Like many things that people usually hire a professional to do for them, poodle grooming requires a bit of knowledge, the right tools, patience, and practice. If you are ready to learn how to groom a poodle, here is some basic information to get you started on the right path.
Poodle Grooming Step 1: Choose a Cut
Choosing which type of cut you want to give your poodle is the first step towards learning how to groom your poodle. There are many to choose from, or you could simply create your own look. Which cut you choose will determine some of the tools you need, how well trained your poodle must be and how long it will take you to master the art of poodle grooming.
If you are new to grooming then it may be wise to start with a simpler cut and work your way up to the more elaborate as you gain skill and confidence.
The name of this poodle cut is self-explanatory. In this style, all of the poodle’s hair is cut to the same length, short enough that it does not curl. This gives your pet a smooth finished look. The flow follows the natural contours of the dog’s body so only one clipper guard is used for the entire cut.
This manner of grooming your poodle is easy to create and maintain and very forgiving if you wait a bit too long between trims. Its major drawback is that it does not leave enough hair to keep the dog warm in cooler temperatures. If you live in an area where it gets cold invest in a coat or let the hair grow out once the temperatures begin to drop to prevent them from getting sick.
This is another grooming style in which the hair is all cut to the same length. In Puppy style, the hair is left a bit longer than the short cut but still follows the contours of the poodle’s body. Left long enough to curl, the end result is a fuzzy, fluffy appearance reminiscent of a poodle puppy that hasn’t been groomed yet.
This grooming style requires a bit more brushing to keep it looking its best and can quickly become overgrown. Regular trimming is necessary to prevent the hair from covering your poodle’s face or blocking their vision.
The modern cut, and the very similar Dutch cut, feature short hair following the contours of the body but longer hair around the legs, tail, and head. This will require multiple sizes of clippers and guards and a good sharp pair of scissors to finish it off.
While certainly not the most elaborate of the dog cuts, this style will require a good understanding of how the length of poodle hair affects the look of a given body part. Also, the puffy areas on the tail, head, ears, and legs will quickly become matted and unattractive if not brushed or combed daily.
Professional Grade Cuts
The Teddy Bear, English Saddle, Cupcake, and Lion cuts are all very elaborate and require a great deal of skill to pull off effectively. All of these poodle grooming styles require a lot of combing or brushing to keep the look fresh and regular trimming with both clippers and scissors. Getting the look just right requires a clear understanding of how to use the clippers to shape poodle hair. These cuts may be best left to the professionals or at least until you have had enough practice to get them right without undue stress on your dog or yourself.
Once you have decided on which cut is best for you and your dog you can find the right tools for the job. There are a huge number of different brushes, combs, clippers, and other tools but you won’t need most of them to get started. To begin you will need just a select few types of brushes, combs, scissors, and clippers.
Slicker Brush and Other Brushes
- Slicker Brush – this brush is rectangular shaped with the handle set off at an angle and has many bent metal bristles. It is designed to remove dead hair and detangle any length of hair or fur.
- Pinhead Brush – this brush can be in any shape and features straight, metal bristles with rounded or rubber tips to avoid scratching the poodle’s sensitive skin. This is useful for long hair or fur.
- Bristle brush – this brush look similar to the type humans use with many tightly packed bristles. It is designed to smooth shortcuts and aid in the spreading of natural oils.
- Wide-toothed Comb – generally these are made of metal and have two sides, one with the tines set further apart and one with them closer. It is used to remove tangles and straighten and smooth hair.
- Flea Comb – Regardless of the name, this comb does more than just remove fleas. The tines, usually metal, are set very close together and it is used to remove dander and dirt as well as fleas and their eggs.
- De-matting Comb – this comb has offset tines of different lengths. This design allows it to unsnarl and straighten all but the most stubborn of matts in your poodle’s coat.
Clippers and Scissors
While there are many different brands and styles of grooming clippers and scissors, the choice really boils down to what sizes you will need and how many different length guards you will need. For the simpler cuts, single size with only a couple of different length guards should suffice. For the more elaborate styles, you will likely need clippers in multiple sizes, each with matching length guards.
Thankfully, clippers and scissors are generally found in sets. Choose the right one and it should contain everything you need. The most important factor with these cutting tools is to keep the blades sharp and clean.
Grooming Basics For Your Poodle Puppy
Now that you know what look you are trying to achieve and you have the basic tools it is time to get started with the actual grooming. Remember that your dog will take its emotional cues from you. The more confident and relaxed you can be, the calmer and more obedient your dog will be.
Start with a thorough brushing. Using a slicker brush, remove all matts, dead hair, dander and dirt.
Wash your poodle to ensure that all dirt and debris has been removed and that all of the hair is facing the proper way. You can use a hairdryer and brush to speed along the drying process but make sure you do not tangle it in the process. Once your poodle’s hair is completely dry, you are ready to begin.
Face and Ears
The face and ears will require the most time and effort and are the areas most likely to upset your dog. For both of your sakes, it is best to start here and work backward.
Take your poodle firmly by the muzzle and using sure, steady motions begin to cut in the same direction the hair runs in. This will require changing directions several times, especially around the eyes. Use the smallest set of clippers you have in your arsenal.
To get the ears right, hold them flat, out away from the head, and trim down with the hair. If the look you are going for requires the hair to be trimmed to the shape of the ears, use scissors along the edges to minimize the chances of injuring the ear itself.
Neck and Body
Once you have finished with the head and ears both you and your poodle can relax a bit. While still holding the muzzle, use the clippers to follow the lines of the neck, being sure to travel in the same direction as the hair.
For the body, replace your dog’s collar to aid in holding it still. Start at the top of the back and work towards the tail. Once you have trimmed down the loin, work in small sections down the sides of your dog, always being sure to follow the natural lay of the hair. When you reach your dog’s belly, use extreme caution to ensure you do not inadvertently nick their nipples or genitalia.
Tail and Legs
Grooming your poodle’s tail and legs is only as challenging as you want it to be. For a simple cut, use the same techniques you used to trim the body. If you want to create a fuller or shaped look you will need to change the length of your guards and resort to scissors for the really tight places.
Groom your poodle at home may seem like a cost-effective way to get the job done. However, not everyone has the patience or skill to do it well. Take the time to make sure that your abilities match what you hope to accomplish before you begin. If not, reach out to a local professional groomer to get it done right.
How do you groom a poodle at home?
There are five things you need to be able to do in order to effectively groom your poodle at home:
- Have the right grooming tools – these include brushes, combs, trimmers, scissors, and nail clippers or a grinder.
- Start when your dog is young – your poodle puppy will need to be trained to stay still while strange tools that make strange noises are operated around them. The earlier you get them used to grooming, the easier it will be for both of you.
- Brush or comb thoroughly before beginning to remove all knots and tangles – snarls and knots can jam up the trimmers and will make it difficult for you to get an even and smooth appearance.
- Be patient with yourself and your pet – getting frustrated will lead to stress for both you and your poodle. Stay calm and your dog will too.
- Practice – don’t expect to get it right the first time and don’t start with elaborate styles. Practice with the standard puppy cut first until you get the feel for it.
The more you groom your poodle the better the experience will be for both of you. It may be necessary to do it in parts at first until your dog is ready to stand still for the whole procedure.
How do you groom a poodle’s face?
A poodle’s face area can be particularly challenging as they have angular faces and the hair lays in different directions. You will need small trimmers and cuticle scissors to get it done correctly. If the hair is long you might want to start with larger scissors to take off the bulk of the hair first. This will allow you to see the lines of your dog’s face. Only use the small scissors around the eyes to reduce the chance of injuring your dog or cutting off their eyelashes. The ears are also very easily injured so use extra caution when trimming them. Once the eyes and ears are taken care of, use the small trimmers with slow, steady motions to get the smoothest appearance.
How often should Poodles be groomed?
The exact amount of time depends on the type of cut and you desire to keep it crisp and sharp looking. Generally, every three to six weeks is recommended for a full trim and groom. Brushing and cleaning of the area around the eyes and the ears should be done daily.
What tools do I need to groom a poodle?
Let’s start with the basics:
- Brushes and combs – several different sizes and shapes to get all of the nooks and crannies, are recommended. If it has been a while since your poodle has been well brushed you will probably also need a good de-matting comb
- Scissors – again, different sizes will be needed and unless you will be doing very detailed work, all should have rounded tips.
- Clippers – make sure there are different length guards and if you are only going to invest in one set, make it a smaller one so you can trim around the face feet, and tail.
- Nail clippers or grinders – grinders are safer but some dogs don’t tolerate the noise or vibration very well.
- Ear and eye area cleaners
If you are planning to your own grooming on a regular basis there are a few other things you may want to invest in. These include a grooming table, which is much easier on your back and helps to keep your pet still throughout the process, a complete scissors set designed especially for dog grooming, and multiple sizes of clippers. If you are really serious about it you may want to have a bathing sink installed.