The first set of very important considerations has to do with you and your dog. What type of coat condition is your dog in normally? In other words, are you planning to shave down a matted dog? If so, I would politely urge against this. Please opt for the safer choice and take your dog to a professional groomer. A matted dog is often a very uncomfortable dog and shaving hair that is matted to the skin is a delicate and sometimes dangerous process. Going to your local professional groomer is a much less stressful decision for you both.
If your dog’s coat is in pretty good condition, meaning no knots, then let’s look at the type of coat it has. If your dog has a coat that continually grows and is straight, wavy or curly, like a yorkshire terrier (straight), a cocker spaniel (wavy) or a poodle (curly) then you should pick a clipper that can change blades. This allows you the freedom of leaving your dog’s coat longer or shorter depending on your taste as well as time of year. If you use a snap-on comb over a #15 blade you can leave the coat longer; #0, #1 or #2 snap-on combs are nice for longer lengths. If you like your dog’s coat on the shorter side, then you can go with a higher numbered blade (the higher the number blade, the more hair that is removed); a #3, #4, or #5 blade would be nice for a shorter look. A #7 blade is also available but be aware that your dog’s coat will be very short (think “crew-cut”).
Some other characteristics to look for when choosing a good dog clipper are weight, size and sound. It is preferable to have a “weighty” clipper but not heavy. In other words, you want to feel it in your hand but not tire it. You will want something that fits nicely and comfortably in your hand when using it. Assuming you will clipper your dog’s coat at least every 4 – 8 weeks (6 weeks is the avg.), and a haircut can take anywhere from 5-25 mins., you will want your clipper to feel ergonomically correct in your hand. Imagine holding the clipper as a pencil, the blade pointing downward (toward the floor), and flat against your dog’s body. And you will clip the hair in the direction of the grain. This is the proper position and motion you will be using. Holding the clipper like a pencil will save your wrist when clippering for long periods of time. So when testing out the right clipper make sure this position feels good to you with regards to its weight.
Now the last and possibly one of the most important attributes of a good dog clipper is its sound. Let’s remember that a dog does not inherently love to be groomed, nor do they love loud noises. Put a dog on a table or counter top and approach it with a load annoying sounding machine and you will see your dog flinch at best, or run for the hills at worst. So do yourselves both a favor and find a nice, quiet, soft sounding clipper. This will make your job and your dog’s grooming session go much, much smoother.
Now that you’ve got the basics down for grooming tools, good luck on your journey! Remember that this can be a great bonding experience for you and your best friend. Just go into it with a positive attitude, a lot of patience, an old t-shirt and jeans and you’ll do just fine!
Written by, Erica L. Sanfiz
Just 4 Paws Pet Spa Owner & Professional Pet Stylist