How to groom a dog with scissors

Why groom a dog using only scissors?

If you are wanting to cut a dog’s fur short it is faster and more efficient to use a clipper and blade. Or guide comb attachment for slightly longer haircuts.

Clipping is a quicker way to do give a dog a haircut and you will more likely get a more even cut. However, in some circumstances, you may choose to use solely scissors. Examples of this are;

  •  some dogs are frightened of the noise clippers may make.
  • the coat of a puppy is still developing and it is often best to not clip until they have their full adult coat. Clipping may make the coat thicker and coarser and for some breeds such as Poodles or Bichons, it may make the coat more tightly curled.
  • clipping can alter and even spoil a coat. It may grow back thicker and coarser. This can make it more prone to matting. I have a Yorkshire Terrier myself and I only ever use scissors to give her a haircut. The only time I use clippers with her is to clip under the paw pads and to do a sanitary clip.
  •  you may not wish to invest in buying clippers, blades and guide combs especially if you only do maintenance and a tidy between visits to a professional groomer.

Use a Crea Clip

Crea Clip is a simple clip that makes scissoring easy for the at home groomer. It is still important that your dog is fully brushed, but this clever tool makes it safe for your dog. It is also easier to get a more even finish.

View the Crea Clip on Amazon

Types of Dog Grooming Scissors

There are three main types of dog grooming scissor – straight, curved and thinning.

These come in different sizes and styles. Dog fur cuts differently to human hair and is often thicker. meaning most scissors will not cut it easily.

Therefore, it is crucial to use proper dog grooming scissors to cut dog fur. Human hair cutting scissors or normal scissors will hack and bite at the coat. This makes it choppy and may even fold the coat if they are unable to cut it cleanly. This can be very uncomfortable for your dog and give a poor finish.

View dog grooming scissors on Amazon

How to use straight dog grooming scissors (shears)

The straight dog grooming scissors are the main scissor you will use. If you only want to have one pair of dog grooming scissors you should get a straight pair. You can cut a curve with straight scissors, but you can’t cut a straight line with curved scissors.

Straight scissors come in a range of lengths. The most common length to use is either 7 inch or 8 inches scissors. Many people with small hands prefer a shorter scissor but it can be more time consuming as you are not cutting as much coat at a time.

Scissor feet with straight scissors

Straight scissors work just as well to cut nice round feet. To do this you hold the scissors at around a 35-degree angle as you scissor around the foot while it is on the table or surface you are working on.

Alternately, you can hold the foot up and use the middle of the blade scissor away any fur that is hanging over the side of the foot.

Straight scissors can also be used to set angulation on the hind legs or to sculpt a nice round head. However, this does require a higher level of skill and it will require more cuts be taken compared to using curved scissors for the same job.

View Straight Shears on Amazon

How to use curved dog grooming scissors (shears)

Curved scissors are used to easily trim and shape the fur around the contour of the dog’s body and head. They have multiple other uses such as blending the hind leg into the hip or round off the rear end, doing nice round teddy style feet and rounding and bevelling on the head.

These also come in various length with the 7 inch and 8 inches being the more common lengths used. Some people have two pairs each curving the opposite way. This is not really necessary as it is simple enough to turn the scissors upside down to go the other way.

View Curved Shears on Amazon

How to use dog grooming thinning scissors (shears)

Thinning scissor as numerous uses and give you extra versatility. There are two main types of thinning scissors; single sided and double side.

Single sided have teeth on one side and a straight bar on the other while double-sided have teeth on both sides but only one row of teeth is actually shape and cuts. When cutting a dog’s fur they will remove only some of the coat, thinning it out, rather than cutting it away. This way they don’t leave a defined edge like straight scissors.

They can be used to blend different lengths, to thin out thick bulky coat or to break down matts making them easier to remove with a comb or brush. They are also good for going over where you have used the straight scissors to make the line look more natural.

View Thinning Shears on Amazon


How different coat types cut

The three main types of coat you are likely to encounter are a drop coat, a wiry coat, and a wool or blended coat.

Drop coats

Drop coat breeds include Yorkshire terriers, Maltese and Shitzu. They are called a drop coat because when the hair is long you can mess it up. When the dog shakes the coat naturally drops back into position. They usually have a natural part on the back.

With a lot of drop coats, you may find that scissors can give a choppy and uneven finish leaving scissor marks in the fur. This is where thinning scissors come in handy to blend out the lines.

If you are wanting to cut a drop coat breed short it is much easier to use a clipper and a guide comb attachment as scissoring will probably not give the finished you are wanting.

The best way to scissor a drop coat is to comb the fur down and trim around the edges to the required length. If you are wanting to scissor a drop coat shorter watch the below video.

Wirey coats

Wirey coats are more common with the terrier breeds and include wirehair Jack Russels or Foxies. You can cut these with scissors in the same way you would a woolen or blended coat, but the finish may be choppy and leave scissor marks. Thinning scissors will give a much nicer finish to the cut

Woolen or blended coats

Woolen or blended coats include Poodles, Bichons, and various mixed breeds. Straight or curved scissors will give a nice finish to this type of coat. You can use thinning scissors to blend if you wish.

Watch the video for a demonstration of this type of coat being scissored.

How to get a nice and even finish grooming with scissors.

The secret to obtaining a nice finish when cutting any coat type is in the preparation It is essential that the dog is bathed, dried and full brushed and combed out and the coat is straightened as much as possible to make it even. See “How to bathe a dog” to learn more

To straighten the coat dry the dog so they are still slightly damp. Then continue to dry the dog brushing as you do. Have the blow dryer on a low heat similar to how you would if straightening human hair.

A dog is fully brushed out when you can run a steel comb through with it not getting caught up in any tangles or snags.  It is well worth the time taken with your preparation as it will make the scissoring easier and you will see the results in the finished job.

How to hold dog grooming scissors.

To hold the scissors for maximum control and minimum strain on your thumb and wrist tendons place your thumb through the top hole and your ring finger through the bottom hole only as far as the first joint.

Your index and middle finger will support the scissor as you open and close, with your little finger resting on the curved bar at the bottom of the handle. Keep the scissor as steady as possible with only your thumb moving up and down.

Be consistent with your practice even just practicing the movement in the air and you will soon become proficient.

A good exercise to improve your scissoring ability is to get a piece of a sheepskin rug. Fully brush and comb out the fleece so it stands straight. Practice scissoring a few millimeters off making the finish as clean and smooth as possible.

dog grooming scissors


Tips to hand scissor your dog.

It is not important in what order you scissor your dog. I personally start at the top of the neck and work my way done and leave the head to last.

Alternatively, you can start at the base of the tail and scissor forwards. Feel free to do in the order that feels more comfortable you and your dog.

Tip 1

Bath, brush and straighten the coat. The better you do your preparation work the better the finished job will be.

Tip 2

Starting at the top of the neck comb your dog’s coat up and scissor to the length you want. Start by going a little longer as you can always take more off but you can’t put it back on. Work your way down the back scissoring from head to tail. If you prefer you can scissor from tail to head. It is crucial to cut in the direction or lay of the coat. If you cross cut you will cut big steps in the coat.

Tip 3

To scissor the hind legs, comb the coat up and scissor either straight up or straight down. Again, cross-cutting will leave big steps in the coat. When you get to the foot you can either do it with your dog’s foot on the grooming surface or by holding up and from underneath trim away any fur hanging over the edge.

Tip 4

To scissor the front leg you can either do with the foot on the grooming surface or you can lift the leg up so it is pointing straight out in front of the dog. Again scissor either straight up or down the length of the leg to avoid crosscutting

Tip 5

To scissor your dog’s underneath you can hold your dog up by the front legs and scissor from groin to between the front legs. Some dogs may not like being held up in this way. You can hold one front leg out in front and scissor from front to back. Be very careful not to cut the nipple

Tip 6

Comb up, Comb, comb up. Be sure to be continually combing up the coat.

In conclusion

While it is possible to trim your dog all over using scissors it can be time-consuming and tedious work. It is also more difficult to achieve an even finish like you would if using a clipper with a blade or guide comb attachment.

Related Posts

How to groom a matted dog

How to brush a dog

How to  keep a dog calm while grooming

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *