The FURminator Dog Brush Review
We tested the famous FURminator dog brush on our two insanely fluffy Shetland Sheepdogs. See what happened...
Is the FURminator really any good for the double coated, long dog hair of Shelties? There are videos online showing the brush stripping away the dog undercoat with ease. But we wanted to know is it really that effective? Is it safe for your Sheltie's fur? And how can you avoid buying a counterfeit?
At a Glance
The short answer is we like the FURminator and it's a pretty neat tool for Shelties in particular because, as you well know, Shelties shed A LOT.
The new models come in different sizes for small dogs (under 20 lbs) and medium dogs (21-50 lbs). Today's review explains how the patented design works compared to other dog brushes, and how to use the FURminator safely on your Sheltie's beautiful coat.
Types of Dog Grooming Brushes
When you start out dog grooming, there's an overwhelming amount of choice. There's the undercoat rake, the slicker brush, the pin brush, the bristle brush, the shedding blade, and the fine toothed comb to name a few. But DON'T PANIC!
The variety of brushes simply reflects the variety of dog coats in the world. You certainly don't need to use them all on your Sheltie. In fact, we recommend just two or three brushes max, which I'll describe how to use below.
Since this is Sheltie Planet, I'm going to focus on the best dog brushes for Shetland Sheepdogs. However you can extend these nuggets of wisdom to other dog breeds with double coats, like Pomeranians, Chow Chows and Rough Collies.
The 3 Steps to Dog Grooming
Step 1. The Undercoat
First you're going to need a brush that strips out the dead undercoat. Breeders often use a method called line brushing. This is when you systematically part the fur inch-by-inch and brush out the undercoat at the root. Besides removing loose fur, it also allows the air to flow through the skin and prevents hot spots from forming.
You can line brush your Sheltie with the cheapest brush of all: a fine toothed comb like the Safari Dog Flea Comb. Line brushing a Sheltie takes about 30-40 minutes to strip out all the undercoat fluff when done on a fortnightly basis.
However, there is a quicker way, if you aren't grooming a show dog and don't need that picture perfect result. It requires any undercoat rake or de-shedding tool like the FURminator. This undercoat brush has won massive popularity among long haired dog breed owners because it's super efficient. The design allows the FURminator's stainless steel teeth to reach through the outer coat to remove the loose fur. No parting required.
Is this safe? There are some anti-FURminator people out there who fear the sharp teeth must have some kind of cutting action which will ruin your Sheltie's coat. This is NOT true! The fine teeth have microscopic edges to hook onto the loose undercoat fur and pull it out. There is no cutting involved.
There are some safety rules to apply with the FURminator, though. Never brush the fur backwards, over-brush the same area repeatedly, or use the rake on sensitive areas like the belly. FURminate gently and correctly, and your Sheltie will be all good.
Step 2. Tease Out / Trim Knots
Once you've tackled the undercoat, it's all smooth sailing. Use your comb to tease out any mats behind the ears, under the arm pits, and around the soft underbelly. You'll notice the fur here is soft and thin in these parts because there's no undercoat. Like I say, do NOT use your FURminator here.
If it's really knotty, get a small pair of scissors (we like these safety-tipped pet grooming scissors) and carefully cut out the mats. You can persevere with the comb and tease the knots gently, holding the fur taught at the base, but it's usually not worth the discomfort of de-tangling your poor pooch in these areas.
Step 3. The Outer Coat
Now the finishing touch. Run a slicker brush over the top outer coat to distribute the natural oils and maintain the coat's lustre. This is the most relaxing part for your dog. Or if they don't enjoy being groomed - it's the least objectionable part.
Our FURminator Review
Now you've got the low-down on dog grooming brushes, let's get on with our FURminator review. This brush is designed for the first and most critical stage of grooming - removing the undercoat - and is particularly effective on dogs (and cats) with long double coated fur. We're talking about the Husky, Chow Chow, Corgi, German Shepherd, Collie, Leonberger, Shetland Sheepdog and more.
With regular use, the FURminator reduces shedding up to 90 per cent. The brush is popular because of its patented design. Stainless steel teeth reach through the top coat and strip away the dense loose undercoat. This enables you to remove a lot of old fur in a very short space of time.
This feels like a good time for a video demonstration.
With practice you can work efficiently through your dog's back, rump and tail, and get lots of undercoat to show for it.
However, if you have a skittish or anxious Sheltie (and boy can they sometimes be skittish) you must be a super gentle groomer. If you catch their skin with the sharp edge of a brush they'll get all freaked out and wont stay still.
For dogs who tolerate grooming well, it's satisfying to get a huge pile of undercoat out with every FURminator brushing. Besides keeping fur off the furniture, this deep brushing stimulates blood flow and allows the skin to breathe.
It's actually ridiculous how much fur you can extract off the little butt of a heavily shedding Sheltie. In males that's about once a year, just before summer. In females it's way more often - just after each heat cycle (unless she's spayed). It's not something you can ignore!
There's a slightly confusing array of FURminator brushes for different size cats and dogs. So I've pulled out my recommendations here. Always buy through the official FURminator brand to avoid buying a dangerous and ill-designed counterfeit brush.
For English type Shelties, miniature Shelties, and small Sheltie mixes, go for the Small FURminator (under 20 lbs). For American type Shelties and large Sheltie mixes, choose the Medium FURminator (21-50 lbs).