Dog salons aren't cheap. If, like me, you have a dog who needs a trim regularly it can begin to eat away at your hard earned savings and become a burden you'd rather not have. But fear not - there is a solution to maintaining your dog's coat, right in the comfort of your own home and at no cost! All it takes is a bit of patience, practice and some basic hair cutting tools and you're all set to become your own doggy barbershop.

Admittedly, the first haircut I practiced on my dog was patchy and uneven. She didn't appreciate sitting for lengths of time while I snipped (or rather, hacked) away at her. But it soon grew back into a lovely shaped coat, ready for cutting again in the summer season. I became more skilled and precise with every hair cutting session, and the dog has become much more settled.

You may find if your dog has long hair, it will require cutting on a more regular basis. This is because, despite constant brushing, the hair easily becomes matted and tangled. Eventually this tangled hair will need to be completely cut off. No brush will ever get through that mess. Short haired dogs only really require a yearly trim if needed. This may be simply cutting a few matted strands around the legs and tail. Curly haired dogs can also be cut as little as once a year. However, this can vary with breed and is dependent on the rate of coat growth.

Before you get started you will need to set up an ideal place for your dog's haircut. Depending on the size of your dog, this could be on the lawn outside, on a covered table, or in the bathtub. A word of advice - you are going to end up with hair everywhere, so it's best to find a place where you can clean up easily, contain the cut hair to one place, or somewhere you don't mind having to clean afterwards.

You will need the following supplies:

  • a pair of sharp scissors
  • a water bottle or hose
  • electric clippers (optional)

Trimming a Long or Curly Coat:

  • 1. Start by brushing the hair to remove as many tangles as possible. Don't worry if you can't remove all tangles and matted hair. Brushing just makes for a smoother process, but isn't essential.
  • 2. Wet the hair thoroughly with either the spray bottle, an extendable shower nozzle, or hose. Wetting the hair is for the same reasons you wet human hair before cutting - it makes for easier cutting and more precision.
  • 3. Decide on a length for the entire coat. Place scissors parallel to the coat, and hold sections of hair between middle and index finger at desired length. Starting with small snips cut from the top of the front leg untill you reach the other leg.

 

  • 4. Continue cutting across body, working from side-to-side, until you've reached the top of the tail.

 

 

  • 5. Now start cutting the hair around the neck, top of head and around the eyes and muzzle. The key to cutting around the muzzle is not to cut too much hair away from the nose, otherwise you risk your dog looking like they have a very long, out-of-proportion nose. So just trim away any hair that sits close to the mouth and under the chin.
  • 6. Trim up the legs, around the feet (keep them rounded), the bottom of the tail and lightly trim the underbelly region.
  • 7. Check that the hair is cut evenly
  • 8. Now give your dog a shampoo bath to wash away any loose hairs that can be irritating to your dog's skin
  • 9. Once your dog is dried off, give their coat a good brush to remove any trapped hairs.

Clipping a Long or Curly Coat:

  • 1. Start by brushing the hair to remove as many tangles or matted hair as possible. This allows for the blade of the clippers to glide through the hair smoothly
  • 2. Decide on a length for the entire coat. Set the clippers with the correct blade attachment to achieve the desired length.
  • 3. Hold the clippers close to the skin, and glide smoothly against the direction of the hair growth. Begin clipping the hair dry, starting on the underbelly. Getting your dog to lay on their back helps when cutting this region
  • 4. Stretch your dog's legs out and clip under the armpits, around the crotch and right up to the tail.

 

  • 5. Now clip the hair off the legs and paws.
  • 6. Use the clippers to carefully cut the hair around the ears, muzzle, neck and eyes. Alternatively, use handheld scissors to finish this section
  • 7. Check that the hair is cut evenly
  • 8. Now give your dog a shampoo bath to wash away any loose hairs that can be irritating to your dog's skin
  • 9. Once your dog is dried off, give their coat a good brush to remove any trapped hairs

Toenail clipping

If you have a large or medium sized dog restrain them on a table or floor, by draping your arm across the body of the dog. If your dog is small, holding them while restraining them with one arm works well.

Hold the paw you wish to trim and press on the pads underneath. This will extend the claw out further so you can see where to cut.

Where do I cut?

Once you have the claw extended you will be able to see through the claw. You will notice two different regions of color. The front half will be much lighter in color. This is what you will be clipping. The back section of the toenail is called the quick. This contains the blood vessels and nerves and will result in pain and bleeding if cut. Don't let this put you off. It's a lot harder to cut than it sounds. If the toenail you begin to cut feels soft and spongy, you've likely gone too far up the toenail shaft.

So take your toenail clipper or scissors and make one cut to remove the end of the curling nail Remember to cut the dew claw which sits further up the inner paw. Repeat until all claws are cut for each paw.

How often do I need to cut my dog's claws?

How frequently you need to trim your dog's toenails will depend on several factors. Does your dog walk often? Is your dog walking on soft or hardened surfaces? These factors will determine how quickly your dog wears down their toenails naturally. My own dog spends the majority of her time inside. She's a real couch potato! I find I need to trim her toenails every couple of months. You'll be able to tell when it's time to trim the toenails of your own dog when you hear the obvious 'click' as they walk across any hard surface.