Choosing Combs

Posted by Daryl Conner on Mar 31st 2020

Browsing a catalog of types and styles of combs to choose from can be mind boggling. Some have handles, some have wide spines, some have thin spines, and some have coating on them. They may be made from a variety of metals, and then there are all the different varieties when it comes to the spacing of the teeth. How is a groomer to know which is best? Here are some things to consider.

  • Style- Combination style combs are the most popular grooming combs and have either coarse and medium teeth or medium and fine teeth, set into a spine. These come in a variety of sizes, differing in spine length as well as the length of the teeth. Shorter teeth are better suited to short haired pets, and longer teeth are best for longer coats, such as double coated breeds or those poodles, bichons, etc., which are kept in long styles.
  • Teeth spacing- Wide spacing and long teeth will be best when you are working on dogs such as a Keeshond or a Collie, with dense undercoat and long topcoat. Shorter, more closely spaced teeth are ideal for shorter coats with less undercoat, like a Labrador retriever, and many mixed breeds. Though many popular combs are made with combination teeth (ie, coarse/med) it is possible to buy combs with all coarsely spaced or all medium spaced teeth if this is what you desire.
  • Spine grip- You will find that some combs have squared spines, and others have round. Some companies make very wide spines out of wood, plastic or metal, which are intended to offer a larger, more ergonomic grip. Experiment to see which type feels best in your hand.
  • Handle combs- Some combs come with metal, plastic or wooden handles making up about half of the comb, the remainder featuring spine and teeth. Some groomers find these to be more comfortable to grip. Since the span of actual comb is smaller, you will cover less coat area while you work than you would using a longer comb.
  • Material and finish- Quality combs may be made of a variety of materials such as steel, brass or aluminum. Many will be nickel chrome coated to protect the tool from rust and give a very smooth finish. Others will have a static reducing coating applied to cover the metal. Ideally the teeth will be polished and have rounded tips, so they do not scrape the skin or damage the hair shaft with rough edges.
  • Finishing combs- Finishing Combs have finer teeth, spaced closely together to separate and fluff hair rather than help with shed control or detangling. A good finishing comb can really bring your grooming up to the next level.
  • Staggered or double row teeth- Some combs have double rows of teeth, and some have staggered teeth. These are designed to aid in dematting, removing loose undercoat and working through very dense coats. Some combs have staggered shorter/longer teeth. These are useful on short, dense coats, and are wonderful on cats.

No one comb will be ideal for every pet. Most groomers find it best to have a variety of combs in their toolbox. For starters, consider these three types.

  • A long toothed, coarse or coarse and medium spaced comb will be excellent to help you remove loose coat and find tangles your brush missed when working on double coated breeds, drop coats kept in full coat, or dogs such as poodles and bichons with long hair. Some people call this a “rough in” comb.
  • A medium/fine comb with moderate length teeth is a good basic comb that can be used on most breeds.
  • A fine finishing comb to separate every last hair and make the dog look its fluffy, finished best is also important.

Combs vary in price from under $10 to over $100. It is a good investment to spend more on a quality comb, because it will last for years and the superior construction will be kindest to coats. Unpolished or marred teeth can cause damage to the hair shaft, resulting in increased tangling.

There is no “one size fits all,” comb. Try adding some new types and styles of these inexpe