Choosing the Right Haircut for Your Dog

Many people go to the dog groomer’s thinking one of two things – they want what they think looks the cutest or that their dog groomer will know what to do. Yes, your groomer knows how to cut your dog’s hair, but you need to have some idea of what haircut is best for you and your dog’s lifestyle. We will talk to you about this before you leave your dog with us, but having an idea of what you want ahead of time helps everything go more smoothly.

Traditional Breed Cuts

When choosing a haircut for your dog, you should start by looking at pictures of your dog’s breed and the look they are supposed to have. In the case of a mixed breed, find breeds whose coat type and build resemble your dog’s and see which type of look you would like. For instance, we have cut many schnauzer-type mixes into a modified schnauzer cut and trimmed overly hairy dog mixes into a nice, tight Australian shepherd look. Just because you don’t have a purebred doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautifully cut dog.

Show Cuts vs. Pet Cuts

Find pictures and descriptions of how your breed is supposed to be clipped or trimmed. Now ask yourself, do I have the time, money, and desire to maintain this? The more dramatic show cuts are less likely to look neat after your dog has been playing in the yard all day.

Show cuts are rarely low maintenance. Even with most owners’ BEST intentions, many long-haired dogs end up at least a little matted. These mats are to be taken seriously and avoided at all costs. We have shaved down many matted dogs to find a wealth of sores and irritated skin. With your dog you must be aware of the following areas considered most likely problematic. Ears, behind the ears, the backs of the hind legs, tails, and sanitary areas (around the genitals) are all prone to be matted. If these factors will be an issue, try a pet cut.

Pet Cuts

The thing to remember is the shorter the cut, the lower your maintenance. A pet cut is a modification of a show cut or another fancy cut to allow for a more active lifestyle. Areas kept long in show, would be taken in as much as you specify, still enough to show style and flair, but not so much as to be difficult to maintain. Bearded dogs would have shorter beards; skirted dogs tighter skirts; and fancy poms and top-knots (the top of the head, when kept long) would be smaller. One thing to keep in mind though, even the best dog groomer when faced with a challenging coat type can’t work miracles. Even if it is the same breed as the picture you bring us, if the dog’s hair will not cooperate, you can only do so much.

Pet cuts are all great options for dog owners who don’t care for style clips. The only real difference between the clips is the length of hair left on the dog. Once you specify which clip you prefer, work with the groomer to personalize it for your dog.

The Puppy Cut Myth

In the dog grooming world “puppy cut” simply means one length all over. Yes, your companion will look adorable all fluffy and “puppy like”, but there is a wide range of lengths and your dog groomer doesn’t want to be scolded when you get back. So please let us know exactly how much hair you would like removed.

Puppy Cut

We list a puppy cut as a clean-up of the face, feet, and under of the tail of a dog or puppy. We will leave it up to owner instruction as to how much hair is actually removed, if any. A full puppy cut often includes: cleaning or shaving of the face, trimming the feet, rear legs, and the underneath of the tail, and cleaning of the ears. This is the perfect beginner trim for a puppy’s first visit to the dog groomer, or just a quick clean-up for small dogs.

Teddy Bear Clip

The teddy bear clip leaves approximately ¾” to 1” of fur all over the dog’s body. Groomers can use anything from a clip-on comb sizes “A,C, or E” over a #30 blade to a #4 finish blade to get the results the owner is looking for on the body. The dog’s legs are trimmed with scissors to blend in with the shortened body clip. The teddy bear clip looks great on Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Bichon Frise, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, and any mixed breed dogs with long fluffy hair. The teddy bear cut is similar to the retriever but longer. The cut is meant to keep the dog cuddly and soft-looking, but also to keep the fur clean and trimmed evenly. This cut for dogs is like “getting a trim” for humans. It’s simply for maintenance and clean lines. This cut differs from the puppy cut in that the fur is kept a little shorter than the puppy (and longer than the retriever).

The Retriever Cut

The retriever cut is common for long-haired dogs and curly-haired dogs. This cut is basically shaving the fur to approximately ¼” to 5/8” of an inch long, with the face and tail even shorter. Groomers can use anything from clip-on comb sizes “0, 1, 2 or 4” over a #30 blade to a #5 finish blade to get the results the owner is looking for on the body. The name comes from the fact that this cut is meant to make the fur more manageable, like that of a short haired Golden Retriever or a Lab. The cut also helps to keep long-haired dogs cool on warmer climates.

Field Clip “Shave down”

The field clip is the shortest of the dog grooming styles. Such a trim is often given to bird dogs and other hunting breeds so they can easily work in fields without burrs catching in their loose fur. The dog groomer uses a #7 or #10 blade to remove all or most of the fur from the dog’s body and legs. The term “shave down” can also be used to describe a field clip. The field clip is great for Spaniels (of all sizes), Poodles, Maltese, Schnauzers, and heavily matted long haired mixed breed dogs to reduce daily brushing.

The Continental Cut

The continental cut is the most popular cut for poodles. The style shows off the dog’s hind legs. With this cut, the hind legs and behind are shaved. Pompoms can be kept on the hip bones if preferred. The face, legs, feet, and tail are also shaved, but there are “bracelets” of fur above each paw and a pompom poof at the end of the tail. The remaining fur stays as is.

The Lion Cut

The lion cut is popular with many dogs. Pomeranians are most recognizable with the lion cut because the color of their fur resembles that of a lion. The lion cut is when the back half of the dog is shaved very, very short (like a buzz cut) with the tip of the tail left as a pompom. The front half of the dog is left with longer fur and the legs are often shaved down with a pompom left around the feet.

The Panda Cut

The Panda Cut is when the top back of the dog is shaved with a 5F or 7F blade to make a tight back and then is blended into a longer chest, legs and skirt. This is a very popular choice of cuts for many breeds.

Trims: trims are generally a very natural look, just shortened, tightened or neatened. Your groomer will use the desired silhouette, but you must let us know what you want. “Just a trim” means different things to different owners. How short do you need the legs, tail, and abdomen? With breeds like Yorkies, Shih Tzus, and Maltese, how do you want the face trimmed? Long beards, long ears? Short beards, short ears? Keep in mind that a trim generally leaves the hair long, so make sure you have time to keep it combed out!

Sanitary Areas: underneath the eyes, around the genitalia, and the paw pads are all areas that need to be kept clean. Most groomers will usually shave all of these areas except the mouth. If you don’t want them shaved, please say so. Please know shaving these areas is really beneficial to the dog’s hygiene.

Heads, Ears, and Tails: Heads, ears, and tails can come in a great range of cuts for drop coated breeds (Maltese, Yorkie, etc.). Your groomer will probably try to get an idea of how you want these done. Think about it ahead of time! Ears can be shaved, partially shaved, kept short, or left long. Heads can be trimmed to look very round or left with long hair that blends with their body or is put up in bows. Tails can be left long, trimmed, or even trimmed short like a squirrel tail.

Original and Unique

Many dog owners chose to style their dog’s fur in a style that isn’t traditional, like a Mohawk. Dying dog’s fur has also been done. There are many different cuts suitable for different breeds, based on breed specifics. Some dogs swim often, and some cuts are better for water speed. Ask your dog groomer for cut recommendations for your dog. Consider cuts that fit your lifestyle. You can easily personalize any style for your dog to look his best. Consider the climate you live in, and have a sweater or jacket ready on cold days for dogs with field clips.

Should I come back in a hour? Why does it take so long to groom my dog???

A large portion of the general public believes grooming a dog is just popping the dog in the bath and running a clipper over them and then the grooming procedure is complete. This could not be further from the truth. Your groomer is a very valuable addition to your dog’s life. If your groomer is competent, from the moment your dog enters the salon with you, they are being assessed but you are probably not even aware of it happening. Many health problems and issues can be brought to an owner’s attention at this time. Living with your dog day-in day-out can be difficult to notice small changes. For example, you might not notice your friend standing with a more arched back, which could possibly indicate a back/disc problem. A foul smell can be anything from dirt to an ear infection or a piece of stick caught between the dog’s teeth. While your pet is being groomed we handle every square inch of their body. We can be an added early warning system by bringing to your attention lumps, bumps, sores, old wounds, torn nails, skin problems, restricted movement in joints and limbs which can be early indications of conditions that vets can help provide relief for. The list can be endless.

So your companion is being groomed today. Did you know that while your dog is being worked on that their ears will be checked and any excess hair which can lead to problems will be removed? The ears will then be cleaned and if your dog requires veterinary help to treat an infection you will be advised of this. Their teeth and gums will be looked at to see if you need to consider some dental treatment or whether giving Fido a bone to chew on will keep his teeth clean. Their nails will be trimmed and can be filed down if requested. Large hard plugs which can form from hair and dirt between the pads which feel like walking with stones in your shoes will be removed for your dog's comfort. All around their privates will be clipped and cleaned for ongoing hygiene at home. Their skin and coat will be assessed for the most suitable shampoo. Their coat will be attended to whether they're being brushed out or put into a clipped style. Your groomer needs to base their decision on how to best maintain their coat in a style that suits you, your pet, and their lifestyle keeping them comfortable until their next grooming session. Their collar will be checked for wear and tear and to make sure it's still performing safely.

A grooming schedule of every 4-6 weeks is very important in maintaining the health of your furry friend. It may take a few hours depending on their coat condition, the style of cut, their temperament and physical ability. Typically though for us to do a very nice detailed job it may take 3-4 hours on a full groom. We won't "zoom groom" in order to make more money. We want you to be happy with a well groomed pet and come back and see us again.

I'll admit that before I became a groomer I wondered what the heck was taking so long! Now I get it! Rushing a groomer is like trying to rush an artist...if you want a really nice job...don't worry, Fido is probably enjoying his day at the spa and just enjoy your free time. We always spread out our grooming appointments. That way it gives us time to go over everything we need to know about your dog with you. Also your dog's stay won't be 6 or 8 hours long like a lot of large "zoom groom" operations that check them all in after opening in the morning and they are done by closing. I hope this may help you understand what a groomer does while your loved pet is at the spa.

This is only a brief summary of a dog's day out at the groomers… :)

Top 10 Reasons Why it Costs More to Get Your Pet Groomed Than Your Own Haircut

10. Your hairdresser doesn't wash and clean your rear end.
9. You don't go 8 weeks without washing or brushing your hair.
8. Your hairdresser doesn't give you a sanitary trim.
7. Your hairdresser doesn't clean your ears.
6. Your hairdresser doesn't remove the boogies from your eyes.
5. You sit still for your hairdresser.
4. Your haircut doesn't include a manicure or pedicure.
3. Your hairdresser only washes and cuts your hair at one end.
2. You don't bite or scratch your hairdresser.
1. The likelihood of you pooping on the hairdresser is pretty slim.

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