Once you’re dog is clean, dry and brushed out, it’s time to trim! This is where the fun starts, because there are so many options. Looking at pictures on the internet can give you some great dog grooming tips and good inspiration, however if you are just learning it is best to go as simple as possible for the first few grooms, to master the basics before you start getting fancy.
Always remember that it’s easy to take more hair off, but you’ll have to wait for it to grow back in if you trim too short, so taking off little bits at a time until you get the look you want is the safest route.
Natural Coated Dogs – Trimming
If you have a ‘natural coated dog’ (like an Australian Shepherd or Border Collie), the most common trimming is the feet into a tight ‘cat foot’, trim the pasterns and hocks short, and tidy up the bum. You may also choose to shorten the tail and under the body.
These types of coats should not be shaved, because they are designed to regulate heat and protect the skin. If shaved the coat may not grow back properly, which is known as post clipping alopecia. By using Micio Micia thinning shears, you can shorten up all the loose ends while still maintaining a natural look.
If you have a breed that requires a full haircut, the length you pick will depend on many factors; this includes your dog’s activity level (a dog who swims a lot will matt quickly, but a dog who sleeps all day can be left longer), how much time you’re willing to spend brushing in between (the more hair, the more work), and how tolerant your dog is of grooming (if they hate it, the simplest, quickest option is the best.)
For shorter lengths you will need a clipper and a blade of the size you’ve chosen. The clippers may come with an instructional DVD, and many companies have videos available on their website or YouTube. If you are after some quality dog grooming videos then check out Jodi Murphy’s and her website.
Where to Start Grooming
Start at the back of the head, and clip down the spine, then work your way down the sides of the dog. Check your blade frequently to make sure it’s not getting too warm. Use extra care when clipping near the armpits, genitals or anywhere else where there’s a chance for skin to catch between the teeth of the blade. Clipping the inside of the legs and under the body with a blade one length shorter can be good on dogs who mat easily, as it will remove more hair but won’t be too noticeable when you’re just looking at it.
After the hair is all clipped off the body and legs, use your curved scissors to trim any extra hair from around the edges of the feet, to make a tight, round foot. Check that the nails are not overgrown, and trim them if necessary. Most dogs need their nails trimmed at least once a month, but may require it more or less often depending on how much they wear them down naturally. Shorten the hair on the tail to the length you prefer, using either your straight or curved shears, depending on the look you want. Brush the hair up and out from the body and legs, and trim any hairs that are sticking out noticeably.
Grooming the Head
The head is the trickiest part of the groom, and will be the most noticeable when finished. Short, blunt tipped scissors should be used to carefully clip any hair that protrudes into the eye or mouth. The ear canal should be cleaned with a product specifically designed for dogs, and the hair on the ears can be left as long or short as you like. Growing them out or shaving them short can make a huge difference in the overall look, so experiment with it. Just always be sure to double-check that you know exactly where the flesh of the ear is before snipping, as it is easy to catch the skin if you’re not careful.
Grooming the Face
For the face, you can make any look that you like, from the shaved muzzle of a poodle to the long, shaggy face of an Ewok. Most breeds will have a specific head style for their breed standard, which will look good even if you haven’t chosen to clip their body. If you have a mixed breed dog, you can pick a trim from whichever breed your dog most resembles, or create a whole new style of your own. We recommend using ball tipped safety scissors when grooming the face.
As you grow more comfortable with your equipment and improve your scissoring technique, you will learn what length to trim to, so the grooming process won’t take as long after the first few attempts and you will be able to get fancier. If you are trying to achieve a very particular look, you may want to continue taking your dog to a professional groomer for your full grooms, so you only have to brush and trim your dog in between. More information check out our article on maintenance grooming.