This disclaimer goes without saying, but I am NOT a professional groomer. I have ZERO training. The hair cut looks good 80% of the time and patch the other 20% of the time. But my dog is 1000% happier having her hair cut in a familiar place by me. Since she got back from her last grooming appointment (when she was small I went to 3 different groomers and was only happy with 1), she was never quite the same about me touching her paws.
I just hated paying someone $100 each time to give my dog a trim that I feel I could have done myself. And now that I do it myself
I cut Bloo in 6 distinct “zones”: Body, Legs, Arms, Tail, Butt Fluff, and Face
- Butt Fluff
- Face Fluff
Tools of the trade:
Soo with clippers, I’m really not an expert so whenever I run into problems I just Google. My last search was “Oster clipper making loud noise” and discovered there are “tuning” screws on the side you can turn with a coin. Huh.
I often break these steps up over the course of 2-3 days. It’s a lot for a pupper to sit through and Bloo is usually exhausted by the end. Some people recommend tiring out your pup before doing any grooming, but I find the more tired Bloo gets, the harder it is to get her to calm down. Know thy dog!
Step 1: Thorough brush through/locate areas of matting
I had a wire slicker brush, but I really don’t like it because it was really damaging to Bloo’s hair. It would break up knots, but then more mats would appear and it was a horrible never ending cycle. Her hair wasn’t as soft and the only way to reverse the damage was by cutting it all off and starting anew. It’s also quite prickly against her skin, so she doesn’t like it all that much either.
I now use a very cushiony, wire pin, paddle brush, similar to this one. So using that brush, I locate all the big knots/mats and snip them out.
Then I break out the small comb and run that through her whole body to get things as knot free as possible.
The clippers aren’t great when it comes getting through the kinds of really dense mats that Bloo gets, and they make a loud angry sound that’s scary for both me and Bloo. I try my best to carefully trim out matts/knots whenever I see them. Yes, sometimes that means my dog has patchy fur in places. I always miss one spot… She had a little naked butt for a few weeks when I had to cut all the fluff off her butt because it was like one big piece of felt.
I finish up by using the paddle brush and brush it in the opposite direction I’ve been working in. So if I’ve been brushing her from head to tail, I will run the brush from tail to head to get all the hairs to stick up.
Step 2: Body
I use the #3 blade for most of the dog. This is supposed to cut hair down to ½”, but I find it’s closer to 1″. Things can get kind of patchy when I use the #3 blade… The blade can get warm with use, so I move as quickly as possible. I do have a blade coolant. If the blade gets too warm, I’ll take a break and work on another part of the dog.
I clip Bloo’s leash on and attach her to the hand railing of the stairs. She usually resigns after a couple minutes and just lies down on her side while I work away. Her body is the easiest part for me to do.
It’s really important to not accidentally poke your dog’s skin with the sharp points of the comb/blade.
I run the clippers along her whole body one way, then the opposite way, and then diagonally to make sure all the hair is the same length. For a longer cut, I’ll just use the clippers one way.
Step 3: Belly
The belly is tricky because it’s so sensitive. I try my best to run over the area with the #3 blade, but usually switch to the #10 blade without a comb to get the belly hairs all nice and short. Yes, that’s right, I’m free handing this! This is because Bloo’s belly hair tends to mat very easily, and it’s painful to brush out of her. I end up having to snip all the knots anyways, so I get it as short as I can. The area below the rib cage, I try and shave right down because the sparse hair is just in perma knots that I think are itchy because Bloo is always licking the knots.
I try and get Bloo to stand up for this, and work around her best I can. Again, the most important consideration is that my dog is still happy, so if I miss a spot or whatever, it’s often easier to go at it with a belly rub session with scissors.
Step 4: Legs
Four legs, four sides to each leg. Run the clippers from top to bottom for the front, back, and both sides of the legs. To get the paws, I just gently lift the leg up and run the clippers down the front. For the paws, I finish up with scissors.
Bloo hates this part and is very wiggly, so I do the best I can. Trying to distract her is the best method. I wait until someone is walking in front of the house, point them out to Bloo and she’s in guard dog mode and barking for about as long as it takes me to clip a leg.
Step 5: Tail
My favorite way to trim her tail is to wait until she has settled into a real nice chew.
Once Bloo is laying down on the floor, I carefully sweep her tail out, so it’s sticking straight out on the floor rather than curled around her body. Then I take scissors and try to cut a straight line right across. Imagine the tail you would like and carve it out with those scissors!
Step 6: Butt fluff
As a puppy, we tried doing this by force, but for a very small dog, it took three of us to get figure it out, and it still required me feeling around for her butt hole and carefully snipping around it. Terrible idea. Don’t go up in that area with sharp scissors blind. Even though grooming scissors are rounded, they’re still very sharp at the edge of the blade, and I’ve accidentally cut Bloo quite a few times (not in the butt area thank god).
When it’s dinner time, I mix in something REAL yummy with her kibble, like some chunks of steak, pork, or chicken. As she’s eating, she holds her tail up, so I get down on the floor, where I have a clear view and caaaarreefullllyyy tidy up.
Step 7: Face fluff
In a way, this is the easiest part. I put Bloo on a leash and take her outside to the front lawn. She loves people watching/watching cars go by on the big road, so her head is almost guaranteed to be facing one way. Then as she’s watching people I sit on the grass beside her and carefully snip her face from behind her. Since, I can never get her to face me while doing her face, I’ve just learned how to do it by only getting a side view of her.
A place that mats a lot is under her ears, so I just go snip happy and trim all that down.
For the ears, I just follow a rough oval ear shape. Make sure you know where her actual ear is and what is just hair.
For the top of her head, I just sort of freehand a rough rounded domey shape. Once you start snipping here and there, other places will start to look long and then it’s kind of like a fun game to look all of it look sort of even. Sometimes I run my fingers through it so that the hair is pulled long, and try to even it out that way.
Be super careful around the eyes! I find if I’m petting her head, I’ll start with my hands close to her eyes, and sweep back. She kind of closes her eyes when I do this, so I can try and preserve her pretty ginger lashes.
Her muzzle, I prefer to keep it a nice uniform length so it looks round, but some people prefer a bearded look. I trim along her lips horizontally and then try and get a uniform length by then trimming on a diagonal.
For her chin, I just free hand and try and trim some length.
As a final step, I will often give the dog a quick bath to get out all the little baby hairs that have been caught in her coat. Those little hairs cause so much itching and end up everywhere.