Even when short and sleek is the preferred style, letting the fur get matted is not good for your dog. I know some people are thinking that matted fur will act like a woven thick blanket and keep the dog warm. Actually, the opposite is true. When the fur is tangle free it helps water just roll off the surface, keeping the underneath dry and insulating the skin. A soaked mat takes a long time to dry, and robs precious heat from the body.
As for clipping, it is more dangerous to clip a really matted dog. The hair pulls the skin out as it is coming off, creating a very real danger of that skin getting caught in the clipper blades. Thankfully I was trained very well on safely clipping even very matted dogs and have never had this happen.
In really badly matted dogs the fur can even prevent the dog from walking properly, effectively tying the legs to the body :( Even just a couple mats behind the ears can be bothersome to your beloved dog, as the hair tightens more and more, pulling the skin.
In the picture to the left you can see how the fur is coming off in one big felted clump. I have to be very careful here as the matted fur pulls the tendons in the neck out. I don't mean to sound scary, but I have heard horror stories of dogs being split open by clippers, *shudder*. Like I said, I ALWAYS follow safe clipping procedures and rules.
If you really want to save you can come in for JUST the Bath and Brush, (includes nail clipping), where I don't do any fur trimming. $20 for small (up to 10lbs), $30 for medium (up to 35lbs), and $50 for large dogs.
We can work out together how many weeks would be good to go between appointments depending on how long your dogs fur is, how active, and how easily it mats up.
First brush with a pin brush like one of the ones pictured above (yes, mine are well worn. The blue one I use in the bath for matted and undercoated dogs when I cream rinse them.... hence the wet hair you see, I couldn't get it all out for the pic).
Now, once you think you have thoroughly brushed an area, grab your comb and go through it with the wide end of the comb. Now go through it again with the fine end. This is the ONLY way you will know if you have brushed out all the mats. If you have only brushed, and not combed, you will never know if there are still mats in the coat! Continue brushing and combing like this section by section, head, neck, chest, front legs, armpits, sides, back, back legs, bum, tummy, and tail.
When you and your dog are accomplished at this exercise, you will both enjoy it and it will be a great time of bonding. (See why I love my job so much!?)