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How to Brush a Dog With Short Hair

Want to make sure you’re brushing your short-haired dog correctly? Keep reading for everything you need to know about brushing a dog with short hair.

Short-haired dogs are, generally, easier to groom than their long-haired counterparts. That’s not an excuse to cut corners though!

Brushing any dog is vital for maintaining their health. It removes dirt, dandruff, dead skin and hair from your dog, and helps keep your pet clean. Brushing also distributes natural oils over the skin, which are essential for a healthy and moisturized coat.

So, how do you brush a short-haired dog for maximum benefit? Keep reading to find out.

Which Brushes Should You Use for a Short-Haired Dog?

It’s important to use the right dog brush for your breed’s fur type and length.

Both bristle brushes and rubber brushes can be useful for short-haired breeds, depending on what you’re trying to achieve. Slicker brushes can also be used for denser coats, but be gentle to avoid skin irritation. For dogs that molt a lot, you may want to use a shedding blade. You’ll also need a damp cloth.

Step 1: Get into Position & Wipe Off Debris

There are two key factors when choosing where to groom your pet: ease of clean-up and a surface your dog’s paws can grip. I recommend buying a grooming mat, as these provide more grip to make your pet feel more comfortable.

If your pet isn’t happy being brushed, you’ll need to build up slowly and use plenty of positive reinforcement. It’s a good idea to groom your dog while he’s standing up, as this is how professional groomers will do it.

Once your dog is ready to be groomed, use the damp cloth to remove debris from your dog’s coat. This makes brushing much easier, and reduces how often you’ll need to bathe your pet. For tangles, you may also want to spray a dog detangler to lubricate the hair.

Step 2: Actually Brushing Your Short-Haired Dog

Your dog’s fur type determines how best to brush the coat, so here are quick guides for short/smooth and short/dense coats. Remember, grooming should be an enjoyable experience for your dog, so use plenty of praise and treats.

Short and Smooth Coats

Examples: Chihuahua, Basset Hound

Breeds with smooth and short hair are a popular choice, as they tend to require less grooming than other breeds.

The best tool for brushing dogs with short, smooth coats is a bristle brush. Go over all of your dog’s fur, aside from delicate areas, to remove dirt and excess hair. Bristle brushes also help spread healthy oils over your dog’s skin.

You may also want to use a rubber brush to loosen any debris or dead hair in your dog’s coat.

Short and Dense Coats

Examples: Retrievers

For dogs with short, dense coats, a bristle brush is still a good choice for getting rid of debris caught in fur.

Once you’ve finished with the bristle brush, the next step is to remove tangles with a slicker brush. Slicker brushes pass through the top layer of hair and detangle the undercoat, which is important for preventing matting. Be careful when using a slicker brush on a short-haired breed though, as this type of brush can cause pain if used incorrectly.

Picture of a woman brushing a dog

Step 2.5: While You’re Brushing…

Check all over your dog for fleas, ticks, and other parasites when grooming, especially during summer. These parasites can be dangerous for your dog and a little extra caution doesn’t hurt.

Brushing is also a good opportunity to check your dog’s ears, foot pads, eyes, nails and teeth for injuries. Contact your vet if you notice anything unusual, and do not attempt to remove foreign objects from eyes, ears, nose, mouth, or pads yourself.

Step 3: Finishing Up

Once you’ve finished brushing, comb harder to reach areas like the feet, ears, and tail. If your dog has areas with longer hair, give them some extra attention to remove loose dirt, dead skin and any tangles.

Last, use a grooming glove or dry chamois cloth to add shine to your dog’s coat.

Cautions and Considerations

  • Short hair dogs typically only need brushing about once a week, although you may want to brush more frequently during shedding season.
  • Be careful when using a slicker brush, as they can irritate the skin if used too harshly.
  • Always brush your dog thoroughly before baths to remove loose dirt and keep the bath water (and your bathtub) cleaner.


Frequent and thorough brushing is essential for keeping your dog healthy. While short-haired breeds need less grooming than those with long hair, a weekly brushing is still important for a healthy coat.

To get the most out of your brushing session, make sure you use the right tools for your dog’s coat type, and don’t forget to check for parasites or injuries while you brush.

When in doubt about your pet’s grooming, it’s best to talk to a vet or groomer for professional advice.

Still have questions about how to brush your short-haired dog? Ask away in the comments.


Megan Kriss

Megan Kriss has been a writer and editor for about five years and a lover of dogs for her whole life. She lives in Georgia with her Border Collie and Chow Chow mix, Ginger, her two cats, Pepper and Misha, and her fiance, Matthew.
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