How to Use Dog Clippers Correctly – Trimming, Clipping & Cutting Walkthrough

In this post, we are going to give you a super quick rundown on how to use clippers on a dog.

Dog’s coats require care and attention to keep them looking their best and if you own a breed with a long or thick coat, they will require regular trimming. Of course. You could take them to a professional but think of the money you could save if you could do this at home?

Obviously, you are not going to be producing Crufts worthy cuts at first, but once you learn how to use dog clippers correctly, giving Fido a home haircut will be a cinch.

In this article, we’ll be looking at:

  • The benefits of clipping your dog at home
  • How to get your dog used to the clippers
  • Handy tips for using clippers
  • A step by step guide to clipping your dog
  • How dog clippers work
  • Choosing dog clippers
  • Other tools you will need
  • When to visit a professional groomer

Benefits of Clipping a Dog at Home

It saves you money

Dog owners can spend hundreds at their local pet grooming salon each year. Why not save money on grooming with your own pair of dog clippers and a good brush made for your dog’s breed standard? Leaning how to use clippers for dogs correctly is a great way to save you money and learn a new skill.

It saves you stress

Many of us worry about our pets when they are away from home. While the best professional groomers will be a safe pair of hands, taking up the dog hair clippers at home gives you complete control.

It saves you time

Do you really have the time to go running around after your pet at the grooming salon? If your dog’s hair is fairly short (and your dog’s body is unlikely to wriggle), you might just save yourself some time to start shaving at home.

Start Early – How to get Fido Used to Clippers

If you’ve decided that you’re the chosen dog clipper for your pet, you need to start getting your pup used to the tools as well as the process. This is going to make the job easier for you both.

Try and get your pet used to the blades and brushes from as early an age as possible. If you have a rescue dog, this might not be possible.

Therefore, go gentle. Try and choose dog clippers based on their noise – your dog’s tolerance to volume may be higher than some, but noise is still a major trigger.

Do also, be sure to let your dog see the clippers. Dogs love to get familiar with things – it’s a matter of trust – and you should always have treats to hand when you groom your dog, too.

How to Cut Dog Hair at Home – 7 Tips Pet Owners Need to Know

Learn from the best

If you’re really unsure where to start for the best, take a look at a few professional videos on how to clip a dog online. In some cases, manufacturers of dog clippers may even have their own dog tips videos where you can see how to gently trim your pup for the best.

Don’t rush things

If there’s one way to keep a dog calm while you clip them, it’s to take things slow. It’s not a race – when you start clipping, take things nice and slow, so your dog knows what to expect. Taking things gently around your dog’s neck and other sensitive areas of your dog’s skin is an absolute must,

Don’t let your clippers overheat.

To use dog clippers properly, you must make sure that you don’t let them overheat. The metal surface of any blade is going to get very warm very quickly. Even the best brands of dog clippers suffer from hot blade problems. Try using clipper coolant to make sure things don’t scald.

Take regular breaks

While you and I might personally love a good haircut, it can be a very stressful time for a dog. Therefore, be prepared to take breaks during all dog hair clipping sessions. If you have a long-haired or anxious dog, regular pauses and intervals will help them relax, and you can therefore make sure you’re clipping efficiently and safely.

Don’t pull!

This probably goes without saying, but even when you use dog clippers that are supposedly the best on the market, it’s still easy to snag up along the way. Pulling is a no-no. You must make sure that you are gently, smoothly clipping through – again, taking things slowly. If you feel things start to pull, stop.

Wash before clipping

Washing your dog before you begin clipping is essential. Failure to clean out any bits of dirt or anything matted before you take a trimmer through their hair means you are both in for a bad time.

Clip in the right direction

It’s a good idea to follow your dog’s hair as it grows – i.e., look at the direction your pet’s fur actually grows in. This is the natural direction you are going to need to run your clippers through. Otherwise, you will risk cutting or snagging if you apply too much pressure in the wrong direction.

Step by Step Guide on Clipping Dogs Like a Boss

Step 1: It’s bath time!

As mentioned, anything nasty in your dog’s hair that you don’t was out is going to get in the way of your clippers. Gently wash your dog as you normally might, making sure to use a good hair shampoo and conditioner specifically made for pets – rinse them off and gently towel dry.

Not all dog owners think to clip a clean dog – as for some pets, washing in the bath can be nerve-wracking. However, it’s an essential step if you want to groom your dog properly. Don’t grab the clippers until your dog is completely dry.

Step 2: Time to brush your dog

Of course, you won’t be able to get all of the knots and tangles out of your dog’s hair before you clip. However, if you really want to avoid having to pull hair at all, you need to take a good dog hair brush through them before you clip.

There may even be shed hair and tangles that you miss in their coat. This is obviously going to be the case if they are curly or long-haired. Just as you need to start using dog clippers in the right direction, you also need to ‘work with the grain’ when you brush. Otherwise, you’re looking at a tangled mess.

Step 3: Introduce the clippers carefully.

You can always show your hair clippers to your pet long before you start grooming. However, it’s a good idea to get dogs accustomed to the right tools just as you’re starting. This way, they can get to know the noise and the sensations associated. Some dogs really don’t like tools such as clippers and hair dryers – so be prepared to take things slow.

Suppose your dog is calm enough to withstand your grooming and clipping them on your own; great. However, we’d normally suggest having someone on standby who can help calm your pup as you start up the clippers.

Step 4: Start shaving carefully.

When you’re ready to go, make sure that you always shave and clip in the direction of the neck and shoulder area downwards. We really can’t stress enough how important it is to get those sharp blades working in the right direction!

Follow the fur naturally along the shoulders, down the back, and make sure to leave anything particularly sensitive – such as the face and other extremities – until last. You’re going to want to get the back and shoulders of your dog carefully trimmed as a priority.

Do keep a fair distance away from the skin, and make sure to gently clip front legs and rear legs by holding them out one at a time.

Step 5: Check-in with your pup – and your tools

At the end of the clipping and grooming, you should always treat your dog! Some friendly praise goes a long way. However, we also suggest you offer occasional treats during the process too.

Dogs are going to need breaks from grooming and clipping. It can be mentally exhausting for them, and as mentioned, those blades are going to get very hot. Break often for water, to change comb attachments or change blades if you need to, and even if you feel your arm tired from strenuous activity.

How Dog Clippers Work

Dog clippers work in the same way that hair trimmers for humans do. Clipper blades gently move up and down to smoothly cut through fur and hair. While they are moving very quickly, dog clippers are designed for a dog’s coat – so that there is less of a risk of snagging and less of a risk of overheating.

There’s various types and styles of dog clippers. Some are plug-in, while others are cordless. You will also find that many clippers have snap-on guide combs. You’ll need to switch these in and out when using clippers for thicker hair.

What if the Clipper Blade Jams?

If your dog blade jams, it may need cleaning, clearing, oiling or sharpening. This means that your blade is no longer actively cutting hair.

We have a full guide on how to sharpen your dog clipper blades. Take a look and be prepared to take a closer look if it’s just not working for you.

Choosing the Right Clippers for your Dog’s Hair

  • Consider noise: You must absolutely consider buying clippers that are quiet during use. Some are quieter than others, but only good hair clippers are built to reduce sudden, piercing noise.
  • Consider coat types: Shaving a Great Dane is different to clipping a Shih Tzu. There are some clippers made with different breeds, hair lengths and dog sizes in mind. Don’t always go for a catch-all option.
  • Different comb lengths: An alternative to the above is a clipper with different combs. These are of different lengths and sizes and allow you to clip sensitive areas and different fur lengths.
  • Light and comfortable: Think about your comfort, too. Most dogs won’t care if you have a heavy pair of clippers on hand! However, after only a few minutes, they can weigh you down. Look for something light and comfy to handle.
  • Consider battery power: Doing away with a cord might be a great idea. A cordless dog trimmer is very freeing. It’s easier on your dog, too, as they won’t risk getting tangled up. Just keep an eye on battery life!

Other Grooming Tools you May Need

  1. Specialist brushes: Depending on your dog’s fur or hair type, you might need to invest in a sticker brush or other type of solution. In some cases, you won’t be able to take blades to the fur until you get mats out. There are some brushes that can help with certain breeds.
  2. A pair of scissors: A good pair of grooming scissors is a must. However, always look for those which are made with dog grooming in mind. A long handle is a good choice as they are easier to wield. Gentle blades, too, are ideal.
  3. A grooming table: You may not need to restrain your pet! However, a specialist groomer table is a great option if you have trouble keeping your dog still or calm. However, they are big investments – in terms of cash and space. 
  4. Nail clippers: Why ignore the nails if you’re already clipping their hair? Grab a sensitive pair of nail clippers and make sure their claws are nice and filed. Long claws can get painful for pets.
  5. Dry shampoo: In some cases, you might not be able to get your dog into the bath before a clip. Therefore, a great dry shampoo might help you get rid of nuisance dirt on the fly.

When to Visit a Professional Groomer

There may be some cases where you need to take your dog to a groomer – such as if they have matted or tangled fur, if they are extremely anxious or a breed that requires a lot of specialist hairdressing.

Professional grooming can cost a lot in the long run; however, if you have a lot of thick fur to contend with or can’t take blades to your dog without them getting worried, it might be your best option.


What direction should I clip my dog?

You should always clip your dog in the direction that their fur is growing in. This will ensure that you avoid hurting or pulling them while you trim.

Can I use human clippers on my dog?

No – it’s not a good idea to use a human trimmer or clippers on a dog, simply because they are not made with their specific needs in mind. The guide comb on a human trimmer is much different to that of a dog’s – and what’s more, they can overheat very easily.

Can I hurt my dog with clippers?

It is possible to hurt your dog with clippers if you move too quickly, use the wrong clippers, or if you accidentally slip. That’s why it is so important to take the clipping process very carefully. Even hot clippers can cause pain and distress.

The Last Word

If you’d like to start clipping your dog from home, there are plenty of great options out there for you to choose from. However, you have to take dog hairdressing very carefully. It can be a very anxious time for a pet – and you owe it to them to invest in a great quality trimmer, as well as to take your time to be gentle.

Once you’ve learned how to groom a dog with clippers. Why not start looking at the best dog clippers available online? You could save yourself hundreds in groomer bills

Donna Hepburn

Published author, content writer and qualified dog behaviourist I have owned dogs all my life from Boxers, Rottweilers and Akitas, to Staffies and currently a very demanding Frenchie who is harder work than all the others put together.

I had a collar making business for over 10 years and am involved with several doggy charities. I currently live in the northeast and when I am not writing about dogs I enjoy, travelling, cooking and reading.

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