If you have a dog with short hair, grooming consists of a bath and nail clipping — two things that are super easy to do at home. But if you have a long-haired pup, a dog with a thick undercoat, or wavy, curly locks, you’ll need to groom and trim your furry friend every four to six weeks.
This regular grooming regimen isn’t all about looks. If you’re tempted to let your extra hairy hound go au naturel, keep in mind that haircuts also benefit your dog’s health. Not only does shorter hair protect your pet against overheating during warmer weather, but a well-groomed coat can also prevent skin irritation and complications that often accompany hair matting.
While professional dog groomers can easily do this grooming for you, all those trips can add up quickly. Depending on how big your dog is (and what type of hair they have), it could cost you approximately $40-70 each time you go.
Some pet parents opt to give their pups at-home trims to help reduce or eliminate this expense. Others have been forced to get creative with the clippers during the pandemic, due to shutdowns or short-staffing at grooming salons.
But cost and convenience aren’t the only advantages to DIY dog trims. Grooming at home also gives you more control over the quality of the products you use. Plus, if you have a nervous dog, getting groomed at home by someone they trust may help relax your pup, which could have a big impact on their overall experience and outlook.
“Dogs experience vulnerability when they are being washed or trimmed,” explains UK-based animal behavior expert Charli Burbidge. “When they’re at a grooming salon, they’re smelling hundreds of other dogs, hearing distracting barks or growls, and being styled by someone with whom they’re not familiar.”
Dog Grooming Clippers: What to Look For
When you’re looking for grooming clippers, here are a few factors you’ll want to consider:
Ease of Use
This might sound obvious, but since you’ll be using the clippers regularly, they should be easy to maneuver. Look for clippers that feel comfortable in your hands and aren’t too heavy.
Corded or Cordless
Cordless grooming trimmers allow you to move around your dog more easily without getting tangled up. Plus, you can take them with you wherever you go, even if you won’t have access to an outlet. However, they need to be recharged — and some don’t have great battery life. Some cordless clippers may not be as powerful as corded clippers, so they might not work as well on dogs with coarse, thick fur.
Accidents happen, so look for clippers that won’t crack or break easily if you accidentally drop them. You also want clippers that are built to last for a while and won’t stop working after a few grooming sessions because they have a weak battery or were cheaply made. Look for clippers that have blades made from high-quality, durable materials such as titanium, ceramic, or stainless steel.
You may notice that clippers come with different speed options. This doesn’t measure how fast they can get the job done, but how fast their motors run. The right clipper speed for your dog depends on their coat. Single-speed dog grooming clippers are generally easier to use (making them a good choice for beginners). But they only really work well on smaller dogs with thinner hair. Bigger dogs or dogs with thick fur will need grooming clippers that have two- or three-speed options.
Some grooming clippers make a lot of noise, which might spook your dog, especially if they’re already nervous. You’ll probably want to find some that are quieter or have a softer motor noise. If you can’t try them out before you buy, look for reviews that mention noise level.
Grooming clippers often come with different types of blades that are designed for different purposes, as well as different types of coats. So be sure to do your homework to find out what types of blades are best for your breed of dog and your grooming goals.
For example, finish cut blades are best for trimming and touch-ups, while wide T-blades are perfect for giving your dog a complete shave or when you’re working with double-layered coats. Skip-tooth blades, meanwhile, are best for precision trimming and shaping.
Often, you’ll see blades with a hash or pound sign and number. This number indicates how long or short the blade will cut your dog’s hair. It’s important to remember that, typically, the lower the number is, the longer your pet’s hair will be. And the higher the number is, the closer or shorter the cut will be. Make sure you pick one that’s appropriate for the look you’re hoping to achieve.
Dog grooming clippers vary widely in price points, from around $10 on the low end to over $350 for professional-quality equipment. Chances are you’ll want to look for something in the middle range. Those tend to be the safest, most durable, and powerful enough for your needs.
Best Dog Grooming Clippers
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Best Overall Dog Grooming Clippers
Our Pick: WAHL Lithium Ion Deluxe Pro
If you’re looking for a solid grooming kit that is durable, versatile, and relatively well-priced, this one will do the trick. While a 3.5-hour charge will give you two full hours of battery life, it’s also designed to quick-charge, meaning you can charge it for 10 minutes and still get a pretty decent run-time on it. It comes with a carrying kit, four blade types, scissors, and a cleaning kit — which is essentially everything you need for a trim or full cut. And the grooming trimmer itself is versatile enough to work on a variety of different dog breeds.
- Charges quickly
- Two-hour battery life
- Works on a range of different coats
- Blades don’t overheat easily
- Easy to clean
Things to Consider:
- No low-battery light
- Still too loud for some dogs
- On the heavier side
Best Splurge Dog Grooming Clippers:
With four blades included, this professional-level clipper is designed for maximum performance and versatility. You can trim short-haired, coarse-haired, and long-haired dogs alike thanks to its detachable blades and two-speed rotary motor. While it is a little heavier than most, the clipper is also very durable. Plus, it comes with a hardcover case so you can store it safely.
- Low vibration and quiet
- Works very well on even difficult-to-trim coats (such as poodles)
- Comes with four blades
- Precise enough to trim around face and legs
Things to Consider:
- Some reviewers said blades got hot quickly
- Heavy to hold
Best Dog Grooming Clippers for Thick Coats
Our pick: Oster A6 Slim 3-Speed Pet Clipper
If you have a dog with a thick coat, this clipper is designed for them. It’s a 3-speed clipper with a heavy-duty motor that runs up to 4000 strokes per minute (SPM) to deliver the power and speed you need. Yet it’s still lightweight enough so that you can hold it comfortably for long grooming jobs. Plus, it’s well made, heavy-duty, and available in three fun colors.
- Designed for thick-coated dogs
- Three speeds
- Low vibration
- Comfortable to hold
- Available in fun colors
Things to Consider:
- Can get loud
Best Quiet Dog Grooming Trimmer
Featuring a textured grip that provides maximum comfort while you work, this durable, all-stainless steel trimmer delivers a precise, quality trim. It’s lightweight, powerful, and can run for three hours without needing to be recharged. It comes with two comb attachments, lubricating oil, and a brush for cleaning. Plus, it’s available in two premium finishes: silver and rose gold.
- All-metal design
- Available in rose gold or silver
- Lightweight, cordless trimmer
- Can run for three hours
Things to Consider:
Best Dog Grooming Clippers for Delicate Areas
Our Pick: Ruri’s Cordless Grooming Clipper
Long-haired dogs don’t just have long hair on their trunk; the hair around their paws, ears, and face needs trimming, too. And this is the perfect trimmer to help you groom those sensitive areas safely. It’s inexpensive and cordless, running off two AA batteries. And it’s available in two colors and the blade is narrow enough that you can also safely use it on cats, guinea pigs, and rabbits. This is more of an add-on piece to complete your grooming toolkit, rather than an all-in-one clipper.
- Affordably priced
- Narrow blade
- Lightweight and easy to hold
- Available in two colors
Things to Consider:
- AA batteries are not included
- Can’t be recharged
- Not very durable
Best Budget Dog Grooming Clippers
Our pick: ONEISALL Dog Clippers Grooming Kit
Capable of holding a charge for 150 minutes in one go, this grooming clippers set is lightweight, cordless, has two speeds, and comes with all the additional accessories you need (including a comb, scissors, six blades, and a cleaning kit). Plus, unlike other cordless options on our list, it lets you know when it’s close to running out of battery. Overall, you get a lot for your money, making it a great choice for most pet parents, though it performs better on fine-haired dogs than those with coarse hair.
- Available in five colors
- Comes as a kit with six blade sizes
- Affordably priced
- Cordless, rechargeable design
- LCD light to let you know when it’s running low on battery
Things to Consider:
- Not meant for coarse or thick hair
- Not the easiest to clean
How to Groom a Dog With Clippers at Home
Dog grooming isn’t a one-size-fits-all activity. Dogs with shorter hair, coarser hair, or longer hair all need to be groomed a little differently. That’s why, if you haven’t taken a class on dog grooming, it’s a good idea to watch some dog grooming videos online of people grooming your specific breed of dog, recommends veterinary technician Crystal Litzenberger.
“The best thing I can suggest is to watch videos online and try to follow along. It can be quite tricky since they may be faster than you, so slowing the video down could be helpful,” Litzenberger says. “That way you can see exactly what they’re doing and they will be explaining their technique.”
However, regardless of your breed of dog, there are a few general tips that apply:
Start by giving your dog a bath. This ensures that your dog’s fur will be free of any mud or dirt that could get snagged in the clippers.
Brush out any tangles, especially if your dog has long hair. When clippers hit a tangle, they can get stuck or tug on your dog’s fur and skin, which can be painful. You can avoid this by brushing your dog’s hair thoroughly, using a brush that’s appropriate for their coat length and texture. Be sure your strokes remove any foreign materials, such as sand, leaves, burrs, and pine needles.
Dry your dog off completely. Grooming clippers are designed to trim dry dog hair, not wet hair.
Find a safe place in your home. You want your dog to be as calm and still as possible, so groom them in a place where they feel safe. “I suggest grooming a highly alert dog indoors and away from any windows,” says Burbidge. “This prevents sudden movements that could be caused by an unexpected squirrel sighting or any other threat your dog may sense.”
Consider grooming restraints or calming treats. If you’re worried about trying to trim a moving target, restraints can help you keep your dog still while you groom them. Calming treats may also help calm down dogs that are not used to clippers or are known to be uneasy around them.
Start simple. If this is your first time grooming your dog yourself, start with something easy until you get the hang of it — and get a sense of how your pup will react. “Opt for a simple style, like a puppy cut that is the same length all over, or just address the problem areas,” recommends writer and veterinary expert, Jennifer Coates, DVM. As you get more confident and your dog gets more used to your grooming style, you can try new things.
Give treats. “I practice a consistent reward system when the at-home grooming process goes smoothly,” says Burbidge. “Consistency is important to dogs. It builds trust and growth between dogs and their owners.”
Dog Clipper Safety Tips
Once you choose the right clippers for your dog, most pet parents find it relatively easy to groom their dog at home—as long as you take a few key safety precautions. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Never use human clippers on your dog, even if the two tools might look similar. Dog fur and human hair are very different, and clippers designed for humans could easily injure your dog. They’re also louder, so they’re more likely to startle your pup.
Don’t use scissors either. Dogs can be unpredictable, especially when stressed or anxious. So adding sharp cutting tools to the situation is not a good idea. One wrong move (on your part or your dog’s) and you could inadvertently end up cutting your pet instead of their hair.
Read the manufacturer’s instructions before using. Clippers are all slightly different so it’s a good idea to read the instructions thoroughly. Make sure you know how to use the clippers before putting them anywhere near your dog.
Consider turning the clippers on away from your dog and before you use them. “Clippers make a rough buzzing sound which can frighten most pups,” says Burbidge. “I recommend turning on clippers while they are out of sight so your dog has a chance to acclimate to the buzzing noise. Turning the device on abruptly near your pup’s face may cause fear and lead to a shaky grooming experience.”
Get a helper. If your dog is bigger than 15 pounds, consider getting a helper for the first few grooming sessions. Your partner can help hold your dog and reassure them while you trim their fur.
Check in with your dog as you go. Make sure your dog seems to be handling the grooming session well. Some groomers recommend talking to your dog in a calm, conversational tone throughout the session, as this might help soothe them.
Check the blades frequently. If you notice the blades overheating, pause your grooming session until they cool down (which should only take a few minutes). This will help you avoid inadvertently burning your dog’s skin if the clippers get too hot.