- A high-quality dog brush is gentle, effective, and easy to use.
- Your dog’s coat type will determine the type of brush you use, whether it’s a pin, curry, or slicker brush, a deshedding tool, or a grooming glove.
- Our top pick for the best dog brush is the Hartz Groomer’s Best Combo Brush, which is ideal for dogs of many different coat types.
Brushing your dog may feel like a chore, but regular brushing prevents tangles and mats – the snarled knots of hair trapped in the coat. Mats are not only uncomfortable for your dog, but they can be painful and irritating to the skin, even causing infections. Frequent brushing also distributes healthy oils and removes loose hair from the coat before it sheds all over your clothes and home.
To help you narrow down the best brush for your dog, I tested 23 different grooming tools over a three-month period with two dogs, a Labrador retriever with short, straight hair and a miniature poodle with long, curly hair. I received editorial review samples from manufacturers with the exception of Millers Forge, Chris Christensen, and ConairPro brushes, which Insider Reviews purchased.
I’m no novice when it comes to brushing dogs. I’ve been brushing, bathing, and clipping my poodle for his entire life (more than a decade now). I also brushed and bathed thousands of pets during my eight-year stint as a veterinary assistant. For additional expertise on dog brushing, I consulted with pet groomer Cassie Edmond, who is an animal caregiver at the San Diego Humane Society.
Dog brushes come in different styles for different coats. To know which type of brush is best for your dog, first identify their coat type.
Smooth: This type of coat consists of short, close-lying hair that grows in only one layer (no undercoat). Some breeds with smooth coats include bulldogs, Dalmatians, Boston terriers, Doberman pinschers, greyhounds, and Weimaraners.
Double coat: Dogs with double coats have two types of hair. The outercoat (outermost layer of hair) is longer and the undercoat (which lies close to the skin) is shorter and usually wooly or soft. Some breeds with double coats include Australian shepherds, border collies, golden retrievers, and Labrador retrievers.
Long hair: Long-haired dogs may have silky or coarse hair. Some long-haired dogs have an undercoat while others do not. Breeds with long hair include Afghan hounds, Maltese, shih tzus, and Yorkshire terriers.
Curly or wavy hair: Curly-haired dogs must be brushed regularly to prevent mats. Generally, they do not have an undercoat, although some mixed-breed dogs, including doodles, might have an undercoat. Breeds with curly coats include Bedlington terriers, bichons frises, poodles, and Portuguese water dogs.
To avoid skin irritation, choose the right brush for your dog’s coat type and avoid overbrushing. “There can be such a thing as too much brushing,” Edmond said. “Overbrushing causes something called brush burn, which is an irritation of the skin. Slicker brushes used on short-haired dogs can cause brush burn faster.”
Edmond recommends brushing your dog daily. Beyond grooming and hygiene, there are additional benefits. “Brushing regularly gives pet parents the opportunity to touch their pets all over, which can help identify possible health concerns early,” she said. “As a groomer, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve discovered lumps, bumps, cuts, or skin issues.”
Here are the best dog brushes in 2021
- Best combo brush: Hartz Groomer’s Best Combo Brush
- Best deshedding tool: Furminator Undercoat Deshedding Tool
- Best slicker brush: JW Pet Gripsoft Soft Slicker Brush
- Best pin brush: Chris Christensen Oval Pin Brush
- Best curry brush: Bodhi Dog Bath Brush
- Best grooming glove: Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Grooming Gloves
Equipped with two brush styles and a nonslip handle, the versatile Hartz Combo Brush is ideal for dogs of many different coat types.
Pros: Stainless steel pins with safety tips, good for dogs of most sizes, antislip grip for comfort and control, affordable price, two brushes in one
Cons: Might be too large for toy dogs
A combo brush is two brushes in one: a pin brush on one side and a soft-bristle brush on the other. Use the pin side to brush out tangles and remove loose hair. The bristle brush works well for short-haired dogs such as dachshunds, pit bulls, and Chihuahuas. “It can be helpful in removing dead hairs during shedding season and redistributing the dog’s natural oils on its body,” said Edmond.
Our top pick for the best combo brush for dogs is the Hartz Groomer’s Best Combo Brush. This brush is great for dogs of many coat types and also convenient if you have two dogs with different types of hair. I tested this brush on a miniature poodle and a Labrador retriever. Only the pin brush side was useful for the poodle coat, but the Labrador coat benefited from both sides.
Overall, this is just a really nice brush. It’s lightweight at just under 5 ounces, yet sturdy and comfortable to hold. The stainless steel pins have safety tips for safe and gentle brushing, and the nylon bristles are soft but stiff enough to do some good hair removal while brushing. Measuring 12.2 inches long and 3.2 inches wide, this brush is well-sized for small to large dogs. It’s not suited to the job of grooming toy breeds (for that, consider the Burt’s Bees Double Sided brush under “What else we considered” at the end of this guide).
Hartz also offers a satisfaction guarantee on all its grooming tools if they have not been misused or abused. Simply return the brush with a copy of your receipt within one year of purchase for a replacement or refund.
The best deshedding tool
The Furminator Undercoat Deshedding Tool safely and effectively removes loose, dead undercoat hair as well as dirt and debris.
Pros: Reduces loose hair from shedding, doesn’t damage topcoat, skin guard protects from digging into skin, works for dogs of all sizes and most coat types, money-back guarantee
Cons: Not for use on nonshedding breeds, dropping tool can damage the teeth, overbrushing or applying too much pressure can irritate skin
Deshedding tools have one purpose: to remove as much loose hair from your dog’s coat as possible — before it ends up in your house and on your clothes. Although designs vary, deshedding tools often look like metal rakes or fine-tooth combs.
“Deshedding tools are a groomer’s best friend,” said Edmond, who has a Furminator in her personal grooming tool kit. “It is so satisfying to use this on a husky or German shepherd during heavy shedding seasons.”
The Furminator Undercoat Deshedding Tool landed in the top spot for this guide. I tested it on a Labrador retriever that sheds very heavily. The amount of hair I was able to remove from her coat was astonishing. It was far more than I could remove with any of the three other deshedding tools I tested.
The magic is in the stainless steel deshedding edge that reaches through the topcoat to safely and easily remove loose hair and undercoat without damaging the topcoat. The curved edge of the blade and skin-guard design help the tool glide over a dog’s body to prevent digging into the skin.
The Furminator’s ergonomic handle offered a comfortable grip, and the release button made it easy to collect hair from the tool and continue deshedding. For storage, a special edge guard protects the metal teeth. The manufacturer is so sure you’ll love the Furminator that it offers a money-back guarantee as long as the product is used and stored as directed.
The best slicker brush
The JW Pet Gripsoft Soft Slicker Brush’s flexible, ideally angled stainless steel bristles minimize skin irritation while lifting out loose hair.
Pros: Made for pets with sensitive skin, angled stainless steel bristles minimize irritation, rubberized grips and curved handle provide comfort and control
Cons: Not as effective for smooth-coated dogs with no undercoat (may cause skin irritation), might be too large for toy breeds
A slicker brush is made from very thin, closely set wire bristles that are good for general brushing and removing loose fur from long-haired dogs. A high-quality slicker brush should be stiff enough to untangle the coat but still gentle on the skin.
“I would not advise any pet parent to use a slicker brush for short-haired dogs as they can cause brush burn,” Edmonds said. “I would use this for long-haired pets and double-coated shedding dogs like Siberian huskies, German shepherds, and golden retrievers.”
We like JW Pet’s Gripsoft Soft Slicker Brush because it effectively detangles the coat and removes loose hair. With its flexible stainless steel bristles turned 90 degrees away from the skin, it also minimizes “raking,” which makes brushing more comfortable for your dog. The 5.5-inch-wide bristle area makes it a good fit for small to large-size dogs.
I tested this brush on a miniature poodle with a long, curly coat and a Labrador retriever with medium-length hair. Even though these two dogs have very different coats, the Gripsoft Slicker worked well on both types of hair. Before testing, I also ran each of the slicker brushes along the inside of my forearm to make sure they felt comfortable and found this one is very gentle on the skin. Owners of toy breeds will likely find this brush too big. For the smallest of dogs, I recommend checking out the Millers Forge Slicker Brush under “What else we considered” at the end of this guide.
The JW Pet Gripsoft is also durable yet lightweight and comfortable to hold with nonslip rubber grips on the front and back of the curved handle. When I was done brushing, I used my fingers to easily lift the hair out of the rounded brush head.
The best pin brush
The durable, high-quality Chris Christensen Oval Pin Brush glides through the coat and gently detangles hair without painful pulling.
Pros: Stainless steel pins with rounded, polished tips for comfort; durable design; firm cushion with air vent for flexibility; comfortable wooden body and handle
Cons: More expensive than similar models, not ideal for smooth-coated dogs
For dogs with medium to long hair, a pin brush is a good option for removing loose hair and detangling. This type of brush consists of metal pins that are more widely spaced than the bristles of a slicker brush, which helps prevent hair breakage. The pins are also set into a rubber cushion, and a high-quality brush will have pins with rounded ends to prevent scratches on the skin.
We chose the Chris Christensen Oval Pin Brush as our top pick. I’ve used several Chris Christensen brushes and combs over the years because they came highly recommended by my poodle breeder. This brush lived up to the standard I’ve come to expect from the brand’s grooming tools.
I tested this brush on a miniature poodle and found it glided through his coat easily and gently detangled without scratching his skin or breaking off any hairs. The high-quality stainless steel pins have rounded and polished tips, and the pins are set into a durable, firm cushion that has an air vent hole for extra flexibility.
The wooden body and easy-grip handle are constructed from lightweight solid beech, making it comfortable to hold. The brush is available in three different pin lengths: 20mm for short coats, 27mm for medium to long coats, and 35mm for long, thick full coats.
The best curry brush
The easy-to-grip Bodhi Dog Bath Brush is like a loofah for your dog, and it’s effective for bathing or dry brushing.
Pros: Dry or wet use; effective yet gentle; handy strap for a comfortable hold; increases shampoo lather; massaging soft rubber bristles; natural, unrefined rubber limits chemical footprint; money-back guarantee
Cons: Not ideal for all coat types; strap might be too tight for larger hands; brush can be slippery when wet
This type of brush, which is also called a curry comb, is made of rubber or soft plastic. It has flexible nubs that remove dirt and loose hair from the coat. Curry brushes are also great in the bath when used to work shampoo deep into the coat, all while giving your dog a nice massage.
These brushes are best for dogs with smooth or short coats. “I use a curry brush on short-haired dogs during or right after a bath,” Edmond said. “I like to use it on dogs that are heavily shedding.”
Our pick for the best curry brush is the Bodhi Dog Bath Brush. I tested this brush on a Labrador retriever with a medium-length coat. I like how the strap makes it easier to hold the brush even when wet, although like all the curry brushes I tested, it can still get slippery when wet. The 5-by-3.5-inch brush’s strap fit my hand well, but people with large hands might find the strap a bit tight.
When used on a dry coat, the soft, split-ended rubber tips gently loosen and remove shedding hair and dirt. The Bodhi brush serves the same function in the bath and also increases the effectiveness of shampoo lathering for a deeper clean while turning grooming time into massage time.
The best grooming glove
The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Grooming Gloves whisk away shedding hair as you give your dog a gentle massage.
Pros: Soft rubber nubs gently remove hair, flexible design for brushing all parts of body, massaging action ideal for dogs that dislike brushing, Velco wrist straps provide secure fit, available in three sizes
Cons: Not ideal for nonshedding dogs, sizing may not accommodate all hand sizes, somewhat difficult to clean hair off the gloves
Grooming gloves are great for shedding dogs that run away when you bring out the brush. They allow you to brush your dog by petting them, and most dogs love the soothing massage this provides. The rubber grips on the palm and fingers are good for removing loose hair.
The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Grooming Gloves are the best of the four styles we tested. I used these gloves on a Labrador retriever that isn’t a big fan of being brushed. Not only did the gloves remove a lot of loose hair, but she lay down on her side and was happy for me to continue brushing all over her body.
The five-finger design allowed me to gently brush all over, including her head, face, body, legs, and tail, while the soft rubber nodules gently collected fur. The Velcro wrist straps kept the gloves secure on my hands. For best results, brush in the direction of hair growth.
To clean these gloves, peel the hair off. Pro tip: It’s easiest to remove the hair when the gloves are full. The gloves come in three sizes to fit most hands: medium, large, and extra-large. I ordered the medium according to the size chart, and they fit well — snug but not too tight.
What else we considered
- JW Pet Gripsoft Double Sided Brush: A very nice brush and close runner up to the Hartz Groomer’s Best Combo Dog Brush, which felt sturdier and performed slightly better.
- Burt’s Bees Double Sided Pin & Hemp Bristle Brush: The Burt’s Bees brush is attractive, but it’s very small and it was clunky to use and the hemp bristles felt almost too stiff. This brush didn’t really compare to the feel or performance of the Hartz Groomer’s Best Combo Dog Brush.
- Safari Combo Brush for Dogs: This brush felt a little flimsy in the hand and didn’t remove as much hair as some of the other combo brushes.
- Millers Forge Designer Series Soft Slicker Brush: The soft wire bristles on this brush worked well to detangle and remove loose hair from the coats of a poodle and a Labrador retriever. Although this brush is labeled “designer series,” I actually found it to be quite basic. It gets the job done, but the JW Pet Gripsoft Soft Slicker Brush is much more comfortable to hold.
- Four Paws Magic Coat Dual Mat Remover: Although the slicker side of this brush was nice, the dematting tool on the flip side just didn’t compare to the Furminator. However, this would be a good choice if you only wanted to purchase one tool that is both an everyday brush and a dematting tool.
- Safari Wire Pin Brush for Dogs: This brush was okay, but it didn’t remove hair as well as other brushes I tested.
- Andis Premium Large Pin Brush: The Andis brush is nice and did a decent job detangling a poodle’s coat. However, it lacks the next-level professional style and feel of the Chris Christensen Oval Pin Brush, which gently and smoothly glides through the coat.
- JW Pet Gripsoft Pin Brush: This is a nice brush and I like the comfortable grip, but I didn’t love the smaller surface area of the head compared to other brushes.
- Oster Dog Rake and Shedding Brush: This was a close contender to the Furminator, which I found was gentler and easier to use.
- Andis Deshedding Tool: While this is another effective tool, the Furminator and Oster were both gentler and easier to use.
- Conair Pro Dog Undercoat Rake: I really liked the comfortable memory grip handle on this brush, but it just didn’t remove hair as well as the other deshedding tools that I tested.
- Furbliss Pet Brush: I really liked the Furbliss, which is made from a soft and flexible rubber that gives a gentle massage. However, I slightly preferred the more rigid Bodhi Dog Bath Brush and the fact that it has a strap to help keep it on your hand in the bath.
- Four Paws Magic Coat Dual-Purpose Curry Brush: A nice curry brush (although I can’t really attest to its purported antimicrobial properties), but it didn’t perform as well as the Bodhi or Furbliss brushes.
- Kong ZoomGroom: This curry brush is soft and flexible with a cute design, but it just didn’t beat out the other curry brushes I tested.
- Katziela Silicone Dog Grooming Glove: The Katziela grooming glove performed well, and the silicone cover did indeed make it simple to remove the hair from the glove. However, putting the cover back on to continue grooming was a little bit of a challenge. The Katziela glove was a solid runner up to the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Grooming Gloves.
- Petmate Furbuster 3-in-1 Grooming Glove: This glove was comfortable and removed hair, but it didn’t collect as much hair as the Bissell and Katziela gloves.
- HandsOn All-In-One Bathing and Grooming Glove: Similarly, this glove just didn’t attract and hold as much hair as other models.
Dog grooming FAQs
How often should I brush my dog?
If you have time, brush your dog every day to remove shedding hair, untangle knots, and redistribute coat oils. If you can’t brush daily, once a week is sufficient for most breeds. Dogs with long coats that tend to mat should be brushed two to three times a week.
How can I make grooming pleasant for my dog?
First, make sure the brush you choose is gentle on your dog’s skin. Test it against your forearm if you’re not sure. Give plenty of treats during brushing sessions, and stop if your dog is showing signs of stress. It’s better to break brushing up into mini-sessions rather than stress your dog out.
How do I know what kind of brush to buy for my dog?
Slicker brushes and pin brushes are good for most hair types other than very thin, smooth coats. Soft-bristle brushes and curry brushes are best for short, smooth coats. Deshedding tools are only for coats that shed. Grooming gloves can work for most coat types other than non-shedding breeds like poodles and Yorkshire Terriers. If you’re not sure what kind of brush to use, ask your veterinarian or groomer for advice.
How do I care for my dog’s brush?
Keep your dog’s brush dry and clean the hair out after each grooming session. To easily remove hair from a brush, slip a comb into the bristles near the base of the brush and lift all the hair out in one solid piece.