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If you have a long haired dog and his fur is matted, there is a solution. There are a number of conventional de-matting tools available. However, in most cases, you can use a tool called a stripping knife. This grooming instrument typically has a wooden handle and a beveled, toothed blade which helps to detangle the fur. The best way to use the stripping knife is to hold the mat and work the tool through the hair just above the mat.
If your dog has a large patch of matted fur, you may be able to detangle a portion of the mat itself with the stripper and then use a comb for the remaining portion. Using this technique may save some of the hair. Remember not to hack through or clip a hunk of hair off to remove a mat.
You can also try rubbing cream rinse into the mat and dab a little water as you go. Use a mat breaker (this tool resembles a brush, but typically has stainless steel blades to break apart the tangles) or comb to finish.