What is an Undercoat Rake for Dogs & How to Use One?

If you have a dog, you’re probably getting pretty tired of dealing with piles of pet fur and dander around your home. This issue can become even more difficult if your dog is one of the many double-coated breeds out there.

Luckily, there’s a simple and affordable solution to excessive shedding. Undercoat rakes are inexpensive, easy to use, and incredibly effective. But, what is an undercoat rake?

To help you get your dog’s shedding under control and give them the shiniest and healthiest looking coat possible, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about undercoat rakes for dogs.

What is an Undercoat Rake for Dogs?

What is an undercoat rake?
Undercoat rakes help to reach deep into a dog’s coat to remove debris.

Undercoat rakes are fairly simple grooming tools. Unlike a traditional pet grooming brush, which only pulls loose hair from the surface layer of your dog’s coat, an undercoat rake has long and durable teeth that reach through a dog’s topcoat to brush out all of the loose, tangled, and dirty hair trapped within the undercoat.

Not only will removing this loose and damaged fur reduce your dog’s shedding, but it can also improve the overall health and condition of your dog’s coat. Regularly using an undercoat rake can also prevent severe mats from developing in your dog’s coat and cut down on the number of hot spots your dog develops.

Frequent at-home grooming on long-haired and double-coat breeds is a great way to avoid trips to the groomer. We reviewed the 5 Best Dog Grooming Tools in a complete guide, so be sure to check those tools out!

What is an Undercoat?

Before we explain how to use an undercoat rake, it’s worth quickly explaining what an undercoat is. This will help you understand if you even need to use an undercoat rake to begin with, as many breeds and mixes only have one layer of fur, so they don’t have an undercoat.

As the name suggests, the undercoat is a second layer of fur that grows beneath the topcoat. It keeps dogs warm during the winter months, which is why a thick undercoat tends to be more common in dogs that were bred in colder climates, such as Siberian Huskies, Newfoundlands, Chows, and Labrador Retrievers.

With that said, some breeds that originate from warm climates, like the Australian Shepherd, also have double coats. These breeds resulted from mixing an existing double coat breed with a single coated breed. If you’re unsure if your dog has a double coat, you can quickly look it up online or ask your veterinarian.

Double coated breeds require a lot of grooming and maintenance throughout the year, and they tend to shed far more than other types of dogs, especially during the spring months when they shed some of their topcoats. 

How Do You Use an Undercoat Rake?

Once you have purchased an undercoat rake grooming tool, they’re fairly easy to use. Simply press the rake into your dog’s coat and pull with the direction of the fur. Make sure that you’re pushing the teeth of the rake into the undercoat rather than just raking the topcoat. 

Smooth, steady strokes tend to work best but make sure that you’re not scraping the de-shedding tool along the surface of your dog’s skin, as this can cause irritation and pain.

Don’t worry if it feels like you’re pulling the fur, as it can take a surprising amount of force to pull the loose and damaged hair from the undercoat to the surface.

Just make sure you’re being thorough and brushing out every part of your dog’s fur. It’s easy to miss certain spots, which can cause tangles and matting issues over time. Start from one end of your dog’s body and work your way to the other.

For example, if you start at the tail, work forward until you’re raking out the coat that surrounds the neck and face.

Step-by-Step Guide to Using an Undercoat Rake

Follow these steps to use an undercoat rake on your dog:

  1. Start from the tail or the neck and work from one end of your dog to the other, as this will help you avoid missing spots.
  2. Push the teeth of the rake into the coat. Try to avoid making contact with the dog’s skin, but also make sure you’re actually raking the undercoat, rather than just brushing the topcoat.
  3. Use long, smooth strokes and apply enough force to pull the hair out.
  4. Between pulls through the coat, remove any fur that’s trapped in the teeth, and put it to the side.
  5. If your dog is growing impatient, you can take a break, just make sure you return to the same spot.
  6. Use the rake at least once per week, but more often if your dog often suffers from matting and hot spots.

How Long Does it Take to Use an Undercoat Rake?

The amount of time it takes you to brush out your dog’s undercoat will depend on the size of your dog. Plenty of double-coated breeds are also quite large, so be prepared to put in a decent amount of time with your undercoat rake.

As you would expect, certain body parts take longer than others. For example, a large double-coated dog’s torso can take 10 to 15 minutes to brush, while their legs may take a few minutes.

While it’s preferable to brush your dog’s undercoat out in one session, you can also take a break if your pooch is growing impatient. Just make sure you remember where you left off, so you don’t miss any part of their coat.

On average, expect to spend about 20 minutes working with your undercoat rake. You can put on a television show or songs you enjoy while working through your dog’s undercoat to make the process more enjoyable.

How Often Should You Use an Undercoat Rake on Your Dog?

How often you use your undercoat rake on your dog is largely down to personal preference. While some dog owners will use an undercoat rake daily, this isn’t exactly necessary. 

We would recommend aiming to use your undercoat rake about once or twice per week. If your dog has an unruly coat and regularly suffers from matting issues, you can increase how often you use your undercoat brush to every other day or even daily.

How to Choose the Right Undercoat Rake

Given how popular double-coated dog breeds are, it’s no surprise that there are countless undercoat rakes out there to choose from.

When shopping for a new undercoat rake, consider the length of your dog’s coat, as well as the dog’s physical size. You want the teeth to be long enough to penetrate the undercoat, but they should be short enough that they won’t scratch and scrape your dog’s skin.

We also recommend choosing an undercoat rake with metal teeth rather than plastic. Even though it may seem soft to the touch, the fur of a double-coated dog can be tough. Plastic teeth can snap, which can expose your dog to jagged and sharp edges that could damage their skin.

Final Thoughts

So, what is an undercoat rake?

An undercoat rake is a grooming tool used to remove the shed undercoat of double-coated dog breeds. For owners of double-coated dog breeds, these de-shedding tools are a must and a great way to keep your dog looking and feeling its best!

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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