For most dogs, brushing is the main part of regular home grooming. But for many dog breeds like Poodles, Shih Tzus, and other manicured breeds clipping is also required. Knowing how to clip your dog's coat can also save a lot of money.
Manicured breeds need to have their coats clipped every 4-6 weeks in order to maintain their shape. Groomers either strip, clipper, or hand scissor (depending on the breed) to get the right look for their clients. The work required for some breeds might seem daunting at first, but once learned, maintaining the manicured look at home will be well worth it.
Getting Started - Dog Clipping At Home
Every breed has their own standard look, and if you want your dog to look true to his/her breed type, you really need to understand the breed standard. Investing in a good illustrated grooming guide such as "Groom Your Dog At Home" for all Breeds will be a good starting point.
Have your dog groomed by an experienced professional groomer at least once. If they will allow you to, you might ask if you can watch to see how it is done. Either way, a well done cut will give you an outline and shape to follow, which is easier than trying to create the shape for yourself.
Dog Clipping Tools You'll Need
To do the job right, you need to obtain the correct tools for the job, which will be dependent on your breed of dog.
Here are some of the most common tools:
- Brushes: All coats should be thoroughly brushed out prior to clipping, so invest in quality brushes and combs to remove any tangles and dead coat. Depending on your dog's coat slicker brushes, pin brushes, de-shedding tools, stripper, and a comb may be necessary.
- Scissors: Every dog has areas that will need to be hand-scissored, and you will want proper hair cutting scissors for a cleaner and sharper cut. Working with blunt scissors is not advisable - I'm speaking from experience!
- Clippers: Human hair clippers can be used, but for more specific needs, purchasing clippers made for dogs will give a better result. If you have a breed that requires a lot of clippering work, spend the extra money to invest in a high-quality, durable dog clipper. Less expensive clippers are not always heavy-duty or durable enough to cut through thicker, stubborn coats.
- Clippercide and Cooling Lubricant: Clippers become hot on metal parts without their plastic cutting guards. Spraying the metal with a cooling lubricant will help cool the metal. Clippercide is necessary for spraying the cutting blades in between uses to kill any fungal or bacterial residue that might reside on the blades.
- A Grooming Table: While you can clipper your dog without a grooming table, for breeds that require more precision for the right look, a dog grooming table would be a good investment. It not only elevates the dog to the proper height, but it also secures the dog in one place.
Dog Clipping Tips
Every breed really has its own requirements, so it is beneficial to investigate what those are.
Generally speaking, here are a few clipping tips:
- Start with a guard blade that takes off less hair. You can always switch to a shorter guard, but you can't put back hair already taken off!
- Clipper with the way the hair grows, not against it. Clippers can pinch, grab, or cut skin folds that get in the way.
- Don't apply pressure on the clipper while clipping. Just lightly move the blade across your dog. Otherwise, pressure can cause clipper burn, which will appear as a red scabby area within a few hours. Razor burn happens most in sensitive areas like the face, groin, and stomach.
- The metal parts do get hot! They will burn. Always use a plastic guard when clippering. If you must use the clippers with just the metal blade for certain areas, do those areas first. Always check with your hand to see how warm the metal is. If it is hot, stop using it and let it cool down first.
- Be very careful using the clipper on or around sensitive areas. Thestomach and groin are two of the places you need to be the most careful. Watch out for nipples on the tummy, in both boys and girls.
- Depending on how much loose skin your dog has, while clippering with one hand, hold your dog's skin taught with the other. This way, the clippers run evenly over the skin/coat.
- Don't forget the feet! Many dogs have hair on the bottom of their feet that continues to grow. Use a smaller clipper or scissors to cut this hair off.
- Never, ever clipper through a tangle or mat. Your clippers will become stuck in the mat and pull against the skin. Always remove tangles and mats with brushing prior to clipping your dog.
Special Considerations When Grooming Your Dog At Home
Most terriers are not really supposed to be clippered. In order to maintain the proper wire texture of their coat, it must be stripped by hand with a special tool. Before stripping a coat for the first time yourself, ask a knowledgeable terrier person who is skilled in stripping if they will show you how it is done properly. Yorkies, Shih-Tzus, and Maltese normally are hand scissored to maintain their hair length. If you've decided not to keep their hair long, you will want to go with a puppy cut. Scissors are used to maintain that look. If you want to practice on something besides your dog for the first time, there is a model dog for groomers made by Top Performance. This is a hairy dog with white acrylic fur that requires you to brush it out and style it in any way you like. You can practice hand scissor work on this model instead of the real thing to get the feel for it. Manicured dogs can be higher maintenance than others, but by investing in the right tools and knowing what your dog should look like, you can easily begin to clip your dog at home. You'll find this to be less expensive than the monthly trip to the pet grooming shop, and your dog will also be happier having you do the job - it will help to build and strengthen that close bond that you and your dog share together.