Look at the angle at which a dog‘s hair coat grows out from its skin. This is the same angle that you should be using your carding, stripping and fixed tooth raking tools to remove dead coat.￼
The position of your carding or stripping knife on shorter coat, and your rakes on longer coat should resemble the direction in which the hair emerges from the follicle in comparison to the skin. This can be anywhere from 5° for tight, oblique coats such as boxers and flat work on terriers to upwards of ￼￼80°￼ on our primitive or Nordic breeds which are triple coated.￼￼
￼It is our heavy or triple coated breeds with the most dense undercoat alongside ample guard coat that are at the greatest risk for skin irritation and coat damage when we use our tools.
Dense or long hair=more finesse and diligence.
If you do not take into consideration the way the hair follicle sits within the skin and hair grows out and away from it, you will inevitably risk stretching and breaking both guard coat and undercoat because of not working with the natural coat lay.￼
If you are raking out dead undercoat from a double or triple coated dog- your tools should be dull, your raking action should be coming in short strokes from your elbow and/or shoulder- but with a fixed wrist position, and the coat should be clean and conditioned with no tools being worked through dirty coat except for certain instances with hand stripped terriers.
When you cleanse (change the electrical charge on the coat & remove particulate debris and dead hair that cause friction and snagging)￼￼, condition (further adjust the skin pH or electrostatic charge, seal & smooth the hair shaft, add pliability, moisturize the skin & add structural integrity to each hair shaft) and then HV blow dry canine coat (set topicals upon the hair and skin, gently remove dead hair, set coat lay & visually inspect the skin and haircoat condition), this is a streamlined yet multi step process each step has a very necessary purpose.
During HV drying you also open up the packed, and tangled hair coat just the same as you do with your coarse/medium/fine cycle of raking tools. This action also has to be done with due process to help set the lay of coat so that you can move your tools across it without tugging or causing breakage or discomfort.￼
Remember that the job of undercoat is to create loft and density to the haircoat towards thermoregulation (heat dissipation or heat retention to maintain core temperature for health), and in doing its job it effectively locks in amongst the guard hair- so we need to open that coat to maintain it optimally.￼
As groomers we have a tough job to do. Often playing catch-up for each dog on the table per its grooming needs and genetically predetermined coat type. But the last thing we want to do is to be using tools or topical products on the coat that cause wear or damage, or enacting methods upon the coat with disregard to its natural state.
If we do these two things we will fight that coat at every visit and only make more work for ourselves.￼￼￼
Microscopic cutaway view of an oblique or nearly parallel hair follicle in the skin.