How Often Should You Clip Your Dogs Hair? It Depends!
A well-trimmed dog is a good-looking dog. However, different dogs have different grooming requirements. If you’re new to owning a high maintenance breed, you’ve got a lot to learn.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know before clipping your dog’s hair.
How Often Should I Clip My Dog's Hair?
One of the things that impact how often you should clip your dog’s hair is the length of hair. For example, most short-haired breeds don’t need their hair clipped, unless for medical reasons. Have you ever seen a shaved Pit Bull? Of course, this doesn’t mean they don’t have other grooming needs, like brushing and bathing.
Long hair needs way more maintenance. How often should you clip your dog’s hair depends on a lot of factors, including the type of hair. Clipping dogs with silky coats help them avoid getting their fur matted. A short haircut on your Shih Tzu should be redone every two to three months. But, if you want to keep your pooch’s hair length at more than 2.5 centimetres, then you should retouch it every four to six weeks, to prevent the fur from getting matted.
Curly coats require most work. However, not every curly coat grows at the same speed. A poodle’s coat grows extremely fast, and they require clipping every four to six weeks. When it comes to Maltesers, their hair growth has a somewhat slower pace, so you can clip them every eight weeks.
Keep in mind that different curly breeds need their hair cut at different lengths. Poodles, for example, can have long hair around certain parts, like ears and tails. Some other breeds, like Maltese Bichón, need to have a cut shorter than four centimetres. Otherwise, you’re up all night for a detangling party.
Finally, some breeds mustn't be clipped at all costs. Northern breeds like Malamutes and Akitas, and herding dogs like Bernese Mountains and Australian Shepherds are just some examples. These breeds have a double coat that serves as insulation. In winter, it keeps them warm, while it prevents the sun from getting close to the skin during summer. Clipping their coat will cause them to overheat.
How To Clip Your Dog’s Hair At Home
Taking your canine companion to a professional for grooming is always an option, but it can get tiring over time. Here is a quick guide on how to do it yourself:
What You'll Need
If you’re buying a dog hair clipper, here are some things to keep in mind. A battery-powered clipper means no worries about getting your dog’s leg tangled around the cord. The drawback is that you have to remember to charge it before grooming (1).
Dog hair clippers come with guide combs of different sizes. Find the one that has ones suitable for your dog’s coat. Finally, if your pooch is easily scared, consider getting the quietest clipper you find.
Before clipping, you need to brush out your dog’s fur. A slicker brush works well with most coat types, and will do a decent job at smoothing down the hair before a bath.
You’ll need a comb to remove all the tangles and knots that could get stuck inside the clipper blade.
Clipping should only be done on clear fur. This means you’ll need a dog shampoo to get all the dirt out. After a bath, use a leave-in conditioner to smooth the fur out.
There are some areas you can’t reach with clippers, like around the ears, for example. In such a case, use a quality grooming scissors to trim down the fur.
So you’re ready to groom your dog all by yourself? You can’t go wrong by following these steps.
The Clipping Process 6 Simple Steps
1. Get To Know Your Dog’s Coat
Before you even consider clipping your dog’s hair by yourself, educate yourself on your dog’s breed needs. The best way to learn about that is to ask a professional groomer. They’ll tell you how often you should clip your dog’s hair as well as how to best do that.
2. Teach Your Dog
Before clipping, acquaint the dog with the clipper. Allow your pooch to sniff it, and then turn it on. See how your four-legged friend reacts to it (2). Always let the dog know there’s nothing to be scared of, and reward good behaviour with treats.
The earlier you start clipping your dog, the better (3). It’s way easier to teach a puppy to stand still and put up with the grooming than an adult dog.
“Your dog trusts you completely with all the big decisions in her life. But, on the little things, she sure can have opinions, and those need to be addressed,” - Dr Neil Marrinan, Old Lyme Veterinary Hospital.
Your dog must be able to rely on you being a calm and guiding hand, before you even try clipping at home. That means slowly introducing your pooch to being touched in sensitive spots, standing still, but also get rewarded for it.
3. Brush & Detangle
Start by brushing your dog’s coat. Take whatever you regularly use for brushing your dog and get rid of all the knots and tangles.
4. Give Your Pooch A Bath
It’s bath time. You don’t want the dirt getting stuck between your clipper’s blades, do you? Use your dog’s shampoo and get that coat shiny clean.
Related: Best Dog Bath Tubs Australia.
Before you can clip your dog’s hair, it needs to be bone dry. If your pooch doesn’t mind a hairdryer, use it to speed up the whole process. A completely dry coat is crucial. If there are any damp areas left, the fur might end up stuck in the blades, causing an uneven result.
5. Final Preparation
Leave-in conditioners are the key to the perfect glide. This is a trick all professional groomers do. These products keep the fur detangled and shiny, so the clipper easily passes through.
With most coats, you’ll have to go over with a clipper a few times to smooth down the fur. The first clip removes the bulk, while each subsequent one removes hair from areas you might have missed. This will save you time with scissors later.
Generally, you should go in the direction of hair growth. This will work for most coats. However, some coats don’t clip neatly, and would look better if done with reverse clipping.
Reverse clipping means going in the direction opposite of the hair growth. This is especially useful on soft, straight coats that lie flat to the dog’s skin, like Yorkies and Cocker Spaniels have.
PRO TIP: Take a break every half an hour. That way, both you and your pooch can stretch your legs, drink water or simply relax a bit before continuing. Breaks are especially important when first introducing a pup to clipping. You want this to be a pleasant experience for both of you.
PRO TIP: To deal with those hard-to-reach areas, use a pair of scissors. With them, you can easily remove the hair around the dog’s ears, face, tail and feet.
PRO TIP: Every good boy or girl deserves a treat. If your dog was well behaved throughout the clipping process, then that should be rewarded.
Clipping your dog’s hair is no rocket science. It’s easier if you train your pooch from an early age, but even adult dogs can be taught to stay still while you’re clipping. You might struggle at first, but with time, you’ll learn to groom your pooch like a professional.
There’s a reason why dog hair clippers exist. Dogs have way more sensitive skin than we do, and a clipper designed for people could hurt their coats and skin. Furthermore, they’re way louder than dog hair clippers.
Even if you regularly clip your dog’s hair, there are some parts you should touch up more frequently. For example, if your dog’s hair starts obscuring vision, you should snip the edges off with scissors. The same goes for hair around the jaw.
Remove excess hair with a bristle brush after every use. You can apply the clipper oil between the blades while the motors on. That will get all the hair and dirt out. Once you’re done, turn the clipper off and dab the blades dry. Then, apply a disinfectant spray.
- Colman, D. April 25, 2020. “You Missed a Spot: How Not to Groom Your Dog During Lockdown” NY Times. Retrieved April 24, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/25/style/dog-grooming-tutorial.html
- Sullivan, K. January 2, 2019. “The Most Important Do’s and Don’ts When Grooming Your Dog at Home” PETA. Retrieved April 24, 2021. https://www.peta.org/living/animal-companions/dogs-home-grooming/