How to Choose the Right Clipper

Finding the right clipper to meet a dog’s grooming needs can be overwhelming. Check out this comprehensive guide to determine the right products for your customers’ pets.




So, you have a customer who recently decided to begin grooming his or her dog at home—awesome! Grooming your pup is a great way to deepen your bond while also staying in tune with any changes in their fur or skin, which can indicate potential health issues.

On their quest to become an at-home groomer, many pet owners started researching pet clippers, only to find that, whoa, there are a ton of options! It can be overwhelming, but this guide is here to help break down the different clipper types, so you can help your customers make the right purchase for their dogs’ needs.

In order to determine the best clipper for a pup, you will first need to identify the pet’s coat type. Dog coat types can be broken into several different categories but, to make things simple, let’s use the following four classifications—smooth/short, medium, heavy and curly. We will also talk about which areas on the dog are referred to as “trim only.”

It is important to note that prior to any clipping, pet owners should always bathe and brush their dogs first. Not only will this help provide the pup with a stress- and tangle-free clip, it will help keep the clipper blade from having to work in overdrive to power through dirt, debris and mats.



Dog breeds that fall into this category include Jack Russell Terriers, Boxers, Great Danes, French Bulldogs, Smooth Fox Terriers, Dachshunds and all other breeds with similar coats.

Breeds with smooth and/or short coats will not need a heavy-duty professional clipper. Dog owners can certainly purchase one if they would like—especially if they plan to groom often—but they will not need a heavy duty motored clipper for smooth/short coated breeds. When purchasing, these customers should look for clippers with a standard adjustable blade or a 5-in-1 adjustable blade to assist grooming their pets.



Breeds in the medium-coated category have a wide range of types, including Shih Tzus, Malteses, Bichons and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels to Scottish Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, Airedales, Cocker Spaniels and everything in between. These are small- to medium-sized dogs with manageable coats.

If a pup falls into this category, the clipper options are plenty. Standard adjustable blade clippers will do a fine job clipping and trimming through a medium coat, but a 5-in-1 adjustable blade clipper will do even better. An adjustable 5-in-1 blade clipper is a professional style clipper that assists in finesse and precision cutting due to the number of cutting size adjustments, which aids in leaving a smoother, more professional-grade finish to a pet’s coat.



Heavy-coated dog breeds include Golden Retrievers, Pomeranians, Great Pyreneeses, Samoyeds and Sheep Dogs.

Customers who have a double-coated dog, such as an Australian Shepherd, German Shepherd, Siberian Husky or Newfoundland, should contact a professional groomer or vet before shaving. A double coat means that the dog’s coat has two distinct layers—a fluffy undercoat that provides insulation, and an overcoat with longer hair that serves protection from the elements. Double coats protect a pup from the elements, keeping them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Improperly shaving a double-coated dog can have unintended consequences, such as sunburn or overheating, and can even damage the fur and cause it to grow back differently. A regular de-shed brushing routine can help curb unwanted shed and will help cool a pup in the warm months.

To shave down a heavy or thick-coated dog, pet owners will need a powerful clipper. A common mistake is purchasing a lower powered clipper intended for light use coats. If the clipper isn’t powerful enough, the blade can catch and pull a dog’s coat, causing grief for both the dog and its owner. When searching for a clipper, customers with heavy coated breeds should look for one that specifically calls out that it is for thick coats or heavy duty use. Often, a good indicator is a corded clipper that uses detachable blades, such as Wahl’s KM10, which uses Wahl Competition Series or Ultimate Competition Series detachable blades. These are clippers built for professional use and tackling big jobs every day.



Dog breeds that fall into the “curly” category include Poodles, Portugese Water Dogs, Haveneses, Terry Blue Terriers, Lagotto Romagnolos and every type of “Doodle.” Technically, some of the smaller breeds, such as Bedlington Terriers and Bichon Frises, also have curly coats, but since these coats tend to be much lighter and easier to clip, we put them in the “medium” category.

Like the heavy coats mentioned above, breeds with thick, curly coats will require a clipper with a lot of torque to drive blades though dense fur. Pet owners will want to look for a professional-grade clipper that uses detachable blades, such as Wahl’s Competition Series or Ultimate Competition Series. Options such as the Wahl KM10 or Power Grip have a built-in feature that provides extra power and torque when it’s needed most.


Trim Only

When researching grooming products, pet owners might see the words “clipping” and “trimming” used interchangeably. Technically speaking, they don’t have the same definition, but many products can be used as both a clipper and a trimmer, depending on the size of the animal being groomed.

Trim work often refers to trimming hair around eyes (so they can see), trimming the fur that grows between their paws (so they don’t slip or track mud on the floor) or sometimes even trimming long hair around their private parts to help keep these areas clean and sanitary (referred to as a sanitary trim). Trimming does not include body clipping or shave downs.

For small breeds, a pocket-sized trimmer such as the Wahl Super Pocket Pro or the Touch-Up trimmer will help access and trim these niche areas.

For medium-sized breeds, there are larger, professional-grade trimmers, like the BravMini+ and the Mini Arco, which have a little more power behind them to trim up larger areas quickly. Plus, they’re quiet and rechargeable!

For large or thick-coated breeds, pet owners may want to consider a full-sized clipping for their trimming needs. An adjustable 5-in-1 blade clipper will be able to tackle trim work on large dogs, as well as trimming bridle paths, ears, muzzles, and fetlocks on horses.

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