Dog Grooming in Houston | All Over Shave-Down
Summertime is here! Anyone that’s spent any amount of time in Houston knows this is just the beginning. Dog grooming always picks up in the summertime in Houston because dogs get hot too! Some thicker-coated dogs need to be shaved to remain comfortable in our unforgiving, humid climate. Others need it because of matting or tangles or to control shedding. You should know, however that dogs that get completely shaved often have their hair grow back differently. Some have patches of hair that grow back slower or coarser than usual. Others grow back with patches that are different colors than the rest of the hair. Also, if you are shaving your dog due to shedding, it will not stop the shedding problem, just the size of the hair that’s falling out. Smaller hairs are, of course more manageable when cleaning. Dog grooming doesn’t have to be about completely shaving your dog. Consider the furminator package for shedding as well.
Grooming a Dog | What You’ll Need
You’ll need to have a good pair of electric dog clippers if you’re going to be grooming a dog. When selecting dog grooming clippers you really do get what you pay for. If you’re thinking of buying the $40 clippers versus the $150 clippers, you’ll find yourself spending more in the long run to replace your clippers. Inexpensive clippers would be fine for the occasional shave down on a smaller dog, but will not hold up to constant use or thick coats for very long. I always recommend Andis or Oster brand clippers for dog grooming because of their durability, easy maintenance and repair, and interchangeable blades. Pretty much anything you buy for Andis will work with Oster and the other way around. Even blades are interchangeable between the two brands.
The safest blade to use when grooming a dog is the #10 blade. It is the least likely to cut your dog, but still requires attention to detail and safety practices. You can shave your dog with any blade. The larger the number on your blades, the shorter the haircut will be. The #10 blade is always going to give you the smoothest cut on any breed or hair type of dog. You’ll also need a #30 or #40 blade for the pads of the feet. NEVER use those blades for anything other than the pads of the feet.
An essential tool for grooming a dog is a good brush. There are many different types of brushes to choose from and it really all depends on the type of hair your dog has. Short-haired dogs like labs, dobermans, and pugs don’t need a typical brush. A furminator is the best bet for them to control the shedding. Wire-haired dogs need a firm bristle brush. Slicker brushes can cut their skin. Long-haired and fluffy coated dogs like poodles and yorkies need constant brushing to control matting. They should be brushed daily with a slicker brush to get the topcoat followed by brushing with a wide-tooth comb. Dog grooming is a maintenance process and should not just be the groomer’s responsibility. Pet parents of dogs with long or fluffy hair need to take time every day to brush their dog or keep their hair shaved short for easier maintenance.
Last, you’ll need a pair of scissors to complete your dog grooming. Scissors are more of a personal preference in the dog grooming world. Some prefer the smaller, round tipped scissors which are great for trimming around eyes or if you’re nervous about poking your dog with the sharp tips of the scissors. Others prefer the longer sharp tipped scissors. There are three types of scissors: straight scissors are for longer areas like the underbelly or legs. Curved scissors are used for the hock area, rounding feet, and finishing a topknot on a poodle or bichon. Thinning shears are used to blend all areas. The price range for dog grooming shears varies from around $50 to over $300 depending on the brand, size, and material. Dog grooming scissors are typically extremely sharp so handle them carefully at all times.
The Dog Grooming Process | Shave Down
Dog Grooming always starts with bathing your dog. Dirt and oils build up on your dog just as they do on you! Those oils can weigh down your dog’s hair and create a choppy look when shaving. A clean dog will always come out looking better after a grooming than a dirty one. Always brush your dog before AND after bathing. This helps prevent tangles and matting. Once your dog is clean, brushed out, and completely dry, you can begin the next step of the dog grooming process!
Attach your #10 blade to your clippers. Starting from just below the occiput (the bone at the base of the dog’s head) shave with the grain of the hair all the way down the back to the base of the tail. Always shave with the grain of the hair when grooming a dog. If you go against the grain, the hair will be much shorter and could cause irritation as well as potentially cutting your dog. Shave the body of the dog, taking great care when working around the hock area and armpits. Those areas can get caught in clipper blades and get cut easily. When shaving the neck area, gently lift your dog’s head and shave down toward the chest area. To get the armpit area, gently lift the front legs, one at a time and shave with the grain of the hair. The groin area is done the same way. Gently lift the back legs using the natural motion of the dog (don’t lift out to the side) and support the leg while shaving away from the groin area. Be sure to check your blades every few minutes for excessive heat by pressing it against your skin. If it’s hot to you, it’s hot to your dog and can cause major skin irritations, hot spots, and burns. Switch out hot blades for cooler ones or spray them with a blade coolant and wipe clean.
Grooming dogs feet can be tricky. Typically dog’s don’t really like their feet messed with. It’s an unnatural feeling for them and can even tickle. Yes, dogs have ticklish feet too! The first step to grooming dogs feet is trimming their nails. For more information on this, visit our overall nail care page or we would be more than happy to show you how to maintain your dog’s nails. Next, attach your #30 or #40 blade to your clippers. When grooming dogs feet, you should always start with a back paw first so that your dog gets used to the idea of something loud & ticklish on their feet. Very carefully shave against the grain of the hair on the bottom of your dog’s paw. all of those tufts of hair sticking out of the paw need to go. This will provide your dog with better traction while keeping their feet free of debris that can cause your dog pain. To shave the hairs in that little v-shaped section of your dog’s foot between the pad and the toes, simply apply a little pressure to the top of the foot while holding it up. This will open the pad for easier visibility and more room for your clipper blade. Use a scooping motion toward the pad on both sides of the v shape and then again toward the toes. Never shave around the webbing of the toes with a #40 blade. If you nick your dog’s foot simply apply a blood stop powder such as styptic powder or regular baking flour to stop the bleeding. The last step on the paws is to brush up the hair between the toes with a slicker brush and trim the long hairs that poke up, then round the feet with your curved scissors by trimming any hairs that fall below the paw line.
When shaving a dog down all over, some choose to shave the head, face, and ears as well, while others prefer to blend those areas into the body. If you plan to blend the head, simply take your thinning shears and scissor the line between the head, cheeks, and neck and the body until there is no line visible. If you decide to shave your dog’s head, face, and ears, please note the ONLY safe blade for those areas is the #10 blade. A dog’s face has many areas that can easily be cut by any other blade. Grooming a dogs faces can be tricky so proceed with caution. Gently hold your dog by the muzzle and shave the bridge of the nose starting between the eyes and shaving away. ALWAYS shave away from the dog’s eyes. That rule goes for the rest of the face as well. Shaving the ears is probably one of the most dangerous areas on the dog’s entire body. There is a very large vein that goes all the way around the outer edge of each ear. If it gets even the smallest nick, it will bleed for a long time and will bleed a lot. This kind of cut is very difficult to get to stop bleeding and requires a lot of time, sometimes even veterinary attention. Always shave toward the edge of the ear to avoid the vein from getting snagged in the blade.
Another personal preference when grooming a dog is the tail area. Some prefer bushy or full tails, while others like their dog entirely shaved from nose to tail. There are many different things you can do to the tail. If shaving the tail, simply start at the base of the tail and follow the grain of the hair all the way to the tip. If you prefer to blend the tail into the body, thinning shears are the tool for you. Scissor the base of the tail until all lines are gone. For a basic scissor trim, hold the tail straight out, brush the hair down and trim in a straight line.
Dog grooming can be a quick and easy process with practice and patience. Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to ask your groomer questions as you go. Always practice dog grooming safety and never rush through a groom. Pretty soon you and your dog will create a bonding experience and enjoy the process every 6-8 weeks. Your dog will feel so much more comfortable in this Houston heat with less hair and you’ll feel better too because of less dog grooming maintenance!