FYI: we may earn a commission for qualified purchases made through the links in our articles (learn more).
Proper dog grooming routines help your dog feel and look its best. Grooming sessions on a routine basis also give pet owners the perfect opportunity to examine dogs for any signs of problems. While grooming, you can check your dog’s coat, ears, eyes, teeth, and nails. The required frequency of grooming varies according to your dog’s size, coat type, and breed. Good hygiene habits help your dog remain its healthy best.
Perfect Preparation: The Key to Clipping
As is true with most tasks, proper preparation is the necessary key to success. You need to take the time before clipping to collect the necessary equipments. After you have your grooming tools in a convenient arrangement, you should prepare the work area. Finally, prepare your pet for the routine of trimming its hair. Preparing makes a huge difference to the process of cutting your pup’s hair and attaining the desired overall outcome.
Gather Your Tools
Trimming your dog’s coat keeps the canine looking sharp, helps to prevent matting, and inhibits debris from becoming trapped. Choose a clipper that is professional in grade for dogs with long, thick coats. Affordable dog clippers targeted at general customers will work for shorter, thinner coats. Ask a store employee which clipper is best for the breed of your dog. Expect a professional set to cost around $150 USD. While it is an investment, it is cheaper than frequent trips to professional groomers over time. These clippers will feature interchangeable blades capable of removal for resharpening at a low cost.
Scissors are necessary for trimming some areas on your dog. You do not want to use clippers on the more sensitive areas of your dog. Try blunted-edge shears or thinning shears. Avoid sharp shears just in case your dog moves jerkily or unexpectedly as you trim. Injuries are possible in this circumstance. Thinning shears trim a particular area rather than the entire length of the shear blade. This means you are less likely to cut a chunk of fur unintentionally. For a quick trim, you can skip the clippers, using shears on detailed areas. Do not use shears on your dog’s entire body, however. Not only is this more time-consuming, but it also creates a greater likelihood of hurting your dog.
Cutting with Clippers
The first step is to choose the guard that you can use to cut your pup’s hair to a certain length. When you are uncertain as to which size to start with, use the largest at first and then work your way smaller. Begin by tackling any areas that are particularly matted or tangled. Note that severe matting is capable of laying quite close to the dog’s skin, making the mat tricky to remove. An infection may develop on your dog’s skin in such areas. If you note signs of swelling, redness, or infection you should visit your veterinarian before you attempt to groom your dog in that area.
Go slow with the clippers when dog grooming. Work your way along your dog’s body, clipping in the hair growth direction. If you have an assistant to hold your dog, the task can be much easier. Otherwise, train your dog to hold steady while you groom. The earlier you can start this process, the better.
Cutting with Scissors
Scissors are ideal for trimming and touching up the hair of your dog’s ears, legs, and face. If you are using regular, blunt-edged shears, be sure to use only the tips to trim such areas. That way you can easily and quickly withdraw the scissors when your dog makes abrupt movements. When cutting around the ears, hold them down. This will protect them from the blades of your scissors. Having an assistant hold your dog while you use scissors is particularly helpful. This minimizes your chance of an accident occurring.
Selecting the Ideal Clipper
Professional-grade clippers are your best bet for a long-lasting investment that will give your dog the perfect trim. Your local pet store should carry some well-made professional clippers for your perusal. Use a #4 FC clipper blade or a #5 FC blade for your clippers on longer-coated dogs. Many professional-grade clippers are packaged with a #10 blade; this creates too close a trim for long-haired breeds. Remember that in terms of blade numbers, the shorter cuts are associated with the higher numbers. The FC in the blade numbers stands for the finish cut. The alternative is a skip-tooth blade. If you are inexperienced, this type of blade can tear and pull at your skin. For additional precautions, choose a clipper that comes with the guide comb attachment. This comb prevents the clipper’s blade from getting close to the skin.
Training Your Dog for a Trim
Particularly if you lack an assistant, your dog needs to be trained for trims and other grooming. A well-trained dog should hold still for all the stages of grooming, from cutting or grinding nails using a dog nail grinder to brushing your companion’s teeth. Pet parents should let the dog get accustomed to the sound of the nail trimmers and other tools before attempting their use. Start as young as you can. It is never too late to train, but the earlier the better.
Avoid Pulling Your Dog’s Hair
One of the advantages of professional clippers is that you can sharpen the blades. This is important because dull blades will pull your dog’s hair. Just as when getting your hair cut, sharp scissors easily slice through hairs without tugging and causing skin discomfort. Sharp blades are also important because, in some areas, you may be required to limit the trimming to the top of the clippers. This is true around the ears and head.
Take a Slow and Steady Pace
Do not push the clipper at too rapid a pace or the clipping will result in lines. In fact, you should go slow in nearly every aspect of grooming. For example, when cutting your dog’s nails, going too fast can cause nail distress. This can result in discomfort and squirming.
Avoid Letting the Clippers Grow Too Hot
Hot clippers can actually burn the skin of your dog. Make a habit of turning your clippers off regularly. Test their temperature on a regular basis by touching them. If your clippers do feel too hot, you have several options. You can spray on a bit of clipper lubricant or coolant, switch to a spare clipper if you have one, switch out your blades for a set of cooler ones, or place the hot blade on a metal surface such as a baking sheet. This latter absorbs the blade’s heat with surprising speed.
Follow the Correct Direction
For a natural-looking, smooth coat, clip in the direction of the hair’s growth during your grooming session. A dog’s hair is unique in its growth patterns. The hair can change directions depending on the particular body part of your dog. Cutting can take a fair time investment because of this. Be sure you closely pay attention to your dog’s hair’s direction of growth. This ensures a cut that is even, smooth and fits with your dog’s coat.
Knowing the Type of Your Dog’s Coat
Before you make a try at clipping your dog independently, you may want to make at least one trip to a professional groomer. You can ask them to walk you through dog grooming stages and show you how best to clip your breed’s coat. Aspects to consider are how long your dog’s hair is in particular body areas and what clipper comb attachments professionals use on the dogs on their tables.
Coats that are Medium to Long
First, bathe your dog and let your companion dry completely. Then select a set of scissors. Trim your dog’s coat at the bottom, taking off a little at a time. This way, you can achieve the desired look while maintaining an even coat length. Finish up by trimming around your dog’s ears and eyes.
For a dog with a wire-haired coat, you strip your dog to remove excess fur . This is a process that plucks out dead hair. When properly accomplished, stripping is not painful. You will want a professional dog groomer to demonstrate this to you as well. A thinning blade can help trim a wire-haired dog. You can also use them to trim the extra hair around the head, paws, and anus.
For dogs with curly coats, there are many specialized cuts. Some complex cuts are best left to the pros, but you can learn upkeep steps to keep your dog looking sharp between visits to the groomer. Again, ask your groomer to demonstrate how best to do this. For maintenance, slicker brushes are best used on curly haired dogs.
Knowing the Proper Appearance for Your Breed
Before pulling out the clippers, know what your dog should look like. Visit the breed club website and examine the photos you find there. You may even find grooming tips. Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, and Shih Tzu dogs all have unique, challenging coats to cut. Dog owners should know the desired final outcome.
Trimming Dog Feet
When trimming your dog’s feet with scissors, use rounded tip shears. Work from back to front. Start near the leg, continuing up toward your dog’s toes. This way you can more easily see what you are doing. Otherwise, you may cut off too much. Only cut that fur hanging out past the tips of the footpads and toes.
Trimming Your Dog’s Face
Do not focus on removing lots of hair in this location. When cutting here, concentrate on meticulously trimming hair that gets in the way of your dog’s eyes. Remove excess hair for the prevention of matting as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you trim a dog at home?
Make sure your dog is relaxed and gripped firmly before you start grooming. Use the clippers in the direction of the dog’s fur growth, moving slowly and with regular breaks so the clippers do not overheat. Then use scissors to trim sensitive areas like feet, face, and anus.
Can I trim my dog myself?
Yes, you can trim your dog yourself. Simply follow trimming instructions carefully and safely.
What is the best way to cut a dog’s hair?
The best way to cut a dog’s hair is to use clippers over the main part of its body and blunt-edged scissors around the sensitive areas.
Do I cut my dog’s hair wet or dry?
You want your dog’s fur to be clean and dry for trimming. This is contrary to the practice with humans, who tend to get haircuts with damp hair. Brush the tangles from your dog, bathe it, and then, when your companion is thoroughly dry, bring out the clippers and scissors.