Many dogs do best with a professional haircut. You’ll see stylized trims for some dog breeds like Poodles that can be difficult to duplicate at home. Other breeds, like some terriers, also may have fewer fur problems if kept clipped.
Double coated dog breeds designed for living in cold weather, like Alaskan Malamutes, probably won’t need a haircut. In most cases, dogs that spend time outside in winter weather need that extra fur protection to keep them safe from frostbite.
But too much fur may be a problem. For instance, dogs that play outside can get snow and ice buildup in the fur of their paws. Mats in the armpit regions can be painful for longhair dogs. Waste that collects in long fur under the tail is unsanitary. Giving your dog a haircut can reduce your coat care.
Ask the vet
Many veterinarians may have a professional groomer on staff. But even if they don’t, your veterinarian has the equipment to give your dog a haircut. Dogs that object to trims can be difficult to manage and a veterinary staff has the extra hands for restraint, treatment bathtub, electric clippers and (if needed) tranquilizers. The veterinarian also can recommend a professional groomer for the “show dog” look if that’s what you want.
Local groomers have different levels of expertise, so ask family and friends with dogs where they get their pets groomed. You can look in the local yellow pages, or go online. National organizations like the National Dog Groomers Association of America offer online search options to find someone in your neck of the woods.
Pet products stores
Your local pet products stores also may have groomers available. Don’t hesitate to ask them about how they handle the dogs. If they have a veterinarian on staff, they may also be able to safely sedate unruly dogs for haircuts.
Do It Yourself Haircuts
You may wish to learn how to cut your dog’s hair yourself. Ask your vet or groomer to show you how so that you avoid injuring a wiggly dog. You’ll need a leash/tether and something to attach it to so your dog doesn’t run away, or an extra pair of hands. For mats, instead of using scissors which can easily cut the dog’s skin, use a mat splitter to break down the knot.
The safest way to give your dog a haircut is with electric clippers made for dog grooming. Clippers generally come in various blade sizes with “comb” attachments to help keep the trim an even length.
Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, consultant to the pet care industry and the award winning author of 23 pet care books.