Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I recently received this inquiry from a pet owner:
Just a question...
I have a black Chow Chow that i always have groomed/ shaved for the summer.  It costs me over $100. & i was wondering if you carry the clippers for me to do it myself & if you would recommend that I do so. 

It is possible that you might be able to clip your Chow Chow yourself, but many people experience failure at home grooming.  Clipping a Chow is more difficult than you might imagine. $100.00 is a fair price for a once-a-year Chow Chow clip down.  It's a big job, the magnitude of which you will more fully appreciate if you attempt it yourself.  You might look on Craig's list for equipment being sold by someone else who tried it.   Before you invest in equipment, I would suggest that you find a self-service grooming where you could try out your skills with their equipment.  Most of these places have clippers available. 

Tools and Equipment
              Clippers: One of the most common mistakes made by home groomers is to assume that dogs can be clipped with cheap clippers. Some people attempt to clip pets with cheap trimmers designed for barber work on children’s or men’s hair.  Good luck!   Many of the economy pet clippers  found at Walmart, etc, are not powerful enough for much more than a Yorkie coat.  For a Chow coat, you need a full-sized professional clipper with enough torque to power the blades through the thick undercoat. Sorry, but the typical “Lucky Dog” clipper is likely to be a big waste of money. For your chow, you need a full-sized  2-speed clipper, such as an Andis or   a Laube.  You need more than just a clipper.  You also need two of whatever size blade you use for the body (usually a #7f or #5f), a #10 or #15 blade for the underbelly, privates, and footpads. The reason you need two blades for the bodywork is to swap out when the blades heat up.  For a beginner, that can be 3-4 swap outs. Test the blade as you use it by placing it on the inside of your wrist, much as you would test baby formula.  When it is to hot for your wrist, it is too hot for your dog’s skin.  Place the hot blade on a ceramic tile or metal plate for fastest cooling while you use the second blade. 

You also need a set up for bathing, conditioning and drying your dog prior to clipping. Professional groomers usually use high velocity dryers to loosen the coat before shaving. Clipping dirty coat will quickly dull your blades and is unhealthy. The conditioning process is important to soften and loosen the undercoat.  That makes clipping easier.  You probably already have an assortment of brushes and combs for any areas that you don't clip.  A pair of hair-cutting scissors for some trimming of toes, etc., is also desirable.

 The Importance of a Grooming Table
Personally, I would not groom without a table and restraints.  Grooming on the floor bending over is super hard on the body.  Not only is it rough on your back, you also do not have good control over the animal when you are sitting or kneeling on the floor.  You don’t want to be crawling and groping while wielding sharp instruments.  It can make for a mess, or worse, a clipper accident.  Speaking of accidents, the three areas where novice groomers are most likely to cut dogs while clipping are the flanks, the armpits, and the tendons around the hocks.  Be very careful in these areas, making sure the skin you are clipping is taut, and that you are not jabbing into flaps of skin or boney areas. 

Some owners are successful in grooming their own.  Some even go on to become professional groomers. If you have a lot of patience (with yourself and with your dog), some background in working with hand tools, a good dog and an adventurous spirit, you could save some money, but probably not until the second or third year.  For some of us, there is a rewarding satisfaction in grooming.  You, too, may have an "inner pet groomer."  Best of luck & Happy Grooming!

PS.  You might also look at this article on the advisability of shaving double coated dogs. 

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