How to Groom a Small Dog With Clippers

Medium
20 - 30 Minutes
1 Month

Introduction

You might think because a small dog is small that means less clipping, right? Small dog equals a small amount of hair and less work... Not necessarily!  

Small dogs come in all sorts of hair types; long, short, undercoat, curly, wavy, straight, soft, coarse, furry, and hairy. There are so many different clipping requirements for different breeds and crossbreeds of small dogs that understanding how to clip your small dog can be a bit of a challenge. 

Many small dog owners opt for what is commonly called a "puppy clip". Although there are variations of this cut, basically, a puppy clip is a short all over clipping.  Other methods of clipping involve leaving some areas of the body longer than others--often the face, tail, tummy, and legs are left longer to create an attractive appearance that is specific to that dog's breed and hair type. Doing some research on what types of clipping will work well for your dog's breed, appearance, and hair coat prior to clipping your small dog is recommended so you have a plan. You may even want to consult with a professional for advice. Also, depending on how small your dog is, tools such as clippers with smaller heads or smaller brushes may be easier to work with. See what options are available to you and get the right tools before starting clipping your small dog.

Dog's Perspective

Some small dogs will appreciate being clipped at home regularly to keep the coat in tip top shape and avoid stressful trips to the groomers. Even if your first attempt at clipping does not result in a professional looking job, chances are your dog really doesn’t care much, as long as you don't clip too short, or with overheated clippers and give him clipper burn. Be sure to check clipper blades frequently and make sure tools used at home are in good condition, sharp for cutting hair, and well oiled and lubricated so they run smoothly.

The Short All Over Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Shampoo
Scissors
Pin Brush
Clipper
Dryer
Towel
Step
1
Prepare
Brush your small dog thoroughly before clipping. Bathe and dry him so you are working with a clean coat.
Step
2
Use short clipper comb
Start with appropriate sized clippers with a short comb, usually between 1/4 and 1/2 inch long. Start at the back of the neck and work in the direction of the hair growth. Hold the clipper blade parallel to your dog's skin.
Step
3
Clip body
Clip in smooth strokes along your dog's back and sides toward the back legs on both sides.
Step
4
Clip legs, tummy, and face
Clip the legs, feet, behind, and tummy short. Sometimes these areas are clipped with a shorter blade and comb. Frequently check your clippers to make sure they are not getting too hot. Take breaks and use coolant as necessary.
Step
5
Clean up with scissors
Use scissors to finish your dog's face, paws and tail. You can use clippers in these areas if you are comfortable.
Recommend grooming method?

The Styled Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Shampoo
Scissors
Pin Brush
Clipper
Dryer
Towel
Step
1
Brush well
Brush your small dog thoroughly before clipping, as areas that are being left longer should be untangled prior to working. Bathe and dry your small dog so you are working with a clean coat.
Step
2
Determine lengths
Determine what areas you will leave longer and which combs you will use as attachments for your clippers. For example, the back and sides may be ¼ to ½ inch and the legs and belly may be clipped with a 1-inch comb attached to clippers so hair is longer in these areas.
Step
3
Clip short areas first
Start working from the back of the neck along back and sides down to the area you want left longer with the shorter blade and comb attachments. Be sure to check clipper temperature frequently.
Step
4
Clip longer areas
Change to a longer comb and clip areas to be left longer, such as the belly, legs, face and backside.
Step
5
Blend
Blend transition points between shorter and longer hair with blending scissors or clippers. Use scissors to trim up the feet, tail and face for a neater look.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Do not point clippers at your dog, hold them flat against your dog's body to avoid nicking skin.
  • Hold scissors used for trimming parallel to your small dog's body.
  • Do not overheat clippers. Use coolant, change blades, take a break, or place hot blades on a cookie sheet to absorb heat.
  • Do not use clippers with broken teeth or other damage, as they can snag hair and nick your dog and will result in an uneven clip job with streaks.
  • Take breaks if your dog becomes restless to avoid accidents.
  • Watch for dewclaws when clipping on legs, they can easily become snagged in the clipper blade.

Conclusion

Clipping your small dog may not be a small job.  If your small dog has an undercoat, or long hair that requires special clipping techniques, clipping may be more involved. Because there are so many different types of small dogs, and various coat types, researching and preparing to clip your small dog by coming up with a plan, and the correct tools beforehand will be necessary. While a short, all over clip is a common “go to” cut, there are even variations in this type of clip and many owners like to leave certain areas longer or shorter on their small dog for sanitary considerations or for appearance. Having a plan and getting professional advice may be a good option. Remember, as long as you don't hurt your dog by burning or nicking him your dog will probably be pretty forgiving of the style you choose. After all, hair grows!

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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