Groomers are always on the lookout for something that will make our work faster, easier and better. Whether it is a tip from another groomer or a new piece of equipment, we all look for ways to improve our craft. Maybe it’s a change in how we hold our scissors to make a smoother finish or a new drying technique. Or maybe it’s a change in how we use an existing piece of equipment—like a small trimmer.
Keeping a spare clipper on hand in case of emergencies is a good idea; and, in the past, some groomers kept a smaller trimmer as a spare. These lighter-weight, less-expensive clippers not only could get the job done in a pinch, they were useful every day for scooping out pads and under eyes, for tummy and genital trims, and for poodle feet/face/tails. In addition, frightened dogs, cats and puppies responded well to the quieter motor noise. Many models came with snap-on combs that fit only that clipper. And many groomers threw the combs out or left them to languish in the box. That is until one day when some smart groomer decided to use the trimmer for more than just a back up or specialty tool. As it turns out, trimmers are not only suitable for trimming small dogs entirely with the snap-on combs, but they alleviate pain in a groomer’s wrists and hands—and that started a revolution.
Grooming has evolved over the last few decades. Once- or twice-a-year grooms used to be common, but for years groomers have been explaining the benefits of brushing and regular coat and skin care, using frequent-flyer programs to encourage repeat business, and working to go from dog washer to pet professional in the public mind. It seems that our educational efforts have paid off, as the majority of pet owners understand that brushing, bathing and styling needs to be done fairly frequently.
So our business has changed. In many areas, the once-a-year dog has become a rarity. More and more of our clientele are willing to bring their dog in before it is matted or overly long. And that has given us the luxury of choosing less powerful clippers to work with. A small trimmer that wouldn’t push its way through a cast matted Lhasa is perfectly capable of trimming that Lhasa that was groomed recently, and bathed, dried and brushed before a clipper touches it. Use a clipper with a snap-on comb, followed by a bit of scissor tidying, and voila, the dog is done.
Manufacturers have responded by offering many different options in smaller-sized trimmers and improving them all the time, recently with lithium-ion battery technology that allows batteries to recharge quickly and prevents “memory” problems. Most have adjustable blades that cut at lengths equivalent to 40-30-15-10-9 blades.
Andis offers the cordless ProClip Pulse Ion adjustable blade clipper that fully recharges in one hour and includes four attachment combs: 1/4 inch, 1/3 inch, 3/8 inch, and 1/2 inch. Kendra Otto, Groom Team USA board member, Andis consultant and popular speaker and judge, says that they are nice and light, and easy to use. “It seems that the smaller trimmers and clippers are being used for a lot of creative styling and design work,” she says. “Nowadays, you will see a pet walking around with flowers or zebra stripes carved into it. The smaller trimmers and clippers help the stylist achieve that look.”
Otto goes on to advise that oiling blades on these clippers is a must for top performance. Oiling keeps the friction down ensuring a sharper, cooler blade. How does she recommend groomers select a trimmer? “Take a look at the speed and performance, light weight, durability and if it is a battery operated tool, look at the run time,” says Otto. “It is always good to ask friends in the industry which clippers they enjoy the most.”
Kim Laube & Co.’s entry in the multipurpose trimmer marketplace is the Speed Feed trimmer with a five-in-one blade. At less than a half pound (without blade), the Speed Feed trimmer has made it possible for groomers with mobility issues to keep grooming—and it has prevented others from developing mobility issues. The Speed Feed also adds a headlight for working under tummies, on dark dogs or on other areas where extra light is desirable. Two batteries and a double-bay charger allows non-stop clipping. It even includes an attachment “blade comb lock” that allows groomers to use traditional blade combs on it. To get the longest life from trimmers, Jacqueline Laube also recommends oiling and cleaning blades regularly, as this makes a huge difference in performance. She also recommends that groomers, “Be sure to follow the manufacturers’ guidelines [on maintenance]. If the trimmer is cordless, be sure to keep it from extreme temperatures, as this will destroy the battery life.”
Oster’s Juice Lithium Ion Cord/Cordless Clipper runs up to two hours on a charge, and in addition to including four stainless steel combs, it offers the option of purchasing longer combs that will leave up to one inch. Chris Pawlosky, speaker, judge, former Groom Team member and national training manager for Oster, loves to use these clippers on small, soft-coated dogs, as it is easier to maneuver around their tiny legs. Groomers have used the Juice clipper to do Standard Poodles on a single charge, and the various lengths of comb attachments leave very little scissoring to be done, so it is possible to do a great deal of your grooming with a trimmer.
Wahl has many popular offerings in this class of clipper. Its Arco, Bravura and Chromado trimmers have long been favorites with professionals. This month, the company is adding three more: the Motion, Bravura Lithium and Figura—all with lithium ion batteries for shorter charge times and more torque, which is ideal for groomers turning more and more to these smaller tools. All of the trimmers take Oster’s five-in-one blade. Stainless, color-coded attachment combs in a set of eight are available to slide onto the blade and leave lengths from 1/8 inch up to one inch.
Rich Stuart, sales manager for Wahl, points out that the company offers many different shapes and grips to suit individual groomers. “Ideally, if a professional groomer could attend a tradeshow where all our clippers are on display, they could then get a feel for which one is right for them,” he says. “In addition, we have staff on hand to answer any questions they may have.”
Conair has the Flexi-Groom, intended for small areas such as faces, feet, tails and undersides. The small, single blade cuts at about the length of a #30 blade. It will run for 40 minutes on a charge, or it can be used with a cord. At only six ounces, the company’s corded Mini Trimmer will save wear and tear on a groomer’s hands and wrists and is ideal for those tiny jobs.
Of course, there are times when a small trimmer just won’t do the job, and clipper manufacturers provide for that with the original, larger professional clippers. One in particular, Aesculap, the German Red Clipper, specializes in power. Corded or cordless, the product will clip through thick matted coats with ease. Made and engineered in Germany, the company’s well-earned reputation for durability and longevity is no surprise.
Groomers should own and use differing clipper types to make our work faster, easier on our bodies and perhaps better. We should all take the advice of Chris Pawlosky who says, “It’s good to switch up what you use and how you use it as often as possible. The only way to soften the blow of what we know as repetitive stress motion disorder.”