How to Remove Burrs without Ruining your Dog’s Coat

It’s the season of burdocks here in Maine! In my little grooming shop I am brushing and clipping out clumps of tiny burrs daily. The big ones haven’t made much of an appearance yet, but they will. And then there are stickers, which are small, rectanglular, flat, black things with two sticky antennae on one end.

Once this flower is done, the seed-filled burr will dry up and get tangled in the next unsuspecting dog to frolic by… Do not try to pull this weed out without thick gloves! See all the needle sharp stickers? Like Mother Nature’s porcupine plant!
Small seed burrs in a dog’s coat. These can turn into big matts if not removed.

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There are lots of different kinds of plants that have burrs. Did you know burrs are seed pods? That is why they are prevalent in the fall- it’s harvest time, and time for the seeds to fly before the winter. It’s a very smart method of distribution from some very clever plants. It is also annoying for us folks who want to have dogs with gorgeous, flowing coats. Burrs may be part of the circle of life, but they sit in your dog’s fur and kill your dreams. They can also cause injury by causing bad matts that pull on skin, or, depending on the type of burr, cause tiny punctures from their sticky ends that can get infected. So it is in your dog’s best interest to remove burrs as quickly as possible. Usually by cutting or shaving the clumps and leaving ugly bald spots all over your beautiful dog…

But wait! Before you reach for those scissors in a fit of temper, read on! It is actually pretty easy to remove the burrs without obliterating your dog’s hair! Read on for some tips to burr removal…

Equipment needed:

Deshedding tool (optional)

slicker brush(There are different sizes, so pick one that is appropriate for your pet. Medium is good for most dogs…)

Fine tooth comb and/or

Shedding comb(If I have to choose between a fine tooth and a shedding comb, I usually go with the latter because it does such a great job of picking through the mess and straightening out the coat!)

Small Burr Removal

Use a metal tipped slicker brush and either a fine tooth comb or a deshedding comb to go through your dog’s coat. You may have to pick some of them out with your fingers, but they usually come out quite easily. You may want to have the garbage can handy, because these will attach back to the fur quite easily!

Large Burdock Removal

It’s easy to panic when you see clumps of burrs the size of a baseball hanging from your dog’s tail. It looks a lot worse than it is though, I swear, once you know the trick to getting them out. Remember I said that burrs are seed pods? And seed pods want to be broken open to deliver their seeds. So, rather than cutting out big chunks of fur, start breaking the pods apart.

If the clump is large, you may have to break or cut it into manageable pieces using a dematting tool. Here is my weapon of choice. Just be careful of the teeth- they are razor sharp. Work the tool into the matt and use small motions to cut out to the end of the clump. Remember, you are not trying to saw the whole thing off! You are just trying to break it into pieces. Hold the hair close to the skin to keep it from yanking and hurting your dog.

Work on a small chunk at a time, breaking them with your fingers, pulling them apart, and then using the brush and comb to get the pieces out and straighten out the coat. It takes a little bit of elbow grease, but not too much, and your dog’s coat will be as good as new!

Remember! Don’t let burrs sit for days before you try to remove them! The longer they are stuck, the more your dog’s coat gets matted around it, which can cause painful pulling on his skin and possibly punctures if the stickers poke into him.

Finish the grooming with a nice conditioning spray like Buddy Splash Lavender-mint leave in conditioner and a final brush and your dog will be feeling, looking, and smelling great!

Do you have any tips on getting out those nasty burrs? I’d love to hear them! Comment below, and happy grooming!

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22 thoughts on “How to Remove Burrs without Ruining your Dog’s Coat”

  1. My long-haired chihuahua/shih-tsu mix has this problem, but with a different plant. He also gets popcicle dripped on him from time to time. I’m going to have to try that leave-in conditioner you suggested.

    1. With the popsicle I would get a wet, warm, soapy cloth or cotton ball and cover the sticky part, rubbing gently. The warm soapy water should melt the sugar, and then you can rinse and brush…?

  2. Do you know if there many burrs in Colorado? We have a dog and she has never had an issue with burrs. My wife told me about them when she lived back in Georgia. They sound horrible! I love how you gave instructions! It was very informative and I learned quite a bit! 🙂

  3. I hate burrs! We have 20 acres full of them and they’re always getting stuck in my goats’ beards, lol. We just shave off the beards and it’s a good, quick fix. If anyone knows how to get rid of them for good in pastures, I’d love to hear! 🙂

  4. Great suggestions! Fortunately the dog we have now has short hair, so this isn’t a problem, but we used to have a Scottish Terrier and this was always an issue.

  5. We don’t really have an issue with this in Florida. However, we are moving to New Hampshire next year, so I can imagine these tips will be extremely helpful then!

  6. This is so helpful! I always cringe when I see that our dog has a coat full of burrs after an outdoor adventure, and have never known of the best way to remove them. Thank you for this!

  7. Our poor dogs in VT get these all the time too! It’s terrible! Thankfully my dog has short fur, but even still they are awful to get out sometimes! Thanks for the tips, I’ve marked this page for next time my Duffer comes home with burdocks!

  8. This is really helpful for dog-owners! I have two dogs–German shepherd mixes, and they rarely leave our mowed back yard unless for a walk in the neighborhood. I will keep this in mind just in case they get into something, though!

  9. I used to gently brush stickers out of the coat of my friend’s dog. We would let her outside and when she’d come in from outside running around she was full of stickers. I always fuss at her because she would ALWAYS get into the stickers lol every time. She’s a good dog though.

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