Cutting Your Dog’s Hair – A Step by Step Guide to How to Dog Haircut

How much does it cost to get your dog’s haircut? The fee for dog grooming ranges from $40 to $100 per session. Fees for big breeds like Newfoundland or Saint Bernard can go higher than $100. Professional groomers know how to handle even the friskiest or biggest dogs there are. But if you want to save some money, then you can learn how to cut your dog’s hair at home by yourself. This way, you save money and get to bond with your dog at the same time. Here is a short guide on how to cut your dog’s hair at home.

Types of dog coats that need cutting

Before we start with the steps on how to cut your dog’s hair short, let’s talk about types of dog coats or fur that need cutting. Dogs have different types of hair. So, cutting, maintenance, and the necessary tools depend on the type of coat your dog has.

  • Smooth coat (e.g., Bull Terrier, Daschund)
  • Double coat (e.g., Rottweiler, Chow Chow, Husky, and Collie)
  • Wire coat (e.g., Airedales, Irish Wolfhound)
  • Curly coat (e.g., Poodle, Bichon Frise)
  • Long coat (e.g., Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese)

The sixth type of coat is hairless (e.g. Mexican Hairless, Inca Orchid), but since dogs of this type only require bathing and not haircutting, we will not consider them for now.

Tools to use when cutting your dog’s hair

In order to cut your dog’s hair properly, you first need to make sure that you have the right tools. Invest in some good quality tools so that the process goes smoothly and you do not hit any snags. The basic tools are:

Straight scissors – for general cutting; recommended length is no longer than 7 ½ inches unless you are a professional; you might want to test the weight and fit of the scissors before buying it; Pet Magasin Grooming Scissors Kits, the bestselling product on Amazon, has straight scissors and rounded scissors in the pack.

  • Electric razors or clippers – for easy removal of big chunks of fur; the best brands are Andis and Oster, which are professional clippers that can be used even for the thickest or toughest thick coats, double-coats, or wiry coats
  • Brush – for grooming your dog’s fur before and after the haircutting sessions
  • Comb – for combing after each cut
  • Hairdryer – this one is optional and only used for dogs that can stand the noise

Choose scissors that cut quietly, the quieter the better, so that your dog doesn’t become stressed due to the unfamiliar sound.

Things to do before cutting your dog’s hair

1. Bathe your dog

Just like at the salon, clean hair is better because most of the tangles are already gone and your dog’s hair is freshly conditioned.

2. Double-check your tools

Scissors that are not sharp or oiled might yank your dog’s hair, so make sure that your tools are properly maintained. Never let them grow dull, especially if you’ve been using them for some time.

If you use a professional clipper, better buy a coolant like Andis Clipper Cool Spray to oil the blades and keep them cool. This product also acts as a disinfectant.

3. Prepare a haircutting area

Designate an area or a table as the grooming area. Place a mat that will catch your dog’s hair so that the clean-up afterward will be easier. Set up a pole which you can tie your dog’s leash to. Make sure your tools are within easy reach.

4. Determine your dog’s hairstyle

There are many pictures of dog hairstyles for each breed. Try to look at hairstyles beforehand and decide on which one you want for your dog. Although you can create your own style, it might be better to follow standard styles for certain breeds, at least when you are just starting to cut your dog’s hair. You might also want to start simple while you are learning the proper technique. You can go for the harder styles when you already know your way around with scissors or professional clippers.

How to dog haircut

1. Place your dog on the haircutting area and tie the leash on the pole. Brush your dog’s hair and gently untangle knots that may have remained after bathing. Brush in the direction of the hair’s growth pattern, so that it lays as flat as possible.

2. Start cutting your dog’s hair from the top of the neck, going towards the rump. Use the straight scissors and a comb, or your professional razor/clipper. Use the tips of the tools so that you avoid accidents in case your dog moves suddenly. Do not cut anywhere on the tail yet, because this is a sensitive area.

Work slowly and carefully. You do not want to nip your dog’s skin, because this might make your dog hate haircutting at home. Relax and enjoy the process so that your dog will be relaxed as well. Keep talking to them in a soft manner in order to calm them down.

Use your fingers as a guide as to how long you will need to cut. Don’t worry if the first cut is not neat or if it is uneven, you can trim the style later. Comb the hair after every cut so that you know if you need to cut some more or to move on to a different area.

3. Next, cut at the sides of the belly. Just repeat the procedure presented above.

4. Move to the chest and belly area. Grab your dog’s muzzle softly, but firmly when you do the chest area, so that your dog will not accidentally move their head while you are cutting.

These areas are prone to matting, therefore you need to make sure that you trim enough for the hair not to get tangled easily.

5. Go back to the areas that you think are still too long or too thick and go over these with the thinning scissors or the clipper.

You don’t have to cut all the hair at the same length. Since the belly area is prone to matting, you might want to cut it shorter than the hair at the side or top of your dog’s body. Perfect the style and achieve a more natural look by using curved scissors.

6. Start cutting the sensitive areas: face, ears, legs and paws, tail. Use the rounded safety tip scissors.

Cut your dog’s face hair slowly. Concentrate on the eye area in order to make sure that no fur jabs your dog’s eyes. You can also trim the area where tear stains are likely to appear, so that you can cut away tear-stained hair and let new hair grow. Finally, trim some of your dog’s beard.

When cutting your dog’s ear hair, hold the ear with one hand and feel the edges. Trim uneven hair slowly. Be careful not to nick the ear itself, so try not to cut too close to it.

For the legs and paws, start with the forelegs. Check one leg for unruly or uneven hair. Trim from the elbow going towards the paws. Don’t forget to trim the hair between your dog’s paws and pads. Just trim any hair which extends over the paws and pads. This is a very sensitive area and your dog might become restless, so be very, very careful. Repeat the same process for the other three legs.

Finally, focus on your dog’s tail. Comb it out. Use the trimming shears to cut untidy hair. Finish off with the rounded safety tip scissors for a more finished look.

7. Go over your dog’s whole body to check if you’ve missed a spot.

8. Brush your dog’s hair to flatten the fur and check if there are any tangles left.

9. Give your dog a treat for good behavior. This will create positive reinforcement for haircutting sessions in the future.

Additional tips to cut your dog’s hair

1. Start cutting your dog’s hair at an early age. The earlier you start, the more likely it is that your dog will get used to having scissors near their body. Older dogs might not accept a foreign object near their bodies as easily as younger ones.

2. So how do you get your dog to let you cut their hair? Practice opening and closing the scissors near your dog before your haircutting session, so that your pet gets used to them. Try cutting the air first, then slowly move the scissors near your dog’s body. If your dog does not run away or play with the scissors, give them a treat and verbal rewards for being a good girl or boy.

Follow the same procedure if you use razors or clippers. Let your dog get used to the tools before actually using them.

3. If your dog gets restless or nervous, give them a big chew toy or a treat that will keep them occupied.

4. If your first haircutting session goes awry, don’t worry. So long as you don’t nip your dog and cut the skin, a bad hairstyle can always grow out and your haircutting techniques can only improve. You can also watch videos of how groomers cut the hair of the breed that you own so that you learn some tricks.

You might need to set aside a few hours when you start cutting your dog’s hair at home. But isn’t spending time with your pet the best way to use your time?

Related tip: Grooming Tips: Brushing Your Dog’s Coat (Why, Tools & How To?)

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