Home Grooming: How to Cut Dog Hair

Giving a hair cut to a dog is generally an important part of the grooming process, particularly for medium and long-haired animals. Learning this important skill may help you save money by reducing the number of potentially costly trips to the groomer. If you've never attempted to cut your dog's hair, the task may seem initially intimidating or time-consuming. However, with some basic information, patience and practice, the experience can provide you with valuable time to care for and connect with your pet. Here is an overview of the tools required to cut your dog's hair, as well as some essential tips for performing the task safely and successfully.

Tools Needed to Cut Dog Hair

The right tools are a key part of cutting your dog's hair. The most essential supplies include:

  • Scissors or shears are often used to touch up recent hair cuts, remove matted fur, or trim hair around the face, ears, legs and feet. General purpose grooming scissors typically have blades ranging in length from 7 to 8 1/2 inches. Many high-quality models feature stainless steel or titanium-coated blades designed to retain their sharpness over time. Blades may also come in straight and curved varieties with sharp or blunt edges. Round-edged scissors may be helpful in preventing accidental injuries.
  • Clippers/Shavers, or electronic scissors, have motorized blades designed to remove hair close to the skin. They are found in both plug-in and cordless battery-operated varieties. Many electric clipper kits feature interchangeable blades designed to cut dog hair at different lengths. Some common blade measurements include 7F, 10, 30 and 40. Typically, higher blade numbers produce closer shaves. Some of the most popular electric clipper brands are Andis, Oster and Wahl.
  • Combs and Brushes are intended to help untangle fur and eliminate excess hair. It is generally recommended to comb or brush your dog before and after cutting his hair with scissors or clippers. Brushes and combs come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Slicker brushes have flat bases with thin metal pins. These work well for dogs with long hair. Pin brushes feature metal pins secured on rubber bases. These are well-suited for dogs with wavy or curly coats.

With these and other grooming products, it's recommended to use grooming tools designed specifically for use on dogs only. Grooming supplies made for humans or other animals may unintentionally harm your dog or produce unwanted results.

Tips for Cutting Your Dog's Hair

Cutting your dog's hair safely and skillfully typically involves a standard routine and some practical guidelines. Here is general summary of the hair cutting process in chronological order:

  1. Collect your necessary supplies, including brushes, combs, scissors and electric clippers.
  2. Brush your dog to eliminate debris and tangles from his fur.
  3. Shampoo and dry your dog.
  4. Brush or comb your dog to help remove any remaining matted fur.
  5. Use the clippers on the main parts of the dog's body—trim hair in the direction its growing.
  6. Use the scissors to touch up clipped hair and to trim around the face, ears and legs.

Here are a couple additional tips for cutting your dog's hair:

  • Make sure scissor and electric clipper blades are sharp, since dull blades may be harder to control and cause injuries.
  • Find a quiet and secure place for the haircut. This may help you concentrate and reduce the chance of your dog being scared by sudden noises.