How to Cut Your Dog's Hair with Scissors - WikiHow

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Grooming a dog on your own can be a little intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. If you use a quality set of grooming scissors and work carefully, you can take care of things right at home. Scissors have the benefit of being quiet, which also helps keep your dog calm as you work. Start by trimming hair from the sides and legs with straight and curved shears, then finish up on areas like the face and tail with rounded safety shears. If there are any thick patches or matted areas, you can take care of those with some thinning shears. Give your dog some praise and treats, and you’ll be done! 

Part 1

Prepping to Groom

  1. Image titled Cut Dog Hair with Scissors Step 1
    Get a full set of grooming scissors. To trim the hair in a way that is comfortable for your dog and looks right, you’ll need more than a standard pair of scissors. Go to a pet supply store and look for a full set of grooming scissors. Each type has a specific purpose. You’ll need:
  2. Image titled Cut Dog Hair with Scissors Step 2
    Make sure the scissors are sharp and oiled. Dull scissors will yank on your dog’s hair, causing pain and stress. If your scissors are new, they should be sharp. If the shears have been used several times, however, they may need to be sharpened. Putting a few drops of scissor oil on the blades before you begin will also maintain the shears and make cutting easier.
    • Scissor oil and sharpeners should be available wherever you buy your dog grooming supplies.
  3. Image titled Cut Dog Hair with Scissors Step 3
    Set up a grooming station. Once the scissors start cutting, hair will fly everywhere. Make clean-up easier by placing a mat underneath your dog to catch most of the flying hair. If you have a small dog, you can even place the mat and dog on top of a table to make grooming easier.
    • When you’re done grooming, just pick the whole mat up and throw the hair away.
    • Make sure your shears, dog brush, and any other grooming supplies you need are easy for you to reach while you work. 

Part 2

Trimming the Dog’s Coat

  1. Comb out your dog’s coat. Use a regular dog brush to make sure everything is nice and even. If there are any knots, hold them gently with one hand and place the brush in your other hand. Slowly and gently brush them out to avoid hurting your dog.
    • Many owners prefer to groom their dog right after its bath, since the hair may be easier to work with when it is slightly damp. If the dog's coat is very knotted, trim these out before washing the dog, as water can knit mats together even more.
  2. Decide how short you want to cut the fur. If your dog has long hair and you want to keep it long, be sure to trim enough in places that are prone to matting, such as the belly and tail. Beyond that, length is largely a matter of preference. Use your fingers as a guide to make sure that you don’t cut too much off.
    • For instance, you may decide that you want to cut most of your dog’s hair to the length of your finger. Use your finger to measure the length as you cut and keep things consistent.
    • You don’t have to cut all of the hair to the same length. For instance, you might cut the dog’s sides to finger length but the belly to half a finger length.
  3. Cut hair on the dog’s body front to back. Start with the straight shears and begin cutting from the area at the top of the dog’s neck. Slowly and carefully work your way down to the tail area, but don’t cut the tail hair yet. Then go back and trim the hair down the sides of the dog’s belly and legs.
    • If your dog has thick fur that you want to lighten up, you can go back over these areas with the thinning shears a bit to feather the hair into varying lengths.
    • You can also go back over the sides a bit with the curved scissors so that the hair looks more natural instead of all being cut straight across.
  4. Work slowly and carefully. Injuring your dog is sure to make it afraid of grooming sessions. Take your time! Working carefully also makes it less likely that you will make mistakes when cutting. A couple of basic guidelines will ensure a painless, successful grooming session:
    • Cut only where you can hold up the hair and see through it. That is, if the hair is so thick that you can’t lift it up and see light shining through, you are probably cutting too close to the dog’s skin.
    • It's best to keep a comb between the dog's skin and the scissors, as this will help prevent you from cutting the dog's skin.
    • Use a light touch when cutting with the scissors, instead of chomping the blades down hard and fast. That way, if you accidentally do catch your dog’s skin in the scissors, you’ll probably be able to stop before causing an injury.

Part 3

Grooming Sensitive Areas

  1. Save sensitive areas for last. Cut the sides and legs before you start on more difficult parts like the face, ears, feet, and tail. That way, you can be sure to get the bulk of the cutting out of the way. If your dog gets skittish at the end and you have to stop, it will at least have been mostly trimmed.
  2. Use extra care around the dog’s face, ears, and tail. When cutting these areas, don’t plan on removing lots of hair. Instead, concentrate on carefully removing any hair that’s getting in the way of the dog’s eyes, and removing excess hair to prevent matting on the ears and tail. Use the rounded tip safety shears when working on these areas.
  3. Work back to front when trimming the dog’s feet. Use the rounded tip shears here as well. Trim the feet from the back, near the leg, up toward the toes. This makes it easier to see what you are doing and not cut too much off. Only cut fur that hangs out past the edges of the toes and foot pads--no shorter!
  4. Use the thinning shears to fix any problem areas. If there are any matted areas or patches of thick hair, use the thinning shears to remove these without taking all of the hair away. Varying the length of the dog’s hair will also give its coat a more natural look.

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