As a groomer we see it time and time again. Customers present their beloved pet to you that they have dutifully bathed, blow dried and brushed them out. Usually with the wrong type of brush, or poor technique. The end result is matting. It is painful for the pet in most cases(depending on the condition), hard on the groomer's body, as well as being time consuming, and it is costly to the pet owner.
The best way to keep your poodle fluffy, your yorkies locks smooth and flowing is to:
1) Have a regularly scheduled grooming appointment every 3-4 weeks
Regular professional grooming will keep your pet's coat,skin,nails and ears in good condition.
Unfortunately home grooming often times leads to problems, with your drop coat (shih tzu, yorkies, maltese) as well as your curly coats(bichon, and poodles) many pet owners will use blow dryers on the coat. The heat will over process the hair and cause dry brittle, and broken coats. Letting a drop coat or curly coated dog air dry can lead to more problems. By the time some customers bring "fluffy" in for grooming, the coat conditions are so out of hand that only humane thing to do is shave it off and start from scratch.
2) If you comb your pet out with a med/course metal comb at least 3-4 times per week, you can save yourself a lot of money! Not to mention your pet and your groomer will be happier not to have to go through that painful time consuming process!
3) With a metal comb you should be able to move the comb from the top of the pet's head down to the tail in one stroke without having to remove the comb from the coat. Just like you comb your own hair. Go through every part of the pet's body until everything is combed out. It should really only take 10-15 minutes tops! Make sure you use the smaller end of the comb to catch all the tangles.