The fur of your four-legged friend not only gives it its typical appearance, but it also fulfills important protective functions: It protects the skin from dirt and weather influences, balances the temperature in hot weather, and keeps out dangerous UV rays. Still, some dog breeds require regular clipping or trimming. Read here how to properly treat, shear, brush, or trim your four-legged friend’s fur.
Machine clipping for long-haired dogs – not always the right choice
Take a closer look at your dog’s fur: Is it stick, prickly, or rough hair? Is it a single-layer (topcoat) or multi-layer dog coat (with undercoat)? For the latter, the dog hair should be trimmed (more on this below).
When to shave the dog?
- Dog breeds with a single coat structure, ie with only topcoats such as Maltese, Yorkshire Terrier, or Poodle, can be clipped in principle.
- For Poodles, groomers (specially trained dog hairdressers) recommend careful clipping, because the poodle’s skin is very sensitive and its light summer coat protects it from high temperatures and UV rays.
- Basically, a complete clipping should only be carried out when the fur is totally matted and nothing helps. As a rule, the comb, brush, and scissors for the legs are used first. The fur is only carefully trimmed.
Please consider: For single-layered, light-skinned dogs, a short hair clip means that you have to ensure sufficient UV protection with sunscreen in summer and dog clothing in winter.
Popular “summer haircut” – but please with caution
For dogs with an undercoat, the popular “summer clip” may only be carried out after thorough consultation with experts. A possible consequence of unprofessional clipping is the so-called clipper alopecia. This results in many hairless, “naked” areas in your four-legged friend’s coat or areas that are only insufficiently interspersed with tufts of top hair. Breeds with a very slowly growing top coat are also affected. In water dogs such as the Portuguese Water Dog, Golden, or Labrador Retriever, the undercoat is even vital, as it protects the skin from drying out and hypothermia in the water and also provides the necessary buoyancy when swimming.
Shear long-haired dogs – but how?
Each dog breed has different aspects to consider, which is why there is no universal rule for the perfect clip. The dog fur should be cut in such a way that it can continue to fulfill its important protective functions.
Appropriately good equipment is essential for smooth, stress-free clipping. The clipper should be powerful and have a high cutting force so that the procedure is not painful for your dog. You will also need various attachments, fur scissors (with rounded ends), different brushes, and fur combs.
Trimming: the optimal choice for long-haired dogs with a dense undercoat
All dog breeds that have a very dense undergarment should only be clipped short in a few exceptional cases. Trimming is the right grooming choice here to remove dead top hair.
Some dog breeds, such as the wire-haired dachshund, do not have a natural coat change. To prevent skin irritation and eczema and to stimulate fur growth, trimming is required here every three to four months.
Trim it yourself or go to the dog groomer?
There are two methods of trimming: hand trimming and removing hair with a trimmer. Both types of grooming require a lot of experience and practice. Because correctly recognizing the dog hair suitable for plucking is difficult for beginners.
A good groomer will usually trim the dog’s hair by plucking out the longest hairs that can be trimmed with his thumb and forefinger. After successful trimming, the colors of the dog’s coat appear strong and the coat retains its important qualities without being falsely thinned.
When grooming with a trimming knife, make sure that the serrated blade is as blunt as possible. If it is too sharp, an unwanted haircut will happen quickly. Never pull out too large clumps of hair at once, because the procedure causes pain even with hair that is already dead.
Basic step-by-step guide to dog clipping
The be-all and end-all is the right preparation:
- Getting used to it: Before clipping for the first time, you should get your dog used to the clipper, its vibration, and the noise. Don’t dare to make the first cut until your dog tolerates the device. It helps if a friend or family member is there to reassure you the first time.
- Prepare the table: For better handling, place your dog on a table that is made non-slip with a rubber base.
- Brush out: In order for the clippers to glide better through the coat, comb and brush it extensively beforehand to remove knots and tangles.
- Trimming Length & Clipper: Find out the recommended coat length for your dog’s breed and coat condition. First test a more generous shear setting of approx. 10 mm.
Now you can start with the actual clipping of your dog:
- Correct posture: Your dog will ideally stand upright on the non-slip surface.
- Correct direction: The cut is made without exception with the direction of growth of the fur. Start with the neck and then run the device down the back towards the chest, abdomen, and legs.
- Regular clipping: The clipping head is kept close to the dog’s body without pressure. It is best not to set the machine down to prevent unwanted fur patterns.
- Sensitive parts of the body: You should be very careful on the head, ears, paws, or genitals and, if necessary, do without clippers. Use scissors with rounded ends to avoid cutting injuries.
- No-Go: Never clip or clip your dog’s vibrissae (long “whiskers”). They are very important whiskers for your dog.
- Follow-up brushing: A careful follow-up brushing removes any loose hair and gives your dog the relaxation it deserves – along with a treat as a reward.