When combing through the range of clippers available, groomers can ensure they choose the right one by examining their individual preferences, as well as the practical requirements they will have for the tool.
Despite the many technical features and practical variables involved, selecting a clipper from the many options on the market today is a very personal process. Asking other groomers for feedback can help, but because each groomer has different needs and preferences, what suits one stylist may not be the best choice for someone working at the next table. To make their decision easier, groomers can start by deciding what they need from the tool and which features are most important to them.
One of the easiest ways to narrow down the options is to be clear on what features you are looking for, taking into account the kind of grooming that comes your way and your own personal requirements for a clipper. Once you’ve done that, then set about looking for a clipper that has all or most of the features you like and will suit the type of grooming that you most frequently do.
First, think about why you are buying the clippers and what types of grooming you need the clippers to handle. Some groomers want a clipper primarily to do finish work on clean, dry coats, whether primarily small, regularly scheduled dogs or a widely varied clientele. Perhaps you need a clipper that can go through anything, up to and including all-over shave-downs and big, thick-coated dogs, or maybe clipper work will be limited primarily to feet, face and sanitary trimming. Finally, take into account whether the clipper is going to be used for full-time or part-time work.
Most manufacturers or distributors will tell you exactly what tasks the clipper is designed to perform best, even though many are versatile. For example, PetEdge offers a guide listing the clippers they sell according to the task, including high or low volume, full body or touchup.
Next, groomers have to decide what features they are looking for from the clipper. These could include speed, power or torque for heavy jobs, noise level, ergonomics and price. Groomers may also want to take into account corded and cordless options, ease of maintenance, as well as customer service and availability of parts from the manufacturer.
“In today’s market, clippers come with a variety of features at many different price points, so making sure that you’re getting the right clipper for what you’ll be using it for is key,” says Megan Mouser, Andis education manager. “For example, if you’re a mobile groomer who is constantly on the go, a cordless option is probably going to be best. Doing most of your grooming in the shop? A corded option might be your cup of tea.”
Once groomers have settled on their preferences for these features, they should prioritize the list in order of importance. A groomer just starting out on a tight budget might have price at the top of the list, whereas another stylist might have great customer service or ergonomics at the top of theirs.
Mouser emphasizes that ergonomicsm, in particular, are heavily dependent on personal preference, and groomers should take the time and effort to find the right fit for them before committing to a purchase.
“A clipper isn’t going to be much good if it’s not comfortable to use for extended periods of time,” she says. “Attend a trade show where you can put the clipper in your hand, and make sure to ask around to your fellow groomers to get their opinions. Andis also has some great educators and people who can help with questions on getting started.”
Chris Pawlosky, national training manager for OSTER Professional Products, takes a close look at cutting performance when selecting clippers, as well as the durability of the tool. “For me, it is about performance,” she says. “There are a few things that groomers need to know about cutting performance. How do clippers build torque, which gives the blade the power to drive through any coat and condition? In many clippers, torque is created by the speed the clipper runs, so the faster a clipper runs the better it cuts. However, the tradeoff is that the blades get hotter faster.”
The faster a clipper runs, the faster its parts wear out. To avoid this, Pawlosky prefers using clippers with more torque and a gear drive, instead of just choosing the fastest-running option on the market.
“The newer Oster Volt and the Oster Pro 3000i cordless clippers use a rotary motor with a gear drive,” she says. “They seem to work forever with very little maintenance, similar to a tractor. They do the job well but at a lower speed, plowing through any coat.”
Mouser also points out that the importance of noise level is often overlooked. “You want to make sure that the clipper you choose runs efficiently and quietly,” she says. “You won’t run into any problems with a pair of well-maintained Andis clippers, but the quieter the clipper, the more comfortable it is for the pet being groomed.”
Salons, and groomers if they are providing their own equipment, should always have a backup clipper. Having one that covers different features can make sure you always have the right clipper for the job at hand, whether it’s a thick-coated full body clip or a Shih Tzu done with a #2 snap-on comb every four weeks. Use both clippers as needed, instead of keeping a duplicate in a box against potential need.
Every clipper manufacturer makes a clipper that is perfect for a certain groomer and/or a certain job. The Wahl 5-in-1 blade trimmers are lightweight, cordless and easy to use, and they can do a lot of finish work with the specific snap-on combs that fit them. Some groomers use them solely for detail work on the feet, face and tummy. Although they may not fare as well as standard clippers when faced with dirty or thick coat, they are a good choice for many tasks. As a bonus for groomers with repetitive motion injuries, or who want to avoid them, Wahl’s Power Grip is one of a series of professional clippers that have a “wasp waist” for a comfortable, ergonomic grip. And Wahl’s customer service is legendary.
Aesculap’s Fav5 clippers in both corded and cordless have proven to be true workhorses, both in Europe and the U.S. Their metal blade drive lasts a very long time, reducing maintenance on this clipper to almost nothing. Blades stay cool longer, due to the lower speed, and the cordless convenience is another plus. The Fav5 Hybrid comes with a cord, but also has the option of purchasing a battery/charger kit instead.
John Vasone, national accounts manager for ConairPro Pet, compares selecting the right clipper to buying a car. “All clippers cut, and any car will get you from point A to point B,” he says. “But what you can afford, what features and benefits are best for you—speed, durability, torque, weight, design and even color—all come into play. Just like test driving a car, the best thing to do is actually get the clippers in your hand to know if you like it. And always be willing to try something new; it may have results you never thought of.”
Groomers need to determine what they need as well as what they want in a clipper, find one that seems to fit, then make sure they simply like it. And then, happy clipping!
Carol Visser has been involved in the pet industry since 1982 in various capacities, including grooming in and owning a busy suburban shop, working as a product expert for PetEdge, teaching seminars and training dogs. She certified as a Master Groomer with NDGAA in 1990 and as a Certified Pet Dog Trainer in 2007, and she continues to enjoy learning about dogs and grooming