our border collie’s ruff and withers very nicely without causing him any distress. The stiff-bristle brush smoothed out his coat and gave it a handsome sheen.
This inexpensive grooming brush has a grooved ergonomic handle that fits into the curve of your fingers. Cleaning the brush, though, was a chore. Removed hair was trapped between the bristles and took time to pick out. If you don’t mind cleaning the brush every time you groom your dog, the Hartz Groomer’s Best brush is a decent choice.
Beiker - Deshedding Brush and Glove
The Bieker Shedding Brush and Glove was one of the several products we tested that was a mixed bag performance-wise. A note about ordering this set on Amazon: The shedding tool pictured is not what you get. The brush itself is actually a multi-pronged rake for undercoats. It has a row of nine curved hooks on one side for thicker coats and on the other side, a row of 17 curved hooks for less dense coats. The rake worked well enough in removing loose hair from our dogs’ undercoats, but it pulled too much on withers and neck.
The one-size-fits-all glove is made of a stretchy material with silicone tips on both sides, so it can be used right- or left-handed. The glove only worked for fine hair, and it was difficult to clean the trapped hair off the silicone tips. However, the glove would probably work better for grooming silky-hair dogs or cats.
GoPets - Dematting Comb
The GoPet Dematting Comb is essentially the same product as the Bieker grooming tool but double the price. It’s a double-toothed rake with 12 curved teeth on one side, and 24 curved teeth on the opposite side. The GoPat does have a nice feature that the Bieker doesn’t. The handle is encased in a squishy silicone gel that molds into your hand, so it’s easy to hold.
Results with the GoPet were similar to the Bieker rake. The 24-tooth side is meant for detangling, but it pulled too much — and painfully — on our long-hair dog. It worked slightly better on our short-hair dog, but removal of loose hair was minimal and much less than the FURminator rake.
The Pet Teezer has a line of similarly designed pet-grooming brushes, and the Tangle Teezer was made for small dogs with short or wiry coats. The pastel dual-colored brush was initially developed for humans, and with its success in hair salons, the Tangle Teaser is now also for dogs. Its plastic base is curved to fit into the palm of your hand, and the alternating long and short plastic tips were designed to reach the undercoat and lift up dirt.
Oddly, the Tangle Teezer did nothing for our terrier mix’s short-hair coat, and worked minimally on our border collie’s fine hair around his face, ears, and neck. The bristles simply aren’t sturdy enough and, in fact, began to bend after a few uses.
KONG - Zoom Groom
KONG should stick to just making dog toys. Marketed as great for all coat types, the rubber Zoom Groom removed only a few hairs from both our long- and short-hair breeds. The Zoom Groom is a rippled oval shape that doesn’t quite fit comfortably in the hand, and its bristles are flexible 3/4″ cones. It actually does resemble a dental toy you might give to a dog with teeth and gum problems to gnaw on.
We used the brush as instructed — brushing in a circular motion — and then tried brushing (as some videos show) in a downward motion, but Zoom Groom failed to do anything except give a nice massage to the dogs. Although we had no success with the Zoom Groom, many users praise it for breeds with very short hair, like hounds and Rottweilers, or for distributing shampoo when bathing dogs.
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Gene Gerrard, Writer
Gene has written about a wide variety of topics for too many years to count. He's been a professional chef, cooking-appliance demonstrator, playwright, director, editor of accountancy and bank-rating books, Houdini expert and dog lover (still is). When he's not writing for Your Best Digs, he's performing as a magician at the Magic Castle in Hollywood.